The US government is now letting men know if they should snip the tip. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a draft of the first federal guidelines on circumcision, and their conclusion is: Yes, circumcision is healthier than keeping an intact penis. The draft—seven years in the making—presents convincing scientific evidence on the health benefits of the procedure for newborns and, yep, uncircumcised adults, too.
Specifically, the report says the surgery has been associated with a significantly lower risk of transmitting HIV, contracting STIs like herpes and HPV, getting urinary track infections, and developing some types of penile cancer for heterosexual men. (There's not much data on any unique protective benefits for homosexual guys.)
Opponents of circumcision argue that newborns can't consent to circumcision (which is a pretty personal decision, no matter how you, um, slice it) and that it counts as a form of genital mutilation. Studies show that fewer than 0.5 percent of newborns suffer from complications like bleeding or inflammation, but the risks do increase with age, according to data cited by the CDC.
Despite mounting evidence of its benefits, circumcision has come in and out of fashion over the years. It is considerably more common in the U.S. than in other countries around the world, and actually has been losing popularity since the 70s. (Between 1979 and 2010, the newborn circumcision rate in America dropped by 10 percent.) Still, more than half of all American boys are circumcised as babies–a good thing according to the new CDC report.
While the CDC's recommendation is pretty clearly pro-cut, the report is open for peer review and public comment until January 16, 2015 when the CDC will finalize their stance.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.