To circumcise or not to circumcise…that is the question.

A few weeks ago when this came up I was positive I wanted my son to be circumcised.  It was an automatic answer.  Now, however, I am beginning to question that authoritative response and wondering if this is another misconception I have about the birth process.  9 months ago I KNEW that women gave birth in a bed laying on their backs “like they do in the movies.”  Nope.  Wrong.  They can…but kneeling, squatting, and on all fours is better.  So…to snip or not to snip?

The word on the street is that circumcision is on its way out as a trend and will be all but over in the next 10-15 years.  Being uncircumcised is more common on the coasts right now and new babies being circumcised is becoming the rare occurence.  Circumcision has been a near-automated thing in hospitals at births for years but truthfully…it is cosmetic only.  There is no religious element for me to need to have Zig circumcise.  I remember the locker room as kids when one kid had an uncircumcised penis and every kid made fun of him!  Don’t want that.  However, if the trend is flipping maybe Zig would be ostracised for being circumcised?!!!  1 in 99 circumcisions result in excessive bleeding, scarring, and difficulties.  Youch!  However, I have a friend how was uncircumcised and ran into complications in his 30’s and had to get a circumcision then!  Major youch!!!

There are tons of points to be made either way.  As everyone keeps telling me, this is just one of the many decision I will make as a parent that I will wonder about and possibly question forever.  Should I have done this…?  Or that…?  Who’s to say?  But today I’d love for you to say what you think.  Please vote below and if you have a specific fact or story you would like to share please leave a comment as well.  Voting is private so I (and no one else) will ever know your identity.  Just curious to see what people’s thoughts are as I work out my own solution along the way.  Thanks everyone!

UPDATE:  Commenting and voting have been closed on this post.  The voting results for the poll closed with just shy of 70% voting no.  Thank you to all who participated in the discussion.

The conversation has restarted here if you would like to join in.

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57 thoughts on “To circumcise or not to circumcise…that is the question.

  1. Babies are innocent, beautiful and exquisitely sensitive. Maternal/paternal protective instincts are powerful. None of this need be violated by cultural absurdities. Please don’t hurt or damage your child in any way. It is his body, not yours. Choice for body alteration is only ethical if made by the owner of that body.

    1. I don’t think circumcision should ever be referred to as damaging a child. That to me is absurd. Are all the little girls with pierced ears damaged? Should we not give babies haircuts thus altering their image? What if he has a mole on his butt cheek that is currently harmless but has potential to become dangerous from chafing…should it be removed? What is the line between parenting and ethics? I think if I were debating gouging a baby’s eyes out so he looked more like a pirate then ethics would certainly come into play…and that idea is definately absurd. However, I am debating circumcising. Something that was done to over 90% of all American men in the 1960’s and is now split to about 50% in the U.S.. That is not a minority. I am not advocating either side of the argument but I I have to argue that it is not solely a “cultural absurdity” that will “damage” my child.

      1. Cutting up a baby’s or child’s genitals isn’t a cultural absurdity?! I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. To my sensitivities as a mother it was a deeply damaging experience when this was done to my older sons (born in the ’70’s when circumcision was rarely questioned. I am now in my 60’s and my older sons are in their 30’s and the issue is never discussed but in my heart it is an experience I will regret for the rest of my life. My younger son, now in his 20’s, was left intact and has been totally happy with his natural state and completely disinterested in what anyone else’s penis looks like. While I have a positive relationship with each one of my children, there is a certain unvoiced sense of healthy acceptance between me and my youngest son which I attribute to that bond that was never damaged for us during his infancy.
        Curiously one of my daughters was born with a fairly large mole on her butt. We never gave it any concern as it was never a problem during childhood. As an adult she chose to have it removed. This is how body alteration should take place.
        I do wish you the best for your upcoming birth and journey through parenthood.

      2. “Cutting up a baby’s genitals” makes it sound like Edward Scissor Hands is performing the procedure as he clunkily molds the penis into the shape of a duck…and then pops a waterbed. Let’s do agree to disagree because I love playing devil’s advocate and I don’t want you to think I am trying to squash your opinion. I have to say that I have never looked at my penis and thought of my parent’s decision and either liked them more or less for it. Simply…I have my penis and it looks and feels the way it does and I don’t know what it would feel like if it were any other way. You shouldn’t regret the decision to circumcise your older sons…its called parenting. Every parent is different. There is no manual. You changed your mind later and didn’t circumcise your youngest. That’s fine. That does not make your older sons damaged nor your youngest son better. It makes them different. That’s life. That’s how I feel about this…there is no right or wrong…just circumcised and uncircumcised.

