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Circumcision Overview

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis. The foreskin is a fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis (called the glans). Circumcision of infants has been practiced for centuries. Historically, circumcisions have been done for religious or social reasons.

  • Recently, controversy has emerged about circumcision.
    • Advocates recommending circumcision argue that circumcised males can practice better hygiene and display lower risk of developing cancer of the penis or urinary tract infections. Circumcision may also decrease risk of developing foreskin problems, such as phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin) or paraphimosis (retracted foreskin that cannot be put back into place). Those opposed to circumcision argue that it is cruel, that few medical benefits are proven, that circumcised males will have decreased sexual feeling due to removing the sensitive foreskin, that it unnecessarily exposes male infants to potential surgical complications, and that children have rights to autonomy over their own bodies.
    • Newborn circumcision is performed in the hospital's nursery or the doctor's office. Usually, a numbing cream is placed on the penis about 40 minutes before the penis is further numbed with a long-acting, local anesthetic. The surgery involves one of various ring-like clamps that are tightened over the foreskin. The foreskin is then removed with a scalpel or scissors. Alternately, a particular clamp that looks like a ring may be left on and will fall off on its own in five to eight days.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/9/2015

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Circumcision of males involves removing the fold of skin that normally covers the glans penis.

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