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Circumcision in men

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin.

The foreskin is the retractable fold of skin that covers the end of the penis. It's a continuation of the skin that covers the whole penis.

Why circumcision is carried out in men

Circumcision may be carried out for a number of reasons.

Medical reasons

In men, circumcision is most commonly carried out when the foreskin is tight and won't pull back (retract), which is known as phimosis.

Non-medical reasons

Circumcision is a common practice in the African, Jewish and Islamic communities.

Most non-medical circumcisions are carried out on children.

Medical reasons for men to have a circumcision

In men, circumcision is sometimes considered a possible treatment option for the following conditions.

Tight foreskin (phimosis)

Phimosis is where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis (glans).

This can sometimes cause pain when the penis is erect and, in rare cases, passing urine may be difficult.

Recurrent balanitis

Balantis is where the foreskin and head of the penis become inflamed and infected.


Paraphimosis is where the foreskin can't be returned to its original position after being pulled back, causing the head of the penis to become swollen and painful. It's a possible complication of a tight foreskin (phimosis).

Immediate treatment is needed to avoid serious complications, such as restricted blood flow to the penis.

Balanitis xerotica obliterans

This condition causes phimosis and, in some cases, also affects the head of the penis, which can become scarred and inflamed.

Cancer of the penis

Cancer of the penis (penile cancer) is a very rare type of cancer, where a wart-like growth or ulcer appears on the end of the penis or under the foreskin, or there is bleeding, discharge or changes in the skin of the penis or foreskin.

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