Circumcision. Depending on where you're from, the procedure is done for medical, religious, or traditional reasons.
What is Circumcision?
From a medical perspective, Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head (glans) of the penis.
During a circumcision, the foreskin (the retractable roll of skin covering the end of the penis), is freed from the head of the penis, and the excess foreskin is trimmed off.
If done at birth, the procedure takes about five to 10 minutes. Older children and adult circumcision takes about one hour. The penis generally heals in five to seven days.
Why Do People Get Circumcised?
- Religious and Cultural
For certain cultures such as Jewish, Islamic, African, and Aboriginal tribes, it is practised as a ritual. There are also men who get circumcised to alter the appearance of their penis, (they believe it is cleaner, neater and more appealing to sexual partners).
Some claim it enhances their sexual performance depending on the particular 'style' of their cut. Sometimes there's a medical need for circumcision, such as when the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back (retracted) over the glans.
A tight foreskin can cause infection due to a build-up of smegma.
What percentage of the world is circumcised?
The rates vary widely by country:
- 0% in Honduras
- 7% in Spain
- 20% in the United Kingdom
- 45% in South Africa
- 80% in the United States
- 90% in many Muslim-majority countries.
Circumcision rates Australia
In Australia, 32% of men under 30 are circumcised. During the 2016/2017 financial year, Medicare recorded 6,309 newborn circumcisions.
The actual numbers are higher as they do not account for circumcisions undertaken during religious ceremonies.
Generally, Australian circumcision rates are declining rapidly.
Just on ten years ago, Medicare reported 19,663 circumcisions for those under six months of age.
Going back even further, 85% of males were circumcised in the 1950s.
History of circumcision:
Circumcision was first practised as a male initiation ritual by Aboriginal nations in Arnhem Land before the British settlers. Jewish people and Muslims have been performing circumcisions for thousands of years. Aside from being a religious requirement, it is believed that before modern sanitation, it lessened the incidents of Balanitis, (a painful swelling of the head of the penis due to infection, uncontrolled diabetes or overuse of soap).
Circumcision–does it hurt?
While we can never ask a newborn, it is said that the pain of circumcision at this age is momentary. Older children require a general anaesthetic and will experience swelling and pain, (especially when urinating) for a 5–7 days. The pain is easily managed with over the counter paracetamol. Males past puberty suffer the most pain, particularly if they get an erection.
Circumcised vs Uncircumcised : Let's tackle this head-on
What does a circumcised male look like?
Circumcised: In a cut penis, there is no foreskin–exposing the head (glans) erect or not. There's also a smoother texture where the foreskin was removed. The skin closer to your body is tougher, thicker.
Uncircumcised: In an uncut penis, the foreskin drapes over the head of the penis like a hood when not erect. The penis head largely isn't visible. When erect, the foreskin retracts and exposes the glans.
Do they feel different?
Circumcised: A cut penis is low maintenance because you have less foreskin to clean. The downside is, your penile skin may be more likely to get dry, chafed or irritated without the foreskin. You can help prevent this by wearing loose-fitting underwear and avoiding tight pants.
Uncircumcised: An uncut penis requires some extra attention to cleanliness. If you don't regularly clean under the foreskin, bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil can cause smegma to build up. Smegma can make your penis smell and lead to inflammation of the glans and foreskin.
Is sex any different?
To gain intel from real people, to see what sex is like for both cut, uncut and the women/men in their lives, we hit online discussion forums.
Male Point of View
Man 1: "Technically uncircumcised men enjoy sex more because they have far more nerve endings to simulate the feeling."
Man 2: "I've thought about that and I honestly don't think it would be different at all. I just make sure to pull it [the foreskin] back before putting a condom on so it won't break."
For fair comparison, comments have been taken from men who have had sex after circumcision as well intact.
Man 1: "In my case, it has definitively improved it. Things were a bit tight down there, and I can now experience more sensation".
Man 2: "My experience has been wonderful, I got circumcised by choice and so far my experience has been very good both mentally and sexually. The healing time was really long and that was the only negative part but I have experienced nothing but good sensations and more comfort after getting circumcised. I was circumcised later on and I did not notice any reduction in sensitivity. None".
Female Point of View
Do girls prefer circumcised or uncircumcised? Uncircumcised pros and cons?
Woman 1: "Never been intimate with one [circumcised], but have heard from friends that dudes with their foreskin still intact are better in bed, because they feel EVERYTHING 10 times as much!"
Woman 2: "I've had both. The uncircumcised was the worst lover fathomable. He did not use his parts optimally. I wish he had been more hygienic too. Though the thought of circumcision makes me ill—(poor baby, thank God he won't remember) but a circumcised hot-rod combined with an owner who knows what he's doing, is heavenly!"
Looks like it's really all a matter of preference and varies from person to person.
Circumcision: What are the benefits?
Circumcision may reduce the risks of the following:
Urinary tract infections. These affect up to four percent of boys, especially in infancy, but may be 10 times less frequent in circumcised boys. This is not considered by doctors to be sufficient reason for circumcision.
Penile cancer. This cancer is rare (one in 250,000 Australian men develops it) but there is an increased risk of cancer of the penis in uncircumcised men.
Cervical cancer. Uncircumcised men may be more likely to acquire and transmit the human papilloma virus (HPV) that is responsible for most cervical cancers. However, cervical cancer rates are declining in Australia due to effective screening and vaccination programs.
Penile inflammation and dermatoses (skin disorders). Penile inflammatory disorders are less common in circumcised men but can develop whether or not circumcision has been performed. Uncircumcised males who retract the foreskin while bathing are less likely to experience problems with inflammation. Acute and recurrent problems with the foreskin can sometimes be managed medically but surgical intervention may be required
Sexually transmitted infections (eg syphilis, gonorrhoea, herpes, HPV, HIV). Although circumcision may slightly reduce the risk of transmission, particularly in high-risk groups, it does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections and should not replace safe sex practices.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a difference in the aim of circumcised penis when urinating, much sharper without a foreskin. Particularly when it comes to children.
Circumcision: What are the risks?
Pain and distress. Surgical excision of the foreskin is painful. Safe and effective pain control should be offered to all infants undergoing the procedure. Post-operative pain, swelling and bruising are common.
Cosmetic concerns. Too much or too little skin removal may present problems ornabnormal scar tissue may develop.
Buried penis. Refers to a penis that is buried under scar tissue that develops at the site of incision. It may occur if too much or too little skin is removed. Treatment is surgical.
Sexual dissatisfaction. Some men say the end of the penis becomes less sensitive when the foreskin is removed. However, most circumcised males do not describe psychological trauma or decreased sexual function as a result of being circumcised.
Psychological trauma. Some males resent having been circumcised and undergo a process called Foreskin Restoration.
Should I get my baby circumcised?
Ultimately, the only person who can decide whether your son should be circumcised or not circumcised is you as a parent or your child. Circumcision is quite controversial here in Australia. It all boils down to your choice and careful research. Weigh the benefits as well as the risks.
You can also wait until your son is of reasoning age so that he can have input on the decision. Gather all the information and talk to your doctor.