Studies on circumcision

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Work in progress: The following information does not claim to be complete. More content will be added gradually.

The topic of circumcision has caused a great deal of research and studies. This article lists interesting studies on various aspects.


  • 1986: Lidocaine does not significantly reduce the adrenal cortisol response to surgery in newborns

"Eleven male newborns were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block, and 13 controls were circumcised without anesthetic. Matched pairs of pre- and postcircumcision cortisol levels in the two groups were compared. The adrenal cortisol response to surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of lidocaine."

  Williamson, Evans, Nolan Donovan. Neonatal Cortisol Response to Circumcision with Anesthesia. Sage journals. 1 August 1986; 25(8): 412-415. DOI. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  • 2004: Pain relief for neonatal circumcision

"Circumcision is a painful procedure frequently performed on newborn baby boys without using pain relief. Available treatments include dorsal penile nerve block (DPNB), which involves injecting anesthetic at the base of the penis. Ring block is another form of penile block."

  Brady-Fryer, B., Wiebe, N., Lander, J.A.. Pain relief for neonatal circumcision. Cochrane Library. 19 July 2004; DOI. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  • 2015: Babies experience pain 'like adults' [1]

"Dr. Slater states that their findings stand in contrast with previous understandings of infant pain. "In fact, some people have argued that babies' brains are not developed enough for them to really 'feel' pain, any reaction being just a reflex," she says. "Our study provides the first really strong evidence that this is not the case."

  Slater, Rebeccah, et al. fMRI reveals neural activity overlap between adult and infant pain. eLife. 21 April 2015; DOI. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  • 2016: Babies remember pain

"In the last two decades, a dozen studies have reported infant reactions to circumcision. All reveal stress, manifest in the tripling and quadrupling of normal cortisol levels in the bloodstream, changes in heart rate, the oxygen content of tissues, frequency of crying, disturbances of sleep, and inability of babies to calm themselves..."

  Chamberlain, David B. (19 January 2016). Babies Remember Pain, Kindred Media. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  • 2020: Local anesthesia was extremely effective

This study indicated that those who were circumcised without local anesthesia had higher mean pain scores, heart rate, lower oxygen saturation, and increased mean respiratory rate than those that had local anesthesia. This study demonstrated that local anesthesia was extremely effective in reducing the physiological variables of circumcision.

This study has shown that the pain of circumcision can be minimized or eliminated by use of local anesthesia. The performance of circumcisions without anesthesia should no longer be condoned or considered acceptable in the clinical setting.

  Fikin, Aminu Gango, Yohanna, Stephen. A comparison of pain scores in neonatal circumcision with or without local anesthesia in Jos, Nigeria. Nigerian Medical Journal. 2 March 2020; 61(1): 11-15. Retrieved 7 March 2020.

Late effects of circumcision


  1.   McIntosh, James (21 April 2015). World-first MRI study shows babies experience pain 'like adults', Medical News Today. Retrieved 27 October 2019.