Circumcision the most hotly debated surgical procedure in medicine

Opponents of circumcision have always challenged the health risks by stating that good hygiene negates the necessity of circumcision and all but eliminates the risk of infection and cancer. The debate on both sides of the fence has been heated. Over the years medical reports have appeared to support the anti-circumcision point of view. Now comes another study which supports the stand of the anti-circumcision group.

For years the surgical removal of the foreskin has been performed with the belief that an uncircumcised man has an increased risk of penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, and that women who engage in sex with uncircumcised men have an increased risk of infection and cancer of the cervix. But there has also been a follow-the-leader attitude in this country to circumcise male babies because that’s the norm.

In the years following World War ll, 80% of American boys were circumcised. The trend reached a peak in the 1960’s and has been declining ever since.

In 1989 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement that tried to balance the pros and cons of circumcisions. The Academy stated that while circumcised men could reap the medical benefits of the procedure with fewer urinary tract infections and STDs, there were also risks including infection, scarring, and removal of too much foreskin.

Circumcision in the United States

The Circumcision - Tintoretto (source wikipaintings.org)

The Circumcision – Tintoretto (source wikipaintings.org)

An exhaustive look at the practice of circumcision in the United States was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and states that there is no difference between circumcised and uncircumcised men when it comes to their risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

So where does this leave us? It leaves you with the knowledge that circumcision in an option – not a mandate. It is not a surgically necessary procedure. It should not be done without a thorough discussion between parents and doctor. And making the case that a son should look like his circumcised father is a weak argument in light of the fact that there is no medical gain by removing the foreskin.

While circumcision will continue to be a religious rite for some (those of Jewish faith have Rabbis perform the circumcision on newborn boys), it is not a mandate for others. So talk this over with your pediatrician, weigh the pros and cons against you beliefs, and don’t succumb to pressure from well meaning relatives and friends.

What you have in your mind?