Definition of Circumcision
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis. It is usually performed within the weeks after birth. Approximately 60-75 percent of all American males are circumcised. (1)
Medical Reasons to Circumcise
The most common non-religious reason cited for circumcision is medical.
Parents chose to circumcise their sons because of:
A) Penile Health - Some parents believe or are told that their son’s unretractable foreskin is a problem and needs to be treated. However, the foreskin normally doesn’t retract until about age five, and, in some cases, not until the teenage years. (2)
Phimosis, which is when the foreskin cannot be retracted, is usually the result of poor hygiene and recurrent episodes of inflammation. (3)
Paraphimosis, when the retracted foreskin cannot return to its original position, and balanoposthitis, inflammation of the head of the penis and foreskin in uncircumcised men are even rarer.
Inflammation of the opening of the penis (meatitis) is actually more commonly seen in circumcised boys as a result of exposure of the glans due to circumcision. (1)
B) Cancer of the Penis – Cancer of the penis affects one in 600 American men and about 25 percent of those diagnosed with this type of cancer die. This cancer occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men. “In five major research studies, no man who had been circumcised as a newborn developed cancer of the penis.” (1)
Urinary Tract Infections and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
C) Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) – “A circumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life; an uncircumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 100 chance….” (5) Circumcision prevents the growth of bacteria under the foreskin although simple cleaning of an uncircumcised penis can prevent UTIs. (2)
D) Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) - Three African studies have shown that an uncircumcised penis can harbor STD bacteria for type 2 herpes, human papillomavirus, gonorrhea or syphilis, among others, and pass them on. (1)