• Home
  • Our Story
  • Our Team
  • Initiatives
  • Blog
  • Events
  • Support Us
  • Donate

Understanding the Risks of Male Circumcision: 4 Reasons Not to Circumcise

reasons not to circumcise

Male circumcision, a surgery deeply rooted in cultural traditions, religious rites, and medical fallacies, is often performed without sufficient consideration or a science-based understanding of its profound effects. Under the surface of this routinely practiced medical procedure lies a tapestry of risks and ethical dilemmas, which has led to growing opposition against medically unnecessary circumcision.

In this article, we will explore aspects of circumcision that are often overshadowed by tradition and convention. Our goal is to illuminate why circumcision is increasingly perceived as a form of male genital mutilation, challenging long-held beliefs and practices. Join us as we present compelling reasons to reevaluate this pervasive procedure, advocate for informed choices, and preserve bodily integrity.

Reasons Not to Circumcise

1) Medical and Health Considerations

Lack of Medical Necessity

Understanding the lack of medical necessity is a compelling reason to reconsider circumcision. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision is not medically imperative. This elective surgery, often performed shortly after birth, does not address any urgent medical conditions in newborns.

“Parents who choose not to circumcise their children have reasons, including the fact that it’s not medically necessary.” — WebMD

The foreskin, which is removed during circumcision, is not a redundant or unnecessary part but rather serves several natural and protective functions. It contains a high density of nerve endings, contributing to sexual sensitivity and pleasure. Additionally, the foreskin plays a mechanical role during intercourse and acts as a natural barrier, safeguarding the glans from external irritants and infections.

Risk of Complications

The surgical nature of circumcision inherently carries risks and potential complications that are often downplayed or overlooked. Immediate surgical risks include pain, bleeding, and the possibility of infection at the operation site. Improper technique can also result in more severe issues, like penile damage, scarring, or an aesthetically undesirable outcome.

In addition to these immediate risks, circumcision has long-term health considerations. The removal of the foreskin may lead to decreased penile sensitivity, affecting sexual pleasure and function. This has significant implications for sexual health and overall quality of life. Furthermore, as with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of developing scar tissue, which can cause complications such as painful erections or the need for corrective surgery later in life.

The lack of medical necessity combined with the risks and potential complications associated with circumcision raises valid concerns about the practice. It underscores the importance of considering the natural functions and benefits of the foreskin and carefully weighing them against the dangers of an elective surgical procedure.

2) Psychological and Emotional Impact

Trauma and Post-surgical Pain

Circumcision is more than just a physical procedure; it carries profound psychological and emotional implications, particularly related to trauma and post-surgical pain. The immediate effects involve the infant’s exposure to pain and distress during and after the procedure. Contrary to common misconceptions, infants are highly sensitive to pain. The trauma of undergoing a surgical procedure in such a vulnerable state can result in long-lasting psychological effects. Research indicates that the intense pain experienced during circumcision may lead to heightened pain sensitivity and increased stress responses later in life.

The long-term psychological impact of circumcision is an area of growing concern. Evidence suggests that circumcision can give rise to feelings of loss, grief, and anger as individuals come to terms with the irreversible alteration of their bodies without consent. This sense of violation can contribute to a complex range of emotional issues, spanning from diminished self-esteem to difficulties in relationships.

Impact on Mental Health

The mental health implications of circumcision warrant our attention. For some men, the realization that they underwent an irreversible procedure without their consent can generate feelings of powerlessness and a violation of bodily autonomy. These emotions can manifest in various ways, including depression, anxiety, and issues related to body image and sexual identity. Personal accounts from circumcised men often reveal a profound sense of loss or incompleteness, significantly impacting their mental well-being.

“Studies of men who were circumcised in infancy have found that some men experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger, and intimacy problems that were directly associated with feelings about their circumcision (Boyle, 2002; Goldman, 1999; Hammond, 1999).” — Psychology Today

Studies have started to explore the psychological effects of circumcision, revealing a correlation between non-consensual circumcision and an increased incidence of certain mental health conditions. The trauma of early-life surgery, compounded by societal taboos surrounding discussions about male genitalia and circumcision, leaves men without an outlet to express their feelings and seek support. This silence further exacerbates the psychological impact, leaving many to grapple with their experiences in isolation.

