Circumcision Decision

How Can Circumcision Not Affect Penile Function?

As a pediatrician, I applaud the questioning of newborn circumcision. As medical students we were told the infant's immature nervous system did not process the pain of circumcision even though observation of the obvious distress and the shreiks of pain told otherwise.

The commonly stated notion that circumcision does not affect sensitivity or sexual functioning of the penis has never been demonstrated. How can 50% or more of the penile covering (including nerve-rich and erogenously sensitive tissue) be removed without adversely affecting function? The procedure was begun in this country to prevent masturbation and decrease "lust", but these reasons were muted and replaced by bland assurances of potential benefits and that the procedure was innocuous, with no factual research or study. The medical dictum of "First do no harm!" was never considered.

Parents who are not aware of the above facts, nor that this custom has come about only in the last two generations or so solely because of the urging and insistence of the medical community, now often demand the procedure because it is "tradition" or because dad is circumcised. Hopefully, they will reconsider.

Morris Sorrells, MD

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