        Thanks for subscribing to the blog and commenting Rosemary; I am happy to have you along for the ride that is my 30’s, my evolution into fatherhood, and my decent into corporate America. Please feel free to comment any time!

      3. Dear Ryan:

        Their is a substantial difference between ear piercing and circumcision.

        Ear piercing does not amputate functional tissue, but circumcision excises and ablates a structure, which is not simply a fold of skin but a highly complex organ with multiple functions.

        It is accurate, therefore, to describe circumcision as damaging.

        Since you are circumcised, it is natural for you to resist the idea that you have been damaged.

  2. I have two young sons (ages 8 and 5) — neither is circumcised. The majority of our friends’ sons their ages are not circumcised either. Keep researching…there is no valid medical justification, the “he’ll look different” argument isn’t true for our sons’ generation…and it is just plain cruel and barbaric to put a baby through this painful, pointless surgery at birth. Good luck!

  3. This is one of my favorite articles on the topic of Circumcision. http://www.mothering.com/health/the-case-against-circumcision

    FYI the complication rate for intact men who need to be circed later in life and the recircs later in life for a botched infant circ is about the same 10% in the US. In Europe where it is very rare to circ the rates of circ later in life for intact men is much lower about 1%. They are more familiar with the foreskin and value it more. They usually try many other treatment options before they resort to circ, unlike in the US.

    I’m in Canada my whole family is intact including my husband and my two boys. It isn’t common practice among French Canadians, especially Catholic French Canadian families. Though Canada’s rate is somewhere between 9% and 30% depending on how the stats are gathered.

    I hope that you will look further into this Issue.

    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/04/circumcision-already-illegal.html Is a really great blog. I encourage you to look further into the ethical issues surrounding circumcision. It is my belief that our children deserve the right to an intact body.

  4. Glad you’re educating yourself on the subject of circumcision before it’s too late! Fact is, circumcision is a painful, irreversible, unnecessary surgery – amputation of the most sensitive part of the boy’s genitals. Let the boy decide when he’s older if he wants his foreskin or not. Chances are, he’ll be grateful you left him as nature intended! p.s. if he ever chose to be circumcised as an adult, he would be under anesthesia, plus he would have pain relief. Babies do not even usually receive as much – they are assumed to not *feel* the pain, just because they cannot *remember* the pain.

    1. Cindy, thanks for posting! IF we did chose to do a circumcision pain relief would be an absolute MUST! I agree with you that simply because they cannot remember the pain doesn’t mean they cannot feel it.

      1. Be aware that many doctors don’t like to use pain relief as it “makes things more risky” (an older child died not long ago in Israel when he was given too much lidocaine before his circumcision).

        Also, doctors have been known to use pain relief that isn’t suitable for children, and that is ineffective against the kind of pain circumcision entails (as well as not giving the stuff time to kick in).

        Don’t believe the nonsense about sugar-water either – it’s been demonstrated to do nothing to stop the pain – just makes it easier for the surgeon by stopping the child from screaming.

        Also don’t forget that medical practitioners have already accepted in the scientific literature that circumcision is the most painful neonatal surgery, and involves pain that would not be tolerated by an adult. All in all, not a good thing to put a baby through.

      2. Please know that strong pain relief is not offered to babies as their heart rates drop so much quicker then adults. They need babies to be as drug free as possible in many cases so they can tell if emergency intervention is needed. Many babies are only lightly sedated for this process and not given anything stronger then infact paracetamol after the surgery.

  5. As a Registered Nurse for over twenty years, I have yet to determine how strapping a helpless baby down and cutting off healthy, protective, functioning and erogenous tissue from his penis has anything to do with “health” or ‘health care”.
    There is no compelling evidence to indicate that the practice is therapeutic. No medical organization in the world recommends it. It is elective surgery, and parents do not have the right to consent to it nor do doctors have the ethical right to follow that consent and perform the operation.

