Friday, August 23, 2013

Circumcision: opinions, facts, and a rebuttal.

I just ran across this article today, and I have to say it really fired me up. Every person is entitled to their opinion and every parent of a son has a choice to make regarding their foreskin. I firmly believe that like religion and all sorts of other things, there are certain choices that should be my son's and his alone, and I would be doing him a disservice by taking such choices away from him.

That being said, I feel that because a lot of controversy swirls around circumcision, so do a lot of misconceptions. So I wanted to break down the reasoning the author uses in her article FOR circumcision, and offer some alternative views. The original authors views are in italics.

"First and foremost, we knew we wanted it done for hygiene reasons. It's so much harder to keep that area clean if the procedure isn't performed -- and we believed it would leave him more prone to infection if he was not circumcised."

"In babies, the foreskin is completely fused to the head of the penis. The infant foreskin is perfectly designed to protect the head of the penis and keep feces out.  All you have to do is wipe the outside of the penis like a finger.  It is harder to keep circumcised baby's penis clean because you have to carefully clean around the wound, make sure no feces got into the wound, and apply ointment." - Psychology Today.

The foreskin retracts on its own throughout childhood, at which point the child should be taught to pull the skin back and wash like any other part of his body with water and mild soap.

"Second, and I really don't care how stupid or cliche this sounds, we didn't want him to get teased in the high school locker room because he was the only boy who hadn't been circumcised.......And there was no way I was going to let my kid be the dude with the weird looking penis."

 I think this is the part of the article that most burned me. Firstly, you're putting your child through a potentially dangerous procedure for the sake of fitting in. Secondly, at the rate circumcision is dropping in the country, it's a possibility that a circumcised male may be in the minority by the time the authors son is in high school. Lastly, and I feel most importantly, the last sentence in the paragraph is the kind of thinking that leads to bullying. The fact that she's even throwing out there that someone may have a "weird looking penis" and that it's reason to be potentially made fun of only teaches that "we should make fun of whoever looks different to us". Not the parenting style I personally adhere to.

"Lastly, we worried about how being uncircumcised might affect his sex life down the road......I know I'd want to hop out of bed and run if I saw all that extra skin staring back at me."

Once again, she closes the paragraph with a really judgmental-based-on-looks sentiment that really irks me and only perpetuates stigmatizing intact genitalia. Also, here's something to consider about your circumcised son's future sex life: a study in Belgium found that there is less sexual satisfaction and sensation in circumcised penises (so intact men have better sex, according to the study).  Yet another study shows, quote "circumcised men have more difficulties reaching orgasm, and their female partners experience more vaginal pains and an inferior sex life".  And lastly, here's a big one: "Researchers surveyed 300 men and found that circumcised fellas had a 4.5 times greater chance of suffering from ED than noncircumcised guys." That's Erectile Dysfunction, if you weren't sure.

So, again, every parent has to make their own choice regarding the topic of circumcision, but in case any of these misconceptions were your "deal breaker", maybe it's time to do some more researching and soul searching before committing to something permanent and irreversible for your child. I can see how it may not be an easy choice and there's definitely a lot to consider. I just couldn't believe the stuff the original author was throwing out as fact, so I felt like I NEEDED to do something showing that actually, all the reasons she used to make her choice were misconceptions at best, and that if any of those three things are something that weigh on your choice, that there's actually evidence to the contrary. Some people may still choose to do it for religious purposes, or so baby looks like Daddy, etc. I say as long as you really research extensively and you can come to a decision that sits well in your heart, then you've done your best as a parent and no one can ask more of you than that.

Thoughts on why you did or didn't choose to circumcise your son(s)?


  1. First of all, thank you for writing this in such a way that it doesn't put to shame those of us who *did* choose circumcision for our son(s). As with most controversial parenting choices, it's my opinion that as long others don't force their choices on me, make whatever choice you want. I chose to circumcise my son for religious reasons. At eight days old, I took my son to be circumcised. We didn't have a bris or anything of that nature, but what looked to be a simple procedure. He had a numbing agent on him for at least an hour, then had the procedure done. The whole thing took maybe ten minutes and he didn't fuss. He cried later, though, because he was really hungry. (He ate every two hours at the most, and because of the procedure, he wasn't to have anything to eat before.) When we got home, we slathered on the Neosporin and kept him as clean and dry as possible. Within just a week or two, he was healed perfectly. While some people choose to circumcise for religious reasons, a lot don't do so on the eighth day. Recent medical discoveries have found that waiting until the eighth day is beneficial because the blood clots the best in the child's ENTIRE LIFE on that day and a good amount of immunity is built by then. I understand that not everyone believes as I do and that's okay. If one chooses not to circumcise for whatever reason, that's okay. My fear is however, that one day, I won't be free to make those choices.

  2. Thanks for your post. I know people that also make these types of ignorant comments like " my son will be teased at school" and " it will effect his sex life if he's not circumsized". They say this with such confidence when really they have no idea what the facts are. My son is not circumsized.. it's just too scary to be pressured to cut my baby's body part for religious reasons or ignorant baseless claims. Also I'm an atheist and I live in the Dutch Caribbean where people are not circumsized and doctors do not recommend it and will not do it unless necessary.
    Thanks again.