What does research say about circumcision? Begin exploring with these links.
Evidence and Ethics on: Circumcision (Evidence Based Birth) “After an extensive review of the literature, we’ve concluded that there is no compelling evidence to justify routine male infant circumcision on medical grounds.”
Risks, Benefits, Complications and Harms: Neglected Factors in the Current Debate on Non-Therapeutic Circumcision (John Hopkins University Press)
"...the AAP admitted that it had not surveyed the literature of complications case reports, but added that the benefits of circumcision “were felt to outweigh the risks of the procedure..."
What Parents Need to Know About Pain in Newborns (Harvard University)
"We certainly need to avoid doing painful procedures in the first place. The policy statement does say that we should be very thoughtful and careful when it comes to choosing to do painful things to babies."
Trends in Circumcision for Male Newborns in U.S. Hospitals: 1979–2010 (CDC)
"Across the 32-year period from 1979 through 2010, the national rate of newborn circumcision declined 10% overall..."
Provides an image of an intact infant, a newly circumcised infant, and an infant after his circumcision has healed.
A Comparison of the Mogen and Gomco Clamps (Pediatrics-AAP)
"Although considerable controversy exists regarding the medical value of circumcision, the evidence is overwhelming that it is a painful procedure. Multiple studies have shown increased heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR), and stress hormone production, as well as decreased oxygen saturation (SaO2) during circumcision. These are all nonspecific markers associated with stress. Infants also display a specific pattern of facial expression classically associated with pain. Some studies have suggested that in addition to causing immediate pain, circumcision may have consequences that persist beyond the perioperative period."
Male Circumcision: Global Trends (World Health Organization)
"...we estimate that approximately 30% of the world’s males aged 15 years or older are circumcised (Table 2). Of these, around two thirds (69%) are Muslim (living mainly in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa), 0.8% are Jewish, and 13% are non-Muslim and non-Jewish men living in the United States of America."
Circumcision’s Psychological Damage (Psychology Today)
"As psychologists, we are deeply concerned by the recently announced CDC guidelines promoting circumcision for all males, and in particular children. The CDC guidelines are based on a sharply criticized 2012 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The 2012 statement was condemned by a large group of physicians, medical organizations, and ethicists from European..."
Informed Consent for Neonatal Circumcision: An Ethical and Legal Conundrum (College of William & Mary Law School)
"Neonatal circumcision is the surgery most commonly performed on children, yet reliable information regarding the surgery is not usually made available to parents when they are asked .to consent to the procedure for their newborn sons. Often, parents are simply presented with a paper to sign permitting the physician to perform the surgery, without any discussion of the health risks or alternatives."
False Beliefs Predict Increased Circumcision Satisfaction in a Sample of US American Men (Culture, Health & Sexuality)
"Critics of non-therapeutic male and female childhood genital cutting claim that such cutting is harmful. It is therefore puzzling that ‘circumcised’ women and men do not typically regard themselves as having been harmed by the cutting...These findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that the lack-of-harm reported by many circumcised men, like the lack-of-harm reported by their female counterparts in societies that practice FGC, may be related to holding inaccurate beliefs concerning unaltered genitalia and the consequences of childhood genital modification."
Male Circumcision Leads to a Bad Sex Life (Science Nordic)
"If a man is circumcised, he faces an increased risk of experiencing delayed orgasm, and his female partner has an increased risk of not feeling sexually fulfilled. This is the clear-cut conclusion of a new Danish research article, which has received international attention."
Can Penile Cancer Be Prevented? (American Cancer Society)
"...based on the low risk of this cancer in the US, it would take over 900 circumcisions to prevent one case of penile cancer in this country."
Circumcision Removes Most Sensitive Parts (Live Science)
"Now researchers prodding dozens of male penises with a fine-tipped tool have found that the five areas most receptive to fine-touch are routinely removed by the surgery. The finding, announced today, was detailed in the April issue of the British Journal of Urology..."
Is Circumcision Legal? (Peter Adler)
"An important, divisive, and unanswered question of American law – and indeed of international law – is whether it is legal to circumcise healthy boys."
Complications of Circumcision (NCBI)
"...complications of circumcision do represent a significant percentage of cases seen by pediatric urologists. Often they require surgical correction that results in a significant cost to the health care system. Severe complications are quite rare, but death has been reported as a result in some cases."
