Saturday, January 1, 2011

No Cutting, Thank You






Circumcision is a divisive issue, and one that I have my hands firmly planted into. The practice and the fact that it is socially accepted, medically condoned and legal makes me quite angry. But I didn't always have these strong feelings. There was a time when I just didn't see a point in it. Now I have lost friends over my views. There are a lot of "why we did" and "why we didn't" stories out there. This is my "why we didn't" story.

When I was a senior in high school, a friend told me her brother was intact (I'm not sure what the conversation was that lead to that fact being revealed). In my years up to that point, I had never really given circumcision a thought. My only sibling was my younger sister. It's not a topic that ever came up in polite conversation. She told me that her parents had made that decision because, in their minds, there was just no reason to do it. They must have had a progressive doctor, being the late 70's. Her telling me that planted a seed in my mind. There was no use for circumcision? Why do they do it then? What does an uncut penis look like?

Outside of one Canadian male 'friend' in college and an older man whom I cared for in a group home in my mid-twenties, I only knew circumcised penises as the norm. But, when I found out I was carrying a baby boy, circumcision was one of the first thoughts that popped into my mind.

I didn't broach the topic with Shane for several weeks, until I finally blurted out, "I just want you to know, I don't plan on circumcising our son."

He took issue with this. In fact, it became a point of contention for a good chunk of my pregnancy. His were the typical concerns a father has; his son won't look like him, what about being made fun of in the locker room, isn't it cleaner?, I heard it prevents HIV transmission...

His were the typical gross misunderstandings about circumcision.

For his sake, I hit up Google with some pretty basic search criteria. I came up with some poorly executed study that showed a slightly higher prevalence of HIV/AIDS in intact men. Regarding that study, even if it were true, I have this to say, "Correlation does not necessarily prove causation." I learned that in College Psych 101. Regarding that myth, I have this to say, "Safer sex practices prevent HIV, not circumcision." Sadly, because of this myth, adult men in Africa are now choosing to be cut because they think that in being circumcised alone, they are preventing HIV transmission.

(You can read more about the HIV/AIDS study here.)

I was able to quickly debunk the 'cleaner' myth. And I addressed the "he won't look like me" and "standing out in the locker room" worries like this: "If we were having a daughter, her vaginal area and breasts would never look like mine" and "If we cut him, the other boys would just find something else to pick on him for." It hardly seemed like a viable reason to cosmetically alter the boy's body, in case he might be picked on. As for the cleaner/STI prevention myth, I informed him we would teach our son proper hygiene and safer sex practices.

I did, at one point, pull out the big guns. Firstly, since we're not married, it was my consent, not Shane's, that the hospital needed to preform the surgery. Secondly, in the state of Wisconsin, it doesn't matter whether we are married or not, they won't preform the surgery without the mother's consent. So, basically, he had no choice. I had only hoped he would understand my reasoning for not cutting our son. I also pointed out very bluntly, it's his body, not ours. We really have no place in even having this choice to make for him.

Bottom line, that was why we chose not to have it done. What was the point? None. And besides, it's not our body.

At this point, let me point out that I am not against circumcision. Like any cosmetic surgery, every consenting adult above the age of 18 has the right to go to a doctor and have a part of their body altered. I AM against routine infant circumcision. That baby boy had no say in the matter. His signature was not collected on an informed consent, nor was he given the option of informed consent.

When my son was born, a lot was going on, I gave little thought to his penis, let alone his fingers and toes. He was taken away from me almost immediately. However, I can't even begin to imagine that if he had been born under the most peaceful circumstances, that I would have gone from awing over how amazingly beautiful he was to thinking "But, something's not quite right... Let's chop off his foreskin!"

So that was that. I left the hospital with a baby boy, perfect the way he was born.

It wasn't until I got home and started doing some real reading into what might have gone wrong during his birth, that I stumbled across information about circumcision. Information I hadn't stumbled across while researching it while pregnant. The more I learned, the more enraged I became that this practice has become an allowable, even preferable, part of our culture.

The more I learn, the more angry I become over this practice. This is the point in this post where we go from 'why we didn't' to 'why no one should'...

First, let's talk about the history of circumcision.

The United States is the only country that practices routine infant circumcision for non-religious reasons (Isreal is the only country that preforms it regularly for religious reasons, although it is preformed around the world for both religious and non, though on a much, much smaller scale).

It began in the US during the Victorian Era as a way to punish boys who were caught masturbating. Eventually, it became recommended to prevent boys from masturbating. Doctors at the time acknowledged that removing the foreskin resulted in a reduction of sensitivity. In fact, circumcision has been recommended as a way to prevent a whole host of diseases and malfunctions, more than any other 'preventative' procedure.

It seems, with every generation, circumcision 'prevents' something new. It started with masturbation and over time has come to prevent everything from epilepsy to mental retardation to HIV transmission and penile cancer. The everlasting favorite of medical professionals and other pro-circers is that it's 'cleaner'. Also, very much not true.

In fact, the foreskin is an ingenious piece of skin which preforms it's job well. When an intact male is getting ready to urinate, the opening at the end of the foreskin opens slightly to allow the urine to pass through, once the urine passes through, it snaps tightly shut. The myth about UTI's being less common in circumcised men? The fact is, UTI's are very uncommon in men at all. They are far more common in women. But, when a woman gets a UTI, she takes antibiotics (or, if she catches it quickly, a round of cranberry capsules and lots of water). Saying that we should remove the foreskin of baby boys because of the potential for a future UTI is like saying we should remove all appendices at birth because of the potential for appendicitis in the future.

