Circumcision myths : A guide to Circumcision

There are a great many myths surrounding circumcision which are discussed here. Myths and old wives tales often surround a medical condition but it is useful to be able separate truth from fantasy.

Here are some of the most popular myths surrounding circumcision:

1. Myth: circumcision protects against urinary tract infections (UTIs)

Truth: circumcision is effective in cases of chronic or repeated infections but in most other cases it is mild and can be treated with antibiotics.

2. Myth: circumcision prevents penile cancer

Truth: this is a very rare form of cancer which affects both circumcised and uncircumcised men. But it appears to affect greater numbers of uncircumcised men which is due to the fact that it develops within the foreskin.

If someone has a family history of penile cancer and a poorly functioning immune system then circumcision may be of benefit.

3. Myth: circumcision protects against HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases

Truth: circumcision does appear to offer some protection against these diseases but the best form of protection is safe sex and condoms.

4. Myth: circumcised boys and men do not miss their foreskin

Truth: the foreskin performs three very important functions which include sexual response. There are cases where adult men report a loss of sensation or reduction in sexual pleasure after circumcision.

Some people argue that boys should be given a choice as to whether they want circumcision or not.

5. Myth: circumcision means that the penis is easier to keep clean

Truth: there is no difference in hygiene between a circumcised penis and an uncircumcised penis. Rinsing the area when bathing or having a shower is perfectly adequate.

6. Myth: circumcision is an essential medical procedure

Truth: For most conditions, circumcision is not an essential form of treatment. It can be beneficial but is not always recommended.

The one exception is balanitis xerotica obliterans in which circumcision is an effective form of treatment.

7. Myth: a baby boy will not feel any pain during circumcision

Truth: correct - if the procedure is performed under a general anaesthetic. But many circumcisions are carried out without anaesthesia and it has been found that babies do experience pain.

8. Myth: the foreskin is prone to infection if not circumcised

Truth: most men go through life without any problem with their foreskin. Infections can occur but are easily treated with antibiotics or other forms of medication.

Circumcision is considered a last resort.

9. Myth: Circumcised men enjoy better sex

Truth: removing the foreskin means taking away a piece of skin which contains millions of highly sensitive nerve endings. These nerve endings are responsible for the heightened feelings of pleasure during sexual intercourse.

Some men find that there is a reduction in their level of sexual pleasure which affects both them and their partner.

10. Myth: if a baby’s foreskin cannot be retracted then he must be circumcised

Truth: the foreskin and glans (head of the penis) are fused together at birth but separate during childhood. It is normal for the foreskin to be tight but this usually loosens by the age of three.

As long as it doesn’t cause any medical problems such as preventing urination then this usually resolves itself.

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