Medically necessary circumcision

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Routine infant circumcision is carried out on non-consenting infant boys. Even informed proponents of circumcision do not claim that it is actually necessary when it is undertaken on infants. It is widely reported in the medical literature that some proportion of men do actually require circumcision as a corrective procedure. Determining how often this is the case is complicated by a number of factors:

  • The medical fraternity in many nations have been unwilling to consider alternatives to circumcision.
  • Circumcision is incentivised in some nations as doctors and hospitals receive a significant revenue stream from the procedure.
  • Stretching the foreskin too early, usually as a result of ignorance, can cause problems which are then used as a justification for circumcision.

Research suggests that 95% of cases of phimosis can be treated with topical steroidal cream and stretching exercises, correcting in only a few weeks. Various other non-surgical treatments exist and if those fails there are even surgical procedures less invasive then circumcision such as the dorsal slit and preputioplasty. After considering all the surgical and non-surgical alternatives a case where circumcision is truly necessary should be extremely rare today. Advances in medical science should make it rarer still in the future.

Many nations report a circumcision rate of 0.1% or one in 1000 men. Notably, these nations represent populations from a diverse range of ethnicities which may rule out variance among different ethnicities. Given that these nations will still have populations that engage in routine infant circumcision and that they may not be using all available alternatives this number may represent an upper bound on the proportion of men that actually need to be circumcised. Given this data it is estimated that less than one man in 1000 will need to be circumcised given current medical knowledge and that the rate may be significantly lower than that. [1]

The Finnish National Board of Health found in the 1970s that 0.023% of men over 15 required treatment for phimosis or paraphimosis. It has been reported that they estimated that 10% of these men required circumcision. This yields a figure of one man in 16,667 which has been widely reported among intactivists. Proponents of circumcision argue that this claim is not on solid ground. If instead, we assume that all of the men required circumcision this is still an extraordinarily low rate, and consistent with the estimate of one in 1000 men being an upper bound stated above.[2][3]

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