The Circumcision Debate – What is circumcision?


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If you are expecting a boy, it’s likely that people will ask you, “Are you going to have your baby circumcised?” Newborn circumcision continues to fall out of favor among Americans today, and with good reason. We think that the fact that you’ve come to Intact America means you’re considering keeping him natural and intact (not circumcised, uncircumcised). We hope the information provided here will make it easier for you to feel comfortable with that circumcision surgery decision.

Here Are 7 Things New Parents Should Know About Foreskin Removal

1There is no medical reason for “routine” circumcision of baby boys. No professional medical association in the United States or the rest of the world recommends routine circumcision. People in Europe, Asia and Latin America—where 90% of men are intact (not circumcised) and suffer no negative consequences—are often shocked to hear that American doctors and hospitals remove part of a boy’s penis shortly after birth.

2Times and attitudes have changed. The circumcision rate in the United States is down from more than 85% in 1981 to about 75% today (lower in some regions). This means that a quarter of all baby boys leave the hospital intact as more and more parents realize that circumcision is unnecessary. Many say it’s not a choice they should be making for their son.

3The foreskin provides protection and sexual pleasure. The foreskin is a natural, functional part of the body. In baby boys, it’s attached to the head of the penis (glans), protects it from urine, feces, and irritation, and keeps contaminants from entering the urinary tract. The foreskin also plays an important role in sexual pleasure, due to its specialized, erogenous nerve endings and its natural gliding and lubricating functions.

4Caring for and cleaning the foreskin is easy. Here are some tips on how to clean an uncircumcised newborn. A natural, normal intact penis requires no special care beyond gentle washing. The foreskin should never be forcibly retracted—just “clean what’s seen.” Once natural retraction has occurred (sometimes not until late adolescence), a young man simply needs to pull back his foreskin to wash his penis. (Most boys and men thoroughly enjoy this process!) Read our Foreskin Care flyer for more information.

5Circumcision is permanent, and your son might not appreciate it. Circumcision permanently alters a boy’s genitals, removing healthy, protective, functional tissue from the penis and exposing him to unnecessary pain and medical risks over his lifetime. More and more men are voicing their displeasure over having lost a natural part of their sexual anatomy.

6Circumcision is painful, and there are risks to the surgery. Both common sense and medical research confirm that babies are sensitive to pain. Even when analgesia is used, circumcision pain is not eliminated and the effects can be long-lasting. Also, complications can and do occur with this surgery. These include infection, abnormal bleeding, removal of too much skin, loss of part or all of the glans, urinary problems, and even death. All circumcisions result in the loss of the foreskin and its functions, and leave a scar on the penis.

7Circumcision does not prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs) or other diseases. Over the years, the claims that circumcision prevents various diseases have repeatedly been proven to be exaggerated or outright false. UTIs occur more frequently in girls than in boys, and are treated with antibiotics. While most adult men in the United States are circumcised, our rates of sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV) are as high—or higher—than those in countries where circumcision is rare.