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Chat: Brian Morris, on his opinion of circumcision

Monday, August 27, 2007
60 Minutes presents a live interview with Brian Morris, Professor of Medical Sciences.

Jayson asks: What are some reasons not to have my son circumcised?

Prof Brian Morris: I can't think of any.

Julian asks: What problems can occur after the initial surgery? Are there complications?

Prof Brian Morris: One in 500 have minor bleeding but techniques different from the one Dr Russel demonstrated. Minor infection may occur, but these are easily and immediately treated. Any more serious risks or complications are extremely rare, especially if the doctor is experienced. And that is important. The doctor must be experienced in doing circumcisions. If parents wish to find a doctor who will do a circumcision for their son, they can look at my website in the section "How to find someone to do it".

Patrick asks: How is the procedure performed today, what is the difference compared to say 20 years ago when my youngest was circumcised?

Prof Brian Morris: A very good question. Years ago it was done with no anaesthetic, with a bone crusher. These days local anaesthetics are used, which are very effective, together with special devices such as the plastibell that Dr Russel used. 70% of circumcisions in Australia today use the plastibell and all should use a local anaesthetic. A general anaesthetic is not needed and carries risks.

golden asks: Hello Professor, I have suffered from UTI's (Urinary Tract Infection) in the past and I know why and how this happens to me. Why or how would this happen to a young boy?

Prof Brian Morris: Under the foreskin, there are bacteria that are simbriated, they have little fingers that cause them to move from under the foreskin up the urinary tract and hence the infection, which is extremely painful and is the cause of the fever in 25% of febrile uncircumcised boys. But only 1% of circumcised boys. Half the boys with severe fevers get permanent kidney damage. The first six months of life, the risk of Urinary Tract Infection is greatest in an uncircumcised boy.

restora asks: How can a parent justify making a permanent procedure to a non-consenting infant's parents?

Prof Brian Morris: In the same way a parent consents to the child being vaccinated, cared for, fed, sent to school to be educated and every other aspect of a decision making process that a parent must be responsible for. This is for the best interests of the child as his or her wellbeing until the age of 18.

golden asks: Professor, I know infections can happen, but why would boys get infections constantly?

Prof Brian Morris: Because the bacteria cannot be washed away. Uncircumcised boys have hygiene problems, after washing the bacteria return within hours. With age they get a malodorous film that is full of dead skill cells and bacteria, urine and dirt that is called smegma.

Kezmik asks: Professor, why do you think it is so important for boys to be circumcised?

Prof Brian Morris: Because circumcision has a lifetime of health, medical and sexual benefits and could save his life and reduce his risk of suffering. It could prevent cervical cancer in his future partner or partners and could mean the difference between you being a grandparent or not. If he or his wife or partner gets Chlamydia and becomes infertile as a result, this could mean very expensive and traumatic IVF treatment which only has a 20% success rate.

marvin asks: Does urinary tract infection reduce with circumcision and is there an age benefit cut off point?

Prof Brian Morris: Circumcision reduces urinary tract infections over ten-fold in infants, in older boys the reduction and risk is about five-fold but is always higher in uncircumcised males of any age.

stella asks: Beyond what age is circumcision not recommended?

Prof Brian Morris: A man will benefit from circumcision at any age. From birth to old age, and parents should be aware of the problems that older men have, if not circumcised. This includes problems with hygiene, catheters after prostate cancer surgery, carers who need to maintain cleanliness by washing the genitals of men with dementia in old age, who do not understand what is happening and react badly.

bazzaj2007 asks: What made the medical fraternity shy away from routine circumcisions many years ago?

Prof Brian Morris: The American Academy of Paediatrics, stated in the 1970s that they could see no reason for the circumcision, however over time the folly of that decision has become apparent and by 1989 that body referred to medical benefits and now the WHO, recognises the many benefits of circumcision and within the next week will come out with a statement listing the benefits.

jason's mum asks: What medical research do you refer to in determining a case for circumcision, that helps in reassuring parents of the benefits to their sons?

Prof Brian Morris: All of the research evidence, including references to over 400 medical scientific articles can be found on my website

Morris asks: What is your reaction to the current slew of legal cases in the US where adult men are suing the doctors that circumcised them?

Hasn't the issue of circumcision now become a legal one?

Prof Brian Morris: Many men have sexual problems, these are invariably nothing to do with the fact they were circumcised soon after birth, but the anti-circ propaganda convinces them there circumcision is the reason behind their sexual problems, even though this is totally not true.

deakat asks: Can you tell me what diseases a circumcision prevents and how?

I don't understand how it prevents HIV by 60%?

Prof Brian Morris: HIV enters a man's body through the inner lining of the foreskin, so no foreskin, no HIV, except if the man has an ulcer such as from Herpes or Syphilis, but these are much higher in uncircumcised men anyway.

Lori asks: Are there alternative treatments to circumcision?

Prof Brian Morris: Well circumcision is a surgical vaccine and prevention is much better than the cure. Rather than get a terrible disease or infection, isn’t it much better to reduce the risk in the first place?

mumof6 asks: What percentage of uncircumcised boys require later circumcision?

Prof Brian Morris: For medical reasons, minimum of 10%. Many of them develop a condition where it is too late, so isn't it better to circumcise first rather than get the cancer or the Aids or the other conditions that circumcision prevents. Don't forget the female partner and their risk of disease as well as that from an uncircumcised man.

ash asks: Is it true that since skin is innervated, and the penis is a sensory organ specialised to transmit a certain kind of sensory information to the brain, that is unique in the body, that we are removing sensory input to the brain by removing the skin, and this reducing sexual sensitivity?

Prof Brian Morris: Research shows there is no difference in sensitivity in a circumcised vs an uncircumcised penis. There is only on research study that has been done on sensation, of the erect penis and this research shows, published this year by Kimberly Payne in Canada, that there is no difference.

Where very importantly the sensitivity of the penis is, and of course must be, reduced substantially for sexual intercourse to take place. The highly sensitive penis makes sex difficult or impossible and it's well known that many men will use lidocaine based products available off the shelf in pharmacies, to reduce sensitivity, so as to prolong the erection and therefore the sexual experience for their own benefit, but more particularly for that of their partner.

ouch asks: Do circumcised men have a better sex life?

Does it make a difference whether you’re cut or uncut?

Prof Brian Morris: Circumcised men tend to belong to higher socio economic educational classes in society and that is why I am strongly opposed to those State Governments who have stopped making circumcision available in the public hospital system, because this denies the poor in our society of the benefits of circumcision that are enjoyed by the rich.

Interviewer: Professor, thankyou for joining us tonight, do you have any last comments you would like to share with our chat guests?

Prof Brian Morris: If anyone would like a comprehensive list of the benefits and risks of circumcision, they can download a brochure from my website, . This is a very good summary of everything I've said and a little bit more. Or write to me and request a brochure and I will be happy to send it out, my address can be found on the website. Thankyou very much for having me tonight.

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Prof Brian Morris, Sunday August 26, 2007.

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