First-ever guidelines for circumcision are in the works

Crying infant

The benefits of circumcision appear to outweigh the risks, according to new federal guidelines currently being drafted by U.S. health officials. The CDC says there is currently enough medical evidence to support the claim, reported the Associated Press.

According to the AP, the announcement represents the first federal guidelines on circumcision. Even so, the CDC has long been touting its health benefits. The procedure is thought to protect men from contracting HIV and other STDs from an infected female partner. Circumcision also reduces the likelihood of developing penile cancer.

Men aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits. Male circumcision also decreases the likelihood of a woman developing cervical cancer, trichomoniasis and other STDs.

Even still, national circumcision rates have steadily been on the decline over the last 30 years. In 2010, approximately 58 percent of infant boys born in the U.S. were circumcised (compared to 64 percent in 1979). An exact reason for the decline remains unclear. The AP says it may be due to a combination of U.S. cultural changes and the rise in anti-circumcision groups that argue against the procedure.

Despite the risks, which the CDC says are minimal, the benefits appear to be well worth it. The most common complication associated with circumcision is bleeding and infection, which the CDC views as both minor and easily managed.

The health perks associated with circumcision aren’t limited only to infants. One 2014 study out of the University of Montreal found that men who underwent the procedure after the age of 35 reduced their prostate cancer risk by 45 percent.

According to the AP, many state Medicaid programs have stopped covering circumcisions. The new federal guidelines make the case that health insurers are obligated to pay for it.

Circumcision involves surgically removing the foreskin that covers the head of the penis. The procedure is typically performed within 10 days of birth.

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