Circumcision has fallen from favour in Australia recent years but a new study suggests it could help protect baby boys from an array of diseases and infections.
The surgical removal of the foreskin of newborn boys has been fiercely debated among parents and medical professionals for decades.
Until recently, popular opinion deemed circumcision at best unnecessary and at worst harmful, but the tide is now turning back in favour of the controversial procedure.
The influential American Academy of Pediatrics has ruled that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
The academy examined 10 years of evidence and concluded that circumcision helped prevent urinary tract infections, transmission of HIV and some sexually transmitted infections and penile and prostate cancer.
It also found the procedure "does not appear to adversely affect penile sexual function-sensitivity or sexual satisfaction".
This finding is likely to be particularly controversial, as many opponents of circumcision — known as "intactivists" — claim their sex lives have been ruined by the procedure.
American Wayne Griffiths, 78, — who was so upset about being circumcised that he used weights to stretch his skin and "restore" his foreskin — strongly opposes the surgery and wants it outlawed.
"Circumcision cut off anywhere from 20 to 80 thousand nerve endings," Wayne told The Weekly. "They are all the pleasure-sensing nerves. And they're gone forever."
Unfortunately for Wayne and his supporters, an increasing number of Australian doctors are coming out in support of circumcision.
"The evidence in favour of infant circumcision is now so strong that advocating this simple, inexpensive procedure for baby boys is about as effective and safe as childhood vaccination," Professor Brian Morris, a professor of medicine at Sydney University, said.
Dr Alex Wodak, a doctor based at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney and a member of the Circumcision Foundation of Australia, agrees.
"The benefits outweigh the risks by a huge amount," he says. "The evidence is getting so strong and yet the opposition is so strident, and the situation is unfair for parents.
"They should be able to get fair and balanced information, but they're not. It's a simple procedure when it's carried out on infants — it's quick, it's painless, the benefits are considerable and the risks very small."
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