Circumcision removes a simple fold of skin (the `foreskin’ or `prepuce’) that covers the head (glans) of the un-erect penis in a male, fully exposing the head of the penis.
Medical Male Circumcision is preferably performed at a hospital or clinic by a qualified medical professional.
Fast facts about circumcision
1. 80% of the world’s males are not circumcised.
2. Though many people associate circumcision with Jews, most circumcised males are Muslims.
3. Circumcision is painful. Only 45% of doctors who do circumcisions use any anaesthesia at all.
4. A circumcision with adequate anaesthesia takes a half-hour – if they brought your baby back sooner, he was in severe pain during the surgery.
5. The pain of circumcision causes a rewiring of the baby’s brain to be more sensitive to pain later (Taddio 1997, Anand 2000). Circumcision also can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anger, low self-esteem and problems with intimacy (Boyle 2002, Hammond 1999, Goldman 1999).
6. “My baby slept right through it.” Not possible without total anaesthesia, which is not available. Even the dorsal penile nerve block leaves the underside of the penis receptive to pain. Babies go into shock, which though it looks like a calm state, is the body’s reaction to profound pain and distress.
7. Circumcised men and boys are 60% more likely to suffer from alexithymia, a psychological trait disorder that causes difficulty in identifying and expressing one’s emotions, leading to problems sustaining relationships.
8. Most physicians do not have their sons circumcised.
All men have the right to safe and hygienic medical male circumcision services.
Benefits of Male Circumcision
Removal of the foreskin by a medical professional has the following benefits:
• It is easier to keep clean.
• It eliminates bruising and tearing during sex, which makes sex more enjoyable for men and women.
• It removes cells that attract HIV.
• It reduces the risk of HIV infection, but there is still a 40% chance that circumcised men can get HIV.
• Lower risk of STI’s and diseases.
• It provides health benefits for sexual partners – Medical male circumcision (MMC) is suitable for a women’s health. It reduces her risk of cervical cancer by removing the human papillomavirus carried in the foreskin.
What male circumcision doesn’t do
Male circumcision does not prevent pregnancy. It also does not prevent STD’s. Therefore circumcised men should still use a condom every time they have sex. Keep to one sexual partner. Test for HIV to know your status so that you can make the best decision for your health.
Male circumcision does not benefit the partner of an HIV-positive man.
If you are HIV-positive, you may also be circumcised, but this does not protect your partner from HIV. If you test positive for HIV, you should have your CD-4 cell count taken to determine the strength of your immune system, and you will be referred to medical care and support services. HIV-positive men who choose to be circumcised should continue to use condoms at all times to protect their partners from HIV and themselves and their partner from re-infection if both are HIV-positive.
Male circumcision does not reduce your risk of HIV infection if you have anal sex.
What are the risks of male circumcision?
1. Pain and distress. An infant undergoing a circumcision must get safe and effective pain control. This is because the patient may experience post-operative pain, swelling and bruising.
2. Cosmetic concerns. Too much or too little skin removal may present problems, or abnormal scar tissue may develop
3. Buried penis. Refers to a penis that is buried under scar tissue that develops at the site of the incision. It may occur if too much or too little skin is removed. Treatment is surgical.
4. Sexual dissatisfaction. Some men say the end of the penis becomes less sensitive when the foreskin is removed. However, most circumcised males do not describe psychological trauma or decreased sexual function due to being circumcised.
5. Psychological trauma. Some males resent having been circumcised and increasingly are requesting a procedure be developed to recreate the foreskin.
Male circumcision culture
Initiation is common practice in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa. One traditional ritual that is still regularly practised in the manhood ritual, a secret rite that marks the transition from boyhood to manhood (Ulwaluko).
After ritual circumcision, the initiates (abakwetha) live in isolation for up to several weeks, often in the mountains. The circumcision is performed without anaesthesia. The pain experience is seen as a vital part of becoming a man.
Initiation remains clouded in secrecy, and not even initiates may speak out on what they endured. As a parent, you should know who works with your child, what are they taught, and how are they treated. It takes a boy away from home to ”the bush” for a month during July or December when they have their long school holidays.
A recent film – ”Inxeba” – about initiation drew much criticism because of its portrayal of what possibly happens behind the scenes. Proponents of the ritual prefer people not to know.
Statistics show many initiates die every year because of sepsis or suffer from mutilation at the hands of unscrupulous practitioners.
Between 2012 – 2019, 400 boys died or had messed up circumcisions.
Hundreds of boys end up in hospital for treatment of dehydration, sepsis and genital amputations. In addition, many initiation schools in South Africa are not registered, and authorities suspend them – but often too late.
The Eastern Cape became the first province in 2001 to introduce legislation regulating traditional circumcision to curb deaths and genital mutilation taking place in the bush.
Only boys older than 18 years may go for initiation. Illegal schools often take boys as young as 15 years. Many of them get sick and need medical attention. The stigma associated with getting medical help is severe, and many boys will run away and join another initiation school to graduate. They don’t want the stigma of being a week or lesser man.
The Children’s Act 2005 makes the circumcision of male children under 16 unlawful except for religious or medical reasons. In the Eastern Cape province the Application of Health Standards in Traditional Circumcision Act, 2001, regulates traditional circumcision, which causes the death or mutilation of many youths by traditional surgeons each year. Among other provisions, the minimum age for circumcision is age 18. In October 2009, the Eastern Cape High Court at Bisho (sitting as an Equality Court) clarified that circumcision is unlawful unless done with the full consent of the initiate. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_and_law)
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