The research by Dr Darshan Sitharthan and Keeththana Thayanantharajah reports Australia’s circumcision rate has fallen 80 per cent in the past 40 years.

Key insights include: 

- Male circumcision is an ancient practice that dates as far back as 10,000 BC.
- Following WWI, male circumcision was widely embraced by the Anglosphere for medico-cultural reasons.
- Australia’s routine circumcision rate peaked at 85 per cent between 1950-1980.  
- Due to a societal and cultural shift, the 1980s saw circumcision rates fall to 15 per cent in Australia.
- Changes in political and culture sentiments saw the gradual introduction of state level bans of cosmetic circumcision. South Australia and Queensland were the first to strike in 2007 with the rest of the states to follow suit before the end of the year.
- In 2010 the Royal Australasian College of Physicians released a statement which concluded the risks “do not warrant routine infant circumcision”.
- Circumcision remains one of the most common private surgeries performed in Australia, and the single most common surgery performed worldwide.
- Globally, approximately 39 per cent of males are circumcised.    
- America’s circumcision rate is 81 per cent.    
- Australia’s circumcision rate is approximately 15 per cent.    

Dr Sitharthan, a junior doctor ,said despite the operation being banned in public hospitals, it remains a common procedure in private hospitals.

“Cultural and cosmetic reasons are driving the demand for circumcisions in private hospitals,” Dr Sitharthan said.

“Dad is circumcised, so he wants the same for his son.

“Circumcisions in private hospitals cost between $450 - $1,600. Anecdotally the circumcision rate in regional and rural Australia is a lot higher when compared to the capital cities too.”

Dr Sitharthan’s research will be unveiled at the the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress in Brisbane (2-6 May).

The Congress is the largest multi-disciplinary surgical meeting held in the southern hemisphere and brings together some of the top surgical and medical minds from across New Zealand, Australia, and the rest of the world.

For more information about the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress, please visit: