It's one of the most straightforward medical procedures, but also one of the most divisive
Practised for centuries for reasons both medical and religious, male circumcision is deemed one of the least complicated procedures - but remains one of the most divisive.
Russell Crowe caused controversy by describing it as "barbaric and stupid", and in an interview with Playboy, Colin Farrell had similarly strong thoughts ("People say, 'It's much cleaner to have no foreskin." What, have you never heard of a f****** shower?").
Wherever you stand on male circumcision, it seems as if the medical case for it is in fact growing.
Still comparatively uncommon in the UK, where 15 per cent of men have undergone one, it remains widely practised in the US.
Furthermore, recent research into male infant circumcision, published in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, has found the benefits outweigh the associated risks by 200 to one.
Suggested medical benefits.
- A 10 times lower risk of a baby getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) in his first year of life (remembering that only one per cent of babies are at risk of a UTI, so 1,000 circumcisions are needed to prevent one UTI)
- No risk of infants and children getting infections under the foreskin
- Easier genital hygiene
- Much lower risk of getting cancer of the penis (although this is a very rare condition and good genital hygiene also seems to reduce the risk. More than 10,000 circumcisions are needed to prevent one case of penile cancer)
- A possibly lower risk of men getting sexually transmissible infections (STIs) than men who are not circumcised (although these studies have not been scientifically confirmed and safe sex practises are far more effective in preventing these infections).
- Excessive bleeding
- Cutting the foreskin too short or too long
- Irritation to the head of the penis, since the foreskin seems to protect the head of the penis
- Narrowing of the meatus (the tube that allows urine to exit from the body)
- Reduced sensitivity, which may cause a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life or painful intercourse for the man’s sexual partner.
The research was conducted by the University Sydney, the University of New South Wales and several teaching hospitals reports Courier Mail.
Researchers have found no correlation between circumcision and loss of sexual sensitivity or pleasure
According to their findings, uncircumcised males face an 80 per cent risk of developing a foreskin-related condition requiring medical attention.
Conversely, the risk of an "associated adverse event" from the procedure is less than one per cent.
Dr Brian Morris, professor emeritus at the University of Sydney and the study's lead author explained:
"Over their lifetime more than one in two uncircumcised males will suffer an adverse medical condition caused by their foreskin."
He also added that no evidence was found of adverse effect on penile function, sexual sensitivity or pleasure.