I can not thank Lauren, with The Whole Network, enough for doing this very informative and respectful post on circumcision for our BWF readers. It truly is a phenomenal article on such a heated topic. ~Mrs. BWF
During my first pregnancy, I was overwhelmed with joy when I found out that there was a little boy in my belly. Like many ‘mamas-to-be’, I instantly fell in love and spent my days (and nights) dreaming about him. As the months passed by, I began to plan for his arrival: washing and hanging all of his tiny clothes, picking out the softest blankets I could find, figuring out what breast pump would be best. I wanted to be prepared for every little detail. When I began to make plans for the birth itself, I thought about what would happen on the day of his birth, and circumcision crossed my mind.
At the time, I did not think there was even a choice about circumcision. Every male I knew- my husband, dad, brothers, friends – were all circumcised. The thought of a penis with a foreskin wasn’t appealing to me (even though I never saw one in real life), and I had always heard of women saying it was “dirty” or “gross”. I also advocated the benefits of circumcision (even though I never truly looked at the research articles.)
My heart sank in my chest, because I didn’t want to put my new found love through any pain whatsoever. However, after talking to various family members and my OB/GYN, it seemed that circumcision was the best option for my son and his future. “It’s cleaner” and “he’ll have fewer problems” were the most common responses. I had yet to hear a single response that was in favor of not circumcising.
I didn’t think about it much after that, until about 2 months before his due date. By that time, my love for him had grown immensely, and the thought of any painful procedure made my head spin. So one day, I decided to sit down and search on Google to see what came up about circumcision. I was very surprised when the vast majority of the information was against it! My curiosity was perked, and I found myself on YouTube, watching a video of the procedure. After all, my baby boy would have to go through it- so I should see it, right?
My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw the video. I couldn’t stop crying.
From that day forward, I poured everything I could into researching this topic. I wanted to know the truth. Using various sites and forums, I started to network with as many people as I could. To my surprise, I found that there were thousands of parents who had healthy boys who were not circumcised. This intrigued me, because I had always been told that foreskins would cause many problems in boys/men. I needed to know more.
As I dug further into the topic, I found out that the majority of the males in the world are not circumcised. In fact, the United States is the only country to perform this procedure routinely for non-religious purposes. Another interesting fact is there is not a single medical organization in the world who recommends circumcision- not even the American Academy of Pediatrics!
So why was I under the impression that circumcision was best? Why do parents continue to choose it? Why do some doctors advise us to do so? I decided to create a list of the apparent benefits and researched them one by one. I had heard various reasons, such as better hygiene, less chance for UTIs, less chance for HIV/STDs, needing to look like father/brother(s), less chance of penile cancer/HPV, better to be done as an infant and needing to fit in with his peers. Here’s what I found.
It’s been said that much more care is needed when boys have a foreskin. That more cleaning time is required, because it is dirty and the foreskin needs to be retracted and cleaned from an early age. However, there is nothing unclean about a foreskin, especially in infancy. In fact, both boys and girls have foreskins, which serve the same purposes. The male foreskin is actually fused to the head (glans) of the penis in infancy and through much of childhood (much like a fingernail is fused to a finger.) This is the body’s way of protecting the genitals against urine and feces. Because it is fused shut, bacteria and other foreign particles cannot invade. There’s no need to retract the foreskin to clean under it. You simply wipe the outside only, like cleaning a finger- it’s easy!
The foreskin will naturally start to separate at an average of age 10. Once he can retract it on his own, he can just simply rinse with warm water in the shower. It’s just as easy as teaching a girl how to bathe and there’s nothing difficult about it.
Information over the internet can only go so far, so I wanted to personally network with people that had intact sons (or were intact themselves). I asked all about hygiene and care, and I never ran into a person or parent that had any issues with it. The parents all agreed that it was easy to care for an intact boy and all of the intact men said it was just a simple rinse in the shower- no extra time or effort. There’s even a video on YouTube that shows how simple it is! You can also listen to a pediatrician on intact care vs. circumcision care.
Less Chance of UTIs
Urinary tract infections are very rare in boys. But the prevalence of UTI in girls up to 2 years is more than twice the prevalence in boys of the same age. The rate in girls up to one year of age is 6.5%, while it is 3.3% in boys. From age one to two, it is 8.1% in girls and only 1.9% in boys. This being said, we can easily treat urinary tract infections in girls with a simple antibiotic, without the need to perform any surgery. In the rare case that a boy might get a UTI, an antibiotic would solve the problem.
There have been some claims of an increased risk of UTI during the first year of life for boys who are not circumcised. According to Psychology Today, “This claim is based on one study that looked at charts of babies born in one hospital (Wiswell 1985). The study had many problems, including that it didn’t accurately count whether or not the babies were circumcised, whether they were premature and thus more susceptible to infection in general, whether they were breastfed (breastfeeding protects against UTI), and if their foreskins had been forcibly retracted (which can introduce harmful bacteria and cause UTI) (Pisacane 1990). There have been many studies since which show either no decrease in UTI with circumcision, or else an increase in UTI from circumcision. Thus circumcision is not recommended to prevent UTI (Thompson 1990).”