Another common argument for the "it's cleaner" camp is that an intact penis is 'cheesy' and/or 'smelly', and that cleaning a circumcised penis is just easier. Firstly, let's address the cheese (the technical term is smegma). Circumcised men produce smegma, but more than that, women produce more smegma in their labial folds than men, intact or otherwise. Secondly, cleaning an intact penis is barely one step more than a circumcised penis. Once the foreskin detaches itself naturally (usually between three and puberty, although some can detach when the boy is still a baby, or not until the man is sexually active... more on that in a moment), all that is needed is for the boy (or the caregiver) to pull back the foreskin, rinse with water and let it go. (It should be noted that foreskin which has not already detached naturally should never be retracted for any reason).

I'm thinking, just from what I've heard about circumcised babies, that it sounds like a heck of a lot more work to care for a freshly circumcised penis during the healing process than an intact one takes over the course of a life time.

Before moving on, I'd like to point out one more reason against the locker room argument. The fact is, that all intact men have the ability to pull back their foreskin and closely resemble a circumcised penis.

Okay, let's talk about that naturally retracting thing. All baby boys are born with their foreskin fused to the glans (head) of their penis. When a circumcision is preformed, the foreskin is peeled away from the glans and cut off (A full 1/3 of the skin of the penis is removed, to be exact. This equals approximately 15 square inches of the full grown man's penis skin being removed).

That leaves a red, raw, exposed mucus membrane (much like the inside of your cheeks and lips, and exactly like the labia in women). It can take as much as a year for the exposed skin to karotinize. This is a process during which several layers of skin form to protect the sensitive area. Think about if someone removed your eye lids and left your eyeball exposed to the elements. What was once a moist, sensitive part of your body will now harden. Without the lids (foreskin) to protect and moisten the surface, it is left open, exposed to air, left to dry. Your vision would never be right again. In the case of circumcision, the boy's sensitivity is taken away. You don't even have to imagine this. Just think about when you wake up with a stuffy nose and your mouth has been gaping all night, think about how dry and leathery the inside of your mouth feels compared to how it feels normally.

I think what grossed me out more about the idea of that open wound was throwing that open wound inside a diaper. I can't think of any other situation where anyone would think it was okay to put an open wound in an environment in which it can come into contact with urine and feces on a regular basis.

What about religious reasons? Totally not valid. The historical tradition of circumcision bears almost no resemblance to the circumcision begun in Victorian United States. It was once a nick on the tip of the foreskin to allow a few drops of blood out, from which the mohel drank. It was seen as a sacrifice to humble oneself for God. Personally, this practice seems equally wrong, but, my point is only to point out that removing a baby's entire foreskin (typically without anesthesia when done as a religious ceremony) for religious reasons is just not historically accurate.

This list is not exhaustive. This is not all there is to know about circumcision. But, these are the things that stand out to me as the most commonly cited reasons for being pro-circumcision. In all the research I've done, I have never come across one compelling reason FOR circumcision. Over time, I found myself realizing more and more, it is a human rights violation.

I've heard people take issue with attaching such a strong connotation as 'human rights violation' to circumcision. But, I counter, marches on Washington have been carried out over less. The moment that baby boy's right to genital integrity was taken away, his rights were violated. Circumcision indeed meets the very definition of the term 'human rights violation'. That foreskin doesn't regenerate (although painful re-adhesion can form, another side effect rarely mentioned). There are no second chances.

Consider this, several grown men have filed law suits against the hospitals and doctors that preformed their circumcisions, siting a lack of informed consent. And they have won. That alone, in a culture with a massive fear of medical malpractice, should really get people thinking.

If I were born a boy, I would have been circumcised. And I would be pissed.

At what age does it become not okay to take your child in to be circumcised? One month? Twelve months? Two years? There have been cases of fathers trying to take their seven year old (in one case) and twelve year old (in another case)sons into be cut. Both cases went to court and in both cases the boys 'got' to keep their foreskins.

At what point does it become abusive? If it's performed by a medical professional or religious official (who by the way, are not held to any standards), it is deemed okay by society. But recently, a man was taken to court for circumcising his two sons at home (I believe one was an infant and the other a young toddler). He cited lack of funds as his reason for doing the surgery at home with a kitchen knife. The judge released him as innocent since there is no law banning circumcision of males, even outside the hospital, in our country. The judge was kind enough to point out that it IS illegal to circumcise females, and for that, the father would have gone to jail.

Three babies died in Infantino Slingriders. The product was recalled and banned from the market. Several babies have died in drop-sided cribs, so they were recalled and banned from the market. But, some 120-200 infant boys a year die from circumcision, and it continues as a legal, medically and culturally condoned practice.

How does a baby boy die from circumcision? Whether or not anesthesia is used during the circumcision, the boy experiences all the same bodily and hormonal responses. The heartrate spikes to 200 beats per minute during and for several minutes after the procedure. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is released in massive quantities, along with endorphins and adrenaline. The baby typically falls into shock within seconds of the start of the procedure. This is where you hear the old myth 'my baby slept right through it' or 'my baby didn't cry at all', because they are in shock, much as anyone would respond to a major physical trauma. Can you imagine the baby born with an unnoticed heart defect? (It is these responses that can also hamper a successful nursing relationship. Often, the baby is too traumatized to nurse or latch properly).

