Study: Uncircumcised Boys Have a Higher Risk of UTI

  • Share
  • Read Later
Daniel Bendjy / Getty Images

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal finds that uncircumcised boys have a higher risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) than circumcised boys, a condition that could lead to kidney damage and scarring if left untreated. The risk of infection was higher in uncircumcised boys regardless of how much of their urethral opening was visible.

(MORE: Circumcision: The Surgery that May Lower Prostate-Cancer Risk)

In order to determine the risks of infection for circumcised and uncircumcised boys, researchers at McGill University in Montreal looked at 393 boys who visited the emergency department of Montreal Children’s Hospital with symptoms of UTI. Of these boys, 309 were uncircumcised — the urethral opening was visible in 40 boys and partially visible or not visible in 269 — and 84 boys were circumcised.

About 20% of the boys had a UTI, and both groups of uncircumcised boys were at increased risk. Overall, researchers calculated that the risk of infection was 88% lower in the circumcised boys.

(MORE: How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision)

Previous studies have suggested that uncircumcised boys have a higher risk of urinary tract infection because bacteria may build up under the foreskin and enter the urinary tract. The team wanted to see whether that higher risk held for all uncircumcised boys, even those whose urethral openings (where urine comes out) were visible. “We thought that incomplete foreskin retractability with a poorly visible urethral [opening] may be associated with increased risk of urinary tract infection,” wrote the study authors, led by Dr. Sasha Dubrovsky. “However, we found no difference in risk with degree of visibility of the urethral opening.”

The biggest concern over UTIs in children is that they can cause damage and scarring to the kidneys, according to WebMD; over time, repeated scarring can cause long-term damage, including problems with kidney function and even kidney failure — complications for which infants and young children may be at greater risk. That’s why detecting and treating UTIs in babies and children is crucial; because symptoms in such young patients may be vague, however, that’s not always easy.

“[W]e suggest that clinicians should consider circumcision status alone, not the degree of urethral visibility, when stratifying risk for boys presenting to the emergency department with symptoms or signs suggesting a urinary tract infection,” conclude the authors.

MORE: Battle of the Bris: A Move to Outlaw Circumcision in San Francisco


Besides UTIs, uncircumcised guys are also susceptible to odors and other bacterial infections.  They must keep their foreskin clean.  That means retracting and washing with soap and water every day, sometimes even more than that if needs be. Applying a penis health creme that contains Vitamin A is a great additional move because Vitamin A has anti-bacterial qualities and will assist in the ongoing battle with foreskin bacteria.  Hope this info helps.      

Jack Page
Jack Page

I don't think circumcision is useful as I can see more and more new members at HerpesDatingNYC,com, a dating and support community for people with STD that I joined several years ago.


To my surprise, Fox News ( has covered this story better than TIME.

It still gets the subject wrong:   "Study confirms uncircumcised boys' UTI risk".

But it does say, "But [UTIs'] absolute risk is still low, said Dr. Alexander Sasha Dubrovsky, the lead researcher on the new study. ... According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an uncircumcised

boy has about a one in 100 chance of developing a UTI in his first year

of life. The risk for a circumcised baby is one in 1,000. ...Dubrovsky stressed that the study was not set up to inform the debate over circumcision. ... "Our study doesn't answer any questions on the potential benefits of routine circumcision," Dubrovsky said.


I think that circumcision is preferred by many women; that's what driving its prevalence in the US.  It is not preferred by all women.  I have noticed that the women who favor circumcision tend to focus on the cleanliness aspect.  

I do find it ironic that for all the obsession women have over cleanliness they didn't develop antiseptics, inexpensive soap, antibiotics, or even the vacuum cleaner.  I guess obsessive worrying, like talking, doesn't cook rice.

Franny Max
Franny Max

Any particular reason why you have NOT approved my comment yet? I posted it way before most of these folks! If you do have a problem, kindly let me know at Thanks.


I was so happy that someone finally stood up to these wackos who still believe

that the genital mutilation of baby boys is an acceptable practice in the 21st

century. If they want to chop their own let them. But doing it to a defenseless

baby is heinous, it should be a crime to cut nerves, blood vessels, protective covering and pleasure zones, and shut down part of the sensory system of a child.


I have 4 friends who were circumcised in their 20's/30's.  They, all 4, said that had they known beforehand that they would lose 50 to 80 of their sensitivity, they would have never undergone the surgery.  This practice is barbaric just as it is on girls.


The problem is the advice of doctors and nurses leading to parents retracting the babies foreskin and "cleaning" the penis.  The "cleaning" messes with the sterile package and instead of cleaning, it introduces the problem. 

That natural penis boys have more infections is at least in part based on part BAD medical advice. It is now known that boys that are natural should not have their foreskin touched by others. The US medical advice was to pull it back and scrub with soap. That causes problems including infections.

It the retraction thing would stop, the infection rate of natural boys would not be significant. 

Franny Max
Franny Max

So, the study shows essentially NOTHING! What an embarrassment Montreal

Children's Hospital! Then again, they are affiliated with McGill

University, where there are many Jewish advocates of male genital

mutilation. How unfortunate!

Antibiotics cure UTI's! What about

a study of infections of the newly wounded (circumcised) penis? That

might be more useful! If a newly cut penis is in contact with feces in a

diaper....what will logically happen then? An infection! Of course!

