Which is Worse -- Adult or Infant Circumcision?
by Mary G. Ray, ©1997, All Rights Reserved
Are You Afraid It Will be Needed
During Old Age?

          Some people choose infant circumcision because they want to spare the pain as an adult or elderly person. Many insist that the procedure would be worse as an adult. First, this incorrectly assumes that circumcision is inevitable later in life. Even in the unlikely event that circumcision is necessary as an adult, which is worse?

          Just as the fingernail is fused to the finger, an infant's foreskin is fused to the glans. It must first be separated from the glans -- then removed. This tearing can "further damage this sensitive structure. When an adult is circumcised, the foreskin has already separated from the glans. (This difference alone suggests to me that the process would be more painful for the infant.) "The loss of sensitivity to an adult may therefore be less." [Ryan]

          We also know that babies actually feel pain more intensely than adults. [See Anand below] Many infants are circumcised without any anesthetic. Some get a shot of lidocaine. The shot itself can be very painful. Not only that, but it's not always effective and it can cause permanent nerve and vascular damage. The adult male is anesthetised. The method used is probably an epidural or he is put under. Although the healing process may (or may not) take longer for an adult, the chances are extremely slim that he would require a circumcision later in life for any medical reason. See Myth: Circumcision Inevitable Later

          "RIC (routine infant circ) is performed on a small infant penis, usually with tools that preclude precision. Frequently, it results in excess tissue removal and other complications which are avoidable when adult circumcision is performed. Adult circumcision is performed on a much larger penis, usually using a scalpel and sutures, permitting the doctor to save more tissue if he so chooses."  [Ryan]  

See Also:  Adult Circumcision vs. Infant Circumcision  (When you get to this web page, you'll have to scroll down the page about 3/4 of the way to reach this specific heading.)

          Some have argued that circumcision is sometimes necessary in old age. If an elderly man will not or cannot go through the simple process of cleaning himself, his care providers have that responsiblity. They help him get dressed, they feed him, they brush his teeth, bathe him, help him wipe at the potty, and sometimes change his diaper. This is just one more thing among many they would have to do. The process is simple and quick. See Natural Penis - Easy to Clean

          Additionally, (according to the article below) by middle age, there is a decline in amount of smegma produced and by old age, there is a virtual absence of the substance. [Wright] See Smegma Beneficial Not Bad.

          If the man won’t or can’t do it by himself, and he is too embarrassed or refuses to let someone else do it, it needs to be explained to him that if he is not cleaned, he will have infections. And if he has infections, he'll have to be circumcised. If this doesn't convince him to cooperate, then unfortunately, it's one more operation for the elderly. This has got to be embarrassing for the caretaker. I suspect circumcision is occasionally done on the elderly because this added, awkward task is probably avoided by some caretakers.

          As bodies age, they begin to deteriorate. Old people suffer from all sorts of aches and pains and many undergo several operations. Each one entails a period of recuperation, pain and all. An infant should not be subjected to the pain -- and a man should not suffer the loss of beneficial foreskin all his life on the slight chance that he'll need circumcision when he's an old man.

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References:

Ryan, J. From what I understand, he has lectured at the Harvard School Of Public Health. I am trying to obtain more information on him.)

Anand, K.J.S., Hickey, PR, "Pain and its Effects in the Human Neonate and Fetus," The New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 317:21, 11/19/87, pp. 1321-9

Wright, M.D., Joyce, Sexology (New York), Vol 37, no. 2 (September 1970) pp. 50-53, HOW SMEGMA SERVES THE PENIS