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Circumcision Pros And Cons, And Why You Should Care.

Updated on November 22, 2016
Sam Wickstrom profile image

Sam understands the importance of an infants first experience of reality, and wants to share the facts about circumcision.

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What Is Circumcision?

Male circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the human penis. In the procedure the foreskin is opened, adhesions are removed, and the foreskin is separated from the glans. After that, the circumcision device (if used) is placed, and then the foreskin is cut off. Topical or locally injected anesthesia is occasionally used to reduce pain and physiologic stress.

Circumcision is usually done for religious and/or cultural reasons. Sometimes it is done to treat conditions or reduce the chances of complications later in life. The procedure remains controversial among medical establishments, many claim there is little benefit and significant risk, or benefits which outweigh the risks. The World Health Organization advocates universal circumcision in areas with high rates of HIV. Most medical establishments remain neutral on the issue and do not want to enter into the heat of the religious, cultural, moral, and medical controversy.

This is such a controversial issue that advertising has been disabled on this hub. Not too many people want to talk about this in public. But I sincerely believe that we should be absolutely certain of what we are doing before we operate on a baby's genitals immediately after birth. We have to be well informed before we decide what's best for a baby who can't make the decision for themselves.

Map of circumcision rates worldwide
Map of circumcision rates worldwide
Circumcision rate in Canada
Circumcision rate in Canada


  • In the United States 56 percent of male newborns were circumcised prior to release from the hospital according to statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Data from a national survey conducted from 1999 to 2002 found that the overall prevalence of male circumcision in the United States was 79%.

Reasons For Circumcision

Circumcision's exact origins are unknown, but various cultures and religions from antiquity have done the procedure.

It has been historically done for a number of reasons including:

  • religious sacrifice
  • rite of passage into manhood
  • magic to ensure fertility and virility
  • reduce sexual pleasure
  • aid to hygiene when bathing was impractical
  • marking of higher status
  • to humiliate enemies and slaves through castration
  • discouraging masturbation
  • removing excess pleasure
  • increasing men's attractiveness to women
  • display of pain tolerance
  • way to repel demonesses
  • display of disgust of natural penis

Circumcision likely began in different cultures for different reasons.

Modern medical reasons include:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.
  • prevents phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin at an age when it should normally be retractable), paraphimosis (the painful inability to return the foreskin to its original location), and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin).
  • may result in a decreased incidence of urinary tract infections.
  • may lower the risk for cancer of the cervix in sexual partners.
  • may protect against penile cancer
  • makes it simpler to wash the penis.
  • may lower risk of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Baby cries in pain after being circumcised
Baby cries in pain after being circumcised

Reasons Against Circumcision

There are many reasons to be against circumcision. These reasons include morals and ethics, surgical complications, complications later in life and more.

Modern medical reasons against circumcision:

  • surgical complications is reported to be from 0.2 to 38 percent. (The higher rate included complications reported during the infants’ first year.)
  • circumcised boys were more likely than intact boys to develop Autism Spectrum Disorder before age 10 years.
  • Circumcised boys compared to intact boys scored higher on activity/impulsivity, aggression/defiance, peer aggression, depression/withdrawal, general anxiety, separation distress, inhibition to novelty, and sensory sensitivity. Circumcised boys compared to intact boys scored lower on compliance, attention, mastery, motivation, imitation/play, empathy, and prosocial peer relations.
  • decrease in erogenous penile sensitivity
  • father's circumcision status influences decision
  • adult difficulty in identifying and expressing emotions
  • sexual difficulties reported in men and women
  • premature ejaculation
  • physicians opinion affected by personal factors
  • decrease in sexual pleasure
  • connection to PTSD
  • elevated levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in infant a year after event
  • traumatic
  • vaginal dryness in partner
  • abnormal brain development and behavior

Facts About Circumcision


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    • Sam Wickstrom profile image

      Sam 15 months ago from Nelson, BC, Canada

      Thanks Jonny. Although writing and researching this topic makes me very uncomfortable, I figure its indeed very important. I agree that its mostly innocent ignorance, and that the tradition remains because of the legal complications of admitting wrongdoing or harm on the part of medical institutions.


      “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” -Sagan

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 15 months ago from Tasmania

      Very important subject Sam. You have done well in bringing it up. I would say it's a subject that is clouded in (mostly innocent) ignorance, misinformation, superstition. Also, it's probably compounded by a reluctance on the part of those who have traditionally advocated circumcision, to admit they might have been wrong.

      There are other parts of our body which hitherto have been regarded as vestigial, i.e. have no apparent purpose. But the foreskin has various functions of importance and we would all get to know about them if there was less senseless embarrassment in talking about it.

      I hope you get a good lot of replies.