NOCIRC of Houston - Making a safer world for children
Circumcision Information Summary

What You Need to Know

  • No national or international medical association recommends routine circumcision.
  • Only the USA circumcises the majority of newborn boys without medical or religious reason.
  • Medicalized circumcision began during the 1800s to prevent masturbation, which was believed to cause disease.
  • Today's parents are learning that the foreskin is a normal, protective, functioning organ.
  • Today's parents realize circumcision harms and has unnecessary risks.
  • Circumcision denies a male's right to genital integrity and choice for his own body.

The Facts Behind Circumcision

Newborn male circumcision is the most common surgical procedure performed in the U.S. It's a common misconception that there are tangible to male circumcision, but the truth is no medical society in the world recommends it. This invasive procedure carries serious risks, including infection, hemorrhage, surgical mishap, and death, as well many ethical considerations.

Yet, despite these risks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Academy of Pediatrics () are developing public health recommendations that could mislead more parents into agreeing to circumcision for their newborn baby boys. Intact America is demanding that these organizations issue a truthful statement on the risks and harms of newborn male circumcision.

Check out our myths & facts section and get the facts behind circumcision!

Please read these facts before making a circumcision decision

  1. Worldwide prevalence: Over 80% of the world's males are intact. Most circumcised males are Muslims. No national medical organization in the world recommends routine circumcision of male infants. (See Circumcision Policies in English-Speaking Countries.)
  2. Pain: According to a comprehensive study, newborn responses to pain are "similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects." Circumcision is extremely painful and traumatic. Some infants do not cry because they go into traumatic shock from the overwhelming pain of the surgery. No experimental anesthetic has been found to be safe and effective in preventing circumcision pain in infants. (See Infant Responses to Circumcision.)
  3. Behavioral response: Various studies have found that short-term effects of circumcision include changed sleep patterns, activity level, and mother-infant interaction, more irritability, and disruptions in feeding and bonding. Long-term effects have not been studied. Changes in pain response have been demonstrated at six months of age. (See Infant Responses to Circumcision.)
  4. Circumcision risks: The rate of complications occurring in the hospital and during the first year has been documented as high as 38% and includes hemorrhage, infection, surgical injury, and in rare cases, death.
  5. Cleanliness: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that "there is little evidence to affirm the association between circumcision status and optimal penile hygiene." "The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. . . . Caring for your son's uncircumcised penis requires no special action. . . . Foreskin retraction should never be forced."
  6. Sexually transmitted diseases: According to the AAP, "Evidence regarding the relationship of circumcision to sexually transmitted diseases in general is complex and conflicting. . . . Behavioral factors appear to be far more important risk factors." (See Explaining Claims of Medical Benefits.)
  7. Matching friends: The 2009 national circumcision rate is 32.5%, less than 25% in some states. Though past circumcision rates were higher, there is no documented emotional harm to intact boys. To the contrary, there are growing reports from men who have disliked being circumcised since they were boys, even though they were in the majority.
  8. Adult circumcision: The medical need for circumcision in adults is as low as 6 in 100,000. Adults, unlike infants, receive anesthetics.
  9. Foreskin function and size: The foreskin protects the head of the penis, enhances sexual pleasure, and facilitates intercourse. Men circumcised as adults report a significant loss of sensitivity. Men who have restored their foreskin report much increased sensitivity and sexual pleasure. The foreskin on the average adult male is about 12 of highly erogenous tissue.
  10. Jewish circumcision: A growing number of American Jews are not circumcising their sons. Circumcision among Jews in Europe, South America, and Israel also is not universal.
  11. American origin: Routine infant circumcision started in the U.S. in the 1870s when it was promoted as a preventive cure for masturbation.
  12. Male attitude: Male satisfaction with circumcision depends on lack of knowledge about circumcision. The more men know, the more likely they are to be dissatisfied. They wish they had a choice.
  13. Professional Protest: Some aware doctors and nurses refuse to perform or assist with circumcisions because of ethical considerations. (See Circumcision, Ethics, and Medicine.)