Some of the widespread misconceptions that are used to justify circumcision:

"It's cleaner"

"It's an important tool to fight against AIDS"

"It's painless & quickly forgotten"

"It's a useless piece of skin"

"It reduces the risk of having a UTI"

"It reduces the risk of cancer"

"It decreases the risk of STDs and HIV"

"It's aesthetically nicer"

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Doesn't circumcision make the penis cleaner?

The foreskin is largely analogous to the eyelid. Would you think of your eyes as cleaner if your eyelids were removed? By nature, your glans is a semi-internal organ just like your eyes are.

The reason this myth still exists is because at the turn of the 20th century doctors advocated circumcision for morally hygienic reasons (i.e. - a masturbation deterrent). The hygienic myth has been repeated so many times that many have accepted it as fact, unaware that we assign a different meaning to the word hygiene today.

Other justifications some doctors employ is that circumcision will make it easier to clean your child’s penis. We don't clean the inside of an infant’s vagina or under a child’s eyelid. Medical advice to retract and clean under your child’s foreskin is incorrect and can cause permanent damage in the form of scarring. This is because the foreskin and glans are naturally fused together in childhood.

To clean a baby’s intact penis you simply rinse the exposed part with warm water. As an adult, cleaning your penis is as simple as retracting your foreskin and rinsing it.


Isn't the foreskin a useless flap of skin?

HuFo shatters this myth. Not only is the foreskin integral to natural penile form and function, it is the primary sensory tissue of the penis that is half skin, half mucosal tissue, and all of the male primary erogenous zones. As shown to the right, HuFo displays the nature of the bi-layer tissue that averages 14 square inches (90 sq. cm.) on the adult male.

What’s more, the foreskin is important in providing protection and lubrication for the glans, stimulating it during sexual activity, and even has it’s own immunological functions that helps clean and protect the penis. You can find further details on the human foreskin page.


Isn’t the circumcised penis aesthetically nicer?

This is a matter of opinion. Identical mechanisms are operating for many tribes in Africa, who genuinely prefer the aesthetics of a circumcised female.

Each society often thinks of themselves as morally and culturally superior. Given such relativity, is it ethical to amputate functional tissue from an infant to conform to the selective and changing beauty standards of the present, which may change and be held differently for him or her? Circumcision imposes a permanent and conspicuous scar on the most intimate part of an individual's body. Yet, individuals around the world fiercely seek to remove scar tissue from their bodies, spending tens of billions of dollars as they consider scars unnatural and visually unappealing.

When it comes to imposing scars on an infant's genitals, the answer for females is no. With males, the answer is also no. The current double standard is a relic of pseudoscience and medical quackery, which surely has no place in the modern medical field.


Isn’t circumcision painless and quickly forgotten?

It’s actually a fact that circumcision is extraordinarily painful. The physiological changes in the newborn infant who endures this surgery have been measured. He has sharp increases in breathing rates, crying, blood pressure, and stress hormones. Complications from circumcision are much more common than most people realize.

Post-circumcision babies routinely exhibit signs of post-traumatic stress: decreased appetite, disrupted breastfeeding, disinclination to interact with mothers and caretakers, altered sleep patterns, and diminished REM sleep.

Some psychologists contend that the pain from tearing apart and then crushing and amputating the most exquisitely sensitive parts of the infant’s body are so painful that they could modify his response to painful stimuli and the depth of his social and sexual relationships. While this has not been scientifically supported, it is worth noting that the United States has both the highest rate of circumcision and the highest rate of sexual violence in the developed world.


If everyone else has this done to their child, shouldn't I?

Not only is this not true, as the vast majority of the world’s men are genitally intact, but it is no longer true for the US, either. Circumcision peaked in the US at about 90% in the 1970's, to approximately 55% today.

Even if everyone did circumcise their child, that would not be a valid reason to do it. In fact, it directly conflicts with the American ideals of rugged individualism and personal autonomy.


What about penile cancer?

Penile cancer, although scary, is exceedingly rare and treatable. Prophylactic amputation of any body part is wrong.

If we wanted to use that reasoning, prophylactically mastectomizing male infants would be far more effective in preventing cancer and saving lives; but why stop there? Prophylactically mastectomizing female infants would save many hundreds of times more lives. Of course that would be ethically outrageous.

The relative importance of the tissue and scarring imposed is relative to the individual and cannot be ascertained as a neonate. The simple fact that adult men and women do not volunteer for circumcisions or mastectomies in large numbers respectively speaks volumes for the future preferences of your child.

