Circumcision - Advantages and disadvantages 

Advantages and disadvantages of circumcision 

There are several potential advantages and disadvantages associated with circumcising boys shortly after they are born.

For example:

However, there are much more effective and less invasive ways of preventing these conditions. For example, practising good hygiene to prevent UTIs, or using a condom to prevent STIs.

Read about when circumcision may be necessary for more details.

Most healthcare professionals maintain that the potential benefits of circumcision are not strong enough to justify routine childhood circumcision. Critics of circumcision argue that it has disadvantages, such as:

  • Reduced sensitivity – an uncircumcised penis is more sensitive than a circumcised penis, meaning that circumcised men may experience less pleasure during sex.
  • Potential complications of circumcision – these include excessive bleeding, post-operative infection and, in rare cases, injury to the urethra. These complications are thought to outweigh any potential benefits.

Critics have also argued that routinely circumcising baby boys on medical grounds violates the principle of consent to treatment. They say that circumcision should only be performed when a boy is old enough to make an informed decision about whether he wishes to be circumcised.

Page last reviewed: 10/01/2014

Next review due: 10/01/2016

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Comments

The 21 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

onestepahead said on 30 July 2014

I grew up intact (uncircumcised) and it was a beautiful experience. I chose to be circumcised when I was 60 years of age and the reason was the same as for all the other circumcisions in the world - hygiene. It was a painless procedure and the hygiene is awesome. I really love it. A circumcision really comes into its own later in life so a midlife circumcision is ideal for lots of reasons. To arrive at old age already done is undoubtedly beneficial, including for our super health service.

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Pete1960 said on 13 June 2014

I was circumcised later in life at the age of 50. I had it done for personal reasons and not medical reasons. Before having it done I did a lot of research into the pros and cons and having considered them all decided to go ahead and have it done. It was a relatively pain free experience, the worst part being the local anaesthetic. It took about 6 weeks to heal completely. I can honestly say that 4 years on, I believe it to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, there has been no loss of sensitivity and sexual intercourse is better than ever. My advice to anyone considering this operation is to do as I did, research and take your time over your decision, I have no regrets and neither does my wife.

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rogerxroberts said on 27 February 2014

There are no advantages. 'Expert' (Fee receiving surgeon) advice to undergo circumcision to relieve phimosis was the worst advice in my 65 years. Since then (2 years plus) I have been unable to climax under normal sexual activity. Erection (and maintenance thereof) is not and has never been a problem but extra lubrication to assist my partners aging dryness only exacerbates my lack of friction because there is no feeling at all in the glans. He may as well have cut it off there. The advice given was not based on knowledge. Except in the most dire circumstances would I advise anyone to undergo this procedure.

I am not in the remotest sense religious but if your god created you in the likeness of him/herself then it must be blasphemous to alter the creators likeness save for deformities which are not in his/her likeness.

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jembeh17 said on 01 April 2013

As far as sexual health goes, one thing that is often overlooked is the benefit for your partner. Many find a circumcised penis more attractive to the eye and touch, and the reduced chance of fungal infections and smegma build-up is always a plus. Also, with reduced sensitivity comes a reduction is the likelihood of premature ejaculation, greatly improving stamina and often overall performance.

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Creelmga said on 27 March 2013

Why do people not realise this is not normal. Square pants you are obviously ignoring people's comments who have EXPERIENCE in losing there most sensitive part of their body. This is like a living torture. We are built around nature wanting us to have pleasurable sex with our partners but because of this irreversible procedure that right is taken away. Your son will regret it for the rest of his adult life and he needs to be aware of this. Have you explained the down side of he procedure? He will not realise what he will be losing at 13 years of age and rent YOU! Look at alternatives norm-uk website can offer alternative treatments.

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squarepants010 said on 26 March 2013

i have a 13 year old son who wants his circumcision, can anyone tell me where i can avail of services for this? we are from oxford. i agree with all the benefits of being circumcised.

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Creelmga said on 21 March 2013

Peter500 you have only been exposed for a year! After 15 years of it rubbing against your boxer shorts the sensitivity will be gone....trust me I have experience in this. When i became active after 15 years of exposure against synthetic fabrics hot baths and showers etc the thing is as sensitive as a lump of wood!!!!! I am now 37 and have not had sex for 5 years because there is no point I cannot feel a thing.

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squarepants010 said on 21 March 2013

i have a boy who is 13 and discussed circumcision with. since this is not a service provided by the nhs as an elective procedure, can anyone tell me where i can have this done for my boy? we are in oxford. and thanks for the positive comments on circumcision, especially those who had it later in life as they truly have a credible opinions pre and post circumcision.

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peter500 said on 16 October 2012

I am 38 and was circumcised in Dec 2011 and decided due to medical reasons to get circumcised (but I paid myself).

This is now October and nothing has changed, still the same sensitivity.

Overall the whole thing has been great, very clean, no loss in sensitivity and sex is good. The only problem has been that I cannot use boxer shorts without it causing an erection. Not painful at all, just very sensitive.

I have not decided if I would want to have my own kid circumcised (if I have any) in future.

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peter500 said on 16 October 2012

I am 38 and was circumcised in Dec 2011 and decided due to medical reasons to get circumcised (but I paid myself).

This is now October and nothing has changed, still the same sensitivity.

Overall the whole thing has been great, very clean, no loss in sensitivity and sex is good. The only problem has been that I cannot use boxer shorts without it causing an erection. Not painful at all, just very sensitive.

