The Medical Benefits of Circumcising Boys


Tobian was part of a Ugandan study published this year that tested the effect of circumcision on STD transfer in married Ugandan couples. When comparing those who were circumcised for the study with those who remained uncircumcised, researchers found that circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection risk by 60 percent, genital herpes by 30 percent and cancer-causing human papillomavirus by 35 percent in men.

Female sexual partners of the circumcised men benefited from a 40 percent or greater reduced risk of bacterial vaginosis or parasitic trichomonas spread during sex, as well as HPV infection, which can lead to cervical cancer. Sexual satisfaction for the men, the long-standing bugaboo among opponents to circumcision, was reported to be just as great or more so after circumcision.

Though this study was done in Africa, the results closely match the observational studies done in the U.S., Tobias says. What's more, there are U.S. studies that show how the infant of circumcision can benefit, as it reduces the chance of penile infections.

"Boys who are circumcised have fewer urinary tract infections during infancy," Dr. Douglas Diekema, director of education for the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Hospital told ABC News during the San Francisco anti-circumcision bill controversy in May. "These are serious infections that require hospitalization," he said.

Circumcision is yet to get full support of major health organizations, however, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics remain neutral on the practice.

"No medical association promotes circumcision," said Schofield. "If there was sound and repeated scientific evidence, there'd be a medical association promoting it."

And that is the impasse that proponents like Tobian and Gray find themselves at – as long as major medical associations remain neutral, it will be hard to change health policy or change public opinion. In their editorial, Tobian and Gray call for these agencies to review the "overwhelming medical evidence" and reconsider their stance on male circumcision.

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