It takes the loss of only one ounce of blood for a baby to hemorrhage, and the loss of only 2.3 ounces of blood for a baby to die. If you can imagine, this is about two shot glasses worth of blood. The typical disposable diaper is designed to hold 15 times it's weight in water. Often, the loss of blood is not even noticed until it's too late. Most babies die within hours, or even days, of the procedure, not necessarily during.

For this reason alone, circumcision strikes me as a completely unnecessary risk. Why on earth would any parent put their child's life on the line for aesthetics?


Click here for a wonderful, to the point list of 'one liners against circumcision'.

One man sues and wins!

For a medical perspective: Not all doctors recommend or condone circumcision.

Death by circumcision:
CIRP
Circumstitions (For other complications listed on this site, click here.)

Ending Medicaid funding of circumcision (On average, in states where medicaid stops covering routine infant circumcision, the rate drops by about 25% within a couple of years).

Religious considerations:
http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.com/
http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html
http://jewishcircumcision.org/info.htm
http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/biblical-circumcision-information.html
http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/circumcision-christianity.html
http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/lewis1/
http://www.quran.org/CIRCUMCISION.HTM
http://www.quranicpath.com/misconceptions/circumcision.html

53 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful, well thought out, well researched blog entry and I'm so happy to see it! I also gave birth to a wonderful little boy in February of 2010 and we also left him intact, and I thank God every day that I have a husband who was able to look at the research and agreed with me that there was absolutely no reason to cut our perfect little child. Thank you for putting this out there!

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  2. Very nice post debunking the reasons commonly given for circumcising baby boys, a procedure which needs to be delegated to the dustbin of history.

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  3. Brava, Sconi Mommy. Thank you.

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  4. Great post! I have a similar "Why we didn't" story. I never really thought much about circumcision. It was just "what was done" and I, of course, would get my son circ'd if I had one. Then I got pregnant. I was doing lots of reading about natural birth, breastfeeding, etc. It seems amazing to me how the body worked. How, even if I didn't know how to grow and birth a baby, my body did. That got me thinking about circumcision. I feel like nature is "smart." Why would boys be born with a foreskin if it was useless? I was sure, though, that since "everybody" was doing it, there must be a good reason. I read up on it and realized that circumcision was totally unnecessary. It took a little bit of convincing on my part to get my husband to come around. I kept spamming his email with articles on circumcision and the benefits of remaining intact. We asked my midwife what the medical benefits of circumcision were. ("None" was her answer.)The final straw was when he came home to find me in tears. He asked what was wrong and I said "I just watched a video of a circumcision. If you want it done, you want our son to live through it... then you at least need to know exactly what he'll go through!" At that point he told me he'd been thinking about it a lot and had changed his mind. Thank goodness, because as a last resort I would have pulled the "I'm the mom, it's not going to happen" card. My son is 3 and my husband is now a proponent of leaving all babies intact.

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  5. From one mother of an intact son to you, BRAVO!!

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  6. Thank you for all the information. I have a girl but hope to be able to convince my husband of not circing if we ever have a boy. Any time I have broached the subject he is adamantly opposed to the idea but it makes me hopeful to read things like this.

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  7. Wow! What a great, detailed, well-researched post! I have a daughter now (and an intact husband), but if we ever have a son, I know for SURE he will stay intact, exactly how he was meant to me! Thank you!

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  8. Once again, yet another American woman thinks this through and and smoothly moves to the conclusion that the routine circumcision of minors is weird and disgusting. Why can't more fathers, doctors, and medical school profs walk that same road??

    I remind readers that most of what I have learned about the penis over the last 10-20 years, has been written by women with minds similar to the owner of this blog. This is a stark fact. Evidently, having a penis gets in the way of understanding and common sense.

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  9. "I think what grossed me out more about the idea of that open wound was throwing that open wound inside a diaper. I can't think of any other situation where anyone would think it was okay to put an open wound in an environment in which it can come into contact with urine and feces on a regular basis."

    You have captured a gross thought I have had since my teen years. How in the world can doctors and mothers countenance wounding the tip of the penis at an age when elimination control is nonexistent?? That is truly gross, along with doing it without anesthesia.

    Over and over and over I read how smart and sensible women like yourself have to struggle with the father of their babies over this issue. I am ashamed of American men and I have a horrible suspicion about their motives: they don't want their sons to enjoy sexual equipment that they don't have.

    "The fact is, that all intact men have the ability to pull back their foreskin and closely resemble a circumcised penis."

    Dear, you have stumbled on the trick I used to conceal the fact that my Dick was Weird. I did just as you say, in the men's room in grade school, in the locker room in middle and high school.

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  10. I couldnt have said it better myself! Thank you for this. It will be shared!! I left my son intact because the thought of his cries made me sick to my stomach, his circumcised dad said it wasnt needed and his pediatrician also said there was no reason to do so either... It was after I made the choice to keep him intact that I looked into it... And so happy I made the choice I did!

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  11. This is disgusting...all my boys are circd and any future ones will be too! You people are penis obssessed! It's none of anyone else's business whether or not we make that choice! You made a choice to think its your son's choice, I will make my choice to circ my sons!

