Language of the Debate
Those who are against circumcision point out that the language of the debate is skewed toward the pro-circumcision side. For instance, using the term "uncircumcised" can lead one to believe that this is the unnatural state, or the exception to the rule. Anti-circumcision activists usually use terms such as "natural," "full length" or "intact" to refer to an uncircumcised penis.
Foreskin Restoration (Epipasm)
Some men who were circumcised as infants desire to return to an uncircumcised state. While this isn't completely possible, due to the permanent removal of tissue with specialized cells and nerves, men can use surgical and nonsurgical methods to recreate a foreskin:
- Nonsurgical. One method is, over time, stretching the existing foreskin using weights, straps or manual stretching until it covers part of the glans. Another method involves inflating tiny balloons under the penile skin to prompt new skin cell growth, which will result in permanent skin gain. There are also a number of devices sold to the public that claim success in stretching out or restoring a cut foreskin.
- Surgical. Plastic surgery may be performed in which skin from another part of the body is grafted onto the remaining foreskin of the penis. As with any elective surgery, there's the risk of infection, and the operation itself isn't cheap -- or covered by insurance. Additionally, the final result may not be the one hoped for, as the surgically attached skin may have a different color and texture than the pre-existing penile skin.
Female Genital Mutilation
Female circumcision -- now more commonly known as female genital mutilation (FGM) -- is a cultural practice performed most often in Africa and the Middle East. It involves the unnecessary removal of the clitoris or the cutting or mutilation of any other part of the female genitalia. There is no medical reason whatsoever for doing such a thing. Between 100 million and 140 million women worldwide have been victims of FGM [source: WHO]. FGM may take place at any time between infancy and adulthood, though most often it occurs before or during adolescence. It can result in severe infection, the inability to reproduce, the need for corrective surgeries and many other recurrent problems, such as urinary tract infections.
It's performed for many of the same reasons as male circumcision -- cultural norms and the belief that FGM promotes marital fidelity later in life. Several health and human-rights organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, are acting to increase awareness of this problem, decrease cultural acceptance in the parts of the world where it is practiced and encourage practitioners to abandon the practice.
For related HowStuffWorks articles you might like, see the links below.
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More Great Links
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Success Stories: Male Circumcision: A Question and Answer Session." BOTUSA. Sept. 9, 2008.http://www.cdc.gov/BOTUSA/Success-Stories/0307-MaleCircumcision.htm
- Dunsmuir, W.D.; Gordon, E.M. "The history of circumcision."
- BJU INTERNATIONAL, Volume 83, Suppl. 1: Pages 1-12. Jan. 1, 1999.http://www.cirp.org/library/history/dunsmuir1/
- Farley, David. "Who stole Jesus' foreskin?" Slate. Dec. 19, 2006.http://www.slate.com/id/2155745/
- Holman, John R. "Adult Circumcision." American Family Physician. March 15, 1999.http://www.aafp.org/afp/990315ap/1514.html
- Infectious Diseases Society of America. "Male Circumcision May Decrease Risk Of HPV Infection And Cervical Cancer." ScienceDaily. Dec. 20, 2008. (11 January 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081217123817.htm
- JAMA. "Circumcision Not Associated with Reduced Risk of HIV for Men Who Have Sex with Men." ScienceDaily. Oct. 14, 2008. (Jan. 8, 2009)http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007172820.htm
- Jamis, Edelita R., M.D. "To Circumcise, Or Not To Circumcise My Baby Boy?" Nov. 18, 2008. (Jan. 4, 2008)http://www.gagazine.com/to-circumcise-or-not-to-circumcise-my-baby-boy/
- Jones, Sandy, et al. "Great Expectations: Your All-in-one Resource for Pregnancy & Childbirth." Sterling Publishing Company, 2004. ISBN 0760741328, 9780760741320.http://books.google.com/books?id=vWQu09n-4-gC&pg=PA402&lpg=PA402&dq=%22subcutaneous+nerve+block%22&source=web&ots=xTwWpqHjrL&sig=_mevW_2nmSLQJ0SrUqWmFuCjMgk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result#PPA404,M1
- Lebovics, Yehuda.http://www.torahview.com/bris/html/the_mohel.html
- McNeil Jr., Donald G. "Adult circumcision is a tough sell, even for a lower HIV risk." International Herald Tribune. April 15, 2007.http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/04/15/news/aids.php
- Merrill, Chaya T. M.P.H., et al. "Circumcisions Performed in U.S. Community Hospitals, 2005." Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Jan. 2008.http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb45.pdf
- PBS. "Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet." (Jan. 7, 2009)http://www.pbs.org/muhammad/ma_jews.shtml
- Sinha, Kounteya. "Circumcision: It suits Hindus also." The Times of India. Aug. 4, 2005.http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/CircumcisionIt_suits_Hindus_also/articleshow/msid-1191482,curpg-2.cms
- Thesiger, Wilfred. "The Marsh Arabs." Penguin Classics, 2008. ISBN-10: 0141442085; ISBN-13: 978-0141442082
- Tierney, John. "Circumcision." The Catholic Encyclopedia. (Jan. 7, 2009)http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03777a.htm>
- Timbert, Craig. "Anti-AIDS Program To Fund Circumcision: U.S. Initiative Targets African Men." Washington Post Foreign Service. Aug. 20, 2007.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/19/AR2007081900885.html
- WebMD. "Sexual Health: Circumcision." (Jan. 8, 2009).http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/guide/circumcision
- World Health Organization. "Demand for male circumcision rises in a bid to prevent HIV." July, 2006.http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/84/7/news10706/en/
- World Health Organization. "Female Genital Mutilation." (Jan. 7, 2009)http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/
- World Health Organization. "Male circumcision: Global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability." Feb. 2007.http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241596169_eng.pdf