Circumcision – necessity or trend

Author: Ivars Veckalns

If you have read the title you have a general idea about what  the main topic of this article will be. It will be about penises. This organ can be classified  in many different ways – big, small, straight, curved, disappointing, showers, grovers etc. But in this article we will focus on one classification method, which is circumcised or uncircumcised penises.

First of all, what is circumcision?

Circumcision is a procedure, in which the foreskin of the biological male penis is removed. The foreskin is a part of the skin that covers the tip of the penis and has several functions. The foreskin is a barrier that protects the penis from infections. The foreskin contains white blood cells that kill bacteria and inhibits their reproduction. However, in spite of this fact, uncircumcised males acquire more bacterial infections than circumcised males.[1] This will be the main indication for medical circumcision that will be explained later. It is also a physical barrier that protects the penis from physical harm. The foreskin also preserves the sensitivity of the penis, which means that the uncircumcised male will feel more during sex than the circumcised male. Uncircumcised men also reported more intense orgasms.[2] These are just some of the foreskin functions that positively affect the manhood.

So why would people cut off a part of the penis if it plays such an important and meaningful role? I think that we can classify all the reasons in three groups. One – for medical purposes, two – cultural reasons, three – religious reasons.

First group – medical reasons

In medicine we have indications for each procedure. Basically, an indication is a scenario when a specific operation or manipulation must be done. There are three main indications for circumcision and those are phimosis and paraphimosis, recurrent balanitis, localised pathologic condition of foreskin.[3, 4, 5] Phimosis is when the foreskin cannot be peeled back from the tip and paraphimosis is when a man can peel the foreskin but afterwards it cannot be pulled back to cover the tip. Basically, in both cases the penis is too big for the foreskin. (Please don’t use this as a pick up line! IT WILL NOT WORK!) Why is this bad? In this scenario the foreskin squeezes the tip of the penis and disrupts the blood circulation that can cause necrosis of the male genitalia. Yes, necrosis of the peepee. Also, the penis cannot become fully erect in the case of phimosis because the foreskin doesn’t peel back and the penis cannot extend properly.[5]

Recurrent balanitis is an inflammation of the tip of the penis that occurs repeatedly. This corresponds with the statement I mentioned before that uncircumcised males acquire more bacterial infections than circumcised males. But why? You also have to know that the penis secrets smegma. Smegma is a substance that covers the tip of the penis, moisturises it and provides lubrication during sexual intercourse.[6] The bad part is that it accumulates under the foreskin and works as a feeding ground for bacteria. To give You an example, think about a piece of butter that You put in a plastic bag and leave for two or three  days in room temperature. Balanitis happens in a similar fashion. So, if the doctor cuts off the foreskin, smegma will not accumulate under it, which decreases the risk of balanitis.

Examples of localised pathologic conditions of foreskin could be warts and scar tissue. Warts are mainly caused by viruses and scar tissues could appear after trauma or… “experiments”.

Group Nr.2 – cultural reasons

I separated cultural and religious reasons. In the first image You can see the graphical representation of the number of men that were circumcised in each country in 2007 (red >80%; orange 20-80%; yellow <20%; white – no data).[7]

Men in Africa get circumcised because of tribal traditions (for example, the Bukusu and Maasai tribe) and the fear of HIV. There is a belief that uncircumcised males have a higher risk to contract HIV. Is it true? YES! The World Health Organization is updating recommendations on safe male circumcision for HIV prevention and related service delivery for adolescent boys and adult men in generalized HIV epidemics (restricted to a locality or region).[8] Some parts of Africa are endemic regions. But how does it work? Remember that the foreskin contained a lot of white blood cells that protect us? Well… bad news. HIV is a little bastard that infects these white blood cells and spreads throughout the body destroying our immune system leading to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Cut off that flap of skin and the person has a smaller chance of contracting HIV.[9] HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT A UNIVERSAL PREVENTION METHOD because it only mildly decreases the chance of acquiring HIV through unprotected sex. HIV can still be acquired through contaminated syringes in intravenous narcotic user communities and passed down from the infected mother to the fetus. In non-3rd world countries there are other methods of preventing HIV like practicing safe sex, educational programs for communities, available treatment for HIV infected patients, etc.