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    1. (I know this is from an anonymous poster almost 2 years ago, but I can't resist replying for others who will read this and share this view.) So let me get this straight -- we're "penis obsessed" because we chose to LEAVE OUR SONS' PENISES ALONE and think it's wrong for other people to go around chopping up baby penises?? Um, I think the ones who are "penis obsessed" are the medical establishment that insists on coming up with new reasons to promote circumcision (real reason: $$$) and the parents who want to decide how their sons' penises will look!! You can't deny the FACT that your son's penis is attached to HIS BODY, therefore it's HIS PENIS. Why should your opinions be more important than his? He will have to live with that penis the rest of his life.

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  12. Thank you all for the positive comments! I wanted to touch on a few points:
    I think I failed to point out that Shane was totally fine with the idea of leaving Flynn intact after several heated, but intelligent conversations. He is now quite proud to have an intact son.
    Yes, Kara, nature is smart! Foreskin exists for a reason and there is so much compelling research out there supporting that. I really wanted to go on to talk about how future female partners are affected by circumcision as well, but I think I'll keep that for another post.
    Roger: I find it really interesting how many men would refuse to have a vasectomy for fear of losing their manhood, but are totally for completely removing their son's foreskin. It's one I can't wrap my brain around. I often wonder why so many men are so pro-circ, even when they are educated on what was taken away from them. This is why the argument "I let my husband decide because he has a penis, not me" doesn't fly in my book. Too many men are just closed to hearing the truth behind the myths. Moms really need to protect their sons, most of us have the gut instinct to do so.
    Which brings me to Kara again, I think all parents considering circumcision should watch one being done. It's horrific. That said, I know nurses who have witnessed them and still choose to do it to their sons. I just can't imagine...
    Many moms are 'lucky' for following their guts and choosing to keep their sons intact, only to realize how awful a mistake they could have made later (I've often thought how horrible I would feel if I would've just given in...). It is a permanent thing. No going back. I think more people give more consideration to getting a tattoo than cutting their sons. (On that note, how many people who are pro-circ do you think would condone tattooing a baby?).

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    1. Nurses: first of all, I think some of them really do believe that circumcision is so beneficial, important, etc. that they minimize in their minds the babies' pain and the ethical issues surrounding it. Like doctors, their education probably only included the circumcised penis and circumcision, never the function of the foreskin or anything else about the intact penis. Once you are brainwashed into thinking that circ is good, it's hard to turn back, especially if you've witnessed and assisted with them. Cognitive dissonance is very powerful, and it either leads to changing behavior or denial. Obviously, for many people, denial is the easier choice. Otherwise, the docs and nurses have to accept that they put babies through a lot of unnecessary pain and did something really awful and unethical to them. Their denial can be so strong that they will choose circumcision for their own sons, despite seeing what it looks like. I doubt that most nurses witness their own sons' circs, though. I think the bond and post-partum hormones would overwhelm their denial.

      Another point to consider: I think most nurses have to become desensitized to a certain degree to avoid being burned out. Think about nurses in a trauma/burn ICU. They are going to deal with blood, puke, poop, pee, dead flesh, etc. And when they go to debride a wound or change a dressing or catheter or central line, their patients might scream or writhe in pain. How can they continue providing care unless they harden themselves somewhat? I think this is especially true in L&D, dealing with such an emotional situation (birth and postpartum) and all the liability concerns, plus the politics can be really charged between OBs, midwives, and nurses (even moreso than other specialities). L&D nurses see women dealing with the best but also the worst times of their lives in some cases. They also see women treated really poorly by their providers. I know all this because my mom is an L&D nurse. She has been back and forth, doing stints in home health, workplace health, and case management, because she gets burned out. She finally "retired" from L&D because she just couldn't take it anymore. When I was a teenager and first learning about circumcision (thanks to an awesome A&P teacher and the Internet), my mom and I had a huge screaming fight where she defended circ as being cleaner and preventing HPV, said the babies just "don't like being tied down" and usually sleep right through it. Yeah, all the myths. I was so pissed to find out that she assisted with them and believed in it! Since then I've had 3 boys who are intact, and thankfully she has come to realize how unnecessary and damaging circumcision really is. Honestly I think that seeing the supportive environments where I gave birth and how I've raised my boys, plus us talking about healthy birth practices, etc. (I'm training to be a doula) has really contributed to her being so disenchanted with L&D work. She saw how good it can be, and now she can't be in denial anymore.

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  13. "You people are penis obssessed! "
    coming from someone who looks at a newborn's genitals and declares them to be "disgusting."

    I love when circumfetishests call us Penis obsessed.
    Who is more penis obsessed?
    One who leaves them alone
    or one who forces surgery on a penis that is not attached to them.

    "You made a choice to think its your son's choice, I will make my choice to circ my sons!"

    You made a choice to deprive healthy and normal and body parts from your son/sons. You are a dictator of your children's sexuality. They will never(with current science) be able to fully restore what you've taken from them.

    Disgusting indeed.

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  14. Great, great, great!!! I love this post and I'm going to share it with others. I agree 100% with everything you said! I am married to a circumcised man and he is 100% pissed about it. He wishes his parents would have left that choice up to him since it's his body, it's quite sad that something that can't be reversed is done to newborns.

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  15. Interesting that your knowledge of uncircumcised men included one Canadian. It must be much more common here.

    I am Canadian. My brother and father are circumcised, but my husband and his brothers are not. When my son was born, not one health care provider brought up the subject of circumcision with us. I found out later that the hospital that my son was delivered at won't do them anymore, ever since a case a few years back where the wrong baby got cut. I take my son to a nurse practioner, and she has never brought it up, even when I raised concerns about his foreskin getting irritated in overnight diapers.

