The aim of this site is to provide the American mainstream view regarding male circumcision, where circumcision of newborn boys has long been a part of traditional American culture, discussing the many positive health aspects associated with this minor surgical procedure, as well as the risks, which are minimal. This information is not based on irrational views and claims, but instead on scientific evidence and every-day experiences, as well as religious and cultural arguments.
It is highly significant that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) both have recently re-endorsed the health benefits of circumcision (for more information, see below).
Many generations of American boys and men have experienced the many benefits of circumcision, and there are many reasons why this procedure remains popular in the US. So please have a look at the information provided on the site, as well as the links to other sites, and please contact us if you have any questions.
Please note that on this site, "circumcision" will refer exclusively to male circumcision, the subject of female genital cutting, which has no medical advantages, is not discussed here.
In December 2014 the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta made a policy statement strongly supporting circumcision. The new draft guidelines mirror an updated policy on circumcision released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2012. For further information regarding the CDC Statement, see e.g. the article in Scientific American, and for more on the AAP Statement, see WebMD and CNN.
One of the major - and most emotionally charged - accusations that are often used by anti-circumcision activists to persuade parents not to circumcise their infant boys is that circumcision makes the penis less sensitve, and therefore has a negative influence on the infant's future sex life.
There have been many studies in the past refuting this accusation, but a recent study has provided new evidence showing that the procedure doesn't affect sensitivity - in fact, circumcised and uncircumcised men alike enjoy the same level of sensitivity a study published in The Journal of Urology has found. Further information can be found here, and also this article.
There is now overwhelming evidence based on sound medical research that the claims made that circumcision negatively affects penile sensitivity are completely bogus, and are only used as emotional blackmail by desperate people trying to influence parents. Please do not fall for this!
For further information, see the section "Circumcision and Sexual Function".
Below are links to brochures on circumcision in English, French and Spanish:
The question of how much pain is experienced by an infant during the circumcision procedure is of course a valid one. Infants only a few days old (which is the time when infant circumcisions are normally performed) don't experience pain the way children and adults do, but a circumcision performed without the use of analgesia and/or anesthesia can be painful and uncomfortable to the infant
For the last decade or so the use of local anesthesia (for more information, see the Section Pain Relief Methods) has become standard, with virtually all circumcisions being performed using some kind of pain relief. The American Association of Physicians (AAP) provides explicit guidelines concerning the use of anesthesia, and considers several methods safe for the use on infants.
If this issue remains a worry to you, then speak to the person who will be performing the procedure (normally the obstetrician or a urologist) and ensure that he/she will use some kind of pain relief. With the use of anesthesia like the dorsal penile ring block (recommended by the AAP) the operation can be made almost painless.
One of the favorite scare tactics used by those who oppose circumcision is to show pictures from videos about babies crying during circumcision. These images often have nothing to do with the procedure being carried out, but just shows the infant crying. It should be remembered that the birth process is quite a traumatic experience for the infant, and infants often cry for a vary of different reasons, and they cry very easily. Some babies cry more than others. In order to ensure that the docotor can do the procedure safely without the baby moving during the procudure, the infant is normally fastened so that he cannot move during the procedure. This restraining position is of course not always the position the infant wants to be in, hence it can easily cry. On Youtube there is a video showing a circumcision procedure where the baby cries a bit, then stops and then starts again. The crying has nothing to do with the procudure as can obviously be seen from the video. The video (which requires a loggin in for age reasons) can be found here.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure and, as such, inherently has some risks attached to it. However, it is still one of the safest surgical procedures around:
For a detailed risk-benefit analysis, see Circumcision Risk-Benefit Analysis.
Parents can - and should - go one step further by ensuring that the circumcision is performed by an experienced person. Like most things in life, practice makes perfect, and having an experienced person do the procedure, this will not only reduce the risks involved, but also shorten the time it takes to do the operation (which normally lasts only a few minutes anyhow).
Taking into account the above, you can ensure as much as humanly possible that things will go well. And remember, nearly 2.5 million circumcisions are performed every year in the US. This is a very common and safe procedure!
Cancer of the penis is virtually non-existent in circumcised men. Of the 60000 cases reported since the 1930´s, fewer than 10 occurred in circumcised men. The risk of penile cancer in uncircumcised men is 1 case per 400-600 men, while in circumcised men it is 0.2 per 100,000 per year. Circumcision also helps to reduce the risk of cervical cancer in female partners. Prostate cancer may also be increased for uncircumcised men.
Extensive research done during the past 15 years have convincingly shown that infant circumcision reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS (for further information, see the section on HIV/AIDS).
