Men are born with a foreskin – a skin that covers and protects the penis head.
When a boy or a man is circumcised, his foreskin is removed and the head of the penis is exposed.
Circumcision is done for a variety of reasons. In some places, it shows that men belong to a certain religion, ethnic group, or tribe. In other situations, parents have their sons circumcised for hygiene or health reasons.
Male circumcision around the world
The World Health Organization estimates that 30 per cent of males around the world is circumcised. Among some groups, such as Jews and Muslims, nearly all men are circumcised.
What are the advantages of being circumcised?
According to some research, circumcised men have a lower risk of:
This may be because a foreskin provides a moist environment where germs are more likely to grow.
With a circumcised penis, the head may be less sensitive, so the man can go on longer during intercourse before ejaculating. For some men, this can be a bonus.
What are the disadvantages of being circumcised?
Research suggests that circumcised men may find it much harder to reach an orgasm as they get older. This can also make sex less pleasurable for their partners.
Some people feel that circumcision is a violent act and harmful to a boy’s or man’s body. For example, the Royal Dutch Medical Society (KNMG) calls circumcision for non-medical reasons ‘an infringement of a child’s right to autonomy and the right to bodily integrity’. The society says the operation brings unnecessary risks of complications.
Finally, some uncircumcised men are very happy to have their foreskin!