Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments (3)

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

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

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.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles