What you need to know:
- Tom came from a community that does not culturally circumcise their men while Elsie's community does.
- In their courtship, they had not talked about the implication of circumcision on their relationship.
It was a week to the wedding and the couple to be was facing a serious crisis. Being staunch Christians they had postponed sex till after marriage.
Their courtship, which went for a year and a half, was, according to Tom, the bridegroom, an enriching time to know each other before settling in marriage. As the d-day drew closer, both Tom and Elsie – the bride could not hide the excitement.
"I fantasise over our first night together," Tom said when they came for pre-marital sex advice, "This keeps me awake for hours."
But, as fate would have it, the anticipated first night was not to be.
"I underestimated the complexity of intercultural marriages, it has been a smooth courtship but now the last lap is turning out to be a nightmare for me" Tom explained, "Little did I know that circumcision would be a precondition for the wedding."
Tom came from a community that does not culturally circumcise their men while Elsie's community does. In their courtship, they had not talked about the implication of this. A team of Tom's family members went to pay dowry a week to the wedding and had a shock of their lives.
Elsie's family would not receive the dowry and would not allow the wedding to proceed unless there was proof that Tom was circumcised. The family had already organised a team to do the verification.
"We know what a circumcised man looks like, we are not asking for anything much. All we want is for our emissaries to go and look and confirm that our daughter is not marrying a child," the elders said.
In Elsie's community, one only changed from a boy into a man by having their foreskin removed.
And so, frustrated and confused the couple-to-be walked into the sexology clinic for what they called an emergency circumcision.
"We have put all plans in place for this wedding," Elsie explained, "It has to go on but I cannot marry without the blessings of my father even though I care the least about Tom's circumcision.'
My role was to bring sense to this crisis by first providing medical facts to help Tom make an informed choice.
Incidentally, only 25 percent of men in the world are circumcised. That does not stop their brains from growing into adulthood. Neither does it stop them from playing other manly roles including sexual performance.
The cultural reasons for circumcision can therefore be ignored with little consequence. In fact, cultural reasons for circumcision may even be dangerous when it comes to respecting women given that in some communities' part of the teaching is for men to subjugate women and treat them as lesser human beings after they (boys) are circumcised.
That aside, there are definite medical benefits of circumcision. Circumcised men have a lesser risk of getting infected when they have sex with a HIV-positive woman. Although this risk is not absolute and infection still does happen, circumcision has saved some men from HIV infection.
"I do not find that a convincing reason unless Tom wants to be unfaithful one day," Elsie said while disclosing their negative status.
Despite that, a circumcised penis is easier to clean and keep hygienic. It takes more effort for an uncircumcised man to remain clean. Poor hygiene has consequences that include harbouring bacteria and viruses that can flare up into infections. Some partners feel more comfortable having sex with a circumcised man because they feel their risk of infection is lower. Being more relaxed on this issue can make sex more enjoyable.
"Well, he has been keeping it clean so far. Haven't you Tom?" interrupted Elsie. It appeared that Elsie was becoming defensive.
Tom was quiet and thoughtful.
An interesting scientific finding is that it is unusual to find cancer of the penis in a circumcised man. Although the cancer is very rare, whenever it occurs it is the uncircumcised men or those circumcised in adulthood who are affected. Researchers have therefore concluded that circumcision in the first month of life protects against cancer of the penis.
It is important to note that circumcision, being a surgical procedure, may be painful and takes time to heal. In most cases, the healing happens in two weeks. On rare occasions, there may be too much bleeding during surgery. Infection may also complicate the healing process, especially if hygienic conditions are not observed.
Doing the surgery on Tom, therefore, meant that he would have his wedding but no sex during the honeymoon.
"Well, we have waited for more than a year to be intimate so waiting will not kill us," Tom said.
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