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E. Del Rosso for Love Matters

Male circumcision and its side-effects

Some boys are circumcised while very young. Is this safe, or are there some complications associated with this procedure? What about at a later age?

Circumcision originates in religious rituals. Many parents still have their sons circumcised for religious or cultural reasons; those of Jewish and Islamic faith, and in many communities of Africa, for example.

Sometimes there’s a medical need, such as when the foreskin’s too tight to be pulled back.
There’s also some evidence of health benefits: fewer urinary tract infections and less risk of inflammation of the glans or foreskin, reduced penile cancer, and reduced cervical cancer in partners. Circumcision also makes it easier to keep the penis clean.

There’s also evidence that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men, and it’s currently encouraged as part of HIV prevention programmes in some African countries. It’s not clear whether male circumcision also helps reduce other STIs.

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks. But they’re very low.

Risks include pain, bleeding or infection, irritation of the glans, inflammation of the penile opening, or injury to the penis. Very rarely, the foreskin’s cut too short or too long, fails to heal properly, or re-attaches to the end of the penis, requiring minor surgical repair.
All these risks are higher if the circumcision’s done traditionally rather than in a hospital. Circumcision is also probably a bad idea if a man has a blood-clotting disorder.

Circumcision doesn’t affect fertility, nor does it enhance or reduce sexual pleasure for men or their partners.

In adult men, circumcision is most commonly carried out when the foreskin’s tight and won’t pull back. However, alternative treatments such as steroid creams are also available.

Complications after circumcisions carried out for medical reasons in men are very rare and most don’t experience any problems at all. Apart from the initial swelling, bleeding and infection are the two most common issues. Other possible complications in adults include tenderness around the scar, having to remove stitches that haven’t dissolved, and occasionally the need to remove some more skin from around the head of the penis.

There are people who campaign strongly against the procedure, making it harder to assess the pros and cons objectively.

There’s also the argument that the (unnecessary?) loss of a body part without the consent of the child is wrong.

Is it a good idea overall? The benefits in newborns probably outweigh the risks, but they’re not big enough for paediatricians to recommend universal newborn circumcision.

What do you think about circumcision? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook. Or ask our forum moderators any questions you may have.


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Recent Comments (14)

  1. It’s a great feel to be…
    It’s a great feel to be circumcised

    1. Thank you for sharing with…
      Thank you for sharing with us Sabrata.

  2. Thanks…
    I think now l know something that l didn’t know.

  3. My son was circumcised when…
    My son was circumcised when he was a baby due to medical reasons. He is 9 now, and he complains about constant tenderness of his penis. He has need to hold it all the time. I’m looking for some advices how to help him?!

    1. Saja, You need to have him…
      Saja, You need to have him examined by a Doctor to get to know what could be going on.

    2. i have a very similer…
      i have a very similer problem. doc says nothing he can do.

      1. Hi George, which specific…

        Hi George, which specific problem are you experiencing?

  4. i was circumcised as an…
    i was circumcised as an infant and when i found out as an adult i got so angry that i almost hit my dad with a wine bottle. suddenly all my sexual disfunction and problems made cence. went to doctor was told nothing they can do.

    1. So sorry about this. What…

      So sorry about this George. What specific dysfunctions do you feel came as a result of circumcision? Have you tried seeking the services of a Specialist Gynecologist for further advice? If you haven’t, perhaps you need to see one to get to know if anything can be do to reverse the challenges you are experiencing. 

  5. my dysfunctions include…
    my dysfunctions include daily irritation of the glands (penis head)by clothing and bead sheets. very hard to find comfortable pants. also dryness and itching in the glands from lack of a foreskin to protect and keep moist. sexual dysfunction happens when i masturbate or have sex with my girlfriend (i am 24). i am ok until i reach orgasm,then the slightest friction or touch is painful. when masturbating i deal with this by cutting the finger out of a rubber glove, putting vasaline on the head of my penis and stretching the finger over it. this replaces the foreskin and helps insulate from accidental touch. when having sex i have not found a fix yet. best i can do is pull out before i cum and be careful not to touch the head. this works ok but will be a problem if we later decide to get pregnant. as to your other question, never herd of a man going to a gyno. went to urologist and was told to try over the counter numbing cream. did not help. this is only the physical stuff. physiological problems are to many to list.

    1. Hi Gearge, one of the…

      Hi Gearge, one of the effects circumcision is the the head of the penis becomes less sensitive because of the exposure. The reverse seems to be what is happening in your case. I suggest you see a general doctor who be able to refer you to a specialist who can recommend appropriate treatment. Have you considered using condoms to try reduce the sensitivity? We wish you well. 

  6. Is it supposed to be as…
    Is it supposed to be as painful as I am having it right now?

  7. Hello Peicyoo, thank you for…

    Hello Peicyoo, thank you for reaching out to us. If the incision is recent then there could be a little discomfort. However, if it was done earlier and you are now experiencing pain it could be useful to see a medical practitioner for proper advice on the way forward.

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