Circumcision and boys : A guide to Circumcision

Circumcision is performed on boys for religious or cultural reasons. Both Jewish and Islamic faiths advocate circumcision as a requirement of their faith as well as a statement of identity.

In other words, it reinforces a sense of commitment to their religion and its followers. It is usually performed around birth or during adolescence.

Apart from religious or cultural reasons, circumcision is carried out on boys to treat a medical condition.

Most circumcisions are performed on boys but men can also undergo this procedure.

Circumcision and men is discussed in more detail later on.

Do girls undergo circumcision?

The answer to that is yes but female circumcision is not practised in the UK. Also known as ‘female genital mutilation’it is seen as a harsh and unnecessary procedure which causes untold physical and psychological damage.

But it still goes on in certain parts of the world, e.g. Africa and Asia.

There is a procedure called ‘clitorectomy’ which involves surgery on the female genitalia in the form of partial or full removal of the clitoris. This is usually performed for medical reasons such as the removal of cancer within that area although this is very rare.

It is also performed for religious or cultural reasons which have led to it being classified as a form of female genital mutilation.

If you want to know more about this visit our female circumcision section.

Should a boy be circumcised?

That is a difficult question to answer. It is effective in cases where there is a clear medical need such as balanoposthitis; but is it necessary for conditions such as a urinary tract infection which is often mild and does not pose a serious risk to health?

Opponents of circumcision argue that performing this procedure on boys without their permission is contravening their ‘consent to treatment. A young child is unlikely to be aware of the benefits and risks of the surgery and the potential implications and so is not in a position to make a decision.

That child may feel resentful or angry about this procedure once they are older and understand what it has done. In this sense it may be better to wait until the boy is old enough to understand what circumcision is, what it will mean and the outcome. Only then can they decide whether they want to undergo surgery or not.

If the boy refuses to be circumcised then his wishes must be taken into account. The surgeon will consider these before deciding whether to proceed or not. In some cases the boy is old enough to understand and sign the consent form for surgery which is entirely his decision.

This is particularly important in cases of circumcision performed for religious or cultural reasons. If the child does not fully understand why they are having surgery then this can cause problems later on.

Circumcision, like any form of surgery is not without its risks and it is important to be aware of these.

We do not take sides in this debate. Every case is judged on its merits and only you can decide if this is right for you. We present the facts and arguments for and against circumcision so that you have a balanced view of this issue.

This argument is explored in more detail in circumcise or not to circumcise section. This and other aspects of this debate are covered in our why circumcision section.

The procedure itself is discussed further in our circumcision surgery section.


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