Ignore the Myths,
Get the Facts
The following cultural beliefs, or myths, are often used as reasons for circumcision. After each myth, some relevant facts are provided to present a more accurate picture of this procedure. Parents should understand the full implications of circumcision before making this irreversible decision for their child.
Myth #1: Circumcision is recommended by doctors and medical organizations
Fact: Circumcision is not recommended by any national medical association in the world. Fifteen national and international medical associations have extensively studied infant circumcision and its effects and found no significant evidence to support this practice. In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that infant circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure.1 The circumcision policy statements of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians have concurred with this position.2-3 The AMA calls infant circumcision “non-therapeutic.”
Myth #2: It’s just a little piece of skin, he won’t miss it.
Fact: The prepuce (foreskin) makes up as much as half of the skin system of the penis.4 It is an extension of the shaft skin that folds over onto itself, completely covering and protecting the glans (an internal organ) and provides the mobility of the shaft skin necessary for frictionless intercourse and masturbation. The foreskin has three known functions: protective, immunological, and sexual. It contains about 10,000 highly specialized nerve endings and several feet of blood vessels. An adult male foreskin, if unfolded and spread out, would be about the size of index card (3 x 5 inches), much more than a “little piece of skin.” Many sexually active men circumcised in adulthood report a significant decrease in sexual pleasure and comfort because of the loss of sensitive nerve endings, skin mobility and natural lubrication.
Myth #3: The care of a circumcised penis is easier than an intact penis.
Fact: For the care of an intact penis, the AAP recommends, “Leave it alone.” 5 No special care is required – an intact child should have the external surface of his penis (and the rest of his body) washed regularly to keep clean. When a male is older and can retract his foreskin (which typically occurs by puberty), a simple rinsing is all that is necessary. 6 Other cultural myths about special cleaning procedures are just that – myth.