Male circumcision is one of the oldest known surgical procedures. It has been widely practiced as a religious rite since ancient times. An essential initiatory rite of Judaism and the Coptic branch of the Christian Church, male circumcision is also an obligation for Muslims, signifying cleanlimess and purification. It has been, and often still is, a traditional practice of societies around the globe.
Although its origins are unknown, the earliest reliable evidence of the practice comes from ancient Egypt in the form of pictures and texts dating from 4,500 - 5,000 years ago. Cave paintings approximately 15,000 years old appear to show circumcised penises, but not the act of circumcision itself. By the time of the Roman colonisation of Egypt in 30 BC, the practice had acquired a ritual significance; only circumcised priests could perform certain religious rites.
Circumcision is no longer confined to societies with religious motivations; it is now gaining in popularity on account of its health and cleanliness benefits. In the English spreaking countries circumcision became very popular for these reasons; it has now become routine in Korea and is gaining in popularity in China. Worldwide, approximately one in three men are circumcised. This makes male circumcision the most commonly performed surgical procedure on the planet.
Today parents are carefully weighing the pros and cons of circumcision before choosing what is best for their son. Many are asking questions such as:
What are the medical benefits?
What will happen if my son isn't circumcised?
Is it painful?
Can it be done after infancy?
Furthermore, and especially in the light of recent medical discoveries, many adult males who did not benefit from infant circumcision are considering having this procedure performed despite it being more complex to do post-puberty. Naturally they too want to know more about it.
Take time to explore the many interesting and educational areas of this web site. It is updated frequently on the basis of postings made on the associated Inter-Circ
discussion group. The result is a wide variety of information including personal opinions, medical facts, statistics and recent medical news.
What is male circumcision?
At birth, boys usually have a sleeve of skin that covers the end of the penis. This is called the foreskin or prepuce. During circumcision the foreskin is removed so that the knob of the penis (the glans), includinng the opening through which the boy urinates (the urethral meatus) is exposed. If circumcision is performed during infancy or childhood, it only takes a few minutes.
For Jewish families, a specially trained religious person called a Mohel does the circumcision as part of a ceremony called a Bris, held on the eighth day of life. Circumcision is also routinely performed on the sons of those of the Islamic faith, typically when a boy is between 5 and 10 years of age. In the United States non-religious circumcision is usually done by a doctor in the first few days of life; other countries also perform the procedure for non-religious reasons as a matter of social custom.
Circumcision can be performed on men and boys of all ages, using a wide variety of devices specially designed to make the task quick and accurate.
What is female circumcision?
The term female circumcision properly refers to a surgical procedure in which the hood over the female's clitoris (the clitoral prepuce) is removed - and nothing more. It is performed in some Muslim countries by tradition. In the west it is done either for medical reasons or (often in conjunction with labioplasty - reduction of the inner lips) for cosmetic reasons and to enhance sexual pleasure.
However, the term is often incorrectly applied to drastic ritual procedures carried out in parts of North Africa which remove the entire clitoris. In parts of Somalia and Sudan this is combined with infibulation the labia to prevent intercourse. Such operations are properly termed Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
It must be clearly understood that the owner, editor, artist and volunteer helpers who administer this web site are totally opposed to all forms of Female Genital Mutilation.
What’s new ?
15 million circumcisions per year, each taking about 20 minutes, means that approximately 500 males are being circumcised right now.