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Updated on January 3, 2017

Circumcision is the operation of cutting off the foreskin of the penis. It is practiced as a rite by some by religious groups.

From a health point of view, it is carried out when the foreskin is abnormally tight (phimosis) or where there is inflammation or irritation of the penis. In infancy, circumcision is a minor operation occasioning little trouble if carried out antiseptically.

In adults, an anesthetic is usually necessary and forty-eight hours in bed will be required after operation.

Cultural, religious, sexual, health, hygiene or... there are many reasons why people get their young sons circumcised.

Photo by Jean Scheijen. Chose this photo because it wouldn't get the lens flagged for using inappropriate images.

Did you know?

Circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV.

Bono on AIDS

On the Daily Show with Jon Stewart on 30th November 2011

"The moment when you halve infections, is the moment when you can turn that you can turn that (being a pandemic) around. If you get these people the drugs early. If you get women in particular drugs early who are pregnant... and male circumcision the third important bit. Then it's the beginning of the end of aids."


Balanitis is inflammation of the glans and inner surface of the prepuce (foreskin) usually as a result of bacterial, fungal or viral infection.

Arising in children from want of cleanliness in connection with a long foreskin, but in adults more often associated, with sexual transmission, STDs such as herpes, thrush and trichomoniasis. Other causes of balanitis are allergy, chemical or mechanical irritation, and the various dermatitises.

Balanitis is more common in uncircumcised males, especially if the foreskin is tight. Symptoms are pain, redness and swelling of the glans, often with discharge of pus. Treatment is by rest, analgesics, bathing to remove discharges, antibiotics if appropriate.

Further attacks can mostly be avoided by good hygiene. If the foreskin is difficult to retract because it is too long or too tight, circumcision may be necessary.


Phimosis is a common malformation of the penis in which the foreskin (prepuce), owing to the small size of its aperture, cannot be retracted over the glans, with resulting interference with urination (micturition). Phimosis may be inherited or acquired. In the inherited form occurring in children the interference with passing urine may lead to dilatation of the urethra and bladder. It is also believed to be a cause of micturition during sleep, and, if the prepuce is adherent to the glans, it may lead to balanitis or inflammation of the skin lining the glans.

The constant straining during the act of passing urine is thought to be a factor in producing hernias and in causing prolapse of the anus. In later life, phimosis renders the individual more liable to acquire venereal disease owing to the pouch forming a suitable site for the lodging and growth of the infecting organisms; also, as the discharges are likely to be retained within the prepuce, the severity of the disease is apt to be aggravated. Acquired phimosis is found in adults and results from the congestion arising from gonorrhea, syphilis, or eczema.

If there is any suspicion that the phimosis is interfering with micturition in children, the operation of circumcision should be performed. The slighter degrees of phimosis tend to disappear spontaneously.


This is the term applied to the condition which arises when the glans penis is constricted by a narrow foreskin which has been drawn back and which cannot be pulled forward again. The foreskin is thus turned inside out and consequently it becomes congested and swollen. Later, if the condition is not rectified, the glans also becomes swollen, and ulceration may arise at the constricting ring. Paraphimosis is attended with considerable pain.

To remedy the defect the application of firm and persistent pressure to the parts is necessary.

In severe cases it may be necessary to divide the constricting band by means of incision. Later, circumcision is generally advisable.

Circumcision Procedure

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin, the fold of skin covering the glans penis.

Under an anesthetic the foreskin is drawn well forward and held between Kocher's forceps. It is then cut away, and the mucous membrane slit up and trimmed, leaving about 1 inch around the gland. Vessels are sutured, and a few stitches inserted to unite skin and mucous membrane.

Related Articles

Circumcision Halves H.I.V. Risk, U.S. Agency Finds

Circumcision appears to reduce a man's risk of contracting AIDS from heterosexual sex by half, United States government health officials said yesterday, and the directors of the two largest funds for fighting the disease said they would consider paying for circumcisions in high-risk countries.


Study supports finding that circumcision protects against AIDS

A new study found that uncircumcised men were nearly seven times more likely to get the AIDS virus, giving further support to findings that circumcision offers some protection.

The study by Robert C. Bollinger and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University Medical School and the National AIDS Research Institute in Pune, India, was published Friday as a "research letter" in The Lancet medical journal.


AIDS RESEARCH: Male Circumcision Thwarts HIV Infection

A study in South Africa has shown for the first time that circumcising adult men can dramatically lower their risk of becoming infected by HIV through heterosexual sex.


For the men...

Are you circumcised?

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If you could also mention what country you are residing in; the region from where your lineage originally came from (cultural influence) that would be great. Not required, it's optional.

Share your opinion on what you believe is the main motive for circumcision and finally; should society still allow it?

What is your personal stance on circumcision?

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