It’s a controversial procedure that has fallen in and out of favour over time, but some are arguing for circumcision to make a comeback.
If you’ve had sons you’ll probably have an opinion on this issue.
Routine circumcision reached a peak in the 1950s with more than 80 per cent of baby boys getting ‘the chop’. Since the 1960s though, circumcision has fallen steadily with the majority of boys keeping all the parts they were born with.
Today around 15 per cent of parents still go through with this surgery, although most do so for religious or cultural reasons.
Many GPs encourage parents to arrange “the kindest cut” because of all the health issues associated with it.
Brian J Morris from the University of Sydney and Alex Wodak, from St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, says there are sound medical studies that show benefits of circumcision.
These include the reduction of childhood urinary tract infections, which are common, painful and often cause permanent kidney damage, and protection against many common, as well as not so common, sexually transmitted infections, including the epidemic of cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes, genital ulcer disease and HIV, among others.
“Circumcision also helps protect against penile candidiasis (thrush), inflammatory skin conditions and inferior penile hygiene. It can help those with physical problems, such as a tight foreskin that interferes with passing urine, and an inability to return the foreskin after it is retracted. It virtually eliminates the risk of penile cancer that occurs in one in 1,000 uncircumcised males over their lifetime. And there may also be some reduction in the risk of prostate cancer,” write the professors.
The benefits extend beyond the mere male to their women partners, who are provided some protection against cancer-causing HPV and cervical cancer.