This Section contains quotes taken from published papers,
as well as online articles, by noted medical practicioners
and researchers dealing with various aspects involving circumcision.
Links to the online articles are provided for further information
"Circumcision is the most commonly performed surgical
procedure in the United States. As a pediatrician and
neonatologist, I am a child advocate and try to do
what is best for children. For many years I was
an outspoken opponent of circumcision and believed
there was no justification for its routine
performance in the newborn. However, over the past
four years I have gradually changed my opinion.
Several factors have influenced this change.
There is irrefutable evidence that circumcised boys have far lower risk for urinary tract infections during infancy than their uncircumcised counterparts. In addition, circumcision leads to almost complete protection against penile carcinoma. Furthermore, important but controversial data show an apparent link between the state of uncircumcision and a higher risk for many of the sexually transmitted diseases."
T.E. Wiswell, MD, Do you favor routine neonatal circumcision? Yes., Postgrad. Med. 1988; 84: 98-104.
"... the benefits of circumcision accumulate over a lifetime and
help to prevent numerous diseases, while the risks are immediate
and generally short-term. My own views are that the long-term
medical benefits are greater than the risks.
Richard M. Parker, MD, Pediatric Urologic Information Resources http://www.pedsurologic.com/Parker/Home.html
"Circumcision is like a substantial and well-secured annuity;
every year of life you draw the benefits. Parents cannot
make a better paying investment for their little boys."
Dr. P.C. Remondino, The History of Circumcision, published in 1891.
"The lifetime health benefits of neonatal circumcisionincluding the
long-known benefits of genital-hygiene improvement and prevention of
local infection and penile cancerfar exceed the risks of the
procedure. Circumcision prevents serious kidney infections,
particularly in infancy; and there is strong evidence that it has
a protective effect against some serious STDs, especially HIV
infection, syphilis, and chancroid. A one-week-old circumcised boy
has a significant health advantage over his uncircumcised contemporary.
And being without a foreskin won't dent his sex life."
E.J. Schoen, MD,  Is Circumcision Healthy? Yes.
"The beneficial effects of newborn circumcision are multiple and cumulative during a lifetime. During the 1950s and 1960s, when 90% of US newborn boys were circumcised, major benefits of newborn circumcision were considered to be improved lifetime genital hygiene, elimination of phimosis, and the prevention of penile cancer. Currently, newborn circumcision may be considered a preventive health measure analogous to immunization in that the side effects and complications are immediate and usually minor, but benefits accrue for a lifetime.
The benefit of immunization is long-term, constant protection form disease. The multiple benefits of newborn circumcision vary with age. In infancy, circumcision protects against UTI [Urinary Tract Infections]; in the 3- to 5-year age group, local foreskin infection (balanoposthitis) is prevented; and at puberty, with onset of erections and sexual activity, problems of phimosis are prevented.
Circumcised men have improved genital hygiene during their
lifetime. Uncircumcised young men are predisposed to certain
sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and uncircumcised
middle-aged men have propensity for penile cancer. In old
age, uncircumcised men are not only more likely to contract
penile cancer, but those with indwelling catheters have
increased prevalence of local infection. Thus, the
specific benefits of newborn circumcision depend on age;
this fact explains the conflicting attitudes of medical
professionals toward the procedure."
E.J. Schoen, MD, Circumcision Updated - Indicated? Pediatrics 1993; 92: 860-1.
"... For at least the last 10 years I have
been doing circumcision on request and recording the effects of all operations
in a questionnaire. One would expect men circumcised for medical reasons
to be satisfied with the improvement in their sex lives even if the operation
was badly performed. In fact these men and their partners often said that
their sex lives were better than before the trouble occurred. Equally one
would expect patients circumcised for trivial reasons (e.g. long prepuce,
smelly in the Summer) or who were done on the suggestion of someone else
(e.g. shipping company, fiancée) to be more critical about the operation.
In practice nearly all these patients and their partners found that their
sex lives were improved by the operation. I have been surprised how many
patients volunteered that they were more comfortable after circumcision
even though they did not complain of discomfort before operation. Irrespective
of whether circumcision was done to cure a problem or as a preventive
measure no one has ever regretted having the operation, or found it has
spoiled his sex life. My observations on the effects of circumcision in
about 1,000 cases over the last 25 years have converted me from anti- to
J. Smith, MD, Circumcision: A Guide to a Decision
Article available online at ICIRC http://www.circinfo.com.
"The question to be answered is; īdo the benefits [of
the risksī. When considering each factor in isolation
there could be some difficulty in choosing. However, when
viewed as a whole, in my opinion the answer to whether
to circumcise a male baby is YES. ..."
B.J. Morris, PhD, Medical Benefits from Circumcision
Paper available online: http://www.circinfo.net
It is our conclusion that, as the safest and most commonly performed
surgical procedure in this country, the benefits of posthetomy, which include
a reduction in some kinds of cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, well
outweigh the risks cited by those who oppose it.
Gerald N. Weiss and E.B. Weiss, A Perspective on Controversies over Neonatal Circumcision, Clinical Pediatrics 1994: 33; 726-730.
Paper available online at ICIRC: http://www.circinfo.com.
