Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Men's health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Circumcision

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head of the penis.

Most men in the UK are not circumcised and most of those that have been circumcised will have had the procedure performed for cultural and religious reasons rather than medical ones.

When is circumcision done?

Circumcision for religious reasons is usually carried out within some days of the boy being born.

How is circumcision done?

During a circumcision, the foreskin is freed from the head of the penis (glans), and the excess foreskin is clipped off. If done in the newborn period, the procedure takes about five to ten minutes. Adult circumcision takes about one hour. The circumcision generally heals in five to seven days.

Is circumcision necessary?

Circumcision is only carried out on the NHS in cases where it is medically necessary. It is usually performed as a last resort when other types of treatment have been unsuccessful.

What are the health benefits of circumcision?

There is some evidence that circumcision has health benefits, including:

  • A decreased risk of urinary tract infections.
  • A reduced risk of some sexually transmitted infections in men, such as HIV.
  • Reduced risk of penile cancer.
  • Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin).
  • Prevention of phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) and paraphimosis (the inability to return the foreskin to its original location).
  • Circumcision may reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Cancer. However, further research is needed.

What are the risks of circumcision?

Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with circumcision. However, this risk is low. Problems associated with circumcision include:

  • Pain
  • Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision
  • Irritation of the glans
  • Increased risk of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis)
  • Risk of injury to the penis.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on March 31, 2014

Men's health newsletter

Tips to be strong and healthy.
Sign Up

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

agave syrup
These may not be so healthy
exercise illustration
The 7-minute workout
female patient consulting with female GP
How to boost your chances
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
heart rate graphic
What is it, and how is it treated?
smiling woman
Much more than weight loss
crossword puzzle
Tips for the first hard days
sperm and egg
Facts to help you get pregnant
smiling_handsome_man
Put your best face forward
sick child
Treating your child's cold & fever
couple makigh salad
How it can help with weight loss
couple watching sunset
How much do you know?