Pros and Cons of Circumcision

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You are probably here looking at the pros and cons of circumcision in order to make up your mind about circumcising or not your future son. If this is the case, then you came to the right place.

There are many myths surrounding circumcision and many of these have to do with the pros of circumcision. Below, you will find a list of pros and cons of circumcision, with details about the accuracy and truth of these facts.

Pros of Circumcision

We will start our review of the pros and cons of circumcision by a list of reasons you will commonly hear to support circumcision

To make sons resemble their circumcised fathers
The only things I want to say to this one is this: Does an infant/child's penis look anything like a grown-up's penis? Do all penises look the same? Do fathers and sons spend a lot of time comparing their penises?

To conform socially with peers
I think that those who believe that the majority of boys are circumcised would be well advised to check the non-religious history of circumcision. Whichever country you look at, you will find that the trend to circumcise is on the decline. Even where it is still the highest - the US - it is now just over 50% of newborn males and is constantly declining.
If you add to this the reasons given above about the difference in penises and the fact that boys don't spend all of their time comparing their penises, this seems like a pretty weak argument.

To improve hygiene
Let's face it, if you teach your son to wash regularly, there is no reason his foreskin should be a problem. Around 80% of the world male population is not circumcised and they have no issue with their foreskin.

To prevent phimosis
Phimosis is the medical term for tight foreskin.
The first point to note is that, even if a boy develops phimosis, this is not a reason to circumcise. Phimosis usually corrects itself over the years and, if it doesn't do so on its own, there are stretching techniques and ointments that can be used to correct it. It is never a real ground for circumcision.
Another point that I would like to make is: "if it ain't broke, then don't fix it!"

To prevent UTIs, STDs, AIDS, cancer of the penis/cervix
Circumcision has been proven to have no significant effect on the incidence of common STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
There is no confirmed increase in UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) cases in normal male infants. The increased cases you'll read about were all found in infants with urinary birth defects.
The reported benefits in preventing cancer and infant UTIs are totally insignificant compared to the surgical risks of circumcision. The routine circumcision of 100,000s of infants to prevent the possible appearance of cancer in one elderly man does not make sense (this is about the likelihood of penile cancer).

Cons of Circumcision

Let's continue our review of the pros and cons of circumcision with the cons

Loss of sensation
Of course, this is a very subjective criterion. A recent study in cooperation with Michigan State University (Sorrels et al.) was carried out recently to answer the question about loss of sensation from circumcision. I will not give you the details, but the conclusions were that the boys with foreskin had the most sensations in their penis.

Functions of the foreskin
Too many people just assume that the foreskin is only "a useless piece of skin".
Here are only a few of the foreskin's functions:
Protection of the glans of incontinent infants
The tissue of the foreskin is richly supplied with blood vessels and contains a lot of nerves. It therefore contributes significantly to the pleasure of intact males during sex.
It provides natural lubrication and therefore prevents dryness, which is often responsible for painful intercourse and chaffing or abrasions (which both contribute to the entry of STDs and viruses/bacteria).

Immediate risks and complications of circumcision

It is worthy to note that complications are often overlooked or un(der)reported. Complications include: lacerations, skin bridges, stenosis, chordee, urinary retention, skin loss, meatitis, glans necrosis, penile loss, hemorrhage, sepsis, gangrene, meningitis.
Realistic complication figures are between 2-10%.

Long-term adverse outcomes of circumcision
There is a significant change in the penis with one-third or more of the entire penile skin removed by circumcision. This removal of sexually functioning tissue will alter sexual functioning. Over the years, circumcized men report that there is a progressive loss of glans sensitivity, that they need excess stimulation to reach orgasm and that coitus can get painful.
It is not uncommon for circumcized men to feel a sense of parental violation, to express feelings of mutilation and to be dissatisfied with the look of their circumcision.

Effects of Pain
The pain that newborn infants experience is similar or greater than that experienced by adult subjects. Circumcision causes severe and persistent pain, not improved by Acetaminophen. Studies reported on the presence of memory in newborns as shown by the persistence of some specific behavioral changes after circumcision. Some believe that this memory can have long-lasting effects.

Mother/son bonding and breastfeeding
Studies have shown that infants feed less often after being circumcized, which in turn can lead to failure to breastfeed. It is the stress and the pain caused by circumcision which seems to cause this pattern.
Research has also shown that when an infant is subjected to strong pain he can conceptualize his mother as being responsible for his pain. This can result in problems with the mother/son bonding process.

Medical ethics
The removal of a functioning, normal body organ is contrary to the motto of medicine "First do no harm". Circumcision is a breach of fundamental medical ethics.

I hope this list of pros and cons of circumcision has been informative and I believe that you should now have all the elements necessary to make an informed decision. There are a lot of things to take into account, it's not only about looks. It is also about function, self body image, and lots more!

When making the ultimate decision "to cut or not to cut", I believe that the rights of the child should be taken into account. It is his body and it just seems fair to give him a chance to decide by himself. Circumcision is a permanent procedure that cannot be reversed. And, let's face it, this list of pros and cons of circumcision has not much going for the alleged pros...

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