Circumcision is a common surgical procedure for pediatric surgeons and urologists and may be performed at any age. Pediatricians, obstetricians and specially trained religious personnel also commonly circumcise newborn babies. It is the oldest documented surgical procedure - the first account being documented in the book of Genesis with Abraham undergoing circumcision and circumcising the males in his house. Today, it is widely practiced all over the world but is more popular in certain religious and ethnic groups. In North America and Europe, it remains a controversial procedure.

What controversy exists regarding circumcision?

In 1975, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a statement that there was no medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn. In 1999, the policy was changed to state that there are some medical benefits of the procedure, but not enough to warrant routine newborn circumcision. (In response to this statement many states no longer covered routine neonatal circumcision. The most recent policy statement from the AAP in 2012 states that “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it."

Advocates maintain that circumcision reduces the rates of phimosis and paraphimosis, sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer and urinary tract infections [1]. Additionally there are a multitude of religious, cultural and cosmetic reasons for performing circumcision. Opponents of circumcision argue that the procedure is nonphysiologic, unnecessary and possibly harmful. Extremists argue that it is unethical and unlawful [2]. Some have argued that circumcision may lead to decreased sexual function, sensation or satisfaction although this is not strongly supported in the literature [3].

content in this topic is referenced in SCORE Circumcision and Abnormalities of the Urethra, Penis, and Scrotum overview

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Last updated: November 2, 2020