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To Circumcise or Not, That is the Question

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

Male circumcision is a topic that aroused a lot of controversy on Mental Help Net when articles were posted about health issues and circumcision. There were those who claimed that I, the writer, had some type of “hidden agenda” about this issue. Others simply rejected circumcision because they were convinced that it reduces sexual pleasure for all men, even those who had it when they were infants. Any research findings about the benefits of circumcision were rejected as coming from third world countries and, therefore, being irrelevant to the United States. Once more, at the risk of inciting controversy, I am reporting some of the latest findings about this.

During the last ten years there has been a slight decline, about 5%, in the numbers of American families who have their male infants circumcised. This has aroused some concern on the part of health officials in light of new evidence that circumcision protects against certain diseases. It is thought that the decline is due to the fact that Medicare and Medicaid will not reimburse if there are any complications associated with the procedure.

According to CBS News, a new study found that circumcision may protect men against prostate cancer. The CBS News report can be found at:

The study is based on 3,400 men who had been circumcised before their first sexual intercourse. It was found that they had a 15% less of a chance of developing prostate cancer as compared to men who did not have the surgery. However, this is type of research is considered to be “observational” in nature and there must be solid proof linking prostate cancer prevention to circumcision.

Having said this, it is important to point out that there is solid evidence linking circumcision to a reduced rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), HIV and other types of inflammation and infection.

Evidently, circumcision prevents these disease in many men because it removes a space between the foreskin and penis that provides a pathway for STD and other sexual diseases.

The question that troubles many people, parents and adults, is whether or not to have circumcision performed. This is an intensely personal question for which no answer can be found that fits all people. As the CBS News article points out, there are risks and benefits to this. For example, some men who had the procedure done in their adulthood, sent Emails here stating that they experienced a loss of sexual pleasure as a result of the surgery.

As far as deciding for a new born baby about whether or not to have the foreskin removed, everyone must weigh the risks and benefits and decide according to what they think best for their child.

What are your views about this issue?

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

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