Just like nail art and fedoras, circumcision is increasingly on the outs these days. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) just released a new batch of stats showing that only 58 percent of newborn boys in the U.S. were circumcised in 2010Ã¢â‚¬”down from a high of 65 percent in 1979.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s behind the decline? Part of it may be attributable to the fact that medical groups such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) no longer routinely recommend the procedureÃ¢â‚¬”which snips off the loose, retractable fold of skin hanging over the tip of the penis. Though the AAP acknowledges that the health benefits outweigh the risks, both organizations now take a neutral stance, leaving parents to decide if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s right for them from a cultural, religious, and personal standpoint, says Alyssa Dweck, an ob-gyn in Mt. Kisco, New York, who performs circumcisions and is coauthor of V is for Vagina.
Whether youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re debating circumcision for the baby boy you may pop out one dayÃ¢â‚¬”or youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re noticing that more and more of the guys you date have been sporting a penis sleeveÃ¢â‚¬”hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what you need to know about the health implications of turtlenecks versus crew necks:
Circumcision Is Very Safe Typically done within days after a boy is born, the procedure takes just a few minutes: An ob-gyn will inject a local anesthetic or apply a numbing cream near the penis, then use a scalpel to make the cut. No stats are kept on how many babies experience complications, according to ACOG, but Dweck says theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re rare and are usually limited to bleeding or infection.
It Has Health Benefits Boys and men who have been circumcised have lower odds of experiencing urinary tract infections, possibly because removing the foreskin prevents harmful bacteria from congregating under the head of the penis, says Dweck. Cut guys also appear to have reduced rates of penile cancer, research shows. But keep in mind that penile cancer and UTIs in guys are both uncommon anyway, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s part of the reason why ACOG and the AAP shy away from recommending circumcision as a way to prevent them.
It Can Lower His (and Your) STD Risk Some research suggests that getting snipped protects a man from contracting STDs, including HIV. One theory why: The foreskin contains lots of mucus membranes, which are easier for bacteria and viruses to slip past and cause an infection. The jury is still out, however, as to how protective circumcision is, so donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t kick an intact guy out of your bedroom for fear that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a germ magnet. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whether your partner is cut or uncut, condoms and routine testing are your best protection against STDs,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Dweck.
It DoesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Affect SensationÃ¢â‚¬”Yours or His Some guys swear that having a foreskin makes them more receptive to sexual pleasure, but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s zero proof suggesting that circumcised dudes are missing out sexually, says Dweck, or that circumcision makes a difference in terms of erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or any other bedroom issue. And since the foreskin retracts when a guy gets an erection, whether heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s intact or not wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t affect your pleasure during sex.