Circumcision - Pain and Memory

No adverse psychological aftermath has been demonstrated [Schlosberger et al., 1992]. A longitudinal study in the UK, beginning in 1946, involving over 5,000 individuals followed from birth to age 27 found no difference in developmental and behavioural indices between circumcised and uncircumcised males [Calnan et al., 1978].

Long-term psychological, emotional, and sexual impediments from circumcision are anecdotal [Williams & Kapila, 1993; Moses et al., 1998] and can be discounted. It must be recognized that there are many painful experiences encountered by the child before, during and after birth [McIntosh, 1997]. Circumcision, if performed without anesthetic is one of these. Taddio et al. [2000, 2002, 2009] found that local anesthesia greatly diminished or eliminated pain.

Cortisol levels, heart rate and respiration have registered an increase during and shortly after the procedure [Taddio et al., 1997a; Taddio et al., 1997b], indicating that the baby is not unaware of having had something painful done in instances when circumcision has been carried out with no anesthetic. It is therefore generally advised that local anesthetic be used for all circumcisions on infants (more on anesthesia later). Taddio et al. [2000, 2002, 2009] found that local anesthesia greatly diminished or eliminated pain.

The response is variable and, even without anesthetic, some babies show no signs of distress at all. Most do, however, and this may be contributed by the restraining procedure, not just the surgery itself.

In the past doctors and parents had to weigh up the need to inflict this short-term pain in the context of a lifetime of gain from prevention or reduction of subsequent problems. Use of anesthetic for circumcision makes it either relatively or absolutely pain-free.


Penile hygiene.

Circumcision Info

What is circumcision?
Who in the world gets circumised?
The circumcision debate.
Circumcision history and recent trends.
Position statements by national pediatric bodies.
Why the foreskin increases infection risk.
Circumcision - 'shapshot' of health benefits + reviews.
Different specialists see different things.
Circumcision - benefits outweigh the risks.
Pain and memory.
Penile hygiene.
What motivates parents to baby boy circumcision.
Rates of circumcision.
Physical problems.
Inflammatory dermatoses.
Urinary tract infections.
Sexually transmitted infections.
Cancer of the penis.
Prostate cancer.
Cervical cancer in female partners of uncircumcised men.
Breast cancer in female partners of uncircumcised men.
Herpes simplex type 2 virus in women.
Chlamydia in women.
Trichomonas in women.
Bacterial vaginosis in women.
HIV: the AIDS virus.
Circumcision Socio-sexual aspects.
Circumcision - sensitivity, sensation & sexual function.
Circumcision - societal class distinction.
Circumcision prevents infibulation.
Circumcision procedure.
Circumcision & Anesthesia.
Cost of the Circumcision procedure.
Cost benefit of Circumcision.
Circumcision - how do I find someone to do it?.
Circumcision - whose responsibility?
Risks in infants.
Circumcision - risks in adults & older boys.
Circumcision - breastfeeding outcomes and cognitive ability.
Circumcision, does it affect penis length?
Circumcision - why are human males born with a foreskin?
Circumcision - best not to delay til later.
Circumcision - what caused many cultures to ritually remove the foreskin?
In Alphabetical Order
(A – I)(J – R)(S – Z)
Brochures, circumcision information guide.
Anti Circumcision
Anti-circumcision lobby groups.
Links & Resources
Circumcision websites & online discussion groups.
BOOK: "In Favour of Circumcision".
About the Author - Professor Emeritus Brian J. Morris.
Adult circumcision stories - testimonials and more.
Donations Welcome
• Donations