Sometimes I get questions about the pros and cons of circumcision for people with a penis. Here is what is currently known about this issue:
Currently the American Academy of Pediatrics position statement on circumcision states that the health benefits are significant enough to warrant providing the procedure to families who choose it, but insufficient to recommend or require that all newborns with a penis are circumcised.
Benefits: Decreased risk of urinary tract infection, decreased risk of penile cancer, decreased risk of transmissions of some sexually transmitted infections including HIV.
Risks: Bleeding or infection from the procedure itself, potential that the newborn experiences pain during the procedure.
There are some anti-circumcision activists who claim that circumcision decreases sexual sensation in the adult penis. There are no studies to support this claim. Others simply argue that there is no reason to irreversibly alter a newborn’s body without good reason and that the person with a penis should be able to make this decision for themselves.
Finally, some religions dictate penile circumcision in infancy.
There is an important distinction between circumcision of the penis and what is sometimes called female circumcision or female genital cutting or mutilation. With regards to cutting the vulva and clitoris there are zero health benefits to doing so, so the risks automatically outweigh the benefits because there are no health benefits. Further, there is significant risk of infection and even death from the procedure. Vulvar and clitoral cutting complicate urination, intercourse, and childbirth and deprive the person of sexual sensation.