Sample Nursing Essay Paper on Risks and Benefits of Circumcision

Risks and Benefits of Circumcision

Circumcision is a worldwide practice and medical procedure that involves the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis. The procedure is primarily done on male infants shortly after they are born although there are instances where it is performed on young and fully-grown adults. The origin of circumcision can be traced to the United States and Britain toward the end of the 19th century. For a long time, the practice has been based on its benefits such as improved genital hygiene for males, reduced risk of disease, as well as the need to avoid circumcision at later stages in life. One of the associations that has thrown its weight is the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, the practice has been opposed by health care stakeholders across Europe and Australia. Thus, circumcision has numerous adverse effects on male victims although there are benefits accompanying the practice.


One of the adverse effects of circumcision on male victims is the fact that the procedure results in the loss of healthy and functional body tissues. In its support of circumcision as a medical procedure, the CDC does not focus on the adverse impacts of the practice on male victims such as its interference with the anatomy of the penile prepuce (Frisch & Earp, 2018). By not focusing on the penile prepuce, the CDC presumes that this element ought to be assigned a zero value when calculating the harms and benefits of circumcision. Unfortunately, this should not be the case as the penile prepuce, also known as foreskin, plays integral roles (Frisch & Earp, 2018). It is a complex and double-layered structure responsible for the protection of the penile glans from external interferences such as irritation caused by rubbing against clothing or diapers. Thus, the elimination of the foreskin interferes with various sexual functions that are important for males.

Circumcision results in intense pain, particularly among infants and small children, who are often subjected to the practice. There is the misconception that circumcision at a young age reduces the pain experienced and speeds up the recovery process yet this is yet to be scientifically proved. According to Frisch & Earp (2018), exposing infants or young children to noxious stimuli through circumcision is likely to have long-lasting adverse effects on the infants’ and children’s nervous system development. Research shows that routine medical procedures on new-borns cause significant pain and repeated exposure to the same can pave the way for disrupted brain development (Frisch & Earp, 2018). Also, routine medical procedures such as circumcision on new-borns can adversely affect the body’s stress response system with this lasting into childhood.

Circumcision results in acute complications such as minor bleeding, unsatisfactory cosmetic results, local infection, and meatal stenosis that occurs in a later stage. It also results in severe complications that may include partial amputation of the penis and death in the case of sepsis and hemorrhage. According to Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies (2015), the median complication rate of circumcision in infants or neonates is 1.5 percent. However, the rate increases significantly to 6 percent when circumcision is performed during childhood. A similar complication rate (6 percent) is reported when the practice is performed during adolescence and adulthood. Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies (2015) believe that one of the most serious complications caused by circumcision is meatal stenosis that often requires surgical dilation. A common way of preventing this condition is the application of petroleum jelly to the glans for a period of 6 months after circumcision, which might be challenging for the male victim.


Despite the adverse complications caused by circumcision, the practice has numerous benefits that warrant its adoption around the world. One of the benefits of circumcision that saw it become a common practice across the U.S. by early 1940s was the fact that it improves hygiene and reduces the risk of genital health infections (Lee & Griswold, 2016).  Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies (2015) rely on observational studies performed across Africa and in the developed world that indicate that circumcision plays a key role in the reduction of the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI) such as HIV/AIDS. These studies found that men who are not circumcised are always at a higher risk for HIV infection. This is based on the fact that the foreskin’s inner surface is rich in Langerhans and other cells primarily targeted by HIV that are increasingly exposed to infection during involvement in sexual intercourse (World Health Organization, 2008). It is from this argument that supporters of circumcision believe that the removal of the foreskin can help to reduce the risk of HIV infection.

Circumcision helps in the reduction of urinary tract infections (UTI) at least according to Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies, (2015). Research shows that the presence of the preputial sac in infant boys often provides an environment that allows uropathogenic organisms to colonize the urethra thus causing UTI. Research further shows that an increased risk for UTI is witnessed in one in 100 boys during the first month of life (Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies, 2015). The risk of UTI can mainly be reduced or prevented through circumcision. Reports further indicate that uncircumcised males often have contaminated urines that are potentially responsible for the overdiagnosis of UTI (Earp, 2015). During childhood, UTI can result in renal scarring caused by dimercaptosuccinic acid, and the scarring can have adverse impacts on renal function and lead to hypertension over the long term.

Another benefit of circumcision underlining why it should be practiced is its potential to reduce the risk of cancer. Research shows that female partners of men who have undergone circumcision face a low risk for cervical cancer although this is dependent on the sexual-behavioral risk level of their partners (Sorokan, Finlay, & Jefferies, 2015). Also, circumcised men face reduced risk for penile cancer and this is attributed to the fact that circumcision prevents phimosis, which is the strongest risk factor for penile cancer. Circumcision results in improved genital hygiene that is essential to the treatment and prevention of phimosis.

In sum, circumcision has existed for several years now, especially in the United States, with organizations such as the CDC championing for the adoption of the same. The practice has been opposed in recent years, and this has seen a significant reduction in the percentage of males including infants, children, adolescents, and adults subjected to the practice. The opposition of circumcision is grounded on the fact that it results in the loss of healthy and functional body tissues, results in intense pain particularly among infants and small children, and causes acute complications such as minor bleeding, unsatisfactory cosmetic results, local infection, and meatal stenosis. However, supporters of the practice base their arguments on its benefits including improvement of hygiene and reduction of the risk of genital health infection, reduction of urinary tract infections, and the potential to reduce the risk of cancer.


Earp, B. D. (2015). Do the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks? A critique of the proposed CDC guidelines. Frontiers in Pediatrics3, 18. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin

Frisch, M., & Earp, B. D. (2018). Circumcision of male infants and children as a public health measure in developed countries: a critical assessment of recent evidence. Global public health13(5), 626-641. Retrieved from

Lee, M., & Griswold, A. (2016). Circumcision: An Overview. Points of View. Circumcision, p1-1.

Sorokan, S. T., Finlay, J. C., & Jefferies, A. L. (2015). Newborn male circumcision. Paediatrics & Child Health20(6), 311-315. Retrieved from

World Health Organization. (2008). Male circumcision: global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability. Retrieved from