3) Ethical and Human Rights Considerations

Consent and Bodily Autonomy

At the core of the anti-circumcision perspective lies a crucial ethical debate: the issue of consent and bodily autonomy. Performing a permanent and irreversible procedure on infants who are unable to provide consent raises significant ethical concerns. Infants are subjected to a decision that permanently alters their bodies without the ability to comprehend or agree to the procedure. This practice is increasingly being questioned regarding respecting an individual’s right to bodily integrity and personal choice. The ethical dilemma becomes even more complex when considering that circumcision is typically unnecessary from a medical standpoint and could be reasonably postponed until the individual is capable of making an informed decision for themselves.

Cultural and Societal Pressures

Circumcision is intricately woven into various cultural and religious customs, making it a topic of sensitivity. In many societies, it is regarded as a rite of passage, a religious duty, or a tradition upheld for generations. However, the real challenge arises when these cultural and societal pressures overshadow individual rights and freedoms. The pressure to conform to social norms can perpetuate a practice that might otherwise be reconsidered or rejected based on personal beliefs, ethics, or health considerations.

This delicate balance between cultural practices and the growing recognition of individual rights presents a complex landscape. It necessitates a nuanced understanding that respects cultural traditions and advocates for the fundamental rights of individuals, particularly minors, to bodily autonomy and informed consent. Consequently, the movement opposing circumcision challenges individual families and practitioners and seeks to transform deeply ingrained societal perceptions and practices.

4) Sexual Health and Function

Impact on Sexual Experience

One of the most significant concerns surrounding circumcision is its impact on sexual health, particularly regarding sensitivity and pleasure. The foreskin is a highly sensitive part of the male genitalia, rich in nerve endings, and plays a crucial role in sexual sensation. When circumcision removes this part of the skin, it can potentially lead to a decrease in sensitivity.

For some men, this reduction in sensitivity may result in diminished sexual pleasure or an altered sexual experience. Personal testimonies from circumcised men often highlight these changes, and research findings support the notion that circumcision can fundamentally alter the sexual experience. Studies indicate that the removal of the foreskin can cause a thickening of the skin and a decrease in the fine-touch sensitivity of the glans.

Relationship and Intimacy Concerns

Circumcision has implications that extend to intimate relationships. Changes in sensitivity and potential alterations in sexual function can impact the dynamics of these relationships. Some circumcised men report difficulties in achieving the same level of sexual satisfaction, which can affect their intimate connections. Additionally, there are widespread misconceptions about circumcision’s role in hygiene and STD prevention. While proponents often argue for improved hygiene and a reduced risk of certain infections as benefits of circumcision, these claims are increasingly contested. Comprehensive sexual education and proper hygiene practices can effectively address these concerns without the need for a surgical procedure. It is crucial to address these misconceptions to make informed decisions about circumcision and understand its potential impact on sexual health and relationships.

Alternatives to Circumcision

Non-Surgical Interventions

When discussing circumcision, it is essential to emphasize the existence of viable and less invasive alternatives, particularly for addressing perceived medical issues. One common argument for circumcision is the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and hygiene-related concerns. However, these issues can often be effectively managed through proper hygiene practices, eliminating the necessity for surgery.

Providing education to parents and caregivers on the appropriate care of the intact penis can significantly reduce the risk of infections and other complications. In cases where specific medical conditions, such as phimosis, are a concern, less-invasive treatments like topical steroid creams or gentle stretching exercises can often serve as effective solutions, eliminating the need for circumcision.

Education and Awareness

Education and awareness play a crucial role in moving away from routine circumcision. Informed decision-making by parents is vital. They should have access to unbiased and comprehensive information regarding the risks of circumcision as well as its potential impact on their child’s health and well-being. This knowledge empowers parents to make choices that align with their values and their child’s best interests, rather than being driven solely by cultural norms or medical traditions.

Equally important is the provision of resources for further information and support. This can include educational materials from pediatricians, access to online resources and support groups, and guidance from healthcare professionals who can offer balanced perspectives. By increasing awareness and knowledge, parents can make more informed decisions that factor in the full range of implications associated with circumcision.

Join the movement with Intact America! Discover the vital conversation around genital autonomy by diving into our insightful reads, “This Penis Business” and “Please Don’t Cut the Baby.” Get informed, get involved, and help make a difference. Click here to learn more and become a part of the change!


No Comments

Post a Comment


Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.