    If it wasn't for what I read online, I wouldn't even know about the controversy surrounding circumcision. For whatever reason, where I am intact is the norm. May it be that way where you are soon.

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    1. Just a note: better for his foreskin to get irritated in an overnight diaper, than the glans (head of his penis). The foreskin is designed to be a protective sheath, kinda like your eyelid, whereas the glans (in a normal penis) is moist and supple, like the inside of your cheek. Diaper cream can easily treated a chapped or irritated foreskin, but without that protection, the glans dries out, and the baby is susceptible to urethral irritation, a much bigger issue. I know all this first-hand. All 3 of my boys are intact, but one was born with a short foreskin that does not cover his glans. He's still in diapers (17 months), and now that he's getting his molars and eating more "adult" food, we're dealing with irritation issues leading to urinary retention. He went 18 hours without peeing last week and almost had to be catheterized! Look up meatitis and meatal stenosis -- conditions that almost never occur in intact boys, but occur in up to 1 in 10 circ'ed boys and can require surgery to correct.

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  16. I deferred to my husband on the issue, and will regret it and probably cry over it for the rest of my life. My son is almost 2 1/2 now and still has to be taken to the doctor every few months to have his "adhesions" ripped apart, and we have put off potty-training because we have to put Vaseline on his penis at diaper changes. Every diaper change for over 2 years, we Vaseline arounf the ridge of the glans, and it still re-attaches. Why? Because this penis was MEANT to have skin attached to it. And why doesn't it? because my husband wanted the boy's penis to look like his. The other day, when I changed my son and he cried and started violently pinching the tip of his penis, saying "let me do it instead", I started crying (again) about having failed to protect my own children and finally just asked my husband why he didn't shave his crotch. It seems ridiculous that my son has been in pain for 2 1/2 years so he could look like his father and my husband is unwilling to just shave to look like him. Which sacrifice sounds like more, I mean if looking alike is really so important.
    When a doctor or father mentions phimosis as a reason for preventative circumcision, mention repeat adhesions. If we're really lucky, this routine infant procedure, "just a little snip, really", won't require surgery when my son is older. There's a very real chance he won't have enough skin left for the length of his erect penis if some of it is stretched up and attached to the glans.

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  17. Any parent that has a "preference" as to how their son's penis look has some bigger problems to deal with in my book. It's not really my job to view my son's penis as "aesthetically pleasing."

    Furthermore, the bottom line for me is that it's wrong to remove a part of someone else's sexual organ without their consent. Period, end of story, nothing will ever convince me otherwise. Circumcision on non-consenting children is morally and ethically WRONG.

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  18. @chronicbliss {{{{hugs}}}

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  19. This procedure is also backed by a ton of money. There is a cosmetics company that buys the foreskins from hospitals to use in their face creams. I can't remember the name of the company, but it's one oprah ranted and raved about.
    I'm glad my baby boy came home from the hospital the perfect way he was born. He is very lucky to be one of the children to have a parent who doesn't just take the doctor's word and does research on their own.
    I love love love this post :) (although I'd much rather not have our country in the situation where a post like this would even need to be up)

    And as a sidenote, I did a research paper on the legality of this procedure, and with cases on similar violation grounds as circumcision, it is not something that should be legal. If anyone would like a copy of the paper, email me mhale1989@gmail.com

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  20. To anonymous - what is disgusting is thinking the natural, intact penis is disgusting. If you stand behind your decision to circumcise so much, please tell us your name. And yes, it is your choice. So do not deride those of us who made the choice to keep our sons intact.

    Thank you, Sconi, for yet another voice behind the thinking that the human body has parts for a reason. I am not "crunchy" or natural at all, nor is my husband. However, he greatly mourns the loss of his foreskin. We ultimately decided that it wasn't our choice to remove our son's foreskin.

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  21. Why does this barbaric practice continue? Who benefits? Follow the money; the sale of foreskins is a billion dollar a year industry in this country. Since the 1980s, private hospitals have been involved in the business of supplying discarded foreskins to private bio-research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies who require human flesh as raw research material. They also supply foreskins to transnational corporations such as Advanced Tissue Sciences of San Diego, California, [1] Organogenesis, [2] and BioSurface Technology, [3] who have recently emerged to reap new corporate profits from the sale of marketable products made from harvested human foreskins. In 1996 alone, Advanced Tissue Sciences could boast of a healthy $663.9 million market capitalization performance.[4] Are parents informed of this? Do they receive any profit? No, just the companies that profit off the back of our baby's misery.....

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  22. So many wonderful comments and compliments, I'm choosing to ignore the 'anonymous' post clearly left by someone who didn't read any of the post and is just out trolling for anti-circ posts to leave such ignorant comments on.

    chronicbliss, my heart breaks for you and your son, I'm so sorry you have had to go through this. I truly cannot even begin to imagine the pain for either one of you. I know of several boys who have suffered from adhesions, yet another possible side effect parents are not typically warned of prior to consenting to the surgery.

    Emmy: I truly could have summarized my entire blog post into what you said. That is the simple truth, not your body, not your right to cut bits of it off.

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  23. My dad is intact. My brother is intact. My son's father is not. My college boyfriend was intact and got circumcised while we were together. His choice. It made NO difference to me and he regrets it to this day. He said he lost so much sensitivity that he couldn't believe it. Now there is an honest opinion. So years later when my son was born, the decision was easy. Let's not do what can't be undone. And leave for him to decide. When my son's foreskin finally detached when he was almost 7, I called upon my brother to give him 'grooming' session when he was showering and cleanliness has never been an issue!