Less Chance of HIV/STDs
A few select studies show a prevalence of HIV transmission in uncircumcised men, but real world empirical data shows that circumcision hasn’t stopped HIV in countries where there is already a prevalence of the practice of circumcision. Take the United States for example: we are a country with a very high rate of circumcision (70% of the current male population, compared to 10-15% worldwide), yet we have one of the highest rates of children/adults living with HIV & AIDS out of the post-industrial nations.
Greg Millett of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even said the following: “overall, we found no association between circumcision status and HIV infection status” when he presented his findings to the CDC’s National HIV Prevention Conference.
While circumcision is very common in the United States, it is uncommon in Europe. This would lead one to assume that HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases would be much higher in Europe, where circumcision is rare. However, this publication clearly shows that HIV and sexually transmitted diseases are much higher in the United States:
“The percentage of the United States’ adult population that has been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS is six times greater than in Germany, three times greater than in the Netherlands, and one-and-a-half times greater than in France.(Fig. 5)”
“…data from the Netherlands found that rates of reported incidence [of sexually transmitted diseases] are considerably higher in the United States.[6,7] Further, comparisons of prevalence (the proportion of a given population which is infected) find that the Chlamydia prevalence among young adults in the United States is twice that among young adults in the Netherlands.[8,9]*”
Less Chance of Penile Cancer/HPV
Penile cancer is among the diseases circumcision claims to prevent. However, it is important to remember that penile cancer is incredibly rare. Did you know that more men are diagnosed and more deaths occur from male breast cancer than penile cancer? The chance of dying from penile cancer is so low that it is not even presented separately by http://www.cancer.gov/ – it is lumped in with all male genital cancers (including testicular cancer and the much more common prostate cancer) at a total of 310 estimated deaths in 2010. Compare this to the annual circumcision death rate of approximately 117 neonates (first month of life). That’s more than SIDS (115 annually) and more than suffocation (44) and auto accidents (8) combined. (via Saving Babies)
The Journal of Infectious Diseases from the Oxford Journals did a study on the baseline prevalence of penile, scrotal, and perineal/perianal human papillomavirus (HPV) in heterosexual men on 5 continents. They found that “Neither condom usage nor circumcision was associated with HPV DNA prevalence.”
One of the most compelling items I found on the subject of penile and cervical cancer was a letter written from the American Cancer Society to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“As representatives of the American Cancer Society, we would like to
discourage the American Academy of Pediatrics from promoting routine
circumcision as preventative measure for penile or cervical cancer.
The American Cancer Society does not consider routine circumcision
to be a valid or effective measure to prevent such cancers.
Research suggesting a pattern in the circumcision status of partners
of women with cervical cancer is methodologically flawed, outdated and
has not been taken seriously in the medical community for decades.
Likewise, research claiming a relationship between circumcision and
penile cancer is inconclusive. Penile cancer is an extremely rare
condition, effecting one in 200,000 men in the United States. Penile
cancer rates in countries which do not practice circumcision are lower
than those found in the United States. Fatalities caused by
circumcision accidents may approximate the mortality rate from penile
Portraying routine circumcision as an effective means of prevention
distracts the public from the task of avoiding the behaviors proven to
contribute to penile and cervical cancer: especially cigarette smoking
and unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners. Perpetuating
the mistaken belief that circumcision prevents cancer is inappropriate.”
Better to be Done as an Infant
It has often been said that circumcision is better to be performed on an infant for various reasons, but it is important to look at the subject logically. If a man is left intact, he can always choose to be circumcised later. However, once a circumcision is performed, it cannot be undone. There are many cases of men who are unhappy with their circumcision, and wish that they had the choice.
Even if he opted for circumcision later, not only would he have the choice, but he would also get adequate pain medication for the surgery and understand what is happening to his body. A large majority of routine infant circumcisions are not performed with any anesthetic. In fact, up to 96 percent of the babies in the United States and Canada receive no anesthesia when they are circumcised, according to a report from the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
This has many parents (and medical professionals) concerned about the pain associated with circumcision, but is a local anesthetic even enough?
In this research study, 11 male newborns were circumcised with a local dorsal penile nerve block, and 13 controls were circumcised without anesthetic. When the adrenal cortisol levels were compared, response to surgery was not significantly reduced by the administration of lidocaine. Some doctors use EMLA cream as an anesthetic. Not only is EMLA cream less effective than a lidocaine injection, but the manufacturer’s insert warns against its use on infants and on the genitals of children.
The truth of the matter is, infants cannot get the adequate pain treatment, including post-op pain medication, like an adult would. They don’t understand what is happening to their bodies, and most of all, they don’t have a choice.
Needing to Look Like Father/Brothers
This was a very important issue for me. My husband is circumcised, and so is his oldest son. I was worried that there would be issues with the new baby being different than his dad and brother. I didn’t want him to feel different or alone.
I found out that a distant family member was kept intact, even though his older brother and dad were circumcised. Although it seemed like it would be an awkward conversation, I just had to have my husband ask him about it. So he did. It turned out that he really didn’t care and it was never a big deal.
I connected with other men who grew up intact with circumcised dads, and they laughed saying, “I don’t even remember what my dad’s penis looked like…. and quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to remember!”
It all made sense even though I never thought of it that way. To my surprise, it just wasn’t an issue for these men. There were even online groups dedicated to keeping future sons intact, and I spoke with hundreds of parents who had made this same decision. Many of them now had grown children, and were happy to share their experience with me. I asked many questions, and it came down to this: as parents, we can only do what we think is best for our children. But, we also need to be able to grow and learn, so we can always make the best decisions possible. Sometimes, we learn that a past decision wasn’t necessarily the best, and that is OK. We adapt and move on, and our children will understand that. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou
Needing to Fit in with His Peers
“Getting made fun of in the locker room” was a very common response for potential issues for boys who were not circumcised. This was also an important issue for me, much like the issue for my son to look like his father and brother. While this may have been an issue for men in previous generations, it is just not the same for boys growing up today.
In 2010, a slide presented by a CDC researcher at the International Aids Conference in Vienna claimed that circumcision rates in the US had dropped to 32.5% in 2009. While this number was not actually endorsed by the CDC, their 2010 reports still show circumcision rates have dropped over the years (54.7% in 2010). No matter which number you choose to use, the results are the same: circumcision rates are falling in the United States, and continue to do so. With at least half of American parents saying no to circumcision, intact boys will no longer be in the minority. Boys growing up in today’s generation will have the same amount of peers who are intact vs. circumcised.
Some regions in the US have a higher percentage of intact males, while other regions have a lower percentage, so it will vary depending on your location. However, it is important to remember that no matter what, children are going to be different than each other in a variety of ways. Some will be considered too smart, not smart enough, too fat, too thin, too tall, too short… the list goes on and on. The main thing is to be sure to teach our children to understand that they are unique and that they should love themselves for who they are. After all, they are special in their own ways, and that will never change.
Fast forward to now, and my son is happy, healthy and has never had a single problem whatsoever with being intact. As I’ve continued to research the subject, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined, such as the many important functions of the foreskin and how specialized it is. It is truly so much more than a “flap of skin”.
I’ve been so moved by the plethora of information I have discovered, that I even founded a grassroots non-profit organization called The WHOLE Network. I wanted to be able to reach other parents who were in the same shoes as I, and make sure they had a place for accurate information and support. As more and more parents seek out information, we continue to grow and help others. We have locations in each US state, as well as various countries worldwide. If anyone ever has any questions or needs information, we would love to help them and get them the accurate information they need.
We know that parents want what is best for their children. We understand that many moms and dads are simply trusting in the advice of their doctors or family. We aren’t here to condemn parents, or to make them feel guilty for past decisions. We are here to empower parents with information, and help inform them so that they can make educated decisions for the ones that they love most.
I am not an “intactivist,” but my son is intact. My husband (who is perfectly happy with the appearance and function of his circumcised penis) and I did tons of reading about circumcision before our son was born. In the end, the only thing that mattered to us was watching a short video clip of the procedure. The video we watched was not particularly barbaric; anesthetic was used, etc., but we just felt that it had to be painful, and any amount of pain was not justified when the benefits are so minimal (and many can be achieved better anyway by safe sex practices, which we hope our son will use).
Serious question… two of my boys were born with their foreskin retracted and looking circumcised. With my now 2 year old I didn’t continue to retract it and it is now fused in very odd places. My baby’s tries to fuse and tears away if I don’t retract it. Their doctor, who has two intact boys himself, told me to retract the baby’s (he actually thought at his 1 month checkup I had him circumcised somewhere else). I am honestly not sure which is better to do in this situation. My two year old was given a steroid cream to thin the skin because of where and how it fused. I don’t want this to happen to the baby. Any advice?
Never retract. It will naturally retract when older… Not necessarily a time frame but by puberty. Possibly sooner if he plays with it but never should anyone besides him retract it. That’s what causes infections… Leave it be… Only clean what is seen.
It sounds like your boys have a short foreskin. My husband is the same way. His foreskin doesn’t reach the end of his glans. I’m hoping your doctor told you to retract because he thought your son was circumcised, otherwise he is not foreskin knowledgable despite having intact sons. The best bet is to leave the “adhesions” alone unless they start causing pain or are attached in a way that blocks the flow of urine. If that happens, then a steroid cream may be useful. Honestly though, they will likely “fix” themselves around puberty. This is the same advice I would give to a mom whose son had been circumcised loosely and refused.
Questions to ask your self about your doctor…
Does he say there is an age your sons’ foreskins should be retractable?
Does he say you should be retracting to clean, knowing your boys are intact?
Does he make comments that make you think he wants you to circumcise?
Does he recommend circumcision for minor issues?
If any of those are yes, then he is not intact- friendly or knowledgeable.
