The removal of non-pathogenic foreskin from the penis of healthy neonates and infants for non-religious reasons is routinely practiced in many parts of the world. High level data from well-designed randomized controlled trials of circumcision in neonates and infants does not guide clinical practice. Reliable counts of immediate and short term circumcision complications are difficult to estimate. Emerging evidence suggests routine neonatal circumcision could lead to long term psychological, physical, and sexual complications in some men. The stigma associated with discussing circumcision complications creates a prevalence paradox where the presence of significant circumcision complications is higher than reported. Prior to the Internet, there were very few forums for men from diverse communities, who were troubled about their circumcision status, to discuss and compare stories. To investigate the long term consequences of circumcision, we reviewed 135 posts from 109 individual users participating in a circumcision grief subsection of Reddit, an internet discussion board. We identified three major categories of complications: physical such as pain during erections and lost sensitivity, psychological such as anxiety and violation of autonomy, and sexual such as feeling that the sexual experience was negatively altered or being unable to complete a sexual experience. We also identified a “discovery process” where some men described coming into awareness of their circumcision status. These findings suggest that neonatal circumcision can have significant adverse consequences for adult men. The removal of normal foreskin tissue should be limited to adult men who choose the procedure for cosmetic reasons or when medically indicated.
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Uberoi, M., Abdulcadir, J., Ohl, D.A. et al. Potentially under-recognized late-stage physical and psychosexual complications of non-therapeutic neonatal penile circumcision: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of self-reports from an online community forum. Int J Impot Res 35, 234–241 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41443-022-00619-8
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