Male circumcision has been a highly debated topic with arguments both for and against it. Various religious and traditional practices across the globe favor circumcision. However, there are also large sections of the population in other parts of the world where circumcision is not recommended by religion. Medical research in the area has brought forth an entirely new dimension to this old debate. According to researchers, circumcision has certain medical benefits as well as risks accompanying it. However, the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
What are the benefits of circumcision?
There are a number of benefits that have been associated with circumcision. They are:
1) Maintenance of hygiene
It becomes easier to clean the skin around the penis after circumcision. Uncircumcised males must maintain cleanliness at all times to prevent infections. The situation becomes tricky due to the folds of the foreskin, which can be difficult to clean. Uncircumcised male children have to be taught the correct way to keep this area clean and free from infections.
2) Prevention of infections
Circumcision prevents foreskin infections. The folds of the foreskin are difficult to clean. Moisture can cause bacteria to develop and propagate in the skin folds. These bacteria can cause infections that can affect the overall health of young and adult males.
3) Prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Circumcision reduces the individual’s chances of contracting urinary tract infections.
4) Lower risk of penile cancer
Penile cancer may affect males at any age. Research has concluded that circumcision reduces the risk of having penile cancer. It also reduces the risk of cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised males.
5) Lowers the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Circumcised men are less likely to get HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is one of the primary reasons why circumcision is recommended in areas that have a high incidence of STIs. Circumcision may also provide protection against prostate cancer that is primarily caused by sexually transmitted diseases.
6) Prevention of penile damage
Uncircumcised males may develop penile problems such as phimosis and paraphimosis. Phimosis happens when the foreskin does not retract over the penis, while paraphimosis occurs when the foreskin is retracted behind the corona of the penis making it difficult to return the foreskin to its original position. Both of these conditions are painful and may cause an inflammation of the foreskin and the penis. Having circumcision done eliminates such problems.
What are the risks of circumcision?
Some of the risks that come with circumcision include:
Infections are rare after a circumcision. However, if an infection arises, it can be dangerous if not immediately treated. If the circumcision is carried out in a hospital, the risk of infection is minimal.
2) Meatal stenosis
It is a blockage or narrowing of the urethral opening. The urethra is a tube that connects the bladder to the tip of the penis. Any blockage to its opening may cause pain or a burning sensation while urinating.
However, the risk can be highly reduced by properly taking care of your wound after circumcision. This may include regular changing of diapers in male infants and keeping the operated area clean and safe.
The risk of having injuries is extremely rare. However, there are also reported cases of penile injuries as sharp instruments are used during the procedure.
It is a common side effect associated with the procedure, which subsides with time.
5) Irritation of the exposed penis head
After circumcision, the skin at the tip of the penis is very sensitive. An individual may experience irritation and discomfort if the part comes in contact with urine or clothing.
Damage Due to Surgical Error
Circumcision is a surgical procedure, and like any procedures, complications may sometimes arise. Such complications may include profuse bleeding or an infection.
In some instances of circumcision, small sections of the foreskin attached to the penis may be left behind during the procedure. These portions may cause pain, every time the skin in the area is stretched.
Sometimes, the scar tissue left behind starts growing toward the tip of the penis. This growth may block the opening of the penis, causing problems in urination. Another surgery may be required to correct the condition.
Another issue may arise if the opening made by the incision is too small and prevents the foreskin from retracting over the penis.
Damage to the Penis
Sometimes, the foreskin may be cut too long, too short, or there may be improper healing of the wound. In rare cases, another penile reconstruction procedure may be performed. However, it should be known that these risks are extremely rare. They happen in very few cases and even when they do, they occur only in mild forms.
After a circumcision, the child will require care for a few days to ensure proper healing of the penis. The wound should also be cleaned regularly and the healing process monitored. The bandage should also be changed periodically. Any complications such as persistent bleeding or redness at the tip of the penis that lasts for days and keeps on getting worse should be reported to the doctor immediately. Timely action may prevent further damage and can also ensure a faster recovery.
Is circumcision really beneficial?
Based on the above information, it is clear that circumcision reduces serious threats to your health. The procedure, definitely, has more benefits than risks. However, choosing to get it done or not entirely depends on an individual's viewpoint as well as religious and traditional beliefs. There is no medical recommendation that makes the procedure compulsory, but the benefits of circumcision clearly outweigh the risks. Doctors maintain that the procedure is not medically necessary, although, it may be beneficial. The choice rests with the individual and the parents of the child.
Men who choose to forego circumcision have to maintain a good level of personal hygiene. Regular washing and cleaning of the foreskin are required to keep it against urogenital infections.
The Bottom Line
If you deem it appropriate due to medical, religious, or traditional considerations, it is purely your choice to get it done. However, those who consider it unnecessary are also entitled to their opinion. After knowing the pros and cons of circumcision, the choice is entirely in your hands.