BOSTON - August 27, 2012 - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the first national medical organization in the world to state that the "preventive health benefits" of circumcision outweigh the risks. Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., executive director of the Circumcision Resource Center in Boston, a nonprofit educational organization that opposes circumcision, notes that in Europe, where circumcision is rare, there is no increase in the incidence of STDs. He adds that other countries recommend against circumcision or are discussing restricting it. They recognize the inherent physical, sexual, and psychological harm of circumcision and that it violates medical ethics to cut off a natural, healthy, functioning body part.
The AAP report mentions studies that claim reduced HIV transmission in Africa for circumcised men. However, Goldman says that professionals have challenged these studies for various reasons. (See HIV page for more information and links.) For example, about 60 circumcisions were required to prevent one HIV infection; the studies were not consistent with other evidence; and condoms are much more effective (99%), less invasive, much less costly, and they protect women from infection. In its discussion of preventing STDs over three pages, the AAP report does not mention the word "condom."
Goldman describes some of the harm of circumcision. "Studies show that circumcision is significantly painful, traumatic, and affects the brain. Some infants do not cry because they go into shock. After circumcision infants change behavior, and there are disruptions in mother-child bonding. Anesthetics, if used, do not eliminate circumcision pain." The effects of circumcision pain were not mentioned in the AAP report.
Then he summarizes the sexual harm. "The adult foreskin is a double layer, a movable sleeve equivalent to approximately twelve square inches. Medical studies have shown that the foreskin protects the penile head, enhances sexual pleasure, and facilitates intercourse." In a 2011 survey, circumcised men were 4.5 times more likely than those who were not circumcised to use an erectile dysfunction drug. The AAP report does not mention the functions of the foreskin.
Some dissatisfied men report wide-ranging psychological consequences of circumcision including anger, a sense of loss and sadness, and sexual anxieties. Most circumcised American men (and doctors) may seem satisfied because they do not know what they are missing. The AAP report does not mention psychological harm.
Goldman concludes, "We have not had the courage to admit we are making a very serious mistake with circumcision. For Americans, circumcision is a solution in search of a problem, a psychologically-motivated custom disguised as a medical issue. Defending circumcision requires minimizing or ignoring the harm and producing overstated medical claims." He urges prospective parents to watch a circumcision video and trust their feelings.
For more details about the CRC response to the AAP report, see http://www.circumcision.org/aap.htm.
Circumcision Resource Center informs the public and professionals about the practice of male circumcision. Its mission is to raise awareness and facilitate healing. Since 1991, the Center has been a valuable source of male circumcision information for parents and children's advocates; childbirth educators and allied professionals; medical, mental health, academic, and media people; Jews; and others.
Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., is the author of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma and Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective. His books are endorsed by dozens of professionals in mental health, medicine, social science, and Jewish rabbinical leadership, and he has participated in over 200 media interviews with radio and television shows, newspapers, wire services, and periodicals. He is quoted in the Associated Press article about the new AAP report.