Argument: Is male circumcision harmful?

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    • Argument: Is male circumcision harmful?

      Richard Wamai and Ronald Goldman go head to head.

      New Internationalist

      Most of the world instinctively avoids circumcision, recognizing it as just as harmful as cutting off other natural, healthy, functioning body parts.
      Ronald Goldman, Ph.D is a psychological researcher, educator, and Executive Director of the Circumcision Resource Center in Boston, a non-profit educational organization. Dr Goldman is internationally known for his work on circumcision and is the author of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma and Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective.

      AAP and WHO’s positions on circumcision are influenced by personal, cultural, financial, and professional conflicts of interest. No medical organization finds any proven medical benefit for circumcision, and European organizations oppose circumcision.

      Circumcision is painful and traumatic. Some infants do not cry because they go into shock. After circumcision, infants exhibit behavioural changes and disruptions in mother-child bonding. Anaesthetics, if used, do not eliminate pain. There are many surgical risks, including, in rare cases, death. Some doctors refuse to perform circumcisions because of ethical considerations.

      Circumcision removes about a third of the erogenous tissue on the penile shaft, including several kinds of specialized nerves, resulting in thickening and progressive desensitization of exposed erogenous tissue. The adult foreskin is a double-layer movable sleeve of approximately 75 square centimetres. It protects the penile head, enhances sexual pleasure, and facilitates intercourse. Circumcised men are more likely to have erectile dysfunction, orgasm difficulties and premature ejaculation. Female partners have more problems with sexual function, fulfilment and painful intercourse. Conflicting studies on sexual effects of circumcision leave the burden of proof on those who advocate circumcision.

      Dissatisfied men wish they had a choice and report anger, feelings of loss, sadness, sexual anxieties, and reduced emotional expression. Psychological factors affect every aspect. Circumcised men often have difficulty acknowledging the harm and generally accept information favouring circumcision.

      Ronald Goldman