Circumcision is a common medical procedure that’s rarely discussed in social circles or professional settings. Whether you are circumcised or not, there will be plenty you don’t know about circumcision — the result, the reasons for it, and the procedure itself.
Here are eight circumcision facts you probably don’t know.
1. The foreskin is more complex than you might think
The foreskin isn’t just skin, contrary to what you might think. In reality, it’s more comparable to an eyelid for male genitals.
The mucous membrane inside the foreskin is what you’d also find inside of your eyelid or inside your mouth. This membrane is what appears to be held responsible for the foreskin’s reputation for sexually transmitted infections.
Whilst the procedure itself might be fast, it is quite complicated, which is why it always should be conducted by a health professional who is experienced and is in a sterile environment.
For women, their foreskin equivalent is the clitoral hood, which protects the clitoris just as the foreskin protects the glans. Both the clitoral hood and the foreskin come from the same tissue in the womb.
2. Science suggests it lowers various health risks
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has linked circumcision to lower rates of HIV transmission and lower reported cases of genital herpes, penile cancer, and cervical cancer in sexual partners.
3. Circumcision leads to better male hygiene
A circumcised penis will be easier to properly clean and maintain hygiene with. This reduces the chance of urinary tract infections and inflammatory skin conditions.
Research suggests that men who have not been circumcised are more likely to develop infections due to an accumulation of smegma that occurs underneath the foreskin.
4. Early circumcision offers a host of benefits
Circumcision is highly beneficial for male children. Not only does it prevent urinary tract infection — particularly in the first year of life — it also prevents phimosis.
Phimosis is a condition where the foreskin cannot be pulled back from the head of the penis. By circumcising early, conditions like these can be avoided.
There can be some hesitancy around circumcising your infant, however, it’s actually an ideal time to have this procedure completed.
5. It was once advertised as a cure for paralysis
During the late 1800s, many doctors thought that circumcision would supposedly “cure” a variety of ailments, from childhood fevers all the way to paralysis.
This time period saw a huge boom for genital surgery — for instance, to cure hysteria, many women had their ovaries removed in the hopes it would cure them — a bizarre thought in this day and age.
An 1870 case of a 5-year-old boy who had knees that were flexed and paralysed shone the spotlight on circumcision.
This occurred when a doctor discovered that the foreskin had contracted, causing the young boy considerable pain. Once a circumcision was conducted, the boy was walking again in less than two weeks.
Whatever the cause of the child’s paralysis and subsequent cure, the foreskin can on occasion become trapped over the head of the penis, a condition called phimosis. Some of the cures for this that exist in modern-day medicine do include circumcisions.
6. The first-ever recorded circumcision procedure was in Egypt
As far as historical evidence goes, it looks like the first-ever circumcision was performed in Egypt. There are references to the procedure dating back to 2400 BCE, with ancient Egyptian tomb work thought to document the procedure.
7. Circumcision was once a status symbol
In the United States, circumcision rose in popularity as hospital births did. People knew circumcision promoted cleanliness and good genital hygiene, but the procedure is thought to have become a symbol of status as well.
This is because the wealthy were more likely to attend hospital to give birth and have a physician there. It meant that circumcision became a procedure associated with affluence.
8. Different circumcision procedures will leave different marks
Many people don’t know that there are different circumcision techniques, there are three in particular. The Mogen Clamp, the Gomco Clamp, and of course, the Plastibell — a technique Russell Medical pioneered here in Queensland.
These different procedures utilise different devices. The Mogen Clamp uses the Mogen clamp, which is a scissor-like device with two flat blades. These clamp over the foreskin, cut off blood flow, and then a scalpel is used to slice away the tip of the foreskin.
The Gomco Clamp uses the Gomco clamp. This is inserted between the head of the penis and the foreskin. The surgeon will clamp the device over the foreskin to cut off circulation and then again, use a scalpel to cut away the foreskin.
Then there’s the Plastibell Technique. This uses the Plastibell, a plastic device that is placed over the head of the penis but underneath the foreskin. A piece of string is then tied around the foreskin to cut off circulation. The string is then used as a guide, to remove the excess foreskin, or the Plastibell device may be left on for around a week or so. The dead foreskin will then fall off on its own.