    A baby boy is going to be a man some day, with his own ideas and his own preferences for his body and his sexual experience. Neither you,(his parent), nor the doctor who does the cutting will be living out the consequences of the removal of the most sensitive and protective part of his sex organ.
    Please, take a stand against un-necessary and mutilating genital surgery on your precious son.
    Please, protect your child from the unscientific nonsense that is routine infant circumcision.
    Thank you and enjoy your new little person,
    Dolores

  6. I recommend this resource page for expectant parents- http://www.icgi.org/birth_care_providers.htm

    The video showing an actual infant circumcision and the video “The Prepuce,” which describes the anatomy and functions of the foreskin, are well worth watching. There are other good articles detailing the functions of the foreskin, complications from circumcision, and how circumcision can adversely affect successful breastfeeding.

    A “New York Times” article in August reported that the U.S. circumcision rate in 2009 had fallen to 32.5 percent. See http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/health/research/17circ.html
    Parents leaving their sons genitally intact is now the norm in the U.S.

    1. Thanks PJ! I was reading that NY Times post the other day while doing research on the subject and have read a few things off the icgi.org site as well. Great info! Thanks for posting!

  7. Continental Europe and Japan have never circumcised routinely. The UK and New Zealand used to but gave it up 1-2 generations ago. It’s down to 10% in Australian and Canadian maternity wards, with nobody counting how many circs are done in pediatricians’ offices.

    If the natural penis in unhealthy, that fact would be easy to observe in other western countries.

    If a man has AIDS, his chances of passing it on are not affected by circ except insofar as circed men are less likely to use condoms. If a man is gay, circ has nothing to do with his chances of contrating AIDS and passing it on. Condoms are essential here, while circ is irrelevant. The claim coming out of Africa is that circed men are less likely to contract AIDS from infected women. I doubt African data is relevant to middle class American reality.

    The moving bits on the end of the penis discarded by circ are sexually important, for reasons American sex ed does not talk about. Intact men masturbate much more easily. Finger foreplay is much easier when a man is intact. The foreskin keeps the glans from drying out over time. Circumcision discards the most sensitive parts of the entire male body, the ridged band and the frenular delta. The moving foreskin makes vaginal intercourse a gentler more pleasant experience for women. Because vaginal intercourse and manual foreplay are so thrilling for intact men, they are less likely to seek out fellatio and anal. The male moving bits interact nicely with his and her natural lube. Quite a few bold American women who have had experience of both kinds of men have testified eloquently to the virtues of the natural penis. There are women who say they climax reliably with an intact partner, and seldom with a cut one. It’s that simple.

    Routine circumcision is an American sexual disaster.

    1. Everyone has made such nice and well thought out comments but I just had to respond to this one my Myrick. I completely agree about the woman’s pleasure. Without going into too many details, I count myself among those who have tried both… and now have 2 intact sons. It’s win-win for everyone involved in the experience.

  8. It is so good that you are doing your research. Your son will appreciate it because as a result, you will leave him intact. The information is out there now. That is why the rates of circumcision in the US are in free fall (now below 33%).
    When my first was on the way some 28 years ago, there was no such thing as the internet, and only one decent book that addressed the issue, “Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy,” by Edward Wallerstein. But that, plus my “gut” feelings were enough to convince me. I’m so glad and so is my adult son (who has thanked me many times for leaving him intact). You’ll be glad too because you’re going to be informed and you’re going to do the right thing.
    Blessings and Peace!

  9. I should amend that my last comment ought to be directed at the expectant mother or father, though mothers are usually the only parent consulted at the time of birth, and I think legally the responsibility lies with the mother.

  10. When you say you don’t think circumcision is not damaging a child, you sound justifiably unsure.

    Just Google “circumcision damage” to see a host of common unintended effects of circumcision that never appear on parental consent forms.

    Foreskin feels REALLY good. Without it, sex is less good. Hundreds of thousands of men are enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo just some of circumcision’s damage.

    HIS body, HIS decision.

      1. Dear Ryan:

        One needs to have complete knowledge of the prepuce and its multiple physiological functions before one can decide whether circumcision is damaging or not. I would like to refer you to Chapter Two of the Genital Integrity Policy Statement for a discussion. Please see this URL:

        http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/statement02.html

        After you read that, you will be in a better position to consider the question of damage.

