There are many medical benefits of circumcision. Circumcision is a process whereby a healthcare professional will remove the foreskin surgically. There are significant studies that have been conducted over the past few years to determine the medical benefits of circumcision.
Is It Better to Be Circumcised?
A study from Johns Hopkins links circumcision to lowered risk over a lifetime for some types of cancer. These include penile and cervical cancer. There is also evidence in the study that circumcision can decrease the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV, human papillomavirus (HPV), genital herpes, and syphilis.
A lot of the new scientific studies have taken place in Africa. This is probably because of the higher prevalence of sexually transmitted infections like HIV in particular. In this article, we take a look at some medical circumcision benefits.
Decreases the Chances of Acquiring HIV in Males
Three randomized studies were done in Africa which displayed the medical benefit of circumcision. Researchers showed that adult male medical circumcision lowers the risk of acquiring the human immunodeficiency virus by about 51% to 60%. Furthermore, long-term follow-ups indicated that the protective efficacy of this method against HIV increases over time. This should provide an early answer to anyone wondering, “is it better to be circumcised?”
These results are consistent with many other studies conducted in Africa and the United States. Studies carried out in the U.S. also indicate that male medical circumcision lowers the risk of getting HIV infection in males.
However, not enough studies have looked into whether or not circumcision has the same effect on men who have sex with other men. The theory is that removing the foreskin might have more protective effects for those engaging in heterosexual sex. Also, professionals believe that there might be some protection against insertional but not receptive anal sex.
Protects Against Other Non-HIV Sexually Transmitted Infections
Apart from HIV, some studies have demonstrated that male circumcision lowers the chances of other heterosexual sexually transmitted infections. In addition, the trials have indicated that removing the foreskin in men decreased the chances of developing genital ulceration by 47%.
These trials also found that medical circumcision in men lowers the chances of acquiring oncogenic high-risk human papillomavirus by 32% to 35%. In addition, while most people view circumcision as a predominantly male issue, some studies have also reported derivative benefits for women who are partners of circumcised men.
For instance, the study showed that medical circumcision lowered the risk of getting HR-HPV in women with a circumcised male partner by 28%. Furthermore, there was evidence that circumcision in men reduced the risk of bacterial vaginosis by 40%.
However, you should note that no large-scale randomized controlled trials evaluated the medical benefit of circumcision in neonatal males over a long period. A large-scale trial could better offer an observation of the circumcision benefits.
The current findings indicate that men who had their foreskins removed during childhood show the same reduced risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Even though studies are still underway, this still answers the question, “is it better to be circumcised?”
Benefits of Circumcision in Neonates
Circumcision offers many other benefits during childhood. Research shows that circumcised neonates have a lower risk for infant urinary tract infections, mastitis, balanitis, and phimosis. Like in older males, research also indicates that among other circumcision benefits, there is protection from viral STIs even in children. About 50% of all high school students admit to engaging in sexual activities before age 18. Therefore, it is advisable to encourage circumcision in these children to ensure that they also acquire protection.
Neonatal male circumcision is a relatively simple procedure that is less likely to get complicated in any way. Statistics show that the complication rate is less than 0.6%. Additionally, most of the complications are minor, and they can be easily treated. The same statistics show that the complication rate of circumcision in neonates is significantly lower than in adult males. In older males, there is a 1.5%-3.8% risk of complications as displayed during trials. It, therefore, implies that delaying the procedure increases the risk of complications in men.
Protects Against Penile Cancer
Research shows that circumcision in males has protective effects against penile cancer. This is an invasive and devastating disease that is confined almost entirely to uncircumcised men. Some of the risk factors of this condition include phimosis, balanitis, and high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV). Most of these conditions occur mainly in the glans penis and coronal sulcus, and the foreskin usually covers these areas. However, in some instances, professionals can also see these conditions in the penile shafts of uncircumcised men.
Circumcised men heal from HPV infections faster than those who are not circumcised. Since it’s a risk factor for penile cancer, it, therefore, follows that the risk of acquiring it reduces in men who had their foreskins removed.
Phimosis is a condition that constricts the foreskin and impedes the standard passage of urine. Both phimosis and balanitis are prevalent in men with intact foreskins, and they significantly increase the risk of penile cancer. These findings of circumcision benefits have led to the promotion of the procedure in males. Thus, professionals view circumcision as a good move that can help to lower the burden of penile cancer.
Protects Against Various Infections in Women
There is more than one medical benefit of circumcision for women. Research shows that women with partners who have undergone medical circumcision have a lower risk of getting cervical cancer. Research shows that this condition is ten times more prevalent in females with uncircumcised male partners.
Apart from that, male circumcision can indirectly protect against several other diseases in women, including HIV. Given that serious complications of male medical circumcision are rare, primarily when the procedure occurs in infancy, this prophylactic procedure must be encouraged.
Protection Against Prostate Cancer
There is a strong negative correlation between males who have not undergone circumcision to prostate cancer. Scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA, USA, produced reports indicating that circumcision can lower the chances of developing aggressive prostate cancer by 18%.
The removal of the foreskin could reduce the risk of getting less aggressive prostate cancer by 12%. However, the researchers indicated that this is only true if the circumcision occurred before sexual debut.
These findings support data obtained from studies that date back 60 years. For instance, in 1951, Jews had a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. In addition, other studies performed in Southern California indicated that circumcised males had a 50%–62% reduced prevalence of prostate cancer than males with intact foreskins.
There is strong scientific evidence supporting the existence of long-term public health benefits of circumcision, and the amount of evidence has increased significantly over the past few years. Have you had any experience with circumcision? Are you considering it and want to know more? Feel free to give us a call. Also, if you want to receive email notifications each time there is a new blog post, please subscribe to our mail list.