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Circumcision for Men

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 14 Apr 2011 | comments*Discuss
Circumcision Men Males Circumcised

Male circumcision is a common practice that in some countries is undergone by virtually all baby boys. In fact most males, if they are to be circumcised at all, undergo the procedure when they are just a few days old.

Medical professionals say that this practice, which dates back at least 5,000 years if not more, can be intensely painful, although easy to recover from. But some males, due to unforeseen medical circumstances or a desire to attain greater heights of sexual pleasure, get circumcised as adults.

Adult male circumcision has both benefits and risks, and whilst for some men it is medically necessary, others choose to be circumcised as an elective procedure. Knowing the pros and cons is therefore necessary, as this step is non-reversible – despite some claims to the contrary!

What is Circumcision?

Circumcision is when the foreskin of the penis, which covers the glans or head, is removed either partially or completely. It is done often for religious or cultural reasons, particularly under Islam or Judaism, although in some cultures it is done due to matters of hygiene.

Estimates say that about 20 per cent of the male population worldwide is circumcised, mainly for non-medical reasons. In the United States for example, circumcision until recently was seen as commonplace, not just for male babies of Muslim or Jewish descent.

Eighty percent of US males are now circumcised, although only about 60 percent of male babies routinely undergo the procedure today. It is estimated that only about five per cent of males in the UK are circumcised.

Reasons to Be Circumcised

There are several main reasons to be circumcised, including:

  • To prevent penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases in future. Some studies have shown that penile cancer is less common amongst men circumcised in childhood. And while the foreskin can be a breeding ground for germs, using a condom can prevent sexually transmitted diseases far more effectively than circumcision.
  • Due to recurring balanitis, or inflammation of the skin covering the head of the penis.
  • For religious or cultural reasons, particularly amongst members of Jewish or Muslim faiths.
  • Because other family members, especially the father, are circumcised.
  • If the foreskin is too tight or non-retractable, known as phimosis or paraphimosis. Men who suffer from phimosis can find it difficult to retract their penis, although it this does not cause sexual problems or a recurrence of infections then medical intervention is not necessary. With paraphimosis, a painful swelling of the glans can occur.
  • To heighten feelings of sexual pleasure. The jury is out on this one. Some studies have reported that men circumcised as babies experienced over time a decrease of sexual pleasure. Others reported that circumcised men were less likely to suffer from sexual dysfunction than those who were not circumcised.

Having the Procedure

If you are considering adult male circumcision, make an appointment with a specialist who can discuss the pros and cons of your particular situation. If you choose to go ahead, you can also discuss whether you want a tight or loose circumcision, as well as placement of the scar line.

In most cases the doctor will give you a local anaesthetic, although in the case of pre-teen or adolescent boys a general anaesthetic may be preferable. Discuss this beforehand with your consultant.

The whole procedure only takes a few minutes, but you should be prepared for at least six weeks of recovery, during which time you should abstain from sex. Your penis will initially appear swollen and bruised, and you will have stitches that will either disappear on their own, or need to be removed after one to two weeks. Have painkillers on hand!

Possible Complications

Any type of surgery can have complications, and adult male circumcision is no exception. The most common possible complications include infection and bleeding, although there is also the risk of haematoma and the tearing of sutures due to nocturnal erections before healing. There is also always a risk of complications if general anaesthesia is involved.

Adult male circumcision is not a step to be taken lightly, and it’s imperative to consult with the right medical professional to ensure this is the correct procedure for you. Keep in mind that the vast majority of men are satisfied with the outcome of the procedure.

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