I wish I had seen this back when it was first written! It sounds like maybe your sons’ penises were a lot like my first son’s was, when he was little. 33 years ago, I had no prior experience with an intact baby’s penis and assumed it was average, but his foreskin was actually shorter than average. You could see the meatus (urethral opening) from birth, and a tiny bit of pressure would make it go back a fair distance, with no effort or any reaction from him. At that time, the care information I had was from European medical books, which said to retract as far as it would go, easily,and rinse, during their baths, so that’s what I did. Sometimes, it didn’t go back as far as others. Different parts of the penis don’t always grow at the same rate, so there are times it might seem that the opening is getting tighter, when, actually, the glans has just grown a little and the foreskin hasn’t caught up, yet. I just kept retracting however far it would go easily, no farther. Looking back, it may not have even been necessary to do that, but it was fine. He did have one infection, when he was five. I had shown him how to rinse under it and told him to start doing it, himself, in the tub, while I was busy with the baby. He said he did it, but really hadn’t, for a couple of weeks. I think, because his foreskin was so short, it was easier for bacteria from his hands to get spread under there. It looked bad for a short time, but rinsing and some OTC ointment took care of it, right away. My other two intact sons had much longer foreskins. Some sources claim that longer foreskins are harder to clean, but it’s really the other was around. I found the longer foreskins to be more protective.
Anyway, for a baby with a short foreskin, my advice would be just to rinse whatever is exposed and leave the rest alone. That’s also true for circumcised babies whose foreskin remnant fuses back to the head of the penis. I adopted a baby with that situation, too. After a terrible episode where our doctor ripped it apart, I decided to leave it alone and see if it would develop like an intact foreskin would. It didn’t hurt him, at all, and came loose, by itself, when he was two.
I believe that Americans worry far too much about little boys’ penises and, in the absence of any sign of something actually being wrong, shouldn’t worry about anything that is attached. Unless repeated tearing creates scar tissue, all of it will come loose by puberty, in almost all cases, without any interference.
We had both of our sons circumcised for a couple reasons. First, my dad was not and he wanted his sons to be. And most of all my wife worked at a hospital and a nursing home and took care of too many old men , lets just say it was not a good time for them or her. And yes I the dad went with my little firstborn baby to see this procedure done and to comfort him when he cried his eyes out. Well, he didn’t even fuss so it must not have been too bad. Most of the time i’m sure its fine to let the skin alone but i’m sure glad mine is gone already instead of having to take it off for some reason later in life , sounds scary to me!! By the way, sexual performance is not diminished!! Doesn’t look like my thoughts are going to be very popular though.
I personally appreciate both poijt of view on the subject, particularly from men. I’m 26 weeks along with a baby boy and I’m wrestling with this choice as a single mother.
There is evidence to suggest that the lack of crying during a circumcision is actually a state of shock- much like how if your leg was severed you could still be awake and talking- our bodies go into some primal mode. Also, in relation to sexual performance, its great if you never had any issues with it, but you are lucky, as again there is evidence that shows a direct link to circumcision and erectile dysfunction (and why Viagra is so prominent in America). I am not arguing with you, as whats done is done, but there is information out there that addresses your points.
Allan you cannot say sex is performance is not diminished because you have never had sex with an intact penis. also I’ve worked in the medical field since 2006 in nursing homes and hospitals. there’s nothing hard about having to clean an elderly mans intact penis. The only problem one will have is if they are uneducated about an intact penis. all you do is move the foreskin back, wipe, then put it back. it only takes about 2 seconds longer than cleaning a circumcised penis, if even that. if someone has a problem with doing that then they should not be working in that field. the intact men don’t have anymore problems down there than the circ’d men do, in fact the intact men have healthier penises at that age and usually it still function very well while the circ’d men have penises that gave out sexually years before they even ended up in a nursing home. I thought the same way as your wife and you do until a medical professional who actually knew what he was talking about taught us how to care for an intact penis when I was going to school to get my license, and because of that I walked into my first job not falling into the traps and lies most the other people I worked for believed. its amazing how they can have the proof right in front of them and still believe and defend the lies. luckily some of them weren’t so ignorant and learned from me that it wasn’t more difficult to care for an intact elderly man and it was actually less gross than dealing with a circ’d man.
No it is absolutely NOT your and your husbands decision-its your sons.
His body, his choice.
Maybe you two should re-read the section “Better to be done as an infant”
@Brooke. What you are writing is baseless, fact-less garbage. I’m uncircumcised and I can last over an hour in bed with my wife….and she LOVES it!
Please America, stop doing this to your infant boys. It is not “normal” in most of the rest of non-Muslim world.
I’m so glad I have a daughter and don’t even have to think of the atrocities so many little boys are exposed to by their parents and the medical “profession”.
An ignorant Irish doctor convinced my mother to have my foreskin cut off in 1947, but it wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I discovered this, and that my penis did not work as well as the other boys. I have always needed lube to have intercourse, and about 10 years ago I stopped being able to orgasm even after an hour of thrusting, though by then she had dried up, and told me to stop. My son is intact, and at 29 he has had no troubles with his penis. It is high time to ban the nasty procedure, which only serves to spoil sex, and make medics richer.
I am male, but I like to have fully removed body hair. This means that what I have is both harder to get rid of than for most women and more plentiful than for most women, yet nearly all instruction of it and products are specifically geared towards them. So overall it is an expensive pain in the butt (often literally) to do, but if they had had a genetic treatment to prevent body hair in the first place before birth, I would say no and I think many would agree that it would be entirely immoral to do. Even though I have to go through such maintenance to do, the choice to be hairless is mine and in can’t work the other way around, to alter someone and take away the choice of who they want to be (except when medically NECESSARY) is always wrong. Some of said hair has even turned into a medical issue , yet I still stand by that. I have coarse, guitar-string like hair, which is a good way to hurt someone when it has been pulled up onto your shaft from a circumcision. Fortunately it can be mitigated by epillation. But know that while it is currently legally your choice, it is not your choice what kinds of sex someone can have. After all, what does circumcision do other than deny someone the ability to frot?