Although it may be conceivable that removing nearly half of the skin on the penis does reduce your chance of this exceedingly rare and treatable cancer, it's tough to explain why non-circumcising nations like Finland and Denmark have half the rate of penile cancer as Americans.


Doesn't the foreskin pose a health risk increasing your chance of STDs and HIV?

Circumcision is a powerful expression of cultural and religious beliefs. When studying circumcised vs. intact cohorts one needs to account for these beliefs as they drive behavior more than the presence or absence of a foreskin. Nothing is more evident than the early population studies that “proved” circumcision conferred health benefits.

The failure to recognize circumcision as an expression of culture, which drives behavior, is largely repeated today in African studies. When measuring STD-contraction rate, researchers fail to (consciously or not) take into account that men who have already been circumcised outside of western influence are more likely to be Muslim and thus culturally tend to be more sexually conservative and less prone to engage in high-risk behavior.

Additionally, those performing those studies made sure to thoroughly educate those who were circumcised of proper sexual habits and condom use (the actual way to prevent HIV), which is a very serious, demonstrable flaw. Lastly, those who are circumcised could not engage in sexual activity for 8 weeks post-amputation because of the pain and healing, thus minimizing their viable time for STD exposure.

Combining cultural behavior, proper education, and the smaller time-frame to contract the virus that the circumcised population has in these studies ensures that these researchers prove their pre-conceived conclusions. There are also studies that show that being intact has no or positive effects in preventing disease, so the fact that something is "in a study" means nothing if the validity of the study is not properly scrutinized.

Lastly, even if circumcision conferred a benefit to the recipient, we know lifestyle choices are vastly more important in the contraction of STDs. The US has both the highest rate of STDs, HIV, and circumcision in the developed world. Meaning that it's not how much penis you have, it's what you do with it.


What about the campaign to circumcise Africa?

It’s well known, even by the most ardent proponents of circumcision that safe sex practices are far more effective than the absence of a foreskin. Then why promote circumcision? There are two possible reasons:

To gather “evidence” that circumcision reduces your risk of HIV from the biased studies you read about in the last slide. Circumcision was first hypothesized in 1986 as an HIV-deterrent for heterosexual men, during a time when there was no heterosexual HIV in the US, thus shifting attention to Africa. Africa provides the perfect environment for pre-determined studies, rife with easily overlooked systemic biases that shift the research towards the wanted conclusion.

Africa, by and large, is lacking an established first world medical community to advocate for normal penile anatomy, such as those found in Western Europe and Australia. Pro-circumcision doctors have been trying, and failing, to spread this practice to Europe for decades. An established medical community would never adopt a painful and prophylactic amputation based off of dubious medical value that also directly violates the person’s right to bodily integrity. Unfortunately, many parts of Africa do not have a pre-established medical community to battle this highly patronizing “relief-effort” based off of cherry-picked studies.


If circumcision is so terrible, then why do many doctors still perform or recommend circumcision?

This has to do with systemic ignorance of the human foreskin. Anatomy books throughout the 20th century described the foreskin in one sentence: "the prepuce covers the glans," in spite of groundbreaking research in the 1990s that undeniably demonstrates the highly erogenous qualities of the foreskin.

Urology books devote many pages to obscure infections, but circumcision is often granted only a paragraph or two, meaning the most common surgery in the United States is often granted only a handful of sentences. That's because circumcision is not medicine, but rather started in the west as a masturbation deterrent and therapy for all manner of ailments. It continues to this day through misinformation, ignorance, subjective beauty standards, tradition and institutionalized fear mongering.

Not only would most doctors in the world never perform an involuntary circumcision, they are naturally appalled that a so-called "civilized" nation would perform this on their young. There is, however, a vocal minority of doctors in the US who vehemently defend and promote circumcision.

The cultural biases of these doctors and their incessant need to justify their own circumcisions are painfully obvious to the objective observer and formally documented by an extensive panel of multi-national physicians.

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  • [1] A Circumcised penis is actually markedly less hygienic as feces  and urine will come in contact with the glans during infancy. The  foreskin is there to protect this delicate structure from these and  other contaminants.

  • [2] One may deem breast tissue and foreskin tissue a false  equivalency. The relative importance of the tissue and scarring imposed  is relative to the individual and cannot be ascertained as a neonate.  The simple fact that adult men and women do not volunteer for  circumcisions or mastectomies in large numbers respectively speaks  volumes for the future preferences of your child.

  • [3] These studies of course receive no media attention.

  • [4] We also have the highest rate of sexual violence.

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