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What Are the Benefits and Risks of Circumcision?

Is circumcision good or bad?

Overall, circumcision is relatively healthy and comes with several sexual and reproductive health benefits.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure where a doctor removes the skin covering the tip of your penis. In many parts of the world, including the United States, it is common for newborn boys to be circumcised. You can undergo circumcision at any time after the infant period, but the procedure becomes more complex as you age.

While some people practice circumcision as a matter of family tradition, others observe it as a religious ritual. At the basic level, some people consider the procedure unnecessary or cosmetic. There are times, however, when your doctor would deem it necessary to undergo circumcision for preventive health care reasons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. However, the data on which this finding was not based in the North American context. There is growing evidence that circumcision lowers the risk of acquiring the following conditions:

  • HIV
  • Syphilis
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Genital herpes
  • Cervical cancer in sexual partners
  • Penile cancer

It is also possible that some of the bacteria that accumulate under the foreskin could be shared between sexual partners and cause bacterial vaginosis.

The question of whether sex feels better for a woman who has sex with a circumcised penis is subjective. Aspects of penile anatomy, for instance, the absence of foreskin, is among the numerous factors influencing a woman’s choice of a sexual partner.

However, according to independent research, most women prefer the removal of the foreskin, as it improves penile aesthetics, giving it a desirable appearance. Circumcision can add positive sexual benefits to a man and his sexual partner, including:

More pleasure during intercourse. Generally, most couples report that circumcision helps improve a man’s penile aesthetics, but not necessarily their sexual performance or pleasure. Still, a considerable percentage of couples report that their sexual lives improved after the man underwent circumcision. Similarly, research shows that most women enjoy better intimacy and oral sex if their partners are circumcised.

Alternative solution for phimosis. Phimosis occurs as the result of a tight foreskin snagged on the tip of the penis. This is a normal condition in newborns and toddlers. As boys grow, the foreskin is supposed to retract so it can be rolled naturally. However, in most cases, this doesn’t happen, resulting in a condition known as phimosis. Usually, the only treatment solution to rectify this situation is to have the foreskin removed (i.e., circumcision).

Promotes better genital hygiene. Usually, the foreskin is a breeding ground for bacteria since it’s not always easy to clean the penis beneath the foreskin. However, the procedure makes it easier to clean beneath the skin and maintain a higher standard of genital hygiene, which helps prevent itchiness and infections.

Not only is a good genital hygiene regimen beneficial to men, but women also benefit immensely from male circumcision. According to various studies, a circumcised penis highly improves a woman’s sexual and reproductive health. A circumcised and well-maintained penis helps reduce the chances of vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis and cervical cancer agents, such as human papillomavirus, in women.

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