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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Male Circumcision

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

Circumcision is the surgical removal of some, or all, of the foreskin from the penis. This procedure is one of the most common procedures in the world. In the United States, this procedure is usually performed on newborn males.

In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement that showed scientific evidence of the potential health benefits of circumcision. Recently in August of 2012, AAP revised their policy statement slightly to reflect current evidence that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.

The risks of circumcision are usually minor and include bleeding, infection or an imperfect amount of tissue removed. Significant complications are rare. In general, untrained providers of circumcision have more complications during the procedure, regardless of whether that provider is a medical professional or traditional religious provider.

The health benefits of circumcision include reducing the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual males, a lower risk of HPV infection (human papilloma virus), a lower risk of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2 sometimes called genital herpes) and a decreased risk of penile cancer. Circumcision also decreases the risk of urinary tract infections in the newborn male.

Circumcision is most likely to have protective benefits if performed on a newborn male by a trained professional utilizing sterile techniques and adequate pain management. In some cases, circumcision is postponed or deferred due to other health complications or low birth weight in the newborn.

While there are benefits to circumcision, the benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all newborn boys. Circumcision is still an elective procedure. The medical, cultural, social, familial and religious benefits and harms should be taken into consideration when deciding about circumcision. Ultimately, parents decide what is in the best interest and well-being of their son.

Circumcision Policy Statement. Pediatrics Vol. 103 No. 3 March 1, 1999 pp. 686 -693 (doi:10.1542/peds.103.3.686) retrieved from

Circumcision Policy Statement. Pediatrics peds.2012-1989; published ahead of print August 27, 2012, (doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1989) retrieved from

New benefits point to greater benefits of Infant Circumcision, but final say is still up to parents says AAP, retrieved from

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