COLONEL T.E. OSMOND, M.B.
Is Routine Circumcision Advisable?
(J Royal army Med Corps 99:254,1953)
The examination of a large number of soldiers, most of them National
Service men, provided a good opportunity to note the condition of the
prepuce. the following table indicates the type of prepuce in 1.095
38 per cent.
34 per cent.
20 per cent.
8 per cent.
| N=Normal, i.e., the prepuce did not completely hide the
P=Long prepuce covering the glans penis but retractable.
P+=Long prepuce which could not be retracted or only with difficulty;
in several cases the aperture in the prepuce was hardly more than a
From the above figures it appears that 20 per cent. of these soldiers
would have benefited from circumcision and 8 per cent. needed it; if
the 377 circumcised men are excluded, the respective percentages would
be 35 and 14. In most of those with long prepuces there was a large
collection of smegma, and this suggests that more thorough teaching
of personal hygiene is needed at centred where recruits are trained.
The ignorance of these young soldiers is remarkable; many of them expressed
surprise at the condition revealed when they retracted their foreskins
: some of them had apparently never done so in their lives.
The foregoing is not meant to be a plea for the circumcision of
every male baby : opinion seems generally against it, partly because
it is impossible to decide at a very early age whether it is necessary.
It is fairly generally agreed however, that the circumcised are less
liable to contract venereal disease than the uncircumcised and most
young men are more liable in service than in civilian life; moreover
the glans penis should be washed as often as the rest of the body.
It does seem that all young National Service men should receive adequate
instruction in personal hygiene when they first join, and those with
foreskins which cannot be retracted should be advised to be circumcised.