Why male circumcision is the norm in America: ‘It’s a cultural thing’

Why male circumcision is the norm in America: ‘It’s a cultural thing’

In the United States, abortion and the right to self-determination are important issues in the presidential election. Meanwhile, you rarely hear anyone talk about another procedure: male circumcision, which, unlike in the Netherlands, is completely normal.

About 64 percent of newborn boys are circumcised, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics. The practice has long been common in the United States, says American expert Dieterik Brink.

There is no debate about it

“Cultural, religious and sometimes socio-economic factors underlie this. Doctors tell parents that it is not mandatory, but it is beneficial for health and well-being.” Doctors in the U.S. also say it can prevent inflammation, Brink says.

He is surprised that little is said about it in America. “All these years, and I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve never heard of any discussion or political or social discontent about circumcision.” And he finds it strange. “Especially when you compare it to the intensity of the debates about vaccines and abortion.”

Do not cut into a healthy body

It’s different in the Netherlands, says urologist Bart van Bezuijen. He circumcises himself. “Doctors feel that the foreskin is part of a healthy body and it’s not their job to cut it off.” Also, there is no insurance for a non-medical procedure, he adds.

Van Besoijen is also president of the Dutch Association of Urology, which strongly advises against non-medical circumcisions. If unpleasant complaints arise, we recommend circumcision only for medical reasons.

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Van Bezooijen also mentions America. “Over there, it’s very normal to be circumcised for hygienic reasons, but it’s also a cultural thing. At a certain point everyone gets used to it. And then there are men who regret it.”

According to Brink, it is difficult to compare the US and the Netherlands. “We have a very small country where the government plays a very large role in health care. All contracts are followed very closely here. In the US there are national guidelines, but in a country of almost 350 million people it is mostly organized state by state.”


The medical organization KNMG is also strongly opposed to non-therapeutic circumcision. In one response they say that they see male circumcision as a violation of the integrity of the body. They also note that they respect the deep religious, identity and cultural feelings people have for circumcision without medical necessity. The KNMG calls for a dialogue between medical organizations, professionals and relevant religious groups to put non-therapeutic circumcision of minors on the agenda and ultimately restrict it as much as possible.


“It’s really strange that you don’t hear anyone talk about it,” Brink continues. “Because it’s a physical intervention that you can’t reverse, in which the person doesn’t really have a choice. Newborn babies are circumcised. At the same time Americans place a high value on personal autonomy and have fierce debates about what decisions you can make over your own body. “

He also mentions the debate over vaccines and the current debate over abortion rights. “In that sense, it’s odd that the circumcision debate hasn’t come up. Maybe it’s because no underlying problem has been identified. If you see an increase in infections or irritations as a result of multiple circumcisions, you see a movement.”


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