Circumcision also eliminates problems like phimosis (intractable foreskin) and balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin). Even though these problems only occur in as many as 10% of men, they can be very painful if not treated. In older males, phimosis can cause urine blockage with acute hypersensitive kidney damage. Other painful problems that might occur include paraphimosis (where the retracted foreskin cannot be brought back again over the glans) and posthitis (inflammation of the foreskin). Uncircumcised men are often unaware that these problems are all related to the presence of a foreskin, and that the discomfort and pain that they are experiencing are easily treatable. In almost all cases, the only permanent treatment is circumcision.
One day your son will be a grown man, and studies have shown that women have a preference
for a circumcised penis. The reasons for this are not hard to understand: most women find
the circumcised penis more aesthetically pleasing, and a circumcised penis is also cleaner,
which makes spontaneous sexual intercourse possible. There are also health benefits by reducing
the risk of transmitting or spreading vaginal (e.g. yeast) infections.
In an age where the general population in the US and other developed nations is getting older, there has been a steady increase in the number of people who need extended care. In older men, the absence of circumcision can cause various health problems, and cleanliness if often difficult to achieve among those with limited mobility. For those unable to take care of themselves, there often are added emotional problems caused e.g. by the embarrassment of having one's personal cleaning done by another person. It should therefore come as no surprise that most nursing personal that work with extended-care mature men are in favor of circumcision!
The allegation that the foreskin "facilitates" intercourse by being able to slide back and forth is another popular myth that has been refuted by the above-mentioned testimonies: most men have reported just the opposite, namely that the foreskin covers the glans for most of the time, which lessens the sensitivity experienced by the male partner during intercourse.
The use of condoms, which in the light of the increase in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases has become more important than ever, is far easier if the penis is circumcised. Since the foreskin is often in the way, and has to be retracted correctly for the condom to fit properly.
During circumcision far less than the 80% often quoted by those opposing circumcision is removed. If you are still worried that too much foreskin might be removed, then the best solution is to talk to the person who will be performing the procedure. Also, circumcision does not shorten the penis! For further information, see the section Circumcision and Sexual Function.
As an adult, the operation is more complicated and therefore also takes longer, and hospitalization
is often required. As a result, the medical costs are at least a factor of 10 larger ($1500 - $2000).
The healing process also takes longer - normally 3-4 weeks. During this time, sexual activity
should be avoided to prevent rupturing the stitches. Then there is also a kind of "embarrassment"
factor: since a sexual organ is involved, it is often difficult to discuss the topic with friends
and colleagues (try explaining to colleagues at work why you have to go to the hospital for a few days!).
As a result, some men might be hesitant to get circumcised for fear of being teased or made fun of.
For further information, see the section Neo-Natal Circumcision.
In a recent very insightful article, a nurse reported on issues experienced by older men who are not circumcised. From this article:
One of the most gut wrenching experiences of my hospital career came when I was a nurse’s aide on a medical/surgical floor. A stoic elderly man was transferred to my unit from a nursing home and it was my responsibility to remove his street clothes and dress him in a hospital gown. The stench of gangrene filled the room and overwhelmed me when I removed his pants. He was too sick to communicate with words but looked at me with soft eyes and an apologetic face. I discovered a severe infection that fused the meatus inside the foreskin. I alerted the nurse to what I had found and she delegated the laborious task of cleaning to me. It took hours of warm compresses followed by excruciating crust removal. I apologized repeatedly and when tears flowed from beneath his thick horn-rimmed glasses, I cried too.
I will never forget this experience and I offer it to others when they consider circumcision. The elderly population, specifically 85 years and older, is growing at a rapid rate in the United States. Men are living longer than ever and the health care system is struggling to keep up. Hospitals, rehabs and nursing homes are filled with patients who need increasing assistance with activities of daily living. Dementia, incontinence, decreased sensation, and impaired vision are risk factors which can lead to infection in the uncircumcised elderly male. Lack of awareness in this area by family and/or overworked, underpaid nursing home staff contributes to the problem."
In a rapidly ageing population, the benefits of circumcision becomes more imperative in assuring a dignified final chapter and end to men's lives without the need to suffer unnecessary embarrassment on daily basis.
If you are still unsure, or still have issues that you would like to have explained, please contact us, and we will try our best to answer your questions. Talking to your personal physician is also strongly recommended. Whatever you decide, don´t be ambivalent about this issue, and don´t allow yourselves to be influenced by other people´s opinions and dubious agendas. One day, your son will surely thank you for your foresight and concern on his behalf. Good luck with the decision, and congratulations!