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  24. WHAT IS LOST TO CIRCUMCISION:

    About 50% of the penile skin: The double layered foreskin (prepuce), along with the rest of the shaft skin, is a mobile skin system and can freely move up and down the penile shaft, even during an erection.

    The Pleasurable Sensations of the “Ridged Bands”: The 1/2 inch wide bands of tissue near the tip of the foreskin is the most highly innervated and erogenous part of the penis containing thousands of nerve endings called Meissner’s Corpuscles. The loss of this tissue along with the adjacent sensitive frenulum, reduces a man’s pleasure and full range of sexual response.

    The foreskin’s Gliding action: This is the hallmark mechanical feature of the natural human penis. The non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of its own sheath of skin facilitates smooth, comfortable, pleasurable intercourse for both partners.

    The Comfort of a covered glans: The foreskin’s inner mucosal tissue provides a warm, moist, protective covering for the sensitive glans. The glans of the circumcised penis becomes dry and calloused from exposure to air and rubbing against clothing.

    Choice: A man who was circumcised as an infant has lost his right to an intact, normal, and whole penis and the right to control what happens to his own body.

    BOTTOM LINE: HIS PENIS, ONLY HIS CHOICE!
    Men (and women) who are allowed as children to keep their whole, intact, normal genitalia, DON’T choose to amputate parts as adults! Please Protect ALL children’s genitals from unnecessary amputations.

    Best Regards and Many Blessings to all perfectly born Intact little boys.

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  25. Thank you for the info!!! I have a 3 month old son Oliver who is intact and I'm constantly defending the decision to our family. I'll be forwarding this to them all!

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  26. Very well written post. Somehow in my late teens/ early 20s, long before becoming a mother I learned there was really no point in circumcision and I learned what babies endure with routine infant circumcision. It saddened me. I put it in the back of my mind until recently. (My husband and I were blessed with a girl 7 months ago.) Expecting an argument, I armed myself with facts and support and revealed to my husband (who is circ'ed) that I did not want to circ our sons if we ever have any. After I said that he said,"okay. We won't. There's really no point in it." I must have come across as being worried or stressed because he said, "Man! You had me worried that you were about to tell me something BAD." I am so relieved that this is a non-issue in our family.

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  27. Well done. My boy has not been cut, fully agree his body and his choice. How can you cut and stab a baby for your believes. It's not even something I considered. never crossed my mind. I know my dad and both brothers has been cut. My dads German and thats what they did. I am blessed to have no pressure from anybody about the way my child is brought up. My husband is intact. And that is they way it will stay for our! Too much medical drama these days with birthing and babies. This is an amazing article.

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  28. Very well written and very informative for expectant parents who are still uncertain.


    I would hope that more would do the research that so many of you have because anyone who has honestly looked in to circumcision would be shocked and appalled by the false medicalization of the thing. The only thing circumcision has proven itself "good" for was its original purpose of stripping away a great deal of the sensitivity of the penis. Do you really want to inflict that upon your children? I didn't and our son is happy and whole.

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  29. I decided long before deciding to have children that I would keep my sons intact and I'm grateful that my husband was as adamant about that as well since he is also intact. I was pleasantly surprised that many doctors in Canada refuse to do the procedure and those that do, charge and arm and a leg to perform them since it is not considered necessary. None of the doctors and OBgyns I have ever seen have ever breached the subject since it seems keeping genital integrity is a given. I hope that this becomes the norm everywhere and even becomes criminalized.

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  30. I think I should point out that there's not a lot of evidence supporting the 'traditional' circumcision being a 'nick' off the tip. My Jewish scholar friends have certainly disabused me of that notion.

    I do agree that RIC is completely barbaric and a heinous double-standard against men in this country and that it needs to be stopped, but I disagree with your comments about the religious reason.

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  31. Eek - also I'd like to point out that intact men can expose the glans by retracting when flaccid, but this increases the risk of paraphimosis, which is extremely painful. And why should they do that, anyway? They should be proud that they have their whole penis.

    It's really important that we get out good, solid, factual information regarding the myths of circumcision, but not at the cost of furthering our own myths. I think if we can approach this from the angle of rock-solid facts, that it's much harder for pro-circumcision people to hold their ground. And I'm saying this as the mother of two intact boys (ages 5 and 2).

    One thing you could mention on your blog is that according to the Canadian Pediatric Society a boy is *as* likely to _need_ to be circumcised as he is to need to be *re*-circumcised. In other words, circumcising him at birth doesn't necessarily 'save him from the trouble of having to have it done later'. The risk is the same, except that now a circ'd boy has had it done twice where as the intact boy only had to have it done once.

    In any case, good article, and I'm going to try to quit spree commenting :P.

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  32. Jeeeez! Calm down. You make it sound like the end of the world. Instead of pointing out pros/cons, you went straight to scare tactics and fear of death. Your approach to circumcision is akin to maiming infants, and extremely closed-minded. I'm disappointed that you used "we" when talking about the decision to circumcise you AND Shane's son, when your previous sentences were all "me, me, me" and "since we're not married, it was my consent, not Shane's," it sounds like you considered no ones feelings, including your son's, in YOUR decision.

