Giving it up

By Natalie Sit

Circumcision is defined as the complete or partial removal of the foreskin. In the Victorian era, circumcision was believed to be a cure for masturbation. Presently, there is much debate about the process-should one force what is essentially genital mutilation on their son, or leave him intact until he is able to decide for himself?

Some medical conditions leave no choice but circumcision. Phimosis is a condition in which the opening of the foreskin is too small. Immediate circumcision is not always required but symptoms such as irritation or bleeding, painful urination or the inability to urinate require an immediate circumcision.

Acute balanoposthitis occurs when the foreskin swells and pus forms between the foreskin and the glans. With paraphimosis, the foreskin is forcibly pulled back behind the corona of the penis, developing a tourniquet around the glans. In most cases the foreskin may be gently pushed over the glans, however, sometimes circumcision is the only solution.

Religious reasons

Circumcision represents one of the three signs of the covenant between the Jewish people and God.

Circumcision is always performed eight days after birth by a Mohel, an individual trained in the physical procedures of circumcision and religious significance.

Before and after the circumcision, the Mohel recites a blessing. After the procedure is complete, a small quantity of wine is blessed and given to the baby. The child then receives his Hebrew name.

Reasons against circumcision

Some believed the foreskin traps bacteria and causes infections, however, the foreskin protects an infant’s glans from fecal matter. It was also assumed the foreskin trapped smegma-a natural lubricant made of dead cells and glans lubrication-which promoted infection. It is very easy to teach a young boy to clean his penis and smegma is only a problem when the penis is not regularly cleaned.

It was also believed that women who had sex with circumcised partners had a smaller risk of contracting cervical cancer, and a man was at a higher risk for penile cancer-both of which have been proven false.

Some believe that the foreskin is a useless appendage, however the foreskin dermatological composition is unique, rich in nerve endings and plays an important role in sex. Men who were circumcised as adults reported a decrease in sexual satisfaction and women report sex with uncircumcised men is less painful due to the increased lubrication.

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