        When you examine your own circumcised penis, please note the dissimilar nature of the tissue on either side of the circumcision scar. The tissue on the body side of the scar is skin, while the tissue on the tip side is mucosa, which is supposed to be internal, but is now external.

        The missing part contains the mucocutaneous boundary and most of the nerves.

      2. Geroge,
        I found it bold that someone would go onto a blog where a stranger is writing about an important decision (in my and my son’s life) and accuse me of considering damaging my child. The amount of anti-circumcision lecturing that has taken place in the comment section of my blog is so overwhelming that it is hard to not shut down and just stop reading. Are you sure I am circumcised? Where have you read that? Or…did you read into that? Just because someone argues the other side doesn’t mean they are headstrong into it…it can mean (as it does in this case) that they respect both sides of the argument. I am not “damaged.” You may read into that however you like.

  11. Ry – this is a decision, one of a 1000 you’ll make for Zig before he even reaches the age of 1, that you and Kate will have to make. Fear not, you’ll make the right one, no matter if you choose to snip or not. This is the day of the internet and there are 1001 websites out there, with pictures, to back either side. I have 2 sons, as you know, but I won’t share our decision (unless you really want to know) because it has no bearing on what you and Kate will decide is best for little Zig Gates. He will be a happy, healthy young man with 2 parents who are making competent decisions based on what they believe to be in their son’s best interest.
    🙂 (PS Love to the folks)

      1. Anytime :). One addition…my OB is one of the few who does use 2 kinds of anesthetic (and general and a topical) so as to reduce the discomfort to the little man. This was 1, of many, factors I/we used when deciding. My OB is in the minority though, so make sure when discussing it with your healthcare provider. Good luck hon…your intense involvement, even before he arrives, is awesome. He’s a lucky boy!

  12. First, plese watch a video of an infant being circumcized before making your decision. It is a barbaric procedure. They are not numbed nearly enough and if they don’t cry or if they fall asleep it is from the shock put on their body, not because they can’t feel anything.

    Also, the reference to the 30 year old having issues. That likely came from the fact that 30 years ago it was believed you need to retract an infant’s foreskin (which is NEVER okay). This causes people problems as they grow older. As well, an infant is 10 times more sensative than an adult, so a circ would be 10 times more painful. As a child you get no where near enough numbing during and nothing but baby tylenol during the healing process. As a 30 year old man you would be knocked right out for the procedure (and if they use a local you are able to vocalize if there is not enough and they can stop and numb you further). You also get percocet or morphine for the healing process, something that can’t be given to an infant. The pain an infant feels from circ CAN affect them the rest of their lives.
    Not to mention that to me, there is absolutely no way I am going to risk my son’s life (yes roughly 100-140 babies die each year from circ) for something purely cosmetic. I am not going to remove 20,000 healthy nerves which make sex more pleasing as an adult from him. I am not going to remove a piece of skin which protects the head of the penis from infection and from drying out and becoming calloused in old age.
    I also don’t believe it is my place to make a cosmetci surgical decision for any other human being. When he is 18 he can make his choice. I’m not going to chop off my daughter’s labia, I won’t do it to a son either.
    Good luck on your decision. If still in doubt when he’s born remember you can always circ in the future, but you can never undo it. So hold off.

    1. To add one personal comment. My husband’s dad insisted his boys make their own decisions when they are grown. My husband (and his bro) are so incredibly grateful their father did that and left them intact. And I can say, having slept with a circ’ed man and an intact man…intact is WAY more enjoyable.

    2. You make a great point about waiting if someone is unsure and I completely agree. Someone should never feel pressured into making a decision just because it is the status quo…this is a great decision to not rush in to! Thanks for commenting Nikki!

  13. I saw a quote I’ll share. I think it sums it up perfectly.

    “If boys were meant to have foreskins, they’d be born with them.”

    I won’t go into religion, or culture, but I will say in reference to your friend in his 30’s: yes that would be YOUCH! Like having medical illnesses and having to have your appendix out, or your tonsils out, or your gall bladder out… but you don’t have these things cut out just after birth ‘just in case’.