Almost any toddler with problems with his intact penis has problems

because of so-called forced retraction. This is no doubt made worse by

many doctors who unwittingly give parents INCORRECT information about

proper penile care. Just like a little girl's "private parts" are all

"sealed up" until puberty or thereabouts, so should be the genitals of

boys! Some boys only retract at 18 years

of age. All what is needed is to leave their foreskins alone, and they

will do just fine, thank yo very much.

Not long ago, I had a

male Jewish doctor working at a walk-in clinic confirm to me the blatant

IGNORANCE of doctors in Montreal with respect to foreskin. He, of

course, was Jewish, and hence, did not have a foreskin. Since he did not

have a foreskin, he was simply clueless as to what to do with it, and

announced to me that "Most baby boys are fully retractable by SIX MONTHS


What utter hogwash! I explained to him that

so-called "phimosis" is the NORMAL, NATURAL condition of a child's penis

until puberty, and he was surprised at first, but very receptive after!

Especially when I explained that we do not go about poking a "hole in

an infant girl's vagina" was like EUREKA!

The chances that

he will "need" to be circumcised later in life are tiny, as long as you

follow proper INTACT care. 1) Intact, don't retract; 2) Only clean what

is seen; 3) If he can pee, leave him be.

NEVER EVER pull back

your son's foreskin, especially not to try to "clean underneath" or

something like that. NO. That can cause serious damage, and even lead to

phimosis, which of course, doctors will use as a reason to circumcise



Watch your son when he is with medical personnel, who

often DO try to prematurely retract a foreskin, not knowing any better.

INFORM your baby-sitter and day care. Get anyone who is involved in your

son's care to sign an INTACT CARE agreement available from DOC.

Cyneva Dalton-Vazquez
Cyneva Dalton-Vazquez

My goodness... they just keep coming up with ways to continue justifying the unjustifiable act of genitally mutilating baby boys. Never mind the fact that this UTI myth claim has been debunked already.


And circumcised boys have a higher risk of sexual dysfunction in adulthood. Ask any wife whose otherwise healthy and desirous husband has struggled with erectile issues and what impact that has had on their intimate life. It's a reality that is much more common than people think, because that piece of skin isn't there for decoration, it serves a purpose. Is the risk impairing a boy's future intimate life with his committed partner when he's a man really worth a marginally lower risk of infections that are easily prevented with proper hygiene and routine medical exams? I certainly don't think so.


This study is rubbish, the sample size is ridiculously small, so much that it is basically unreliable. Shame on TIME for publishing this nonsense.  Secondly, we could find that removing a boys breasts might prevent male breast cancer, or removing a girls, but, removing healthy parts of a childs body is not an ethical and medically acceptable means of preventing diseases a child does not have and probably will not get. Before any body part can be amputated from a part there must be a current and present medical condition to justify this. Fears of diseases a child does not have cannot be used to remove healthy parts of a child. Shame on the medical community for corrupting itself with promoting these unethical practices which go against the core concepts of good, ethical medicine, do not cause harm, meaning do not destroy healthy body parts.


Your story is not about what the study actually found.  It rehashes existing claims that circumcised boys have fewer UTIs and found that whether the foreskin was tight or not makes no difference - which is evidence against the assumption. They found fewer circumcised boys with UTIS, but by only half the margin of the earlier studies, and theirs was not a random sample: for example, boys who had been treated with antibiotics were excluded. They say themselves it was a "convenience sample".

By the circumcision advocates' own figures it would take more than 100 circumcisions wasted to prevent one UTI, so this is NOT a justification for cutting boys' genitals. The finding of the Cologne district court applies here: in the absence of pressing medical need, a man's right to decide the fate of his own body parts once he is old enough trumps parental wishes.


I'm female and I had more than 2o UTI and kidney infections as a child. No kidney damage or scarring. No one suggested cutting off part of my genitals to prevent infections. Just antibiotics. Americans will look for any reason to justify or promote circumcision. First, circumcision prevented masturbation. Then epilepsy. Then bedwetting. Then phimosis. Then cancer. Then AIDS. Today, it prevents UTIs. Tomorrow, it will prevent ingrown toenails, asthma, and cavities.


A new study found that putting "study" in the title of your article makes people think that whatever it says must be true.

Katy Farlow
Katy Farlow

The foreskin is fused to the rest of the penis in infancy. It should not be forced back. To do so causes tearing in the delicate mucous membranes and opens the area up to infection. If properly cared for (meaning NOT forcibly retracted), the foreskin protects against UTIs. The sphincter at the end only opens for urination and keeps out harmful bacteria, decreasing the risk of infection. 

Do not push back an infant's foreskin, not even "to see the urethra" - this is harmful. Leave it alone. The fascination with visualizing the meatus is what's causing this problem - NOT the foreskin. This article is just plain ignorant. 

Katy Farlow
Katy Farlow

Perhaps if people weren't being told to forcibly rip back the foreskin in infants, those infants wouldn't be getting infections. 

Note: in infancy, the foreskin is fused to the head of the penis and should not be forced back. This causes tearing in the delicate mucous membranes and opens the area to infection. Leave the foreskin alone and it will do it's job - the sphincter at the tip keeps harmful bacteria OUT of the urethra and prevents infection in children who are properly cared for. 


This article is going to call out the anticircum crusaders out (ACC is their unofficial club name) but men very very very rarely get UTIs. Or at least nothing comparative to the frequency of women.