Circumcision is a surgical removal of the natural foreskin from the penis. The foreskin covers the head of the glans penis. This removal of the foreskin is one of the most common surgeries done to baby boys – in America. This hospital operation is typically done within one or two days after birth. Left undisturbed, that foreskin will grow into 15 square inches in the adult male. Therefore the decision to circumcise a baby is a serious consideration for parents to make. The procedure rates have been dropping in America. Most medical groups have stated there is no clear cut benefit, and the surgery is very painful to a baby. For many of the Jewish or Muslim faith, cutting and removal of the foreskin is an ancient religious act of faith, sacrifice, or covenant.
The decision to circumcise is a controversial topic for many people, with strongly held opinions on both the for and against sides. Those for circumcision speak to alleged medical benefits and tradition. Those against it raise issues of risk, complications, loss of the sensitive foreskin, pain, trauma, psychological harm, and rights of individual consent. For those against, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.
The practice varies geographically around the world. It is more common in the Middle East, the Muslim world, and Israel. Other areas where the practice is popular is in South Korea, parts of Southeast Asia, and some tribal areas in Africa. It was commonly practiced in the United States from 1940’s onwards, however here the practice started declining after 1980. By 2020, American rates for the surgery are retreating to 50%.
Infant male circumcision is rare in Europe, Latin America, parts of Southern Africa and most of non-Muslim Asia. The rates are also low in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, especially since their respective medical associations rebuked the practice decades ago.