When I started my obstetric training in most boy babies were circumcised. While some circumcisions were done because of religious reasons, most were done because it was considered medically to be good idea.

It was considered there was less risk of women developing cervical cancer if sexual intercourse was with a circumcised rather than non-circumcised partner. This conclusion was based on studies which found than Jewish women had a lower incidence of cervical cancer. It was concluded this was because Jewish males were circumcised. It was subsequently realised that the lower incidence of cervical cancer in Jewish women was due to the large majority Jewish women historically only having sexual intercourse with their husbands. As more Jewish women had multiple sexual partners the incidence of cervical cancer in Jewish women increased, and so it was concluded that the risk of cervical cancer was related to the number of  sexual partners rather than whether than to whether the sexual partner was circumcised. It is now known that most cervical cancer is due to the human papilloma virus and hence the higher incidence with multiple sexual partners..

There have been other “medical reasons” proposed for routine circumcision of newborn males which don’t have any significant medical support. These include “it is cleaner”, it reduces the risk of penile infection, it prevents the need for circumcision later in life, it reduces the risk of penile cancer (which is rare). While there have been a small minority of doctors who have a bias to there being routine circumcision of male newborn and use such arguments to support their bias, most obstetricians and paediatricians don’t consider there is a medical reason that justifies routine circumcision of male newborn.

With the lack of a popular medical reason why routine circumcision of male newborn should be done the popularity of the operation has been gradually decreasing.

The popularity of requests for male newborn circumcisions for religious reasons remains unchanged.

Today circumcision of male newborn is not available in public hospitals and less than 10% of newborn boys in private hospitals are circumcised.

As the incidence of newborn circumcision deceases so the request incidence decreases. New parents after often guided by their friends and ‘what is popular’ in establishing their views.

As well there has been government pressure not to do routine  circumcision of male newborn. The Medicare rebate for newborn circumcisions very low so there is often a large payment gap.

When I started in private practice newborn male circumcision procedures were easy to arrange at the public hospital and at the private hospitals where I had an appointments. But now this is not so. As I mentioned it is not possible to arrange newborn circumcisions in a public hospital and the private hospitals where I have appointments now insist on the procedure being done in the operating theatre. One hospital now insists it can only be done while the new mum is in hospital. It is not always possible for me to do the procedure while the new mum is in hospital because of timing challenges, newborn jaundice, newborn prematurity, and other newborn reason.

Now very few obstetricians offer this service. In the past most obstetricians did newborn male circumcision operations. I have always offered it as service for my patients. I have declined when requested by a woman who was not my patient for pregnancy care.

There are few obstetricians who are prepared do circumcision procedures on the male newborn other obstetrician patients, as well as their own. As well, there are some doctors who do the procedure in their rooms. But you can expect the costs of these doctors will be greater.

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