Circumcision is a procedure in which a portion of the foreskin is removed.
How does the foreskin develop?
The foreskin is normally stuck to the glans of the penis in early childhood. As the child develops the foreskin begins to separate from the glans. By early teens it is usually possible to retract or pull back the foreskin over the glans. If the foreskin cannot be pulled back by the age of 16 years then it is probably too tight. This condition is called phimosis.
Why is circumcision done?
Circumcision is done either for religious or medical reasons. Religious circumcision is performed within the Jewish and Muslim traditions. Non-religious circumcision began in the 19th century and became almost routine in certain countries. It is estimated that approximately 1.2 million 'routine' circumcisions are performed each year in the USA. Routine circumcision never became standard practice here in Ireland. There is no rationale for carrying out this extremely painful, traumatic and potentially dangerous procedure on male infants. While female genital mutilation (FGM) is banned in Ireland and regarded as a serious assault, circumcision, which is a form of male genital mutilation, is not illegal and the procedure is still undertaken by some doctors.
The principal medical reasons for performing circumcision in Ireland are:
- the foreskin is interfering with the passage of urine.
- the foreskin is so tight that it is interfering with erection of the penis thereby causing pain during intercourse.