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The Circumcision Debate

Little did I know that there is a raging debate about whether or not it’s a good idea to circumcise male babies.  I was reading #1 Dinosaur’s blog and almost fell off my chair at the passionate series of comments.  Apparently, 90% of American males were circumcised in the 1960s, but that rate has dropped to about 57% today.

Pro Circumcision:  circumcision decreases the rate of transmission of HIV and HPV and is hygienically desirable.  It does not appear to adversely affect sexual function, is a fairly minor and non-traumatic procedure, and is a reasonable health intervention.

Against Circumcision: condoms are more effective at reducing HIV and HPV transmission than circumcision.  It is ethically wrong to circumcise an infant because he cannot give his consent and the procedure is painful. Some people believe that there is an important sensory nerve in the frenulum that is often severed during circumcision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics takes the position that: Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of
newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to
recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

The American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists takes no position: Newborn circumcision is an elective procedure to be performed at the
request of the parents on baby boys who are physiologically and
clinical stable.

I had always assumed that circumcision was a personal choice that people didn’t feel that strongly about one way or the other. I guess I was wrong!

Why do you think this topic is so passionately debated?This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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3 Responses to “The Circumcision Debate”

  1. MichaelKrychmanMD says:

    Dr Jones makes some interesting comments

    see my blog on the topic of circumcision and sexual function


  2. pcrzero says:

    there is no debate.  You don’t remove healthy tissue to prevent disease.  You treat UTI’s with anti-biotics, not surgery.

  3. Hugh77 says:

    It has been demonstrated that there are some tens of thousands of important sensory nerves in the foreskin that are always removed by circumcision. (This was well known before circumcision became routine.) Given where it is placed, it would be perverse of God/evolution if there were not.

    “Hygienically desirable”? Nonsense. Cleaning one’s intact penis is quicker and easier (and pleasanter) than cleaning your ears.

    You are right, circumcision should be a personal choice – that of the penis’ owner, like eyebrow-piercing or tongue-slitting. Unscientific polls suggest that a much higher proportion of circumcised men than intact men are dissatisfied with their condition.

    The topic is so passionately debated (in the US) because circumcision is irrational yet normative. Men who have part of their penis missing are (unsurprisingly) unwilling to admit that there could be anything wrong with that.

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