Circumcision of childrenBMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7027.377a (Published 10 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:377
All rapid responses
To the Editor:
Premature retraction of the foreskin of intact boys is a real problem in America. Most American male doctors were circumcised as infants and don't understand the foreskin. Now that more and more boys are preserved intact, the problems are mounting.
Sophie Radice mentions that she did not know the proper technique for managing her son's prematurely retracted foreskin.1 The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) provides information on the prevention of premature retraction and what to do if it occurs.2
The swollen oedematous prepuce is easily reduced using injections of hyaluronidase.3 Circumcision is not necessary. When Radice's son's prepuce matures after puberty it will spontaneously widen and loosen.4 Paraphimosis will no longer be a danger once his prepuce has matured.
Radice should not be surprised that circumcision creates deep emotional divisions between the circumcised males and the non-circumcised males in her family. Male circumcision involves reduction of the male phallus under adverse neonatal conditions of great trauma.5 This creates great anxiety in the circumcised male as to the state of his phallus. Many circumcised males are in denial of their loss.5 Many suffer from feelings of low self esteem and shame.5
Circumcised men tend to deny their loss of erogenous sensation although research published in the 1990s makes clear the drastic loss of pleasure receptors.6 The research indicates that the non-circumcised men in her family are correct in their claim of far greater sexual pleasure as the prepuce is required for normal copulatory behaviour.7
Circumcision was common in England until the publication of Gairdner's classic work, The Fate of the Foreskin in 1949.8 The NHS delisted neonatal circumcision in 1950 after which the popularity of the procedure in England declined sharply. This may explain why many members of Radice's father's generation were circumcised while the present generation is not.
Very truly yours,
NOCIRC of Louisiana
P. O. Box 88
Port Allen, Louisiana 70767-3303
- Radice S. Doing an article about circumcision and want to speak to British men (letter). 7 May 2000.
- Answers to Your Questions about Premature (Forcible) Retraction of Your Young Son's Foreskin. NOCIRC, San Anselmo, CA, 2000.
- DeVries CR, Miller AK, Packer MG. Reduction of paraphimosis with hyaluronidase. Urology 1996;48(3):464-465.
- Øster J. Further fate of the foreskin. Arch Dis Child 1968; 43:200-203.
- Goldman R. The psychological impact of circumcision. BJU International 1999;83 Suppl. 1:93-103.
- Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ. The prepuce: specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. Br J Urol 1996;77:291-295.
- Cold CJ, Taylor JR. The prepuce. BJU International 1999;83 Suppl. 1:34-44.
- Gairdner D. The fate of the foreskin. Br Med J 1949; 2:1433-1437.
Competing interests: No competing interests
I read your letter on the circumcision of children. I am writing for
the health pages of the Observer and want to write from both sides. My own
son was nearly circumcised at the age of eight because he has repeated
problems with a tight foreskin.His foreskin got caught back after he was
trying to clean it in a bath and it swelled up massively. He suffered
greatly because the hospital tried to manipulate his foreskin and although
they gave him morphine and gas and air pain was too great and they had to
put him under and remove the fluid. The hosiptal wanted to perform a
circumcision then and there because they didn't want him to suffer the
same thing again. I couldn't agree to it because I felt it was too drastic
even though my brother had to have a circumcision when he was eleven
because of the same problem.
I was amazed at how emotional the issue became for the men in my
family all of whom defended their own penile state almost to the death.
Those who were circumcised felt they were cleaner, able to enjoy a larger
erection and more pleasing to the eye. Those who were uncircumcised felt
that they enjoyed greater sexual pleasure.
My father's generation seem to have been routinely circumcised. Are
there any figures on this or why it happened. I would be keen to hear from
British males becuase there is so much anti-circ information on the net
from America. I have to write this by Tuesday.
Competing interests: No competing interests