The most difficult genitals to keep clean, by FAR, are females, and that is true throughout life! We could certainly aid cleanliness by amputating some of the folds from our daughters. In fact, there are cultures that do this.
Then your sons should hold you down when you are old and feeble and forcibly cut part of your penis off. Already circumcised? That’s OK, they can trim a little more off. There’s more-skin than foreskin. And they can make up a bullshit reason about how amputating part of your penis is cleaner, healthier, etc…
OK Heather did you know that it is the parents decision as people aren’t people till they are of age to make decisions for their body till they are 18 they have no choice
Which by goverment standards is A OK here in AMERICA
“til they are 18 they have no choice” oh awesome I can tattoo my kids because it’s MY choice. I can cut their ears off- it’s MY CHOICE.
You’re just being silly. Doctors don’t cut off ears or do tattoos. A parent has every right to ask a doctor to circumcise his/her son, administer or not administer vaccines, perform other surgeries, etc. It’s not the minor who signs the consent forms.
Females have far more genital infections, and far more folds and crevices to clean. Do you recommend amputating female labia for hygiene purposes? What about a mom who wants her daughter to have trimmed up labia because hers are so long? Why is it acceptable to chop off healthy body parts of babies because of parental preference?! Your comment makes no sense at all. As a nurse, I’ve nevee once seen an infected male foreskin, and it is easier to care for than teeth or toenails. Stop spreading false myths.
Nine and a half months of carefully monitoring my diet and health to insure the growth of a beautiful, perfect, healthy baby. Then, soon after birth, I’m supposed to allow doctors to chop a piece off of him? That which can never be regrown or replaced? No.
Well said, great point!
That was my point to the letter. I ate well. Took birthing classes. Exercised well. Avoided many known toxins, etc and so on to make sure my baby was healthy. I even went so far as to have natural childbirth so that my kids would not be exposed to drugs at the last minutes of their lives inside my body. To intentionally harm those children after all that investment seemed ludicrous.
I have a son, age 35, who is intact. He was born at home, but had mild respiratory distress at birth and spent 2 days in the NICU. While he was there, I witnessed a circumcision of another baby. The child screamed in agony until he ran out of breath and his little mouth formed an O but no sound came out. A mother knows the difference between a “I’m hungry” cry or a pain cry. This baby screamed like he was being tortured, and he was. It was the most horrifying, barbaric thing I have ever witnessed in my life. I literally clutched my baby boy to my chest protectively and vowed that no one would EVER hurt my child like that if I could help it. I followed my conscience, even though I was a young mother, and I have never regretted it. It is HIS body, who am I to make a decision like that for him?
I agree. Our conscience knows! I had my first at 20 and didn’t do gm/circumcision on him because my conscience felt it would be torture to him
My husband is intact and if we had a boy at anytime he would be intact as well. I have known my husband all my life as we grew up together and I have never known and he hasn’t told me of a problem he had being intact. I will have to share this information to my daughter as they will be having kids soon so that they will be informed so they can make the correct decision for their boys, if they have any.
I saw someone mention the ladies from SATC being appalled by Charlotte’s encounter with an uncircumcised penis. I just want to add that this reflects every conversation I have ever had with a friend on this topic. We are mid-20s women and most of us have only seen one or two uncircumcised penises, and I’ve never heard a positive reaction. I’m surprised that there are so many women here saying that their sons are happier in adulthood only because my male friends who aren’t circumcised have anxiety about it. I’ve had friends tell me guys warned them out of being self-consious ahead of time that they are intact– which is sad, but understandable considering the women I know stifle a negative response to it.
All that being said, if it were my own child this issue would weigh heavily on my heart. I feel guilty that I find it unattractive while believing in leaving the body to its natural state. Certainly these feelings are deeply ingrained cultural beliefs. I appreciate every woman here who takes the time to educate herself, but I also respect whatever decision they may make.
Just wanted to put another talking point out there.
An erect penis looks the same in intact and circumsized.
NO IT DOES NOT!
It looks very very similar when erect. When its flaccid it just goes back in its little pouch like a travel umbrella. Despite the similar look, the function of an intact penis is FAR superior to a circumcised one.
After getting numerous back to back vaginal infections my gyno asked me if my partner was circumcised. She diagnosed me with vaginal micro tearing where the keratinized glans scrapes the walls of the vagina and causes tiny rips that get infected. When I moved to Europe I had my first intact partner and was really squeemish and scared of his penis. How dumb I was! It was the BEST sex of my life. I wrote it off as a fluke, had another intact partner, fireworks again! Went home for the summer, slept with a cut guy and BOOM. Infection city again.
I am not suggesting that all women’s bodies react the same way as mine, but the more I look into it, the more women I find that bashfully admit they have the same problem. It is not really something that we talk about that much though.
