A brand-new policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is likely to throw fuel on the fiery debate surrounding male infant circumcision.
The AAP’s statement touts the medical benefits of circumcision while stopping short of advising the treatment, which opponents decry as agonizing and unneeded. For instance, brand-new research study has actually found that circumcision reduces the danger of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, consisting of HIV, genital herpes, human papillomavirus and syphilis.
Circumcision appears to be on the decline in the United States (a 2005 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality research put the rate at about 56 percent), but the practice has long spiritual and cultural roots. Here are five circumcision facts that might come as a surprise.
1. It was once touted as a cure for paralysis
In the late 1800s, medical professionals turned to circumcision to “treat” an array of ailments, from childhood fevers to brass poisoning to paralysis. This age was a boom time for genital surgical treatment– women were losing their ovaries to the knife in the name of treating hysteria– however it was an 1870 case that shone the spotlight on circumcision.
Writing in the journal Transactions of the American Medical Association, Lewis Sayre, a professor of orthopedic surgical treatment at Bellevue Hospital Medical College, told the tale of being called to the bedside of a 5-year-old boy whose knees were flexed and paralyzed, preventing him from walking.
During his evaluation, Sayre discovered that the kid’s foreskin had actually contracted, causing the kid great pain. Speculating that the foreskin problem could be the source of the boy’s “physical prostration and nervous exhaustion,” Sayre performed a circumcision the next day. In less than two weeks, Sayre reported, the child was walking once again.
Whatever the cause of the child’s paralysis and amazing treatment, the foreskin can occasionally end up being trapped over the head of the penis, a condition called phimosis. Modern cures consist of circumcision, manual stretching of the foreskin, or preputioplasty, an operation to broaden the foreskin.
2. The foreskin is more complex than you might think
The foreskin isn’t simply skin. Consider it as more like an eyelid for male genitals. On the inside, the foreskin is made up of mucous membrane, analogous to the inside of the eyelid or the inside of the mouth. It’s this wet environment that seems to be responsible for the foreskin’s association with sexually transmitted infections. The foreskin likewise consists of a great deal of Langerhans cells, a kind of immune cell targeted by HIV infection.
Females have a foreskin equivalent, too: the clitoral hood, which secures the clitoris much as the foreskin covers the glans. The foreskin and the clitoral hood, known in gender-neutral terms as the prepuce, evolve from the same tissue in the womb.
3. The first-recorded circumcision happened in Egypt
As far as we understand from the historic record, the land of the pharaohs pioneered circumcision. The earliest referral to the procedure dates back to around 2400 B.C. A bas-relief in the ancient burial ground of Saqqara illustrates a series of medical scenes, including a flint-knife circumcision and a surgeon describing, “The ointment is to make it acceptable,” most likely referring to some form of topical antiseptic.
Ancient Egyptian circumcisions were not done in infancy, however instead marked the transition from boyhood to their adulthood. The Greeks saw their Mediterranean neighbors’ custom as rather bizarre. In the 5th century, Herodotus made his opinion known in his work “The History of Herodotus.”
“They practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness,” he composed of the Egyptians, ” considering it better to be cleanly than comely.”
4. It might have caught on as a status sign
A boost in health center births and a perception of circumcision as promoting cleanliness certainly added to the rise of the procedure in the United States. However, the procedure may have been a status symbol as well.
Writing in the University of Cincinnati Law Review in 2003, Seton Hall University law professor Sarah Waldeck explains that Sayre and his circumcision-promoting coworkers came onto the scene just as medical facility births were becoming more common. The rich were more likely to go to the healthcare facility and have a physician-attended birth; thus, circumcision ended up being a marker of class. The need to circumcise essentially ended up being a social norm, Waldeck composes. It was what ” good” moms and dads selected. As a growing number of moms and dads made the choice, it became odder and odder not to, which then put more pressure on moms and dads to pick circumcision so their child would be “normal.”
5. Circumcisions leave unique marks
Most circumcisions in the United States are done with one of 3 devices: The Mogen Clamp, the Plastibell and the Gomco clamp. The Mogen clamp is a scissorlike gadget including two flat blades used that are clamped over the foreskin, cutting off blood circulation. A scalpel is then used to slice away the tip of the foreskin.
The Plastibell is a plastic gadget that is put over the head of the penis, under the foreskin. The medical professional or nurse then ties a string around the foreskin, cutting off flow. The string might be used as a resource for the surgical elimination of the foreskin, or the Plastibell may be left on for a week approximately, after which the dead foreskin will fall off by itself.
The Gomco clamp is likewise placed between the head of the penis and the foreskin. Once again, the surgeon clamps the device over the foreskin, cutting off blood circulation. After about 5 minutes, the blood around the clamp will start to clot, and the surgeon uses a scalpel to remove the foreskin. This method in some cases leaves a distinct light brown scar on the head of the penis.