Skip to Content


The surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce) of the penis. Also called Male Genital Mutilation (MGM).

Historically, circumcision was a ritual with no practical reason. In the late 19th century, it was used specifically to desensitize the penis and diminish the intensity of sexual pleasure in an attempt to curb masturbation which was believed to cause all sorts of maladies. The practice of circumcision continues today, largely out of ignorance of the scope of the damage it causes.

In the case of infants, it is a violation of informed consent and bodily integrity. In the U.S., it commonly practiced even though parents rarely receive the information required needed to give informed consent if it were any other procedure. Circumcision is the only procedure where a doctor can legally amputate part of a non-consenting child without any medical reason.

In a typical infant boy, the foreskin is physically bonded to the glans by synechia and must first be torn free with a blunt instrument. Depending on the method used, the foreskin may be split, and then pulled into a specially designed clamp. The clamp crushes the skin, reducing blood loss. A scalpel is used to cut the skin away from the clamp. About 50% of the total penile skin is removed, including the entire frenar (ridged) band and some or all of the frenulum. The entire procedure is excruciatingly painful. Infant circumcision is performed without adequate anesthesia, since anesthetizing infants is very dangerous. Partial or complete amputation of the penis sometimes occurs. Some children even die from the trauma, hemorrhage, or other complications. In older boys or adults, two freehand incisions are made around the penis, allowing the removal of the skin tube that covers the penis. Stitches are used to reattach the remaining edges of the penile skin.

Circumcision permanently alters the normal form and size of the penis, desensitizes it, and results in the loss of full sexual function as an adult. It sometimes causes painful tightness of the remainder shaft skin, infections of the meatus, and possible penis curvature and other iatrogenic deformities of the glans and shaft. Circumcision permanently diminishes the range of sexual potential and pleasure, and may be a major cause of impotence. If performed during infancy, the trauma of extreme pain can interrupt mother‐infant bonding and permanently alter the way the infant's brain functions and tolerates pain.

Before: After:
Intact penis showing foreskin over glans

Circumcised penis showing exposed glans

Image Sources:

 Link to video of Infant Circumcision (Viewer Discretion Advised)