CHILDRENS PROBLEMS: CIRCUMCISION Male circumcision

Circumcision is the removal of the loose skin (known as the foreskin) found at the head of the penis. The medical reasons for circumcisions include a narrow opening , balanitis or trauma such as the penis-zipper entrapment syndrome (self-explanatory!). There are no other medical reasons to perform this traumatic surgery. There is no benefit with regard to cleanliness provided that good hygiene is followed and the foreskin is retracted at bathtime. There is no sexual enhancement one way or the other, although an uncircumcised penis may be slightly more sensitive.

Religious reasons need to be respected, although some of the techniques of circumcision are only little short of barbaric and run high risk of complications, which at worst can lead to penis amputation and enforced gender changing in children. To perform circumcision without good hygienic preparation, preferably in a surgical unit, or without anaesthetic, is medically and, in my opinion, morally unacceptable. The concept that infants do not remember pain is unproved and the effects on a child’s psyche when pain is created, apparently with parental approval, may have much deeper and more profound effects in the long term.

Circumcision for cosmetic reasons, like any self-mutilation on narcissistic grounds, should be considered only after time spent with a counsellor and assessment of the effects that social pressures, usually from advertising, have created. I am considerably against circumcision for anything other than medical reasons without available alternatives.

The foreskin is a protective sheath that may be of use if left attached and its removal can offer no benefit. The argument that the foreskin allows the harbouring of potentially infectious material such as human papilloma virus (genital warts) or other infectious agents is not acceptable provided that good hygiene is followed.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Unless recommended by a GP, do not circumcise.

If circumcision is to go ahead, then prepare the area by applying an Arnica or Calendula (or both) cream at least three times a day five days prior to the operative procedure.

See Operations and surgery.

If any complication whatsoever or however mild appears, such as swelling, bleeding or redness, please contact your doctor without hesitation.

Female circumcision

Certain cultures remove the protective hood from around the clitoris and, unbelievably, remove the clitoris itself.

This barbaric act is unconscionable and potentially extremely risky both from a health point of view and a psychological one.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Endeavour to do your best to avoid this operation.

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