After having my eyes opened, I would say, let your boy make the decision about his own body. I too would have circumcised before I went to Europe and saw that the intact male body is not only normal, it is the best thing for natural, pain free, lube free, toy free sex 🙂
Absolutely wrong…. they look quite different.
I find it interesting that you say this, Phoebe. I am a 20 year old (which means I am a part of the younger generation which is the topic of discussion) and have discussed the topic of circumcision with my group of close male friends. First of all, I was surprised to learn that most of them were uncircumcised. But they were ALL very comfortable with their status, and all of them said that they didn’t feel awkward or strange about being uncircumcised.
I have had two sexual partners, my husband and my high school sweetheart. My first partner was uncircumcised, and I had nothing to compare it to. My husband is circumcised, and quite frankly, I often find sex uncomfortable with him… an experience I never had with my first partner. I find the corona (the rim around the bottom of the head) is very irritating when there is no forskin acting as lubrication. My husband regrets that he is circumcised, and we did not circ our son for this reason.
Even if a young boy is circumcised, I can guarantee you there is some other physical attribute that he is self-conscious about. So unless you intend to force your son to grow a six pack and allow him to undergo plastic surgery until he has no gripes about his appearance, then you can’t justify circumcision on the grounds that he will be insecure intact.
In our sons generation where 30-50% will be cut and 50-70% intact this should be a total non-issue. Even now if a guy leaves the US he may encounter women that think being cut is weird and unpleasant since all the guys they’ve seen before we’re natural/normal. I don’t see why it ever is an issue honestly though, the 1st guy I was ever with (I’m 33 now) was intact and I thought NOTHING of it but I guess some women are pretty shallow.
This is a big issue in my house right now… we are having a boy in 2 months, my husband is circumcised and wants to have our boy circumcised as well, but ever since I started looking into it I don’t see the point. Not to mention, the thought of causing pain to my little boy just breaks my heart and I just start crying… I’m sending him this article and I hope he’ll read it and watch the video and change his mind. Not sure what else to do at this point…
Are you determined to keep your son whole the way he is going to be born? You can reassure your husband that you love him, but this is one issue that you will not budge on. Be willing to compromise on other issues with your husband so that he does not feel cheated out all the time. If your husband will be the deciding factor in this issue, then ask your husband to prove to you that circumcision is necessary beyond a reasonable doubt, and that there will be no harm to your child. Ask your husband to do the research.
Here is a good place to start:
International doctors’ organizations condemn the AAP’s stance on circumcision
Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision
I am a nurse (RN) and I can tell you the complication rate of infant circumcisions is higher than the public is lead to believe. While it’s true most boys don’t die or lose their entire penis, although some do, babies frequently hemorrhage, go into a catatonic state and refuse to nurse, develop buried penis, or suffer from meatal stenosis as a child or man. I personally know about a dozen males, young and old, who say they have a urine stream that shoots sideways every time. This is a common circumcision and all these males were circed.
I frequently hear women say they circed their sons because either they are Christian or because of the lower STI rate. It clearly speaks in the New Testament (several books) that Christians are not required to circumcise. STD’s are much higher in the US with a high male circ rate than in low circ rates areas such as Europe and South America. Clearly, a foreskin is not what is causing all the infections.
I think about 40 – 50% of the baby boys born in my area are now left intact. I’ve heard many stories from parents who did circumcise and now regret it but I’ve yet to hear of a parent who didn’t circ and regrets it.
Why risk any problems for a surgical procedure unless it’s absolutely necessary?
Amen sister. If God gave boys & men a circumcised penis, why are we questioning the almighty Creator’s creation? Also, name one other animal besides humans that does this barbaric practice.
What about the child’s rights? Shouldn’t he be the one getting to decide about control over his own body in the same way that women should have the right to have control over their own bodies?
Whenever I see a circumcised boy in a locker/change room (just want to be clear I am not intentionally seeking this out, but in close change room quarters it is impossible to avoid seeing), I feel so sorry and saddened for him that his parents did this to him.
I have just recently found out how amazing my husband is. We are expecting our first child, whom happens to be a boy, in November. I was strung on what to do, as I had never seen a circumcised male, ever. With that, I thought that circumcision was easy, routine and standard. I really did not feel I had a choice. And then I did research…and watched a video. The video I watched was just so barbaric! I mean, they had this beautiful little baby tied to a table (arms and legs), with some nurse shoving a passy in his mouth to hush him and all they had done to numb the pain was place an ice pack over his little male parts. I could not even finish the video, I was floored. I was sobbing uncontrollably and I am so fortunate that the video and me turning to my husband saying, “I am NOT paying out of pocket to torture my child” was all the convincing my husband needed to decide the procedure was a waste of time and money. He did have some questions (as I) about whether it was clean, harder to clean or not, if it posed medical risk, if it had benefits, ect. We did some research, and the mixture between the research, the video, and the though that my son would have an open wound that would get pee and feces on it just made it seem like such a ludicrous option. I am so thankful to have a husband as understanding to me and my “intuition”.
You are blessed. Wish mine would have been/would be like that on this issue!