    In my mind though, the way I parent is that I would rather wait and leave a child intact and let them decide. Look, if he’s 20 and says “Geez dad, I wish you’d had me circumsised, now I have to go through the pain” you can look him in the eye and say “well son, I wanted to let you make that decision. After all, it is YOUR penis. And yep, it’ll hurt, but if it’s what you want done then you’ll deal with the temproary pain just fine, like a tattoo or a new peircing.”
    Plus, if there are any issues, you can’t blame yourself. If you circumsised your son, and something went wrong, and he lost his penis (it is rare but is a risk), could you live with that? If you would have regrets or would feel guilty, maybe it’s not a risk you should take.

    🙂

  14. I live in the UK now but I grew up in California. I had always kinda been unsure as to why people did this to their sons. My mom had both my brothers circumcised and I was her first girl. I kinda sweat about it now. If I were a boy my mom would have had me circumcised. To me it is exactly the same as a mother having her daughter’s labia clipped off to make it neater and cleaner. I hear so many arguments backing up circumcision from americans now it really just makes my heart break every single time. I found lots of anti circumcision groups online that were nice because I found people with my common ideas. We all like that. But since Ive moved to the UK the only time I hear about circumcision is on a USA forum for parents or those groups I joined on facebook. It is just unheard of here, christians dont do it because christ died for their sins, Muslims and Jews do it but what I have found out is well if you think about it 2,000 year ago when christ was walking around (if he was?) Do you think a baby could have survived a circumcision by todays standards. In the religious books it says a cut on the foreskin but its been translated somehow into “amputate” so really jews and muslims used to live with a mark/scar on their foreskin showing their link to abraham. Other than being religious the only thing that has ever stuck with me about circumcision is the saying “a cure looking for a disease”. Its sad to think about but there is a black market for these body parts and there are links to womens makeup using them – which i find disgusting beyond belife. Australians used to circumcise but its becoming rarer now. canadians as well and in america. I think the one main thing thats keeping it going is those men who were routinely circumcised in the 50’s 60’s had children and they thought “well i did it and i cant remember it so why not – it is after all cleaner” (even though its not) so they have it done to their sons. And it keeps going through the generations until sons forget how to take care of foreskins and they get it lopped off in fear that they dont know what to do with it. It is a very vital piece of penis and i appreciate my husband having his because its been linked to dryness in sex for women. the penis becomes less sensitive and causes men to be rougher – maybe this is why europeans are much better lovers as the quote goes. Just remember its a cure looking for a disease. The tides are turning though because men are starting to win lawsuits against doctors for doing this to them before they had a choice. My sons will grow up with the option although i know for a fact they wont get rid of it because it will be their best friend when they masturbate or when they get a girlfriend that i cant scare away quick enough. its human and its healthy. I guess really i get to save money on lotion and on the whole proceedure so leaving them intact is cheaper as well ;). I hope you let your son make his own choice though. when he is an adult at least he can have anastetics. I recommend watching some circumcision videos on youtube though just to bring home what is really is all about. Since having my sons, I dont go there. It literally hurts too much to watch something like that done to a little baby. I think I would throw up if I did watch one and its not worth the week of depression that follows either. I fully understand what goes on and its going on somewhere right now to a little boy or even a girl and its not fair 😥

  15. Oh and i know i comparied labia to foreskin but its not exactly the same as the foreskin has more nerve endings in it than the labia by about 8,000 but oh well its the same as labia in the “its cleaner” argument and its the same as the clitorus in the sensitivity argument

  16. I’ve done both, I prefer intact.

    Honestly, I’d rather my intact son *need* to have his foreskin removed later in life when he can see the need, decide on the course of action and have adequate pain relief.

    Also an intact penis was easier to take care of with regards to diaper changes than a circumcised penis, and the same diaper changes had a lot less screaming and crying involved with an intact penis.

  17. Hey Ryan,

    I guess I would boil my argument down to this: The foreskin is healthy, sensitive, functional and erogenous genital tissue.

    To painfully and permanently remove that from a child without his individual informed consent, to me, seems unfair.

    To many circumcised men, this opinion seems strange. Afterall, they enjoy their sex life just fine. However, to a man with a foreskin, the fact that some kids in a locker room may have said something rude in their confusion at the different look is of little importance in retrospect – and the value of thousands and thousands of highly specialized nerve endings (like those in the fingertips and lips) becomes a much more important feature.