"The overwhelming evidence, therefore, leads to my conclusion
that the common American practice of neonatal circumcision is
an important prophylactic operation, even though the practice
was not previously well founded."
James R. Roberts, MD, Neonatal Circumcision: An End to the Controversy?, Southern Med. J. 1996; 89: 167-170.
Sexual Sensitivity and Dysfunction
"Clinical and neurologic testing has not detected differences
in penile sensitivity between men who were circumcised and
those who were not. I know of no data indicating that
circumcised men have more long-term genital-related
problems with either psychological, social, emotional, and
sexual function of sexual pleasure."
T.E. Wiswell, MD, Circumcision Circumspection, New England J. of Med. 1997; 336: 1244-5.
"The current anti-circumcision crusade can be attributed to a
concatenation of factors old and new. From a phylogenic
viewpoint the oldest of these factors is manīs high
valuation of the genitals and the guilt-induced anxiety
leading to a fear of genital injury. Since the individualīs
dread of genital injury or castration is usually resolved
by relegation to the unconscious, it may later emerge
as a sincere effort to have every penis remain intact.
Potentiating this primordial anxiety is a quite
understandable backlash against the originally unscientific
origins of circumcision and against the lavish claims that
were made regarding the benefits accruing to those who
underwent the procedure. Like all backlashes, the reaction
has been excessive and the anti-circumcision camp now
attempts to demolish fact as well as fancy. The analogy
of throwing out the baby with the bath water was never
R. Dagher, M.L. Selzer and J. Lapides, Carcinoma of the Penis and the Anti-Circumcision Crusade, J. of Urology 1973; 110: 79-80.
"The anti-circumcision craze has developed because groups of conservative,
sensitive, medically misinformed individuals, some with fanatical emotionalism,
have not seen the consequences of a society where males are not circumcised.
While medical prophylactic measures are readily accepted by our society,
surgical prophylaxis is in danger of being discarded by an overemphasis
on the return to the "natural". The intense pain of natural childbirth
is seen as a reward while the minor discomfort, if any, of circumcision
is magnified beyond reason."
G.N. Weiss, MD, Neonatal Circumcision Is Necessary, Information Sheet available online at ICIRC: http://www.circinfo.com.
"At the height of the anti-circumcision sentiment during the early 1980's
formal groups opposed to the procedure were formed. These incude BUFF
(Brotherhood United for Future Foreskins). INTACT (Infants Need To Avoid
Circumcision Trauma), and the largest organization, NOCIRC (National
Organization of Circumcision Information Resources Center). The latter group
sends out a newsletter periodically to its members and to physicians. In
addition, it has sponsored several symposia on circumcision. These latter
meetings have been forums for anticircumcision advocates to vocalize their
positions. Members of the anticircumcision movement generally refer to the
procedure as "rape, butchering, amputation, or torture." During the past
decade, the literature and letters I have received from these organizations
have made many claims. These include: that circumcision encodes the brain
with violence...which is why America is the "murder capital" of the world;
that long-term effects of the procedure include suicide, sudden infant death
syndrome, and homosexuality; that male circumcision should be considered
equivalent to elective removal of the clitoris and labia in female children:
that men without prepuces feel a loss, relive the violence, are not "whole"
and have a "diminished penis"; that the loss of erotic tissue in the prepuce
diminishes sexual pleasure and function; and that the reasons physicians
advocate neonatal circumcision are twofold-to make money and to "pay back"
for the pain they had when they were circumcised themselves.
There is no scientific foundation for any of these claims or for the myriad
other assertions of these organizations. The groups attempt to support their
conjectures with a handful of testimonials."
T.E. Wiswell, Neonatal Circumcision: a Current Appraisal   Focus & Opinion Pediat 1995; 2:93-9.
Issues involving Informed Consent
"Informed consent concerns a patient's rights of self-determination for medical or surgical treatment. The ability to make medical decisions requires the intellectual and emotional capacity to understand risks and benefits. Parents are the logical surrogates to give proxy consent for their children. Parents have the legal right to authorize medical care and treatment for their children, including surgical procedures. It has never been otherwise. The overriding bioethical principle is to act in the childs best interest. Thus, parents may only give proxy consent for interventions they believe will further the childs well-being. For them to make such a decision they need unbiased, full disclosure of information.
For any type of informed consent (including circumcision), patients (or parents) need to be told in comprehensive language the nature and purpose of the treatment, the risks and the benefits of such therapy, prognosis if treatment is declined, and any alternative methods of therapy. The counseling physician is required to disclose all information that any reasonable physician would disclose under similar circumstances, as well as all information that a reasonable patient (or parent) might want to know. The information must be objective, not subjective, in nature.
Inspired by the anticircumcision movement, I am aware of a handful of
lawsuits filed by the families of circumcised boys years after the
procedure. The family claims that the child did not give his personal
informed consent (although the parents gave theirs before the procedure).
The plaintiffs have invariably lost cases in which the parents gave their
informed consent as legal proxies at the time of the original counseling.
The fact that they apparently changed their minds later does not change the
fact that their original consent was legally binding."
T.E. Wiswell, Neonatal Circumcision: a Current Appraisal Pediatrics 1995; Volume 1 (2).
Back to the top
Back to the Main Index