Circumcision: a Medical Necessity?

Day 27 28 +3

This question would have never risen if we didn’t attend the Triangle Homebirth Meetup. We thought this is a “default” procedure so never really thought there’s a reason to look into whether to get the boys circumcised or not.

At the meetup, a lady asked us to check out the Intact America. So that’s what we did, and after watching the procedure, which I couldn’t really watch, I wonder if any parent was present at the circumcision and if that’s the case, anyone would agree to have such procedure done.

The questions we had were:

  • Is foreskin really a useless body part?
  • Can babies feel the pain?
  • What medical problem would arise if the foreskin is kept?
  • What is the percentage of the circumcision rate in the US?

The reasons to circumcise the boys:

  • Religious reason, especially Jewish. Circumcision originally started as a treatment and cure for masturbation.
  • Parents don’t want the boys to look different or they want them to look alike, or look like dad. Kids may get laughed at if their penises look different from those of friends.
  • May reduce the infection caused by insufficient hygiene and proper care.
  • Babies don’t remember the pain or it’s not that painful.

The reasons NOT to circumcise the boys:

  • Babies can feel the excruciating pain even if anesthesia is applied and there may be deep psychosocial effects and cause mistrust of the mother – babies turn their heads away from moms after the surgery.
  • There’s no proof of cutting off foreskin prevents AIDS and other STDs.
  • It should be the right of the child to determine if he wants to have circumcision done or not.
  • Complications after the surgery that could cause serious infection even death.
  • Improper care after the circumcision causing deformation of the penis.
  • Foreskin contains nerve endings that are extremely sensitive which enhance the sexual experiences.

Of course neither I or someone who had the circumcision done  would know whether the last point is true or false, unless if we ask someone who wasn’t circumcised as an infant but chose to get circumcised as an adult. To us, we are not convinced that it’s medically necessary, we could care less about all the other religious and cultural reasons, just like if we are going to circumcise our baby girls if we have any, probably we will be considered evil parents. We also found out that circumcision fees (about $400 per boy) is not included in the delivery costs.

We will just have to teach our boys to do a job cleaning themselves. I wasn’t sure about the circumcision ratio in the US so I looked it up, it’s 56%, much less than I would have guessed.

Source: http://www.cirp.org

We also did some searched on Australia (2004 infant circumcision rate 12.7%), UK(3.8% by age of 15), and Canada (9.2% by 2005), none of these countries recommend circumcision be a routine procedure performed on infants, same with the US. Here are the recommendation from AAP, AMA, AAFP, and AUA.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) stated: “Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In the case of circumcision, in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child.” The AAP recommends that if parents choose to circumcise, analgesia should be used to reduce pain associated with circumcision. It states that circumcision should only be performed on newborns who are stable and healthy.

The American Medical Association supports the AAP’s 1999 circumcision policy statement with regard to non-therapeutic circumcision, which they define as the non-religious, non-ritualistic, not medically necessary, elective circumcision of male newborns. They state that “policy statements issued by professional societies representing Australian, Canadian, and American pediatricians do not recommend routine circumcision of male newborns.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians (2007) recognizes the controversy surrounding circumcision and recommends that physicians “discuss the potential harms and benefits of circumcision with all parents or legal guardians considering this procedure for their newborn son.”

The American Urological Association (2007) stated that neonatal circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks.

21 Comments

Filed under Dig-In, Third Trimester

21 responses to “Circumcision: a Medical Necessity?

  1. As a son who was circumcised at birth, I applaud your decision. I do not like being circumcised. I dislike it so much that I am restoring my foreskin. Since I have been circumcised and I have a restored foreskin, I can partly answer your last point. The foreskin protects the glans and inner foreskin remnant, making them as sensitive as when I was born. That is a really good feeling, much better than when they were calloused from rubbing on my clothes. Also, the foreskin provides a gliding action – it changes the whole dynamic of sex. Much, much better. My wife loves my foreskin. I love my foreskin. Your son will appreciate his foreskin.

