Male circumcision is one of the most hotly debated sexual health issues and has become a controversial procedure and divisive issue in the medical profession and on parenting forums, with passionate voices on both the pro-and anti-sides of the debate.
Circumcision is an operation to remove the foreskin covering the tip of the penis. The procedure is most prevalent in the Muslim world, the United States, Israel and parts of South-East Asia and Africa; it's relatively rare in Europe, Latin America and most of Asia.
The procedure used to be routine practice in Australia in the 1950s, but this trend has reversed and these days only less than 25 percent of baby boys are circumcised. One reason is that, unless medically necessary, it has been banned in public hospitals since 2006.
Why is it such a controversial topic?
Part of the reason might be because there's no real medical evidence that being circumcised is better than being uncircumcised. However, there seem to be some advantages and health benefits of removing the foreskin, which may reduce the risk of transmission of HIV and some STIs, genital herpes and certain strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). Not just for the male but also for his partner.
But not everyone agrees. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians' policy maintains the medical benefits "do not warrant routine infant circumcision".
The most contested area of the circumcision debate is the question of ethics. Anti-circumcision advocates and campaign groups claim it is a violation of a baby boy's body as he can't give consent and should have the right to an intact body. There is even an American non-profit organisation called Foregen that has founded research to reverse any physical and psychological effects of circumcision by "growing" new foreskins using regenerative medicine.
Social media and the internet are swamped with personal accounts from very unhappy circumcised males. Videos of the procedure show cases of damage that can be caused and various groups are trying to convince people that circumcision is unnecessary and can be harmful and dangerous.
Another contentious issue is the belief that circumcision affects sexual functioning. Several studies have been conducted on erectile function, premature and delayed ejaculation, sexual satisfaction, sexual sensations and penile sensitivity. But those reviewing the literature have reached different conclusions, and overall no one agrees with each other.
One popular opinion is that circumcision can cause the loss of some nerve endings in the head of the penis and leaves it exposed. The constant rubbing on clothing and exposure to temperature changes may reduce the sensitivity and responsiveness of the nerve endings, creating the demand for more stimulation to trigger a pleasure response. For some men, especially those who are circumcised during adulthood, this means it takes longer to ejaculate which would be an advantage.
Unlike in the US, it seems there is hardly any research done in Australia on whether women prefer partners to have a circumcisedor uncircumcised penis. Women in the US usually have never seen an uncircumcised penis until they travel overseas and are often unpleasantly surprised by the look of them. One online comment was: "gross".
Some reasons women give are they believe a circumcised penis looks better, is usually cleaner and is easier and more pleasant to perform oral sex on. However, many women find it easier to have sex with a man with his foreskin intact because they require less lubrication as the skin of the penis is naturally smooth and glides on its own "padding" of movable skin.
Often the main reason parents choose circumcision is because they want their boy to look like their father, as shown in this funny video which gives us a bit of history why circumcision has become popular.
So do circumcised men make better lovers?
Difficult to answer, but I believe it's not so important what a penis looks like but what you can do with it!