Myths About Circumcision

Last updated 12/23/2022

Doctors in the Victorian era started the modern, non-religious practice of circumcision. Non-Religious circumcision started in order to deter masturbation, which was then thought to be the cause of insanity, epilepsy, hysteria, tuberculosis, short-sightedness, and death.

As time progressed, circumcision beliefs evolved into claims that it could prevent erectile dysfunction (ED), as well as make penis size larger. Both of these claims are unfounded and untrue, but that didn’t stop people from believing them. In some cases, it can actually causes erectile dysfunction. Some of NORMUK’s members claim that the best solution they found for this involved using a penis pump for better erection quality.

Let’s get into the myths circulating about circumcision and how they came to be.

Jonathan Hutchinson

In his book “On Circumcision as a Preventative of Masturbation,” Royal College of Surgeons of England President Jonathan Hutchinson wrote in 1891:

Measures more radical than circumcision would, if public opinion permitted their adoption, be a true kindness to many patients of both sexes

[Jonathan Hutchinson. On Circumcision as Preventive of Masturbation. Archives of Surgery 1891;2:267-268]

At this period, the rumor that circumcision promotes hygiene first appeared, referring to moral hygiene.

Clarence was addicted to the secret vice practiced among boys. I performed circumcision. He needed the rightful punishment of cutting pains after his illicit pleasures

[N. Bergman. Report of a Few Cases of Circumcision. Journal of Orificial Surgery 1898;7:249-251.]

By the turn of the century, amputation of the foreskin had been “scientifically shown” to treat or prevent starvation, paralysis, bedwetting, hip-joint disorders, headaches, drunkenness, crime, clubfoot, and heart disease.

Even in the 1930s, several physicians publicly admitted in the British Medical Journal that they were motivated by the sexual exploitation of young men.

Nature intends that the adult male shall copulate as often and as promiscuously as possible, and to that end covers the sensitive glans so that it shall be ever ready to receive stimuli. Civilization, on the contrary, requires chastity, and the glans of the circumcised rapidly assumes a leathery texture less sensitive than skin. Thus the adolescent has his attention drawn to his penis much less often. I am convinced that masturbation is much less common in the circumcised.

[Cockshut RW. Circumcision (letter). Br Med J. 1935; 19 October: 764.]


Circumcision-related misconceptions are constantly evolving. These are just as illogical and misinformed as the justifications of the Victorian age. Amputation of a healthy body part is a poor and barbaric method of disease control, even if they weren’t. On the basis of this, one could advise, for example, amputating the toes to prevent athlete’s foot, and pre-pubescent castration would have an extremely high success rate in preventing venereal disease.

It is generally agreed that there are no proven physical health benefits from new-born male circumcision.

[Prof Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer for England; Letter to NORM-UK, 6th September 2000]

In truth, non-religious circumcision continues for a variety of reasons, including ignorance, arrogance, perversion, general disregard for patients’ bodies, denial (possibly because the surgeon is also circumcised), and, in some nations, profit for those with commercial motives who can be compensated for both the procedure and for “donating” the amputated foreskin for research.

Despite the obviously irrational cruelty of circumcision, the profit incentive in American medical practice is unlikely to allow science or human rights principles to interrupt the highly lucrative American circumcision industry. It is now time for European medical associations loudly to condemn the North American medical community for participating in and profiting from what is by any standard a senseless and barbaric sexual mutilation of innocent children.

[Paul M. Fleiss. Circumcision. Lancet 1995;345:927.]

Does Circumcision Cure or Prevent Things?

  1. Urinary tract infections cannot be prevented by circumcision.
  2. HIV and AIDS are not shielded from by circumcision.
  3. Penile cancer cannot be prevented by circumcision.
  4. Cervical cancer is not avoided by circumcision in the female spouses of circumcised men.
  5. Infections cannot be warded off by circumcision.
  6. The act of circumcision is painful.
  7. Masturbation is not stopped by circumcision.

The intent of all NORMUK content is to provide knowledge for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be interpreted as medical or legal advice . Always speak with a physician before applying any recommendations seen on NORMUK, or anywhere else on the internet.

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