  2. I didn’t know foreskin can be restored! Thanks for sharing your experience, since people don’t talk about these things – I am glad that we got a new perspective – thanks!

  3. Glad I could inform you. As for foreskin restoration, many men are starting to realize that they lost something valuable when they were circumcised. They are taking matters into their own hands (pun intended) and restoring their sense of wholeness by restoring a part of their body that was removed without their consent.

    And, I am glad you wrote about your decision. It is blogs like yours that will help parents realize that infant circumcision is an unnecessary operation for an infant.

  4. Amber

    As “the lady” who suggested you check out Intact America, I truly, truly applaud you on getting educated! There was actually a GREAT column on circumcision that just ran in the Durham section of the News and Observer last week:

    http://www.thedurhamnews.com/2010/06/16/202336/the-2nd-time-around.html

    My two sons, ages 12 and 8, are not circumcised, have never had a problem, and have thanked me for not circumcising them. They’ve asked about why son boys’ penises are different, and when I gently explained that some parents choose to have the foreskin removed, both were horrified and said, “But mom, that would hurt!” Most of their friends are not circumcised, it really is becoming less and less common in this area.

    European males are not circumcised and seem to be doing just fine, as well as have lower rates of diseases such as STDs and HIV.

    Anyhow, congratulations, and have a wonderful birth!!!

    • Hi Amber, it’s good seeing you here! I can’t believe the boys are still not here yet but we are patient and they can decide on their birthday! I am so glad that we looked into it, the homebirth meetup is by far the best we got ourselves involved in. If we didn’t go that day, I don’t think we would even give it a thought since I thought every parent circumcises their boys. How scary!

  5. Bravo, bravo, YAYYYY, Yahooooo, Yeehawwwww!!!!!!!!!!! If I could do a back flip, I would be doing one for you, my dear.
    My sons (17 & 18) are intact.
    My man was circumcised – and REcircumcised (because the first one was botched!!!), but a wise doctor told him how to restore it. He never even realized he was special. Both his boys from his previous marriage were circumcised. Unfortunately, they never gave it much thought.
    I have explained to him the MANY reasons he is special, and he was blessed that there was a doctor who helped restore him. NOW he appreciates his foreskin, even though it isn’t the original. It does the same job it is supposed to, but he still underwent that infant trauma.
    If he were to have children now, I can guarantee he would not injure his children this way again.
    My man is 43. In this day and age, there should be NO foreskins amputated from our helpless babies!
    Good for you, girl. Spread the word!

    *BTW, I am willing to bet this is just the tip of the iceberg for you. Now that you are aware of the options here, you will start educating yourself on many more options you have in birthing, breastfeeding, lifestyle, parenting…bless you for opening your eyes.

    Jeri
    http://www.myshininglight.com
    http://www.LeorasLegacy.com

  6. Karen

    Cynthia, Congratulations on your pregnancy and your decision not to circumcise your newborn sons. I am a NY mom of two intact boys, ages 8 and 4. You’re right, people don’t talk about this…but when they do, you’d be surprised how many more American parents are horrified by circumcision and not circumcising. When I brought it up at a playgroup when my first son was only 2 — it turned out that 8 of the 10 boys in the group were all intact! And the two who weren’t were Jewish. My 8 year old already is glad he has his foreskin…and shudders at the idea that parents would cut a baby’s penis. Good luck, sounds like you will make wonderful parents!

  7. Jim Moore

    A book which will help you teach your sons is: What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys by Lynda Madaras. The section on circumcision and intact genitals is superb!

  8. Congratulations on a great job of self-re-education! Many people are so brainwashed, rigid and compulsive about seeing the father-son look alike they can’t change their minds.

    My sons are now 42 and 40. I protected them against circumcision when they were infants, taught them all I knew about how much better it was for them to be intact.

