(II) Myths

From the introduction of circumcision to America in the late 1800’s, and throughout its evolution into the healthcare system, its practice has been justified by mere pseudo-medical “beliefs”. And they have made sure to adapt their claims to be relevant as time progressed; such minimizing the risk of HIV infection – a threat that didn’t surface until the 80’s, while over a century ago circumcision was believed to cure epilepsy.

And to this day the healthcare system toutes vulnerable parents while inflicting fears to consent a practice that was never rooted in medicine.


II.1 – Alleged (And Flawed) Circumcision “Prophylactic Benefits”

Since the institutionalization of circumcision in America, its practice has been made equivalent to what many medical professionals refer as “surgical vaccine”. But the backwards logic behind seeks to disrupt nature to avoid risks when it all that can achieved through education.

UTI “Prevention”

Although there is no scientific evidence of the relation between foreskin and UTI (urinary tract infection), randomized studies that started in the 80’s claim that circumcision prevents infant UTI by 1%. And such marginal “benefit” seems compelling enough to warrant the amputation of healthy foreskin in 100 boys to prevent a temporary and treatable condition in just 1 of them.[1]

And the concern for UTIs in boys seems like a sexist double-standard when girls suffer from them more noticeably than boys ever do – 6 times higher to be exact.

It is possible that parents (or guardians) inflict infections by disrupting the ph/yeast balance in an attempt to “clean” them, when intact boys don’t need special hygiene that people have been misled to believe.

STDs “Reduced Risk”

None of the exaggerated claims would be relevant until boys became sexually active in the first place, but parents seem fixed on getting their boys circumcised nearly 2 decades ahead of their sexual debut; which ironically coincides with the age of consent.

Claims are that circumcision “reduces the risk” of STDs (sexual transmitted diseases) by up to 30%, while intact men are at a higher “risk” given the anatomy of the foreskin – the inner mucous membrane is portrayed as a “risk”, when in fact it possesses its own immune system unlike a circumcised penis that has a desiccated membrane.[2]

The biggest challenge to this claim validity is how European men who are mostly intact have noticeable lower rates of STDs than Americans who are mostly circumcised. From statistics by the WHO and CDC, the rate of the 3 most common STDs (Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis) in Europe has been maintained steady from 1980 to 2015, while America has skyrocketed to 4.5 times higher.[3]

HIV “Prevention”

They also claim circumcision prevents the “risk” of HIV infection by 60%. It sounds like an impressive “benefit”, but where does the claim come from?. Between 2005-2007 they recruited adult men from 3 African countries for 18-month controlled trials. Out of the 10,098 participants, 5,411 were circumcised, while 5,497 remained intact. At the end of the trials, 64 circumcised men (1.18%) and 137 intact men (2.49%) became infected with HIV; which represents the 60% difference of infection between the two groups, when in reality absolute decrease in HIV infection was only 1.31%., but phrased strategically to exaggerate the “benefit”. [4]

There is over 25 million people living with HIV/Aids in Africa; it is a major health crisis – the highest rate in the world, but its risk can’t be extrapolated to Americans who live in very different conditions. Consider that these claims are founded on vaginal intercourse among heterosexual individuals only. There aren’t enough studies on other practices (such anal sex) among homosexual or bisexual individuals. And it happens that HIV infections on homosexual individuals account for 2/3 of the total in America, yet the “risk minimizing” benefit from circumcision doesn’t apply to that group.

Penile Cancer “Prevention”

They claim that circumcised men are less likely to develop penile cancer, but the “risk” of such cancer in America is very rare (fewer than 20,00 cases a year), and only relevant to adult men over the age of 55 – while the average age of a diagnose is 68. At the same time the American Cancer Society is ambiguous about how circumcision offers “prevention” against penile cancer:[5]

The reason for the lower risk in circumcised men is not entirely clear, but it may be related to other known risk factors.

And like many other cancers, the exact cause of penile cancer is unknown[6], nor there is a single risk factor for it either, except for the certainty of exposure to carcinogens from tobacco as stated by the CDC[7], and reaffirmed by the American Cancer Society[5]:

Men who smoke and/or use other forms of tobacco are more likely to develop penile cancer. Tobacco users who have HPV infections have an even higher risk. Tobacco use exposes your body to many cancer-causing chemicals.

In all, the “risk” of penile cancer is non-existent in infants or young men, nor there is evidence of how circumcision protects men from it, while smoking alone is a higher risk than anything else – making this yet another flawed “prophylactic benefit” from circumcision.


II.2 – A Circumcised Penis Is More “Hygienic”

Along the exaggerated claims of “health benefits” from circumcision, the circumcised penis is claimed to be more “hygienic” than the intact penis – on the premises that foreskin “traps” moisture leading to bacterial growth and odor. And that is the result of induced rejection towards intact genitalia in America – what is meant to be naturally occurring such skin secretion in the body suddenly became a nuisance and a “risk” to health.

Circumcision Provides “Easier Hygiene”

This is driven by no more than a misconception over the anatomy of the intact penis. And it appears that anxious mothers in America are the ones kneen to consent circumcision for this “benefit”, since they wouldn’t otherwise know how to take care of their boys; when in countries where circumcision is unheard of, parents aren’t anxious over hygiene because they simply use common sense. Foreskin is fused to the glans at birth, so the fact that the glans aren’t fully visible until later in life doesn’t make the penis “unhygienic”.

You are supposed to clean only what’s visible and should never try to forcefully retract the foreskin, it will gradually do on its own as the penis follows its natural development. When boys have their foreskin fully retracted they simply have to wash it like the rest of their body during their bath.[8]

Only “Uncircumcised” Get Smegma

As an antidote to your ignorance, smegma production occurs in both males and females – even in circumcised men who possess renmants of inner foreskin.

Smegma is a build up of desquamated epithelial cells and sebaceous matter that collects between the glans and the foreskin[8]. Its white color and waxy texture gained the slang of “cheese” in popular culture, as well as the misconception of being a bacterial discharge; when smegma actually serves as lubrication – comparable to the sebum produced on the scalp that protects hair from dehydration.

Although all intact men will produce smegma throughout life, it isn’t until puberty when most will notice it (which coincides with sexual maturity). It is worth mentioning that smegma alone doesn’t produce a foul smell (another popular myth), but it is when accumulated and hardened that can have that effect, and when it can present a risk to health such irritation.


Resources:

[2] Fleiss P, Hodges F, Van Howe RS: “Immunological Functions of The Human Prepuce” – Sexually Transmitted Infections (London), Volume 74 (October 1998)

[3] Sexually Transmitted Diseases Across Space and Time

[5] American Cancer Society “Risk Factors for Penile Cancer”

[6] American Cancer Society “What Causes Penile Cancer?”

[7] CDC “Smoking & Tobacco Use – Cancer”

[8] Victorian Paediatric Clinical Network “The Penis and Foreskin”


My Thoughts:

If you believe blindly that an inflicted wound which removes essential skin on the penis while altering its normal biological functions is “healthier” than having natural genitalia, then you truly have been brainwashed by a system.

The myths from circumcision are so ingrained in American society that its people don’t even question their validity. Circumcised men grow up with the notion that having a desiccated and desensitized penis with its glans permanently-exposed is what they are meant to experience, never wondering what nature intended.