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Infant male circumcision: An evidence-based policy statement

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DOI: 10.4236/ojpm.2012.21012    16,273 Downloads   47,393 Views Citations

ABSTRACT

Here we review the international evidence for benefits and risks of infant male circumcision (MC) and use this to develop an evidence-based policy statement for a developed nation setting, focusing on Australia. Evidence from good quality studies that include meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials showed that MC provides strong protection against: urinary tract infections and, in infancy, renal parenchymal disease; phimosis; paraphimosis; balanoposthitis; foreskin tearing; some heterosexually transmitted infections including HPV, HSV-2, trichomonas, HIV, and genital ulcer disease; thrush; inferior hygiene; penile cancer and possibly prostate cancer. In women, circumcision of the male partner protects against HPV, HSV-2, cervical cancer, bacterial vaginosis, and possibly Chlamydia. MC has no adverse effect on sexual function, sensitivity, penile sensation or satisfaction and may enhance the male sexual experience. Adverse effects are uncommon (<1%), and virtually all are minor and easily treated. For maximum benefits, safety, convenience and cost savings, MC should be performed in infancy and with local anesthesia. A risk-benefit analysis shows benefits exceed risks by a large margin. Over their lifetime up to half of uncircumcised males will suffer a medical condition as a result of retaining their foreskin. The ethics of infant MC and childhood vaccination are comparable. Our analysis finds MC is beneficial, safe and cost-effective, and should optimally be performed in infancy. In the interests of public health and individual wellbeing, adequate parental education, and steps to facilitate access and affordability should be encouraged in developed countries.

Cite this paper

Morris, B. , Wodak, A. , Mindel, A. , Schrieber, L. , Duggan, K. , Dilley, A. , Willcourt, R. , Lowy, M. , Cooper, D. , Lumbers, E. , Russell, C. and Leeder, S. (2012) Infant male circumcision: An evidence-based policy statement. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2, 79-92. doi: 10.4236/ojpm.2012.21012.

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