Modern, non-religious circumcision began in the Victorian era with the aim of deliberately desensitising and denuding the penis in order to discourage masturbation, which doctors then believed was the cause of insanity, epilepsy, hysteria, tuberculosis, short-sightedness, and death - wild huh!
In 1891, Jon Hutchinson (Royal College of Surgeons of England) wrote on 'Circumcision as preventive of masturbation:
"Measures more radical than circumcision would, if public opinion permitted their adoption, be a true kindness to many patients of both sexes."
The myth that circumcision improves hygiene originated at this time to mean the improvement of moral hygiene.
Most of the world is uncircumcised and has no problem keeping their penises clean (when practising proper hygiene).
There are minimal studies on circumcision reducing infections & STIs. Proper hygiene and condoms are much more effective and less invasive.
For those worried about smegma (sebum and skin cells) build-up, smegma is produced by the genitals of both vulvas and penises during the reproductive years. It is rinsed off during normal bathing and does not cause cancer or any other health problems.
The foreskin actually protects the head of the penis from friction, keeps the penis moist (a great word) and is an erogenous zone for many people. This doesn't mean that you can't go on to have a pleasurable sex life with a circumcised penis, it's just important to highlight that this is purely a cosmetic/religious procedure - not a hygiene or health issue (unless you are having it further down the line due to medical issues like phimosis).
On top of this, circumcision raises the important conversation around bodily autonomy - an infant cannot consent to this procedure.
This blogs aim is to dispell the myth of hygiene around circumcision and not intended to demonise religious/cultural practices.