    Despite all this the elder son’s girlfriend railroaded him into it as a 19 yr old and of course at that age he didn’t ask me about it. It ruined the sexual relational side of his life. He’s a successful lawyer, but that girlfriend left him a few years later (a classic part of that dynamic) and he is alone. I feel terrible for him.

    Education on circumcision dangers continues after childhood, keep teaching your boys they are better intact and to have great confidence and respect for their bodies because the image of circumcision is so prevalent a lot of people arrogantly think hurt penises are best!!

    They have to learn the right arguments to protect themselves, even from, maybe especially from otherwise delightful girlfriends.

    Website down, will be up in a few weeks, all about health tracking.

    Best regards, happy babies,

    Maurene White

    • That is sad…the girlfriend is cruel for having him going through it. I never thought about the education part when they become adults – thanks for sharing the story.

  9. Rob~

    Just to expand on what Restoring Tally said, the foreskin can not really be restored. Skin can be expanded to give the look of an intact penis and some of the protective qualities, but the specialized nerve endings, muscle tissue and ridged band can never be recovered. Interestingly enough, some of the techniques used for restoration can also be used to treat phimosis in intact men – something still generally considered a “reason” to circumcise men later in life in the U.S.

  10. Good for you.

    Here is the link to my own post about why I didn’t circumcise my boys, who are now 7.5 and 4: http://theybelongtous.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/why-i-didnt-circumcise-my-boys/

    Another thing you might want to do research on (if you haven’t already) is vaccinations.

    peace…

  11. Joe

    Congratulations on your son and for being able to see through the myths of circumcision, your son is such a lucky boy. :) Post like yours gives me hope that more and more American parents are turning away from such an awful practice. @Karen posts or comments like yours REALLY give me hope.

  12. sam

    One thing that you should do research on is caring for an intact penis. Don’t retract! Beware of phony phimosis diagnosis! Email me if you have questions.

  13. I too came to the same conclusion 19 and 11 yrs ago – and as others have posted, my sons have thanked me several times for allowing their foreskins to remain, although I have to admit I’ve had to continue to protect them throughout the years. Drs., RN’s, family & friends gave me inaccurate information – so be sure you keep up on proper care (basically hands off), my oldest couldn’t retract prior to 12, and my youngest’s is still attached – both totally normal.

    Parenthood is a continual learning curve, which goes by much too fast. Good luck, have a happy & safe birth and ENJOY!

  14. Restoration of two types of tissue are possible, skin and also mucous membrane. The latter is best done by freehand, the easiest technique and mucous membrane is more sensitive than skin. Also it prevents pubic hair from coming up on the shaft with skin stretched in that area. All it takes is thumb and forefinger of one hand encircling the scar, and gentle pulling of the mucous membrand remnant towards the body to the degree of causing a tingling feeling only, causing no pain or discomfort. This is what I teach the brave Dads in prenatal classes who want the look-alike situation but not at the expense of their little boys pain and loss. They love it, the mothers love it (gentler sex, more orgasms) and by the time their littlee son is old enought to notice a dirrerence, there is not difference! Everyone wins and the world is better off with another couple’s happiness.
    Maurene

  15. Don’t mind the spelling errors!

  16. ………… There is a movement of Jews who are questioning circumcision, and working to end this abuse of children. The movement ranges from the Orthodox to the secular, and includes mothers, fathers, scholars, historians, medical professionals, activists, and intellectuals.

    Jewish Groups for Genital Integrity

    * Brit Shalom Celebrants by Mark D. Reiss, M.D. http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html

    * Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, Ph.D. http://www.jewishcircumcision.org

    * The Current Judaic Movement to End Circumcision: Part 1

    http://intactnews.org/node/105/1311886372/jewish-voices-current-judaic-movement-end-circumcision-part-1

    Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective by Miriam Pollack

    http://www.noharmm.org/pollack.htm

    Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack has some great commentary on Foreskin Man in this recent interview.

    http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/07/defying-convention-interview-with_27.html

    Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors
    http://intactnews.org/node/103/1311885181/jews-speak-out-favor-banning-circumcision-minors ……………………..

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