Circumcision is probably one of the earliest medical methods known to man. It is often compared with the discovery of fire. Through the ages, people have sought to find ways to burn away unwanted body parts. Throughout time, people have been burned with rocks, wood, fire and even animals. Today, uncircum circumcised males opt to have their foreskin surgically removed and enjoy all sorts of benefits as a consequence.
There has been much debate about whether neonatal circumcision offers medical benefits. There have been both pro and con arguments. This policy has many benefits according to the pro-circulation camp. They include decreased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, reduced likelihood of acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, removal of a possible choking hazard, and protection from acquiring herpes simplex 1 and genital warts. Critics of circumcision argue that these benefits would soon be outweighed by safer, more convenient and cheaper methods of child care.
A intact penis is the most common cause of a circuating skin infection (Vulvovaginal Candidasis, or VPC). This condition can lead to serious complications such as death if left untreated. Medical studies have shown that circumcision can dramatically reduce the chance of developing this disease. Circulating infections are therefore reduced and this is also reflected in the overall health of an uncircumcised male.
Another benefit of this procedure is the lower risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Male infants born to HIV infected mothers are far less likely to develop HIV infection than infants born to HIV non-infected mothers. Research has shown that HIV infection is rarely transmitted via vaginal intercourse in the first two months after birth. Therefore, the procedure provides newborns with a very high level of protection and can also substantially reduce the risk of congenital HIV infection in the infant’s mother.
Circumcision can also prevent circumcision problems in children. Circulating infections occur due to pre-existing macular degeneration or diabetes. These conditions can be removed to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in babies. According to a recent study, up to 90% of newborn males who were circumcised had decreased chances of developing diabetes within three years. The American Academy of Pediatrics has yet to approve a policy that recommends routine circumcision for all infants regardless of health concerns.
Circumcision also provides a decreased risk of acquiring genital herpes and genital warts. In fact, a recent study estimated that at least a 90% decreased risk of genital herpes infection can be attributed to the protection offered by the procedure. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that male newborns be subject to routine neonatal male sexual warts removal in July last year. This policy statement comes on the heels of a successful campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO), which found that male newborns born to parents who had had clean sex prior to their birth had a significantly lower risk of contracting genital herpes. The new strategy was also revealed to be aligned with international standards by the policy statement.
Although a vast majority of medical practitioners consider the advantages of circumcision as well worth the few disadvantages, there are some who opine that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits and should therefore not be encouraged. Some of these are purely psychological in nature and concern more on the part of the parents. One common belief is that intact males will enjoy the experience more and be less likely to have negative feelings about their altered bodies. Scarring is another concern. While the practice has been subject to some criticism over the years, recent research points to the fact that this is not just an incidence that may happen to any person.
It is safe to say that the benefits of neonatal circumcision far outweigh its drawbacks. However, the decision still needs to be made by the parents. Circumcision should not be taken lightly, as it requires expert advice and guidance from an expert physician. Parents who decide to undergo the procedure should be fully aware of the facts surrounding the operation as well as of its various benefits and drawbacks.