I’m not American and seem to be in the minority here, but I have to say I much prefer a man’s penis to be intact the way it’s meant to be. My husband is intact and his penis looks… healthier? Less scarred? And I guess in that regard, much nicer (to me). So I guess I “prefer” an intact penis. I’ve never been able to relate to women saying it’s gross. And speaking from previous experience, it just seems to work more the way “it’s supposed to” — I have had circumcised partners in the past who seem to have to resort to more “workarounds” to make sex pleasurable for themselves (require more foreplay before being touched, have trouble with premature ejaculation, or on the flip-side, seem desensitized). I’ve known a number of men who’ve had to be circumcised as adults because of phimosis, and it’s unfortunate, but it’s definitely not a given for an intact man, men with that condition are in the minority.
Anyway, I’m pregnant now, and there is no way on god’s green earth that I would circumcise my child, should I have a child born with a penis. It’s completely barbaric and unnecessary and it makes my skin crawl thinking that parents would allow that to happen or even REQUEST the procedure for their children.
I just cannot understand why anyone would want to enforce a wholly unnecessary medical procedure on anyone else, let alone a defenceless infant.
But I am British and circumcision is really the exception here. I once had a boyfriend who had it, but I cannot compare his ‘performance’ because it’s not a large enough sample size to be scientifically relevant. Anyone who misguidedly believes it is medically necessary should check out the majority of the world’s population. That’s a decent sample size!
I’m an American woman who didn’t see an intact male until I was in my 20’s and I have to say I would prefer an intact male partner if I had the choice. My husband is circ’d but our boys are not.
The circumcision rate in the US is by far the highest in the “Christian”/”western” world. Here in Canada up until the mid-1980s it used to be as high as in the US (but regrettably, this trend seems to be reversing a bit – not surprising given the conservative era we’re in), but is now over 80% against. In Europe, circumcision is very uncommon nowadays. I am so thankful that my parents decided against circumcision for me in the 1970s, when it was still ”in vogue”. I am flat out against it (including for “religious reasons” – may Jews are even against the practice [see: http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/%5D) unless it is absolutely necessary. The nerve damage done to the penis makes me shudder any time I think of it. If this were female circumcision (as is sickeningly still done in some places in the world), the absolute outrage would be unbelievable. A word of wisdom, many “doctors” make statements in favour of circumcision without a shred of evidence to back up their statements. Always question what a ”mainstream” doctor says.
I always wonder if a man who is intact requires circumcision due to problems, if those problems were not caused in infancy from forced retraction. Many parents are convinced by doctors to retract their baby’s foreskin. It is painful for the baby and can cause tears that adhere and creates problems in later life. I never allowed my son to be retracted by the pediatricians. He’s never had a problem and he is a man now. He’s never had a urinary tract infection and I never had difficulty cleaning him as a baby and toddler. Let your son enjoy his penis as he was meant to.
Wow it is just awful what some people are saying here. This IS a personal decision and when parents are making the decision to circumcise (or not) it is because they’re trying to make the best decision for their child. You cannot judge one’s situation unless you’ve lived it. This is just terribly depressing to read through these comments… So many of you should be ashamed of yourselves.
The choice being made to cut off 50% of the erogenous flesh of someone ELSE’S genitals is anything but a “PERSONAL” choice. You say “you cannot judge one’s situation unless you’ve lived it” is so true. That is precisely why we should never cut the healthy genitals of a child due to information gleaned from Joe or Jane Blow’s feelings or situation. The people on this site should never be ashamed of relaying information concerning the health and wellbeing of the boys and men who were lucky enough to be spared the atrocity that is genital cutting. I applaud these people for trying to educate others who may not realize the very real life-long physical, psychological, and sexual damage that affects the man AND his sexual partners. I’m 42 male and circumcised here in America -land of the free???
Education is one thing, name calling is another. Tell me when using shame has ever been an effective motivator? Do you shame your child in hopes of better behaviour? Shame your friend hoping they’ll lose weight? Shame your spouse into cooking a meal more to your preference? That’s the point I was trying to make. I would never talk to someone with an opposing view to mine like some of the people have tried to talk to others here. It’s disgraceful.
What name calling?
I don’t think you understand what “personal choice” means. If anyone should be ashamed its the doctors that push the mythical health benefits of a massive money making torture of children behind closed doors.
I’m from the UK and until very recently I’d barely considered circumcision, it’s just something Jewish and Muslim people do (quite a minority in our society). I do however know about female genital mutilation being a former midwife. Now I have researched male circumcision I am so so shocked, it’s just as horrifying as fgm. I cannot believe that an ‘advanced’ society – the US lets this happen to their baby boys! As a midwife and a mother I can absolutely assure you that infants do feel pain, in fact they feel it much more than adults – they are hyper-sensitive (http://www.circumcision.org/response.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pain_in_babies ) What happens to a baby at the beginning of life is important, setting up his neural pathways for life. A newborn baby should be bonding with his parents and learning how to feed, not be taken away, strapped to a specially-designed restraint, maybe given some anesthetic, and a have medical person cut of part of his penis. There is an enormous ELEPHANT in your society, we do not harm babies, we cherish and nurture them! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceht-3xu84I Please do not take something from your sons that can never be replaced. I am so pleased rates of circumcision are falling, society will be more humane for it.
