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Origins of Circumcision

The origin of male circumcision is not known with certainty.


It has been variously proposed that it began:

as a religious sacrifice

a rite of passage marking a boy's entrance into adulthood

a form of sympathetic magic to ensure virility or fertility

a means of reducing sexual pleasure

an aid to hygiene where regular bathing was impractical

a means of marking those of higher social status

a means of humiliating enemies and slaves by symbolic castration

a means of differentiating a circumcising group from their non-circumcising neighbors

a means of discouraging masturbation or other socially proscribed sexual behaviors

a means of removing "excess" pleasure, as a means of increasing a man's attractiveness to women

a demonstration of one's ability to endure pain

a male counterpart to menstruation or the breaking of the hymen, or to copy the rare natural occurrence of a missing foreskin of an important leader

a way to repel demonesses, and as a display of disgust of the smegma produced by the foreskin.


There are theories that it promotes good health.

Removing the foreskin can prevent or treat a medical condition known as phimosis, a condition where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis. Phimosis is normal in babies and toddlers, but in older children it may be the result of a skin condition that has caused scarring. It isn't usually a problem unless it causes symptoms. Immediate treatment is needed in cases where phimosis causes problems such as difficulty urinating.


Normal development:

Most uncircumcised baby boys have a foreskin that won't pull back (retract) because it's still attached to the glans.

This is perfectly normal for about the first 2 to 6 years. By around the age of 2, the foreskin should start to separate naturally from the glans.

The foreskin of some boys can take longer to separate, but this doesn't mean there's a problem – it'll just detach at a later stage.

**Never try to force your child's foreskin back before it's ready because it may be painful and damage the foreskin.


Phimosis isn't usually a problem unless it causes symptoms such as redness, soreness or swelling. If your child's glans is sore and inflamed, they may have balanitis (inflammation of the head of the penis). Most cases of balanitis can be easily managed using a combination of good hygiene, creams or ointments, and avoiding substances that irritate the penis.


Balanoposthitis can also sometimes be treated by following simple hygiene measures, such as keeping the penis clean by regularly washing it with water and a mild soap or moisturizer.


Topical steroids (a cream, gel or ointment that contains corticosteroids) are sometimes prescribed to treat a tight foreskin. They can help soften the skin of the foreskin, making it easier to retract.


Urine can irritate the glans if it's retained for long periods under the foreskin, so if possible you should withdraw the foreskin to wash the glans.


When surgery may be needed?

Surgery may be needed if a child or adult has severe or persistent balanitis or balanoposthitis that causes their foreskin to be painfully tight.


Circumcision (surgically removing part or all of the foreskin) may be considered if other treatments have failed, but it carries risks such as bleeding and infection.

This means it's usually only recommended as a last resort, although it can sometimes be the best and only treatment option.


Alternatively, surgery to release the adhesions (areas where the foreskin is stuck to the glans) may be possible. This will preserve the foreskin but may not always prevent the problem recurring.



Tribal Rituals:

It has been suggested that the custom of circumcision gave advantages to tribes that practiced it and thus led to its spread.


Congo peoples predominantly have and have had male circumcision that occurred in young warrior initiation. Male circumcision in East Africa is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, but is only practiced in some tribes.people of Kenya and the Maasai people of Kenya and Tanzania, male circumcision has historically been the graduation element of an educational program that taught tribal beliefs, practices, culture, religion and history to youth who were on the verge of becoming full-fledged members of society.


In some South African ethnic groups, circumcision has roots in several belief systems, and is performed most of the time on teenage boys:

The young men in the eastern Cape belong to the Xhosa ethnic group for whom circumcision is considered part of the passage into manhood. ... A law was recently introduced requiring initiation schools to be licensed and only allowing circumcisions to be performed on youths aged 18 and older. But Eastern Cape provincial Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo told Reuters news agency that boys as young as 11 had died. Each year thousands of young men go into the bush alone, without water, to attend initiation schools. Many do not survive the ordeal.


The circumcision ceremony was very public, and required a display of courage under the knife in order to maintain the honor and prestige of the young man and his family. The only form of anesthesia was a bath in the cold morning waters of a river, which tended to numb the senses to a minor degree. The youths being circu