I was so surprised the other day when my GP told me blithely that she was going ahead with something I thought was completely out of favour.
Don’t ask me how the topic came up, but my doctor, who is pregnant with her third child, said she would be having her son circumcised as soon as he was born.
It turns out some 15 per cent of parents still go through with this surgery, although most do so for religious or cultural reasons.
For my GP, the decision has nothing to do with faith, a scientist through and through, she says she is inflicting “the kindest cut” because of all the health issues she sees – in boys and men of all ages – every day in the surgery.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) does not recommend routine neonatal circumcision for boys, however, Brian J Morris from the University of Sydney and Alex Wodak, from St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, say 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.
Let’s talk: When you had your sons, what was the attitude towards circumcision? What did you decide and were there any regrets? What would you say if your child told you your grandchild was going to have “the chop”?