Dr Normal Blumenthal performs circumcisions in Western Sydney and Sydney’s North Shore. The following is an exerpt from his site on the benefits and risks. We have added additional information and corrections in blue:
Circumcision is a simple surgical procedure that removes the foreskin – a sleeve of skin covering the tip of the penis. (Actually, it’s more than a sleeve of skin – it consists of complex specialised structures including the frenulum, frenal band, rigid band, inner mucosul skin, outer skin and more that 20,000 nerves, which all work together to protect, stimulate and provide a natural ‘gliding’ action during sexual activity). In order to make an informed decision, they must carefully consider the benefits and risks.
Benefits of circumcision
- Eliminates the risk of phimosis, which affects 1 in 10 older boys and men. (Actually ‘true’ phimosis is much less common, and is almost always treatable with steroid cream and stretching). This condition refers to a tight foreskin that cannot be pulled back fully, so making cleaning under it, and passing urine, difficult. (Actually, it is normal for the foreskin to be non-retractable well into puberty – it should never be forcibly retracted and cleaned).
- Reduces by 3-fold the risk of inflammation and infection of the skin of the penis. One in 10 uncircumcised men gets inflammation of the head of the penis and foreskin.
- Over 10-fold decrease in risk of urinary tract infection. Whereas risk of this is only 1 in 500 for a circumcised boy, 1 in 50 uncircumcised male infants will get a urinary tract infection. (There have been many studies which show either no decrease in UTI with circumcision, or else an increase in UTI from circumcision. Thus circumcision is not recommended to prevent UTI (Thompson 1990). Girls have higher rates of UTI than boys, and yet when a girl gets a UTI, she is simply prescribed antibiotics. The same treatment works for boys.)
- Over 20-fold decrease in risk of invasive penile cancer. One in 600 uncircumcised men gets penile cancer, which usually requires penile amputation or disfiguring surgery. (Simply not true. This cancer is so rare that the Australian medical athorities do not even keep statistics on it. When it does occur, it is almost always in elderly men, and does not discriminate between circumcised or intact men.)
- Uncircumcised men have 1½ – 2 times the risk of prostate cancer, which affects 1 in 6 men. (There is no evidence to support this.)
- Reduces by approximately 3 to 7 fold the risk of getting HIV (AIDS), during sex with an infected person. (Studies that showed a reduction in HIV transmission had many flaws, including that they were stopped before all the results came in. There have also been several studies that show that circumcision does not prevent HIV (Connolly 2008). There are many issues at play in the spread of STDs which make it very hard to generalize results from one population to another.)
- Circumcision also affords substantial protection against thrush as well as sexually transmitted infections such as papilloma (wart) virus and syphilis.
- Circumcision reduces by up to 5 times the risk of the man’s female partner being infected by Chlamydia or getting cervical cancer (which is caused by human papillomavirus). The load of infectious bacteria and viruses that accumulate under the foreskin is delivered into the female genital tract during sex. (The hypothesis that cervical cancer is caused by smegma of the male foreskin was invented in 1954 by Wynder. His study was found to be invalid, because most of the cervical cancer patients in his study incorrectly reported that their husbands were uncircumcised. These women had no idea whether their husbands were circumcised or not. They gave the answer they thought the doctor wanted to hear. Wynder later recognized and admitted the error in 1960.3 This hypothesis was formally and scientifically disproven in 1962 by Stern)
- If not circumcised soon after birth, up to 10% will later require one anyway for medical reasons. (Where are the stats to back up this claim? In Norway only 1 in 16,667 require a circumcision for a medical reason.)
- Credible research shows that most women prefer the appearance of the circumcised penis. They also prefer it for sexual activity. Hygiene is one reason; increased contact of the penis with the vaginal wall, and stimulation, are others. (Most women of older generations have only ever see the circumcised penis, so they have been conditioned to consider this to be ‘normal’. However, the generation of women that your son will be in contact with will think the opposite, and will find the dry exposed glans and scars unattractive. Most women of today’s generation prefer the natural, sensual, gliding motion of sex as nature intended it, rather than the dry friction of sex with a circumcised man.)
- In general, sexual function and sensation are the same or better in circumcised men. The problem of overly tender sensitivity of the head of the penis experienced by most uncircumcised men is virtually eliminated. (Actually, circumcision unnaturally exposes the sensitive glans (head) instead of being protected by the foreskin. This friction with the exposed glans created by circumcision is the cause of this ‘tender sensitivity’.)
Risks of circumcision
- For 1 in 500 circumcisions, there may be either a little bleeding – easily stopped by pressure or, less commonly, requiring stitches (1 in 1000); the need for repeat surgery (1 in 1000); or a generalized infection that will require antibiotics (1 in 4000). Although there can be a local infection, often what seems like a local infection is actually part of the normal healing process.
- Serious complications (requiring hospitalization) are rare – approximately 1 in 5000. (Serious complications from leaving your baby intact are even rarer.)
- Mutilation or loss of the penis, and death, are virtually unheard of with circumcisions performed by a competent medical practitioner. (Each year in the United States more than 100 newborn baby boys die as a result of circumcision and circumcision complications.)
- Anaesthetic is suggested, preferably a local one. (Babies undergo severe pain and stress both during and after circumcision. Local anesthetic is only partially effective.)
- Delay means stitches being used for circumcision of older children, teenagers and men.
- So if circumcision is delayed past 4 months, total cost will become increasingly greater.
Meatal Stenosis: One example of a circumcision complication is ulcerative meatitis. Dr. Leonard Marino, in 25 years of practice as a pediatric urologist, stated that 25% of his patients were intact. None of these ever needed surgery for meatal stenosis, a sequelum of ulcerative meatitis. In contrast, 75 of his circumcised patients required surgery to enlarge the urinary meatus.
A full list of complications can be found here.
Circumcision confers a lifetime of medical benefits. One in 3 uncircumcised boys will develop a condition requiring medical attention. In contrast, risk of an easily treatable condition during a circumcision is a very low 1 in 500, and of a true complication is 1 in 5000. A successful circumcision is very unlikely to have any long-term adverse consequences and cosmetic outcome is generally excellent. (Since the rate of neonatal circumcision in Finland, where the intact (whole, entire) penis is highly valued, is essentially zero, and the risk of needing a circumcision later in life is 1/16,667)
Further information may be obtained from the following web sites:
Professor Brian Morris, Sydney
The Gilgal Society, London
(The gilgal society openly admits to a morbid fascination with circumcision to the point of sado-masochistic fetish. There are those on the Internet who discuss the erotic stimulation they experience by watching other males being circumcised, swap fiction and about it, and trade in videotapes of actual circumcisions. Brian Morris is a member of the Gilgal society, and provides links from his website.)