Abstract Background: The topic of male circumcision has lately been hotly debated in Norway. Interestingly, both pros and cons claim to be based on scientific evidence. We therefore wanted to assess the current scientific documentation on male circumcision. In order to obtain a broader overview of the scientific field regarding male circumcision we included both neonatal and post-neonatal circumcision, as well as circumcisions performed on a medical indication. Search strategy: We used key words and combinations of key words to search the Pubmed database systematically for relevant studies on male circumcision. These key words focused on the actual procedure of male circumcision as well as aspects of and around the penis resulting from its (patho-) functional implications. Selection criteria: We used the filter function in Pubmed, searching for randomized controlled trials and other clinical trials of male circumcision, meta-analysis and systematic reviews. We also assessed the references of large systematic reviews to extract missed articles of high quality. Papers written in other languages than English, feature articles, papers published in journals with low impact factor (IF) or addressing issues not related to male circumcision were excluded. Main results: 187 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals complied with our inclusion criteria. These articles focused on different aspects of male circumcision and diverged to a large extent with regard to study design, number of patients involved, study quality etc. In particular, reports on sexual function were often based on retrospective self-assessment with the risk of being biased and/or not adhere to objective criteria. Thus, there were some limitations to directly compare different studies. In our view the chosen literature gave some support to the view that circumcised males are at a reduced risk of contracting urinary tract infections, as well as infections by genital HPV and HIV. In addition, risk of phimosis is eliminated after circumcision. The studies on the risk following male circumcision of contracting sexually transmitted infections other than HIV and HPV show contradictory results. The majority of the reports in our review concluded that sexual function in circumcised men was unchanged or improved. However, some studies found a decrease in sexual function following the procedure. The relevant studies affirmed that all types of circumcision are painful procedures and can be adequately managed with analgesia. The Mogen clamp technique combined with a dorsal penile nerve block seemed the least painful. The procedure in itself demonstrates a very low risk of complications, although there is an increased incidence of complications following the procedure in older children (>neonatal). Conclusion: Due to the heterogeneity in study design, research questions and quality of the different studies there are obvious limitations in drawing firm conclusions from the selected material in this report. Except for some few aspects of male circumcision, our view is that the material gave support to some medical benefits, with a very low risk of complications upon correct surgical performance of the procedure. The potential medical benefits found include among others a reduced risk of contracting HIV or genital HPV, as well as developing phimosis. Most scientific papers show no significant positive nor negative effects on sexual function. However, the material does not lend support to general prophylactic male circumcision. This materiel also indicates that except for some few aspects of male circumcision (such as risk for obtaining HIV infection) research on this topic is deficient. However, uncertainty about effects does not mean no effects. In addition to a more thorough analysis on the selected material, there is a need for studies in a Western setting and more randomised controlled trials.