Genital modification and genital mutilation both can refer to permanent or temporary changes to the human genitals.
When genital alterations are used for punishment, typically for rape, adultery or other socially forbidden sexual practices, such mutilations have included castration (actual or chemical) or penectomy.
Issues surrounding female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation or FGM, became prominent in the English-speaking world in the latter quarter of the 20th century. Opponents of the practice became aware of female circumcision existing in some African countries. It is also practiced by some groups in the Arabian peninsula.
In most cases, female circumcision is a social practice, not a religious one. Male circumcision is performed for religious or social reasons or as medical treatment (for phimosis, for example). Some cultures initiate both boys and girls around the age of puberty. In the United States, circumcision is performed on a majority of male infants, according to the wishes of the parents.
Opposition to the routine, non-medical circumcision of infant males has grown over several decades. The World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, currently campaigns against FGM (female genital mutilation) but not against male circumcision.
Elective genital alteration
In some cases, people elect to have their genitals pierced, tattooed or otherwise altered for aesthetic or other reasons.
Such modifications run the gamut from single to multiple piercings, small decorative marks to complete tattooing, urethral relocation , and, in males, subincision or even complete bisection.
Types of genital alteration
The alterations listed below may be undertaken voluntarily by some individuals; they may also be performed for medical reasons or performed on infants or adults against their will. Any of these changes may be considered modifications or mutilations.
Removal of tissue
Alteration of tissue
Addition to tissue