The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the concerns.
Okay, let’s take that as proven: that the slight reduction in the rate of UTIs and HIV manages to outweigh the risk of botched circumcision, but only slightly. There is, in fact, no scientific evidence that circumcision reduces sexual pleasure. (Yes, there is anecdotal evidence, but that’s not scientific data.) I remain confused about why we are having men have the surgery as infants. Surely we can wait until they’re eighteen and then allow them to decide whether the health benefits are worth it. It’s their body! Particularly since it’s a “maybe they should, maybe they shouldn’t” situation, it really sounds like something that the owner of the particular penis ought to be allowed to have some input in.
Also, wouldn’t it be easier to reduce the rate of UTIs and HIV with proper hygiene and wearing condoms, as opposed to by surgery?
However, the evidence behind the health benefits of circumcision is shakier than the Academy gives it credit for, which brings us to the next article in the news roundup. This is a fascinating analysis of the methodological flaws in the randomized, controlled circumcision trials.
Short version: The men knew that they had been circumcised (well, obviously) so it wasn’t a blind study; the circumcised men got free condoms and safer-sex counselling and the circumcised men had bandaged, wounded penises for much of the study, so they obviously weren’t having a hell of a lot of sex. Bad statistics make the decrease look many times larger than it is. (Gah, bad statistics are my pet peeve.) Condoms are more cost-effective and don’t risk teaching men that, because they are circumcised, they don’t need to use condoms when they have sex. In short, the health benefits of circumcision are far from proven.
Finally, this is an interesting article from the Guardian about one man’s choice not to circumcise his child.