Truths and Myths About Circumcision
Although circumcision is the most common male surgical procedure in the United States, there are a number of myths that continue to circulate. Circumcision is a procedure to surgically remove the foreskin of the penis, which is the piece of skin that covers the glans penis, or the tip. Let’s take a look at some of the questions about circumcision that are frequently misunderstood:
Myth: It can only be done in infancy.
Truth: Although this procedure is frequently performed on the first or second day after birth, in the Jewish community it is performed on the eighth day after birth. However, many men who have not been circumcised in infancy later elect to undergo adult circumcision. There are a variety of reasons for men to decide to undergo it. For some men, it is a matter of personal taste, but it can also be performed for hygiene or for medical reasons, including decreased risks of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections.
Truth: There is evidence that circumcision has several beneficial effects on health, including the reduced risk of sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, and penile cancer. Additionally, it reduces the risk of penile cancer and can also
reduce the risk of cervical cancer in female partners. Circumcision prevents balanitis, which is inflammation of the glans penis, and balanoposthitis, which refers to inflammation of the glans and the foreskin. It also prevents phimosis and paraphimosis, which refer to the inability to retract the foreskin and to return it to its original position.
Myth: Circumcision prevents AIDS
There is evidence that the risk of contracting HIV is reduced in circumcised men, but safe sex is still necessary to prevent transmission of HIV and of other sexually transmitted infections. It’s also important to remember that HIV can be transmitted through exposure to other body fluids, especially through blood, and this procedure is not a protection against transmission of blood borne diseases through needle sharing or transfusion.
Myth: Circumcision only involves snipping a small piece of skin.
Truth: The foreskin of the penis can make up 15 square inches of area of skin in an adult man, so the procedure is a little more complex and requires skill. An experienced urologist can perform the procedure with the necessary skill and experience. All surgical procedures have the potential to cause complications. Although complications from circumcision are rare, particularly when performed by an experienced surgeon, they can include infection and bleeding.