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    1. She didn't list the "pros/cons" because there are NO "pros" to routine infant circumcision. None. The "medical benefits" are either myths that have been debunked or so minimal that they are easily outweighed by the risks of the procedure. Any possible reduction in transmission of STIs or HIV is irrelevant because 1) babies do not have sex and 2) condoms prevent disease, circumcision does not. Penile cancer is an extremely rare disease of elderly men and related to sexual promiscuity and hygiene, both of which a grown man can control; if circumcision is necessary to remove a cancerous foreskin, at least the man will have enjoyed a lifetime of benefits from his foreskin and natural penis. Anyway, a man is much more likely to get breast cancer than penile cancer, and his breast buds serve no purpose, yet they are not removed at birth! As for the author considering her son's feelings, OF COURSE she considered his feelings -- do you know a baby who would be happy or excited to have part of his penis sliced off?? I don't think so! If he doesn't like his penis when he's an adult, he can choose to be circumcised, with proper anesthesia and pain relief.

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  33. This is a wonderful post and I truly wish more people would do the research into circing before they allow their babies to be violated. I am the mother of a 3 year old boy who is whole. I am so thankful that I took the time to really look at both sides of the fence.

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  34. (no relation to any other anonymous)

    You mention how it was amazing that someone born in the late seventies was uncut, well not only am I uncut (and eternally grateful) and born in the seventies, but my father is also uncut and he was born in the fifties.

    Great article. Except that I cringed every time you used the word "preform". I believe the word you're looking for is "perform" which means the act of doing something, whereas "preform" is more along the lines of having preconceived an idea.

    Have a nice day. :)

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  35. So happy I found my way to your blog. Thank you! I feel so strongly about my decision to leave both my boys intact. My 4 year old is having some "dribbling" issues and we took him to the ped and she diagnosed him with phimosis. Having never heard of it, and not fully understanding the foreskin, I didn't even know what questions to ask. Of course I immediately start doing research and realize there is a lot of mis-diagnosis and unnecessary circumcision to young boys as a result of this diagnosis. My 6.5 year old looks exactly the same (has no problems though) so it's impossible for me to accept that there is anything wrong with him (outside of his peeing technique, which we have addressed with non-dribbling results!). What to do, what to do... MY husband (who is foreskinless) doesn't think circing a 4 y.o. is that big of a deal. I told him there is no way in hell that will ever happen. 2nd opinion doctor said to wait a year or so and if it didn't retract, circ would be the next step. Crazy! Everything I read tells me there is a % of boys who don't fully retract until puberty!! What are they teaching them in medical school?! So frustrated by the ignorance of doctors in the U.S.

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  36. WONDERFUL article! Thanks for taking the time to write it and share it with the world. I truly hope this horrific practice becomes illegal in the U.S. (with the exception for absolute immediate medical emergencies). HIS BODY, HIS CHOICE!

    Females have been protected from genital cutting since 1996, why haven't we protected ALL children from genital cutting? Why the double standard? Mare males not human? Do boys not feel pain? Until this policy changes to include BOTH genders, I will continue to think the U.S. has an anti-male agenda. We need to stand up for HUMAN RIGHTS of the innocents!

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  37. I meant "Are* males not human?" in the previous post(my apologies for the misspelling).

    BTW, seeing articles like this gives me hope for a brighter future for the U.S. I've had many sleepless nights knowing the horror that my beloved husband went through shortly after his birth. Just looking at his circ'd penis makes me feel empathetic pain. I just don't know how anyone in their right mind would consent to chopping off a normal and natural (not to mention highly erotic and pleasurable) body part from their child. It's just senseless to me. It's ignorant, narrow minded and cruel. It really does need to be a crime punishable by law.

    Circumcision- The more you know, the more you're against it.

    Foreskins are NOT a birth defect!

    Genital integrity and human rights for ALL!

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  38. I was glad to hear that you protected your son. I was circumcised at birth and I wish my parents had protected me. If they had, I would still have my foreskin. Instead, I am restoring my foreskin. The difference is amazing. The more I restore, the more I realize just how much I lost. I am sad that I was never able to enjoy my whole body.

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  39. Why is there not one intact kid in my current world? That is the biggest question! When I was talking to other moms in my sons class (my son was having an issue - turns out to be a non-issue) and I was looking for advice/support). I was shocked he seems to be the only one... (I live in South Florida).

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  40. Hello. I saw your blog from one of the fb pages i subscribe to. Your writing is interesting. However, after reading this, i founc myself leaning towards circumcision. I already have my sons circumcized and this is for religious purposes. I think your arguments against circumcision are not convincing, but that is the choice you made and thats enough for you. I myself am a muslim and my religion makes sense. One god who is the creator of all universe and messengers since beginning of time to tell people to worship god alone. With that saod, i understand you would not have your sons circumcized since perhaps you arent convinced of any faith. I think that is enough instead of posting websites from different religious peoples. It is pretty clear in islam and judaism that circumcision is a commandment.

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  41. Em Hamzah, circumcision is NOT commanded in the Qur'an nor is it legal in the U.S. You can read the 14th and FGM amendments as well as study your holy books rather than follow what your culture says to do. Remember culture and religion are different but can be intertwined. It isn't ok to hurt a child for any reason anyway.

