HED320, FALL 2011
As the controversy in male circumcision continues, potential health benefits are the deciding factors for infant male circumcision. The history of circumcision shows encouragement from places around the world, including opposing views from both sides, for undergoing this procedure. In recent history, the advancement in medical research has provided substantial benefits. The health benefits associated with circumcision provide prevention of serious, even life threating, diseases. The process of circumcision is briefly explained including supporting facts. The history and health benefits in male circumcision provide truthful and unbiased information allowing my firm decision to have a son circumcised.
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the prepuce of the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the tip of the penis. Circumcision is usually performed on the first or second day after birth and becomes a more complicated and riskier procedure in infants older than 2 months and in boys and men. “A recent nationwide survey of American hospitals revealed 55.9% of 417, 282 male newborns were circumcised” (Crooks and Baur, 2010). “The procedure takes only about 5 to 10 minutes using a local anesthetic and generally heals in five to seven days” (Health Finder: Circumcision, 1999). The history of male circumcision indicates reasons for its practice throughout the world.
Male circumcision can be dated back to 2340-2180 BC., Pharaonic times. Egyptian representations express a circumcised penis; therefore, it seems apparent that male circumcision had been practiced for many thousands of years. However, due to the uniqueness of the records, it is impossible to actually date the origins of male circumcision. Abraham is said to have been directed by God, in Genesis 17 of the Old Testament, to circumcise himself, his sons, and all other males in his house. “Thus circumcision is encouraged and widely practiced in the Islam and Jewish faiths, in accordance with Abraham’s covenant with God (The History of Circumcision, 2001). ”The origin of male circumcision in non-religious theories, suggest that it was practiced as a punitive measure in puberty or premarital rites as an absolution against the feared toxic influences of vaginal (hymeneal) blood, and for other health benefits. It might also have been a mark of slavery or preformed for cosmetic reasons. Moreover, the custom to use the male genitals as war trophies was widespread in Middle Eastern history, and has also been recorded by the ancient Egyptians. “In the United States and other Western countries, the practice of male circumcision for non-religious reasons began at the beginning of the twentieth century. Male troops during World War II were encouraged to be circumcised due to the limited personal hygiene facilities in overseas combat zones (The History of Circumcision, 2001). In recent history, it’s a continuing “debate about the potential health benefits of infant circumcision” (Crooks and Baur; Chapter 14, 2010).
Circumcision was clearly a controversial issue throughout history. One side declares it a form of mutilation and child abuse. Others feel the medical benefits outweigh any risk from the procedure. Moreover, societies have bounced back and forth on the issue, declaring it a necessary procedure in one era and then declaring it an unnecessary one the next. “South Koreans started circumcising their children during the American trusteeship after World War II, and the American practice of circumcision became universal in South Korea by the end of the Korean War in 1952” (The History of Circumcision, 2001). In 1950, the British Health Service removed non-therapeutic circumcision from the list of covered procedures and the practice of neonatal circumcision in the United Kingdom declined sharply. In 1975, the Canadian Pediatric Society took the same position, declaring it an...
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