THE HEALTHY TRUTH: Male circumcision has been somewhat controversial for centuries.
Conducted for a variety of reasons, it is no longer performed as a routine medical procedure in public hospitals.
One side claims it is like a surgical vaccine that can potentially save lives by preventing diseases like HIV.
The other side says it is barbaric, unethical mutilation, arguing boys should be able to decide what happens to their own bodies.
It is the only common surgical procedure that has such extreme opposing views.
The emotive debate makes it harder for parents to make a choice for their sons.
So, what's the truth about male circumcision?
Circumcision is one of the oldest operations in the world, with around 30 per cent of all males aged 15 or older becoming circumcised globally.
In Australia, 59 per cent of men – 4.7 million – are circumcised.
Circumcision is also the only non-essential surgery to which the patient does not consent.
Shane Peterson made Australian legal history after successfully suing the doctor who performed his circumcision soon after birth.
“What right do parents or doctors have to hold down a screaming boy or girl and surgically inflict their sexual, cosmetic or religious preferences on that child?,” he said.
Instead of just snipping his foreskin, nearly all the skin on his penis shaft was removed, leaving him permanently disfigured and unable to obtain normal function.
“The penis itself has pain, even after all these years,” Shane said.
Some experts believe the health benefits outweigh the risks.
“The benefits start in infancy with protection against urinary tract infections, and that protection extends over the lifetime,” Professor Brian Morris from the University of Sydney said.
“It's not brutal, it's not genital mutilation, it's a protective function, it's a protective procedure.”
I don't claim to be a circumcision expert but I have surgically assisted during a procedure on a baby boy.
I am in no doubt that it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.
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Religious and cultural traditions aside, I choose to be guided by the Royal Australian College of Physicians, who state the benefits of routine infant circumcision do not currently outweigh the risks.
And, if the decision is only about looking like the boy’s dad, ask yourself - would you perform a cosmetic procedure on your baby girl?
THURSDAY 6PM: I examine the microbiome, the bacteria in our gut, and whether the way we're born affects our future health.