Circumcise or not to circumcise? : A guide to Circumcision

This is a controversial issue for many people. There is a strong religious and cultural element to this which is often the reason behind many requests for circumcision.

Circumcision is an important part of both Judaism and Islam and also plays an important role in many tribal communities in Africa and Asia.

They have very strong reasons for practising circumcision which includes an affirmation of faith, an act of belonging or purification/hygiene.

This is often performed on infants or young boys although adult men often undergo this procedure if they have recently converted to that religion.

Find out more in our cultural/religious reasons section.

But as much as there are advocates of circumcision there are also opponents of this procedure who view it as unnecessary, risky and often without consent. The issue of consent is a tricky one when circumcision is performed on babies or young boys as they may not have a say in the matter.

There are ethical considerations as well with opponents claiming that discarded foreskins are being sold for commercial gain.

For men who have undergone circumcision, some of these argue that it has negatively impacted upon their sexual performance which then affects their sexual relations with others. They also state that this has affected them psychologically as well.

Arguments for circumcision

Supporters of circumcision cite religious and cultural reasons as well as claiming that it is both hygienic and helps to prevent the risk of diseases such as HIV.

Arguments against circumcision

Opponents to circumcision claim that this is an outdated and unnecessary practice which can cause physical and psychological damage.

The foreskin is an extremely sensitive part of the penis which contains numerous erogenous nerves that are highly receptive to touch. The foreskin also protects the penis and most importantly, provides highly pleasurable feelings during sexual activity.

For that reason alone, many men are reluctant to undergo circumcision in case it affects these feelings as well as their sexual performance.

Many men who underwent circumcision as a baby do not usually report any sexual problems but this can be a problem for men who have circumcision later on in life.

Another argument against circumcision is that when it is performed for religious reasons, it is usually done so without anaesthetic. This is performed by a person specially trained in this procedure, for example, a ‘mohel’ (Judaism).

This is carried out on baby boys and usually without anaesthetic which makes the whole procedure extremely painful. This is painful for both adults and babies but the difference here is that an adult can refuse to undergo this procedure whereas a baby cannot.

General anaesthesia would prevent pain without interfering with the ritual so could be considered as an acceptable addition.


Circumcision is a personal choice and only one that you can make. We have discussed the arguments for and against circumcision as it is important to present a balanced view of this contentious issue.

Circumcision forms an important part of religions such as Judaism and Islam and will continue to do so.

This is recognised and respected throughout this guide.


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