Manchester Clinic’s Take on the Risks and Benefits of Circumcision

Circumcision is a minor operation to remove the foreskin of the penis. It is one of the most common and oldest surgical procedures. It is often performed on infants, for medical, cultural, social and of course, for religious purposes.

The CDC or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourage families to circumcise their male kids to reduce the risk of HIV infection. But not all health agencies agree to this. The recommendation by the CDC remains a big controversy.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 50% of American newborn male babies were circumcised in 2010. In the United Kingdom alone, around 8 percent of male babies are circumcised. According to records, the first circumcision may have been carried out at least 15,000 years ago.

It is pretty standard in the United States, but not in other western countries. Circumcising a newborn baby takes about 5 to 10 minutes. The adult procedure takes a lot longer, at least o hour and it takes 2 to 3 weeks to recover. The adult male takes more time because they have a larger foreskin, and it takes more time to heal a big incision than babies or kids.

It is true that it may reduce the risk of developing health problems, including the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV, but a lot of medical practitioners still believe that the foreskin of the penis protects the genitals from outside contaminants. When it comes to religion, Islam, Judaism and a lot of religions advocate circumcision because it serves as the covenant of men to God.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is a procedure that involves the removal of the penis’ foreskin. The foreskin is the extra skin in the male genitalia, that can be pulled back gently to uncover the tip of the penis. The surgery is pretty simple. The foreskin is pulled back from the head of the penis (for babies and children it is clipped off); usually, the foreskin is removed using a scalpel, and it takes at least 1 hour for adults.

For kids and babies, the foreskin can be removed using a scissor, and it will take more or less 5 minutes to finish the procedure. The wound is either stitched using a dissolvable suture (in most places, just a standard suture) or cauterized.

(To know at what age kids should be circumcised, visit https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4441785.)

Why do newborns need to be circumcised?

There are a few factors associated with newborn circumcision. The most common are religion, health considerations, hygiene, or culture. Some studies suggest that circumcision can reduce the risk of urinary diseases like UTI or urinary tract infection, but recent studies prove otherwise.

Evidence shows that circumcision can lower the risk of some STDs or sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS and HIV. Studies also show that men who undergo circumcision are less likely to develop syphilis or herpes. In rare cases, phimosis or balanitis can occur in men who are not circumcised.

Because of these conditions, the foreskin of the male genitalia cannot be retracted and will require surgical treatment. Cancer of the penis is another rare disease that can be prevented if the penis is circumcised. This type of cancer is also common with people that have a high body mass index, people with a history of smoking, and of course, men who are not circumcised. It is estimated that at least 300,000 circumcisions may be required to prevent cancer in the penis every year.

HIV and circumcision

According to the WHO or World Health Organization, there is evidence that shows circumcision helps reduce the risk of contracting HIV during sex, at least by 60% But they pointed out that it will only offer partial protection, they still urge men to use the safest protection available in the market, and also the most common birth control contraception, the condom.

There is a higher chance of getting infected with STIs or Sexually Transmitted Infections when you are uncircumcised, because the foreskin becomes prone to splits and ruptures during intercourse. It will leave an open door for bacteria and viruses to enter the bloodstream. Another possibility is that the space between the foreskin and the penis can provide a suitable environment for virus and bacteria to survive for a period.

(Want to know more about circumcision and STDs? Click here.)

It will raise the risk of infection for men and their sexual partners. From the year 2008 to 2014, HIV cases of new infections fell from 45,700 to 37,600. Of the 26,200 HIV cases, the most infected are gay men, bisexuals, or men who have sex with other men.