Kahlil Gibran – Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
My mom recently asked me what my husband and I will choose to do if we happen to have a boy (waiting to find out at the birth). when i told her we had briefly discussed it and we were leaning towards leaving it be. I just couldn’t imagine that man had evolved in a way that could be dangerous to his health. she started to pressure me towards circ. and we ended up having this stupid long conversation about it. after reading this its nice to know my gut decision was right.
so now my husband and I have a response to that strange question. “if its a boy my husband gets to decide if our son has a circ. and if its a girl I get to decide.” Because thats how ridiculous we think it is. I could never cut the hood of of my daughters clitoris why would I do that to my son?
I could’ve written this! This is exactly how it went for me. Keeping my son just the way he was made was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Male circumcision is more sexually damaging in terms of the number of sex nerves excised than any form of FGM. Virtually all sexual sensation comes from the foreskin. All circumcised penises are dysfunctional, scarred and crippled, and depending on the severity of the cut, can leave the penis totally numb. AS someone who was circumcised without my informed consent at 14, I know it destroys sexual pleasure. Neurological analysis of the glans and foreskin has confirmed this.
IT is not a medical procedure, has no medical benefits and is a barbaric, anachronistic act of sexual suppression no different from FGM.
It is worse than rape. Rape causes psychological damage. Forced genital cutting causes psychological and physical damage.
If you want to teach your son that consent is important , don’t start by letting him know that his wasn’t. Do not expect any circumcised man to abide by anti-rape laws when the law does not protect him.
Rape can also cause physical damage.
Under the “Better to be Done as an Infant” section, I wish you had addressed the claim that there is a greater risk for complications in getting the procedure done as an adult (or after the age of 1 year old). I still would not circumcise an infant, but this sounds like a legitimate concern I’ve heard other parents have. They are afraid that if their son decides to get circumcised later, that he could die or have other problems from the procedure. It can be a tough decision to make; parents who make the decision don’t always make it as lightly as we think, and some find it is a tough decision to NOT make.
Is there, Jennifer? What is your source for that information? As a NICU nurse, I now refuse to be a part of any circumcision. It is barbaric and I will not betray another infant like that ever again. A circumcised infant keeps that open wound inside a diaper- a diaper which fills with feces. He cannot do anything about discomfort. He cannot tell anyone that he needs pain control. Parents do not even get to watch this happen to their child most of the time, and I have seen botched circs which led to heavy bleeding or strangulation of the penis which shocked me even as a NICU nurse. How is the risk greater for a grown man?
That doesn’t make any sense, though. Why would an older child or an adult, with a more fully formed immune system and (in the case of an adult) a fully grown body part have MORE complications? Not to mention awareness/understanding of what is happening, adequate pain relief, ability to voice his pain, lower level of fear and terror because he is not being forcibly strapped down to a torture table while nurses shove a pacifier dipped in sugar into his screaming mouth…etcetcetc.
Help!! I am 38 weeks pregnant with my second son, and I have been compelled to do a lot more research for the best interest of my babies since I had my first! My husband and I made the uneducated decision to get our first son circumcised out of social norms and to “look like his dad”. My husband still feels strongly about getting our second son circumsized, but I am having a hard time accepting it as “ok”! The only thing that makes me want to have him circumsized is so that he doesn’t look different from his brother, and I will have to explain to them both why we decided to different things with them both- I don’t want one to feel more important 🙁 all points of view accepted….thanks!
I’m glad I found your article. It is much more in depth than one I wrote recently, and I’m glad to see other bloggers also covering this topic. It’s critical that we stop this. Babies don’t deserve this and if it’s so good and compelling to have this done, then let’s let them choose when they are of age.
Having raised three boys with intact foreskins, to adulthood, and also having an intact grandson, now, there is a great deal I could say! I think this is an exceptional article and hope that parents will take it to heart! My family has had the privilege of seeing normal male genitalia in the same way that people in most of the industrialized world always have. Those people are shocked and appalled to hear that Americans have a part of their babies cut off, which they don’t worry about any more than they do their kids’ elbows.
As far as the issue of kids being “teased in the locker room”, the words of my oldest son, at age 14, explain the absurdity of it very well. This was 20 years ago, and we did not know of a single other boy his age who wasn’t circumcised. When I asked him if anyone had ever teased him he looked at me like I’d lost my mind and said “Mom, we don’t stand around and look at each others’ penises! If someone did, everyone would think he was weird!” There are actually cases where kids are frequently teased in school locker rooms, though. They aren’t boys, though, they are girls with small breasts!
Thanks so much for writing this! It’s extremely informative and has put my mind at ease about the decision.
Thank you for this post! I’m about to find out the sex of my baby soon and my husband and I have different views on this… I do not want to circumcise and he does. He thinks he should get the ultimate decision because he has a penis (not intact), but I just think we have been brainwashed into thinking it’s a normal thing and he has not done the research like I have. If it’s a boy, I hope we can come to terms on this because the husband is going to be one angry man throughout this pregnancy because I will not let this happen.
I’m a proud intactivist and mom to a healthy, happy, whole/intact 10 month old son. Your article is written wonderfully, with great points and it’s gentle enough to be the kind of article that plants seeds and changes minds. I bet quite a few sons have been saved from a parent reading this. Bravo!