The arguments for and against having baby boys circumcised has long been debated.
Those supporting the procedure list health benefits and cleanliness, while others call the practice cruel and unnecessary.
A new Australian study now adds weight to the debate in favour of male circumcision, claiming the health benefits far outweigh the risks by 200 to one.
It even claims encouraging more families to select the procedure for their boys would be a great cost-saver for the Australian health system.
What is circumcision?
Male circumcision is a surgical procedure where the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis is removed.
It was a widely adopted practice in Australia from around 1920 to the 1970s, when it was discouraged as an unnecessary and risky procedure.
It is now the policy of all Australian public hospitals to only perform the procedure if it is for proven medical reasons.
The recent study, published in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, set out “to determine whether recent evidence-based United States polices on male circumcision apply to comparable Anglophone countries, Australia and New Zealand”.
It found uncircumcised males were at a much greater risk of developing a foreskin-related condition requiring medical attention such as “urinary tract infections having potential adverse long-term renal effects, phimosis that causes difficult and painful erections and ‘ballooning’ during urination, inflammatory skin conditions, inferior penile hygiene, candidiasis, various sexually transmissible infections in both sexes, genital ulcers, and penile, prostate and cervical cancer”.
Call for public policy change
The researchers argue the health and financial benefits of encouraging male circumcision are too great to ignore.
“We estimated that more than one in two uncircumcised males will experience an adverse foreskin-related medical condition over their lifetime,” the study explains.
“Wide-ranging evidence from surveys, physiological measurements, and the anatomical location of penile sensory receptors responsible for sexual sensation strongly and consistently suggested that male circumcision has no detrimental effect on sexual function, sensitivity or pleasure.
“United States studies showed that early infant male circumcision is cost saving.”
He says millions of dollars are being wasted by the public health system on infections that could be prevented by male circumcision.
“The enormous benefit but low risk makes early infant circumcision akin to childhood vaccination,” he says.
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