Physical Harm

Nobody was ever harmed by circumcision?

Let us say at the outset that, if you are a man who has lost his foreskin, and if you don't feel you have been harmed, that is fine with us.

Our perspective also includes listening to, and respecting the views of, men who say that they have been harmed by the loss of the foreskin. As a BMJ Editorial put it:-

The foreskin and it's ridged band

The foreskin and its ridged band

Good surgeons know how to operate, better ones when to operate, and the best when not to operate. This famous saying surely applies right across medicine. It takes wisdom, experience, strength, and courage not to intervene.The minute that a surgeon cuts the skin or a physician prescribes a drug, harm is done. The benefit of a treatment will have to exceed that harm before the doctor is doing good. Unfortunately, many treatments have no benefit or only marginal benefit. Thus doctors can dedicate their lives to medicine and at the end have done only slightly more good than harm.

It is our position that, as soon as the circumciser cuts the skin, he does physical harm.  Without wishing to be too controversial, we contend that the following harms follow from circumcision:-

  • Skin is removed, and this may be up to half of the skin of the penis[1]
  • A "ridged band" of sensory tissue is lost[1]
  • A circumferential scar is left around the penis
  • The gliding function of the penile skin is diminished
  • The nerves that supply the glans via the foreskin are severed
  • The veins that drain the glans via the foreskin are severed
  • Lymph vessels that drain the glans via the foreskin are severed
  • The artery of the frenulum may be severed
  • The mucous membrane of the glans becomes just skin

Some will say that none of this matters.  But the significance of these changes has been subject to little or no research.  For men who wonder about what they may have lost, it can cause significant psychological damage.

Finally, physical harm is not the same as complications.  With the possible exception of damage to the frenular artery, the above effects happen in every circumcision.  Complications are additional risks which occur in a percentage of circumcisions.

  1. Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ. The Prepuce: Specialized Mucosa of the Penis and its Loss to Circumcision. BJU Int. 1996; 77:291-295.
  2. Williams PL, Warwick R (Eds) Gray's Anatomy, 36th Edn, 1980, Longman, London, ISBN: 0-443-01505-8.
  3. Taves D. The intromission function of the foreskin. Med Hypotheses. 2002; 59(2):180.
  4. Cold CJ, Taylor JR. The Prepuce. BJU Int. 1999; 83 Suppl 1:34-44.
  5. Cold CJ, McGrath KA. Anatomy and histology of the penile and clitoral prepuce in primates.  In Male and Female Circumcision, Medical, Legal and Ethical Considerations in Pediatric Practice (Eds Denniston GC, Hodges FM and Milos MF). 1999.
  6. McGrath K.  Variations in Penile Anatomy and Their Contribution to Medical Mischief. G. Denniston et al Eds). Cirumcision and Human Rights.  Springer Science+Business Media BV 2009.

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