Global Survey of Circumcision Harm: Results

OVERVIEW

The Global Survey of Circumcision Harm (GSCH), open to men 18 years of age and older, was launched to redress the information gap regarding long-term physical, sexual, emotional and psychological consequences of childhood circumcision on adult men. The survey, which ended in 2012, sought to determine:

  • men’s knowledge of penile anatomy;
  • men’s understanding of how to identify circumcision damage;
  • any adverse consequences (physical or other) related to circumcision.

This survey is a grassroots, all-volunteer effort to provide a self-report and documentation method for any male who considers himself harmed by childhood genital cutting imposed on him without his informed consent. Find out more at http://www.circumcisionharm.org.

RESULTS

In December 2014, survey programmer Tim Hammond and pediatric urologist Dr. Adrienne Carmack published a summary of the survey. Additional results include:

Sexual symptoms: 76% reported dry, keratinized glans requiring supplemental lubrication; 24% suffer from erectile dysfunction; and 16% reported painful erections. One respondent reported “chafing/bleeding during sex due to remaining skin being too tight and unmovable.”

Psychological effects: Many respondents reported deep sorrow, a sense of loss and inferiority, feelings of abandonment, inadequacy, anger at being mutilated, and mistrust of doctors. 75% feel “less whole,” 668% feel “inferior” to men who are intact, and 65% feel “not normal” or “unnatural.” Five percent have attempted suicide. 

Relationships: 62% reported adverse effects on their sexual relationships. 32% reported adverse effects on their relationship with their mother, and 29% with their father; when sharing their feelings about their circumcision with their fathers, 61% of men said their fathers were dismissive or trivializing. Says one respondent, “It adversely affects my fatherhood, I feel so different to my intact sons and I feel like I can't advise them on sexuality.”

Behavioral effects: Compulsive sexual practices (e.g., by men who “never feel satisfied”) were reported by 25% of men. 

MOVING FORWARD

One of the goals of this study is to foster communication with the medical profession as well as in one’s personal life. It is hoped that documenting such consequences and making the results publicly accessible will provide a starting point for dialogue about the long-term consequences of infant or childhood circumcision.