    It is actually the mobility of the foreskin that holds the most value to most men.. (and maybe their partners/future partners)… because, as a part of the genitals, not-so-surprisingly, the foreskin does have sexual function – it reduces abrasive friction while also creating a secondary, unique sensation through this “gliding mechanism”.

    So in conclusion, I do personally feel like you should leave your child’s penis as it is… you wouldn’t cut any part of a baby girl’s normal, healthy genitals for cosmetic reasons… yet they develop from the same tissue in the womb, and only a single enzyme during development determines whether the genitals will take the form of a male or a female (or something in between).

    Hope that helps you with your question. 🙂 I think it’s really awesome that you’re open to critically thinking about this issue! I think that’s a sign you’re going to make a great parent.

    1. Thanks Joel. I really appreciate your kind words and wishes for me on my journey into parenthood. Thanks for sharing your opinion on the matter.

  18. and by “I’ve done both” I mean I have one cut son and one intact son, sorry if I caused any confusion.

  19. I think there is a common misconception when it comes to circumcision. That being that there is no difference between one or the other. (I can sense this by the comparison to ear piercing) circumcision doesn’t alter the look, it alters the function. Your first step in making the decision should be to look at pictures, videos, and information about how foreskin looks, moves, and functions. Let’s face it, most guys don’t go around comparing junk, so you only really know how yours works. It may be weird or uncomfortable, but shouldn’t you know what was removed from your body? And what you are about to remove from someone else. I know in my experience that most Americans are seriously confused. I hear the “anteater” comment alot. Who cares what it looks like when it’s soft? When erect, most people can’t spot the difference. Also I think it is important to research from both angles. There is a huge difference between googling “acutane” and “acutane recall” for instance. Make sure you aren’t just looking for the information you want to hear. I strongly believe that you can change form without changing function, which is the biggest reason I would not choose circumcision for my kids. If there was even a chance that it would reduce pleasure I would not take it. Also it can always be done but can never be undone. I too believe that complications are much more common than people think. I have known seven men with problems and all of their parents believed it had gone well. You just can’t see the issues until adulthood, and by then it goes unreported.

  20. I should have referenced a unique example I have of this now that I think about it. My friend works in the pornography industry. During a conversation she made a nasty comment about uncut guys. She said she had never had one, and never would for that matter! One google search and it took me about ten seconds to find a picture of her, with a large uncut one in her face. I showed it to her, and looked at her funny. The look on her face was priceless! She had no idea. She retracted her statement after that 😉 she later told me that in the industry alot of men are intact! I guess they tend to be larger (no scar tissue to restrict growth) and can do longer scenes because it prevents the women from becoming sore or dry. I thought it was really cool 🙂

  21. Ryan, I’m glad that you are looking into this now. Rather than try to peck out all my thoughts into this tiny phone keypad, I’d like to invite you to my blog. Early last year I wrote a series of posts for Genital Integrity Awareness Week. I was planning to write one more for New Year’s on Christian confusion (Christ’s circumcision) but due to a computer crash that will be late. I have one post in particular on pain that I hope you read in light of your friend’s experience… in fact, I hope that you share it with him.

    1. Thank you Sarah, what is your blog URL? I (and I am sure many of my readers) would love to check it out. Thanks!

  22. My husband was where you were a few months before the birth of our son. It wasn’t even a question with him, his automatic answer to the circumcise or not question was yes. We’re both in our 40’s, married last fall, and one of our biggest fights ever was over this. I was willing to go with whatever he decided as long as he seriously researched and considered what we were doing, and was very upset when he wouldn’t even look into it and consider all our options. After a rather tense few days in our house, he got online and read up on both sides of the issue. My thoughts were, why subject our son to a potentially unnecessary medical procedure just in case he might have problems in the future? My husband came to this conclusion as well and we did not circumcise our son.

  23. I like to make a habit of using the term “intact” instead of “uncircumcised” since “uncircumcised” implies that something that should have been done, wasn’t. An intact penis is normal, it’s the way boys were made.