I have not decided if I would want to have my own kid circumcised (if I have any) in future.

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jboy21 said on 02 September 2012

I was cut when I was 3 due to a very tight foreskin that left me in so much pain, I couldn't pass urine and had infection after infection. As soon as I was cut, all the infections stopped and (touch wood) I have never had any issues with my penis since! I was exposed for 12 years following the procedure and yes, the head of my penis is slightly tougher than an uncircumcised penis and my guesses are it's not as sensitive as other guys. However, 18 years after my circumcision I have very pleasurable sex on a regular basis with my partner and I don't feel I've missed out on anything! I feel I have gained advantages from being circumcised. I'm less prone to urinary infections, reduced chances of catching STIs such as HIV and I've read, less chances of developing prostate problems later in life.
For me, if your foreskin is causing you trouble, its a no brainer! Surely its better to have it cut than to continue with the worries and problems caused by not having it cut?

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Creelmga said on 20 June 2012

Don't get me wrong if you are 16 and have the op it might be a good thing as this is the time you will probably become active. It does not lose its sensitivity over night. I was exposed for 13 years before I had sex for the first time and needless to say I could not feel a thing. Ihave never felt what it should feel like to have foreskin as i cannot remember. I can't miss what i never had but still feel angry that this was such an easy decision for someone to makeon my behalf. I still think at any age you should talk to a doctor about all the possibilities available before having the op and trying out some of the options first.

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opiegreen said on 13 June 2012

My foreskin has never retracted full and I'm 16, I feel very uncomfortable with it and it some times hurts when I have an erection. I've been reading the comments and I'm now rather worried about loss of sensitivity there.

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Creelmga said on 28 May 2012

I was circumcised at the age of 3 . I can remember as a child having a sensitive penis not being able to get into a hot bath etc. I am now 36 and have never had any sort of sex life because of my circumcision. Over time that sensitivity wore off as there was nothing to protect my penis and it has in effect become useless. I have never been able to maintain an erection during sex as I can't feel anything.and get frustrated and angry at the same time. My current girlfriend has been very patient but we have not had any sort intimacy for 4 years now and she has started to get upset by this. But she cannot understand the mental issues that go with it and think tablets will sort it out. Unfortunately nothing will ever sort it out. The writing is on the wall again for my relationship so anybody who is thinking of getting circumcised or god forbid circumcising your son please think twice before doing. Seek an alternative as there will be one. Once this has been done there is no going back I only wish I had been given a choice when I was at an age I could have expressed a choice.

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Censored said on 03 May 2012

Hi. I am 17 years old and my sex life is pathetic simply because of my damaged confidence. Because i have too much foreskin. This means that my foreskin wont attract to leave the head exposed, and i am 17 years old and never seen my foreskin fully retracted before. Leaving me nervous and constanly worried. I have wanted to go to a GP for ages but have been to scared and embarrased to go. Any tips or helpful ideas would be massively appreciated! And also, is it painful and does it massively affect sexual pleasure? Thank you

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goldis said on 14 March 2012

I was circumcised when I was 47 from choice and have to say it was the best decision I have made. I had the frenulum left and have noticed no loss of sensitivity. I do not agree with Ritual Infant Circumcision (RIC) and do believe it is up to the individual to make his own choice. It was not a painful operation and I only felt a little discomfort for a few days.

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Starkle2 said on 04 March 2012

I am surprised the disadvantages do not include the risks of the operation. The risks of circumcision include bleeding, infection, damage to the glans and frenulum excessive skin removal, scarring, and loss of penis

It should also be stated that female UTI rates are far higher than intact or circumcised males.

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dontdoit said on 10 November 2011

Golden Wonder, you omit why were you circumcised? Was it just a personal preference to enhance your sex life?

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dontdoit said on 10 November 2011

I wonder what evidence support the claim:

* circumcision reduces the risk of developing a urinary tract infection

* circumcision reduces the risk of getting some types of sexually transmitted infections

* circumcision reduces the risk of developing cancer of the penis

I'm sure if you remove the eyeballs too, you would have a similar result

* removing the eyes reduces the risk of developing an eye infection

* removing the eyes removes the risk of getting any eye disease

* removing the eyes reduces the risk of developing cancer in the eye

What about NHS try to be factual and actually provide link to the source of their claims of benefits for genital mutulation?

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benjamin12 said on 28 October 2011

I am 32 years old and am uncircumcised. The two most sensitive parts of my penis are the frenulum, a band of skin located on the underside of the penis just below the glans, and the top 2 inch section of skin on the underside of the penis below the glans. During circumcision the frenulum is sometimes removed. The 2 inch section of skin would definitely be removed. For me, I am quite certain that the level of pleasure experienced during sex would be diminished if I were to be circumcised.

I think parents should think carefully about whether their boy will grow up and resent being circumcised. This is more likely to occur if the recent social and medical trends away from the practise continue, and especially if there is greater acceptance of the argument that removing healthy skin from a healthy penis of child without its informed consent is unethical.

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Golden Wonder said on 03 September 2011

I was "cut" when I was 32. I was concerned about the sensitivity aspect but would actually say that intercourse is just as pleasurable, if not more, than before. My sex life has improved massively. I do think that many negative comments about circumcision are made by people who are either not circumcised or not able to be circumcised. It is impossible to promote or condem anything so personal when you have no experience of it yourself.

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