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  42. Im sorry melspeakup, are you muslimm? Have you read the quran? If you hhavent read it, i would urge you to learn more about islam. Muslims believe the quran is the word of God and brought the prophet muhammad to show us the best way to live. We have his sayings and habits thhat all muslims should follow which is the sunnah. Circumcision is in the fard sunnah, which is all muslims must do. jesus was sent to his people only and said that he was not sent to change the law. Thus all jews, christians and muslims should perform circumcision (males). There are choices that we all make for our children that they cant make themselves and we as parents believe is best. Everyone has their way and reasons. Sometimes your reasons arent strong enoughh for me ti

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  43. I can appreciate your opinion of circumcision, and admire the research that you did. However, having had 3 sons, and having all of them circumcised, I would argue that whether or not others choose, after their own intelligent conversations and research, to have it done is really nobody's business. I would also add that it is pretty judgemental to call it "morally wrong" when you have no idea what kind of people are having it done. I don't love my kids any less than you do, simply for choosing circumcision.

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    1. This post isn't about opinions, it's about facts proven by research. It's not an opinion that circumcision is excruciatingly painful for babies, even if anesthesia is used. It's not an opinion that it removes a large amount of healthy, functioning, protective tissue that can never be regained. It's not an opinion that babies have a variety of complications including adhesions (sometimes needing "revision" surgery), infection, blood loss, and even death (120+ baby boys die per year, probably many more unreported). It's not an opinion that thousands of men are unhappy they were circumcised -- and those are just the ones who have admitted it on the Internet; many more suffer with sexual problems in silence. Viagra is NOT widely used in Europe, where most men are intact. ED is an American problem, a circumcision problem. THESE ARE ALL FACTS, NOT OPINIONS.

      I can't imagine how much it would hurt to learn the facts and know that you harmed your sons. But facts are facts. We make judgements all the time. Wouldn't you judge a parent who gave their baby a tattoo? Wouldn't you judge a parent who had their baby girl "circumcised"? Wouldn't you judge a parent who beat their child with a pipe? The more you know about circumcision, the worse it is. At a certain point, you can't see it as anything other than barbaric, cruel, abusive, and yes, morally wrong. I'm sure you do love your sons very much, but that doesn't mean that what you did was right. As parents we make mistakes all the time. Lots of good people and good parents choose circumcision because they are uninformed of the cold hard facts, misled or pressured by doctors or family members, or just plain scared of going against what they perceive to be the cultural norms. Circumcision is a REALLY big mistake, but it's possible to come to terms with it, ask your sons for forgiveness, and use your story for good, by speaking out and educating others.

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  44. In my 20s I was with a man who's parents kept him and his brothers intact. He didn't know until high school that most boys were circumcised. He thought all boys "looked" like him and it surprised him. Intercourse was no different with him than with a circ'ed man.

    I am currently pregnant with my first child and my husband is circ'ed. He was adamant about not circing the baby if it were a boy and I was the other way--having asked several medical professionals while I was studying to become a nurse to which I was told to circ the baby if it were a boy.

    So, my hubby and I were in the shower together and I looked down at him and I said, "Your poor penis" and he was like, "huh?" because only 6 weeks before it was a serious point of contention to circ or not to circ...I told him that if we were having a boy he would be intact, which we're not...we're having a girl (so a moot point, anyway)

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  45. So glad I found this post! (I'm going through and reading back issues now that I found your blog!)

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  46. I just found your blog too, searching for info on "The Other Baby Book" and their stance on circ. I detest Mayim Bialik for writing a book about AP and completely skipping the topic of circ, just because she's Jewish. She's a neuroscientist, for goodness sake! She has to know how it damages babies' brains! Anyway, I'm so happy to find a kindred spirit on the topic of circumcision! I have 3 intact sons and have been passionate about this since before I even thought about having kids (teen and early 20's). I told my husband in our first month of dating that I was completely against circumcision! He was unsure at first but watching the circ video made up his mind -- "No one will EVER do that to any son of mine" was his response. Alrighty then! They are happy, healthy, and will stay that way. If you haven't already written one, I would love to see a post about protecting our intact sons. I just read a couple great articles on Intact America (search Paul Fleiss) and also on the Moral Landscapes blog on Psychology Today's website. Check them out, and maybe share your experience with health care professionals and your intact son? I've had mixed experiences myself, and I'm still searching for a doctor who SUPPORTS and not just "tolerates" genital integrity.

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  47. I am the mother of three boys, all of which have been circum'ed. My first boy was not done until he was a little over 2 years old, for he fif not have enough foreskin to cut. The decision was mine and his father's to do or not do and we both agreed to do, until we were told not to. The next two years were very difficult on him. The fore skin that he did have was very tight, so tight that when he was given a bath, it was painful for him when we pulled the skin back to wash, as we were instructed by his ped. Not only did we have problems with pulling the skin back, our son also had issues with urination, for the urethra was not at the center/top of his penis. And to make matters worse, he would pull at his fore skin and say "it hurts!" which is also why we finally made an appointment with a surgeon. Once the fore skin was removed, all his problems stopped. We were much relieved when late one evening, our son got up out of his toddler bed, went to the bathroom, pee'd into the toilet like he saw his father do, flushed the toilet, and come into the living room after throwing away his own diaper and said "Diapers yuck! I a big boy now!".

    As for my other two boys, both of them were circum'ed right after birth. There was only an 16 month difference between the first and second child and seeing what all we were dealing with the first son, there was no doubt that he would be circum'ed. When I had my third son with the second husband, whom was not circum'ed, the plead from the husband WAS to have the baby cut. He remembered the teasing he received in school for not being cut and how he hated having the fore skin.
    Now, I have been with men that have not been circum'ed and those that have been, to be honest, it does not matter if they have or have not. I just find that a man whom has been is more attractive than a man that is not.

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