    I have 4 children, 2 sons. When I was pregnant with my first, I didn’t give much thought to circumcision, I truly didn’t know anyone who wasn’t circ’d. When I asked my dad, brother, husband, they all claimed they were “SO glad” they were circumcised. Later, it occurred to me that they had no idea what it was like to be intact, so what a stupid question for me to pose them with. We planned a beautiful, home birth and had a baby boy. We took him to a rabbi and had him circ’d. It was hands down the most horrific, gruesome thing I have ever witnessed. I beat myself up for YEARS over it, but vowed to myself that moment, that if I were ever to give birth to another son, I would never put him through that horror again. As soon as my son was lifted up from the procedure, his eyes rolled behind his head, he vomited from his nose and mouth. He refused to nurse, then fell asleep for hours – the body’s reaction to shock, I later learned. Babies don’t “just sleep” after the procedure, it’s much more involved than that. Believe me.

    April 2, 2010 my second son was born at home, into my own arms! He remains intact and it make me SO. VERY. HAPPY. God doesn’t make mistakes, and this little guy will stay the way he was made.

    Best Wishes with your decision.

  24. “Kate and I will make the decision we feel is best for our son and it is
    our decision to make as a family”.

    This is what you have been told to think by a group that earns many millions per annum circumcising. Just about all other aspects of his medical and other care are certainly your responsibility.
    But circumcision is not medical care, it is cosmetic and not a beneficial treatment; those who make money on it sell it on that basis. The look of a penis is very strong symbolism. If someone is circumcised they think it’s the best look because it’s theirs and want everyone in the family to look that way too. These are opinions.
    The FACTS to keep in mind are 1) the actual anatomy: the foreskin is an organ and a nerve plexus – see British Journal of Urology Feb.96 and Jan ’99 on cirp.org The 20,000 to 40,000 varied nerves of the foreskin are likely associated with the vagus nerve, a long important motor sensory nerve running from the base of the brain into the lower area of the pelvis affecting almost every organ in the body and several areas of the brain. More research on this is planned.
    2) if you consider your son a member of your family, it is his foreskin on his penis, it belongs to him and he should be included in the decision. He should be able to do that when he is about 18 years old. Democratically this is to say it really is NOT a parental decision, but an individual decision by the foreskin’s owner.
    Young owners of foreskins quickly learn the foreskin is the main sensory fun of their ‘boy-part’ and articulate it clearly. They feel badly for other males including their own fathers, whose parents have cut them. Men with foreskins enjoy sex more and are able to have sex for a longer time in their lives. Men who are circumcised have rougher, much less enjoyable penises all their lives and from middle age onwards, women increasingly decline sex with them. Foreskin restoration is the solution for this.
    Of course, childhood feelings are suppressed and ridiculed and circumcised boys are taught many myths, superstitions, and to vilify the foreskin that never lived for them to appreciate. They grow up thinking they have a right to cut, or have the foreskins cut off others in their families. Doctors who make a lot of their money from circumcising keep this fraudulence alive by telling parents they have the right to do so, that is is a family (parental) decision. This practice is not medicine.
    Try to let go of the need to have that control over your son, hand the decision over to him and enjoy watching him grow up whole. He is his own person at every age, 4 months before birth, 1 day old, 10 years or 80 years old. He will learn how good his foreskin is and thank you for having the wisdom and compassion to leave what he owns for him to enjoy, as 68% of young American parents are now deciding.
    I’m enjoying your posts. It is typical that you can’t fathom why people feel so much compassion for your son’s comfort vs suffering because it is very difficult for a circumcised man to imagine the sensations and functions of an organ that did not survive for him to enjoy. Subsequently, he feels he has the right to cut or have someone cut ‘the nothingness’, or ‘un-cosmetic’ or ‘useless’ part of his son’s penis off, because he has never known the benefits.
    If the info makes you angry, that’s healthy, it’s not fun to learn you’ve lost something very important without your consent.
    Go back to the Taylor article, keep reviewing it. It takes a long time to sink in, but it will explain a great deal of your manhood to you.
    As a nurse I have worked on this issue for over 50 years and seeing the tide turn for babies is definitely a happy thing. Also, all these efforts to persuade you to keep your son intact aren’t only FOR babies and AGAINST parents, it is very pro-parent, it is remorse control. Sooner or later the facts/truth about the foreskin and the harms of circumcision will sink in, you will integrate them. If you have circumcised your son you will feel great remorse, guilt, even shame, and if you have knowingly cut him it will be worse, unless you are a completely unfeeling man with psychopathic tendencies and you don’t sound like that, online at least. Be good to your son, be good to yourselves.
    Am hoping to have an iPhone app – “i4SkinHealth” – on the iTunes Store in January, if you’re curious, check it out. If Apple doesn’t accept the app, most of it will be on http://www.FarReach.org under construction.

