There is controversy surrounding circumcision. Advocates for circumcision state that it provides important health advantages which outweigh the risks, has no substantial effects on sexual function, has a low complication rate when carried out by an experienced physician, and is best performed during the neonatal period. Opponents of circumcision state that it is extremely painful, adversely affects sexual pleasure and performance, may increase the risk of certain infections, and when performed on infants and children violates the individual's human rights.
US Medical Viewpoint
About 50% of all US male babies are circumcised. This number is higher than the global percentage (30%), but is actually on the decline. Part of the decline in this procedure has come out of multiple medical professional organizations issuing statements in the last 10 years that state that there is no significant medical benefit to removing the foreskin of a healthy newborn in the United States.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) stated: "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In the case of circumcision, in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child." The AAP recommends that if parents choose to circumcise, analgesia should be used to reduce pain associated with circumcision. It states that circumcision should only be performed on newborns who are stable and healthy. [American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision (March 1, 1999)[Circumcision Policy Statement]
The American Medical Association supports the AAP's 1999 circumcision policy statement with regard to non-therapeutic circumcision, which they define as the non-religious, non-ritualistic, not medically necessary, elective circumcision of male newborns. They state that "policy statements issued by professional societies representing Australian, Canadian, and American pediatricians do not recommend routine circumcision of male newborns."[Report 10 of the Council on Scientific Affairs (I-99):Neonatal Circumcision]
The American Academy of Family Physicians (2007) recognizes the controversy surrounding circumcision and recommends that physicians "discuss the potential harms and benefits of circumcision with all parents or legal guardians considering this procedure for their newborn son." [Circumcision: Position Paper on Neonatal Circumcision]
The American Urological Association (2007) stated that neonatal circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks. [Circumcision]
In 2007, the World Health Organization and the US Center for Disease Control both issued statements citing recent studies in African countries that showed a decrease in HIV among circumcised males.
There are numerous national and international organizations dedicated to educating and ending the practice of male and female circumcision. Concerns include trauma from pain during the procedure (anesthetic is not generally used on newborns due to safety issues), infections or other complications associated with the procedure, and adverse affects on sexual pleasure and function later in life.
Charlottesville based, Dr Annette Owens, MD, PhD specializes in medical aspects on human sexuality. She has produced a very informative video on research surrounding the sexual aspects of male circumcision.
More information on circumcision:
Local Circumcision Resources:
Midwives do not generally perform circumcisions. Our practice does not have anyone skilled to provide this service is you desire it for your son. As circumcision is generally performed from 2 days to 1 week after birth, if you are having a boy or don't know your baby's gender you will need to make arrangements with a local urologist or pediatrician to have the circumcision performed. We can provide names of mohels who will perform circumcision outside of the hospital upon request.