Getting snippy over adult circumcision

January 02, 2013|Anna Pulley, @annapulley | RedEye's sex columnist

Is it healthy to get circumcised well into your mid-40s? And can not being circumcised cause urinary tract infections?--Anon.


Like my first boyfriend, I thank you sir, for putting the fate of your penis in my very unqualified hands. Circumcision is a hotly contested issue among those who have penises (those without prefer to spend their time learning how to grow basil off of fire escapes). Circumcision among adults is even more controversial, the prevailing theory being, "Well, you've had it this far and it's gone OK, right?"

But just when you thought you and your foreskin could relax a little, maybe take up whale watching, the American Academy of Pediatrics (which is THE authority on tiny penises) decides to throw an anti-bone at your boner. After 30 years of neutrality on the issue of infant male circumcision, in August of 2012 the AAP started endorsing the procedure, claiming that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. And what are the benefits, you ask?

Quite a few, it turns out. You're correct that circumcised men get fewer UTIs than those with intact foreskin (I would be remiss if I didn't point out the self-given name for those against circumcision is "Intactivists." And let's not forget the National Organization of Restoring Men, or NORM, if you will). Your odds of getting a UTI as a dude are 30 times less likely than they are if you're a lady (around 5 to 8 per year per 10,000). However, once you hit 60 years old, your odds are just as high as the ladyfolk. Cut men also have lower risks for HIV, genital herpes, penile cancer, HPV, syphilis, and there are reduced risks of cervical cancers among their female sex partners.

Infant circumcision has been slowly falling out of fashion for decades. In the U.S., circumcision rates declined to 54.5 percent in 2009, from 62.7 percent in 1999. This decline is in direct opposition to the penis aesthetic as dictated by "Sex and the City" (In one episode, Charlotte described her uncircumcised beau as "like a Shar Pei."). Whether circumcision is healthy for you is a matter between you and your doctor, and not just because I'm tired of talking about your penis all the time! Though I can tell you that adult circumcision isn't often covered by health insurance (it isn't considered medically necessary) and that it can cost between $1,500 and $3,000. For that price, you better shop around and make sure your doctor is a cut above the rest. 

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