Why do many “strong” gender individuals get circumcised in America? Is there a  thing in Your family that is passed from generation to generation with no damn reason? For example, You clean the dishes in a certain way because Your mother taught You that way and Your grandmother taught that process to Your mom and Your great grandmother… In America, circumcision is often done for the same reason. Jon got circumcised because his father is circumcised, Tom’s dad is circumcised because Tom’s grandfather ir circumcised and this goes back to the end of 19th century when Tom’s great great great great great (maybe a few more) grandfather circumcised his son Lymon because he did not want him to masturbate.[10] Yes, You read that correctly. There was a time, when people thought that circumcision could prevent their sons from masturbating under the sheets. In the second picture You can see all the problems that were thought to be curable through circumcision.

Do You like cereal produced by Kellogg’s? Interestingly, the founder of Kellogg’s John Harvey Kellogg was an advocate for male circumcision. He wrote:

“A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering anaesthetic, as the pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment. […]”[11]

What do women in America think about circumcised vs. uncircumcised penises?

There are a lot of controversial articles on this topic and that by itself shows that there are a group of women who like circumcised penises more that uncircumcised. “In a survey where women were asked to rate their preferences when it came to different forms of sexual activity, a substantial majority of women overwhelmingly preferred men who were circumcised:

  • for intercourse, 71% – preferred circumcised men,  6% – uncircumcised men;
  • for fellatio, 82% – circumcised penises, 2% – uncircumcised penises;
  • for manual stimulation, 75% – circumcised penises, 5% – uncircumcised penises.

In addition, 76% said circumcised penises were more attractive while only 4% – preferred the look of an uncircumcised penis; a whopping 90% said the circumcised penis looked “sexier;” 85% said it felt nicer to the touch; and 92% said they felt it was cleaner.” [12]

The 3rd group – religious purposes

Circumcision is most prevalent in the religions of Judaism, Islam, Coptic Christianity, Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church. I won’t explain this groups’ motives for 2 reasons: 1. all the reasons for circumcision are mentioned in the Holy manuscripts of each religion and they cannot be interpreted outside the general context; 2. if I started to explain religious purposes in this article then I would 100% do it very poorly and offend many people. And that is not the goal of this article. So If You want to know more on this topic, consult Your local religious person and ask him. Or don’t be lazy and google it.

After writing this article I have 4 conclusions:

  1. My browser history is filled with some messed up stuff;
  2. There are a lot of controversial researches conducted on circumcision. We have the circumcised penis lovers and uncircumcised penis naturalists that try to prove their preference is better in every way possible. I have no doubt that You could find research that shows opposite information for each and every example I gave you.
  3. We must educate the society about circumcision so less children get circumcised based on myths and false data.
  4. In the end, it’s the parents choice, whether to get their son circumcised or no. But if it’s not for religious purposes, perhaps the parents should postpone the circumcision until their son is an adult and can choose for himself.

So is circumcision a necessity or a trend? The majority of circumcisions are done without medical indications and because I’m a medical student I have to conclude that these are unnecessary procedures. But I understand why many people get circumcised – they just want to fit in with their communities.


Read More


Article sources:


[1] Irkilata L., Preputial bacterial colonisation in uncircumcised male children: Is it related to phimosis? Journal of Pakistan Medical Association. 2016. 66: 312 p.

[2] Bates C., Circumcision DOES reduce sexual pleasure by making manhood less sensitive. Daily Mail Online. February 15, 2013.

[3] Malone P, Steinbrecher H., Medical aspects of male circumcision. The BMJ. 2007. 335(7631): 1206-1209 p.

[4] Pinto K., Circumcision controversies. Pediatric Clinics of North America. 2012. 59(4): 977-986 p.

[5] Tekgul S., Dogan H., Erdem E., et al, European Society for Paediatric Urology/European Association of Urology (ESPU/EAU). Guideline on pediatric urology. March, 2016.

[6] Van Howe RS, Hodges FM, The carcinogenicity of smegma: debunking a myth. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. 2006. 20(9): 1046-1054 p.

[7] Male circumcision: global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability. World health organization and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. 2007. 9 p.

[8] Updated recommendations on safe male circumcision for HIV prevention and related service delivery for adolescent boys and men in generalized HIV epidemics, 2018.

[9] Szabo R., Short RV, How does male circumcision protect against HIV infection? The BMJ. 2000. 320(7249): 1592-1594 p.

[10] The History of Circumcision. //

[11] “Plain Facts for Old and Young”. Book by John Harvey Kellogg, 1877.

[12] Circumcision: What do women prefer? //

Photo sources:
Cover: Unsplash, by Charles Deluvio

1. Wikimedia

2. Pinterest

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