Complications of Circumcision (Stanford School of Medicine)
List of complications. "With any procedure, it is important to know what complications are possible... allows for a more informed discussion with parents who are considering circumcision for their son and permits improved recognition of problems if and when they occur."
Fine-Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis (NCBI)
"The glans of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the uncircumcised penis."
World-first MRI study shows babies experience pain 'like adults' (Medical News Today)
"Dr. Slater states that their findings stand in contrast with previous understandings of infant pain. "In fact, some people have argued that babies' brains are not developed enough for them to really 'feel' pain, any reaction being just a reflex," she says. "Our study provides the first really strong evidence that this is not the case."
Ritual Circumcision and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine)
"Until recently, it was believed that newborns are incapable of interpreting noxious stimuli in a manner comparable to that of older children and adults."
Myths About Circumcision You Likely Believe (Psychology Today)
"When I was pregnant with my first child, I just thought that circumcision was what you did, no big deal, and that every man was circumcised. Then one day I saw a picture of a baby being circumcised, and everything changed... the more I knew, the worse it got. It turns out, circumcision really is a big deal."
Neonatal Cortisol Response to Circumcision with Anesthesia (Clinical Pediatrics)
"Eleven male newborns were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block, and 13 controls were circumcised without anesthetic.... The adrenal cortisol response to surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of lidocaine."
Pain Relief for Neonatal Circumcision (NCBI)
"Circumcision is a painful procedure frequently performed on newborn baby boys without using pain relief. Available treatments include dorsal penile nerve block (DPNB), which involves injecting anesthetic at the base of the penis."
Study Shows that Infants Feel and Remember Circumcision Pain (Sick Kids)
"...not only do male infants feel pain during circumcision, they remember that pain six months later when they receive their routine vaccination."
Circumcision: Social, Sexual, Psychological Realities (Psychology Today)
"Myth: You have to circumcise the baby so that he will match his dad. Reality check: The major difference that boys notice is that dad's penis has hair, and is larger. When a boy notices the difference between his foreskin and his father's lack of one, just tell him, "When your father was born, they thought that you had to cut off the foreskin, but now we know better."
Male Circumcision Decreases Penile Sensitivity (National Library of Medicine)
" For the glans penis, circumcised men reported decreased sexual pleasure and lower orgasm intensity. They also stated more effort was required to achieve orgasm, and a higher percentage of them experienced unusual sensations (burning, prickling, itching, or tingling and numbness of the glans penis)."
Effects of Male Circumcision on Female Arousal and Orgasm (The New Zealand Medical Journal)
"O'Hara reported that women who had experienced coitus with both intact and circumcised men preferred intact partners by a ratio of 8.6 to one. Most women (85.5%) in that survey reported that they were more likely to experience orgasm with a genitally intact partner..."
Variability in Penile Appearance and Penile Findings (National Library of Medicine)
"Circumcised boys under 3 years of age were significantly more likely to have a partially or completely covered glans, a reddened meatus, balanitis, or trapped epithelial debris, and less likely to have a fully exposed glans than were circumcised boys of 3 years or older. Among the 238 boys under 3 years, those circumcised were significantly more likely to have non-cosmetic problems, including coronal adhesions, trapped epithelial debris..."
Violating Children's Rights (International NGO Council on Violence Against Children)
"A high proportion of circumcisions are carried out on neonates and very young children with no capacity to consent for themselves."
Penile Cancer, Cervical Cancer, and Circumcision (CIRP)
"The discovery rate for cancer of the cervix among non-Jewish women whose marital partners were circumcised was no different from the rate among non-Jewish women with noncircumcised husbands. Further, the use of a sheath contraceptive by the marital partner, which has an effect equivalent to circumcision in that the cervix is protected from contact with the smegma, was found not to be associated with rate differences for cancer of the cervix."
Circumcision and the Code of Ethics (CIRP)
"Since the neonatal circumcision rate in Finland, where virtually every male wishes to preserve his foreskin, is zero, and since the risk of needing a late circumcision in Finland is one in 16,667, it follows that almost all of the circumcisions still being done in North America have no medical necessity, and in fact, are contraindicated. Therefore in Canada, most requests to provincial health agencies for payment for circumcisions may be viewed as fraudulent."
Medical Studies on Circumcision (Circumcision.org)
Information on many different studies from a variety of sources.