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Bridging the divide: sex and religion – circumcision


10 Dec 2015

We’ve covered contraception, abortion and infertility. Today sex and relationships therapist Emma Ziff looks at the interplay between faith and circumcision.

Circumcision for religious reasons

Although I don’t see it causing any real issues, unless it is something you are against yourself, I wanted to add this in as a sexual health ritual. Jews, Muslims and a significant number of Christians practise male circumcision as a religious rite.

There are many reasons why, including cleanliness and protection against diseases.

A Mohel circumcises Jewish babies at eight days old and those who are healthy to undergo this ritual. This is usually carried out in the synagogue or within the home of the family.

For Muslims this can be completed once old enough to recite the Quran or seen as an adult at 10 or 11, and carried out within a hospital or clinic.

Many Christians in countries such as the USA carry this out at birth in the hospital.

There are also other medical reasons why circumcision is carried out in babies, adolescents and adults including: Phimosis, Paraphimosis, recurrent glans and urinary tract infections. Studies have showed that this can also reduce penile cancer and sexually transmitted infections.

Many believe that circumcision can numb sexual pleasure. There can also be minor complications like haemorrhaging and more severe ones like septicaemia.

Do you need clarification about Female Genital Mutilation? In the final instalment of our sex and religion week Emma Ziff answers your questions.


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