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Men's Health (cont.)

Circumcision

Men's sexual health begins at birth. In the U.S. and other countries, one of the first decisions made by the parents of a male infant is to consider circumcision (surgical removal of the foreskin that covers the penis). Although there is no absolute medical reason for this operation according to major medical groups (American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), it is a common procedure done in the U.S. (about 75% of all U.S. males are circumcised).

Why is circumcision ever done? Besides being done for religious reasons, it is widely believed that circumcision promotes better hygiene in males and reduces the incidence or chance for several types of infection and penile problems to develop in males, both young and older(adults) that retain their foreskin. Although the inability to retract the foreskin fully at birth is not a medical reason for a circumcision, circumcision can prevent:

  • phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin at an age when it should normally be retractable),
  • paraphimosis (the painful inability to return the foreskin to its original location), and
  • balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin).

Studies indicate young circumcised males may have a 10 fold decrease in the number of urinary tract infections as compared to uncircumcised males. In addition, other studies indicate that circumcised males have a lower risk for:

  • cancer of the penis,
  • cancer of the cervix with their female sexual partners,
  • lower incidence of sexually transmitted diseases and if infected with HIV, a lower chance of transmitting HIV to a sex partner.

Although circumcision may increase the chance of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis), the risks of the procedure are small if done on healthy newborns before the age of two months. Ultimately circumcision remains a personal, family decision.

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