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Circumcision

Two pairs of scissors and a roll of medical bandage

What does it mean?

'Circum' means 'round or around' and 'cision' comes from the Greek 'to cut'.

What is it?

Circumcision is the operation carried out on the penis of some boys, which involves removing the piece of skin that covers the tip of the penis called the 'foreskin'.

When?

Mostly circumcisions are done on boy babies in the first few weeks of life but may, for medical reasons need doing later in life.

Why?

Mainly for religious reasons in the United Kingdom - and it is commonest amongst Jews and Muslims where it is totally normal. In the United States, circumcision has in the past been almost routinely done on all male babies, because it was thought to improve the cleanliness of the end of the male penis. The operation of removing the foreskin in babies is normally done without using any anaesthetic. The main 'medical' reason for a boy/man having to be circumcised, is when the hole in the foreskin at the end of their penis is so tight that when they pee, the foreskin balloons out (the medical name for this is 'phimosis'). When someone needs a circumcision for this reason, an anaesthetic is always used! When circumcision is carried out on boys for religious reasons it may, for instance, in the Jewish religion, be carried out by someone who is not a doctor - like a Rabbi. Many Rabbis are very skilled at doing this.