    Best regards,

    Maurene White, Montreal

  25. My son will be 13 in a couple months. We circumsized. Simply because of what you said at the ourset-it was just what is done. We gave no “thought” to it.
    At age 7 or 8 my son heard the word “circumsized” and asked what it meant. We told him. He then asked if he was. We said yes. He was VERY upset. He wanted to know why we had made that decision for him.
    I’m glad to see people giving thought to the decision rahter than just going with the status quo. If I had it to do over I would not have circumsized but that is because of hte research I have done since then. I think that whatever decision you come up with is your own as long as it is backed with information then you can feel good about whatever choice you make. For me it was just very eye opening to not have a good answer when my son asked me WHY I made that choice.

    1. What a great post Laura, I really appreciate your sharing that with me (and all the readers). I agree, an informed decision is the right decision.

  26. Ryan:

    You write like a circumcised man. You don’t understand the foreskin, because you apparently don’t have one. It is a natural assumption, based on your writing, that you are circumcised.

    I feel quite certain that you are a loving father who would never knowing cause damage to his son. Once you understand the nature of the foreskin, you will see that circumcision is inherently damaging. It is meant to be.

    Back in the nineteenth century, there was a notion that masturbation caused mental disease, such as feeblemindedness, epilepsy and neuroasthenia. Doctors claimed that circumcision, which amputates the movable foreskin, would prevent masturbation and thereby prevent mental disease. By inflicting injury on the penis through circumcision they would prevent mental disease. It all sounds preposterous now, but that is how it got started.

    Once again, I feel quite certain that you are a loving father who would never knowing cause damage to his son. That is what this whole blog is about, finding out what is best for your son. I respect your desire to get factual information on which you can make a reasoned sound decision.

  27. I’m sorry, but I don’t have time to go through all the comments, so if mine is repetitious, my apologies.

    RE: adult circumcision – 1st- it’s over done; many doctors don’t have a full understanding of the function of the foreskin, therefore they don’t value it and it is “easy” (and a money maker) to “just remove it”. They may not know the other options (depending on the complaint, it could just be better hygiene or a little steroidal cream). I didn’t remove my toenail because I had an infection, but I could if I needed to, it’s just not going to be my first option. 2nd, an adult would be offered a prescription of pain relievers and great anesthesia for the procedure. Topical and local anesthesia don’t do anything for the long term pain and can be spotty for the short term and general still has many dangers, esp to infants, despite it’s common use in medicine. I used to draw blood from children, sometimes they’d come in with a topical anesthesia on (never mind that I may not be able to find a vein where they put the cream and have to poke somewhere else) and while it helped, they could still feel my work. Circumcision is a much more invasive procedure with a lot more nerve endings involved. My point is that no pain relievers allowed for use on infants will do what an adult’s meds would. 3rd – as an adult, you would KNOW why your penis was on fire, throbbing, and bandaged. Baby boys have erection cycles, each time he gets a little woody for the next few weeks, he’s going to know it in the most unpleasant way. Each time his urine makes contact with his wound, he’s going to know it (talk about a hygiene nightmare – an open wound in a baby diaper!).

    A hundred percent of the time, I would say circumcising an adult is more humane than circing an infant. Adults can comprehend what and why this is happening to them while an infant cannot.

    Even “medically necessary” circs can often be delayed (often for years)as “medically necessary” varies by provider and a parents willingness to work with what there and wait it out is key.

    I applaud you for seeking out information. Esp in a blog format – it allows for a lot of public criticism.

    I haven’t even touched on the impact of a circumcision on his future partner. http://www.drmomma.org/2009/07/how-male-circumcision-impacts-women.html

    There really is just so much to say on the topic…

    There really is little to NO RISK in leaving your son intact – you can’t really say that about not.

    Maurene really isn’t offbase and I’ve reread it a few times looking for the judgmental stuff and I see it as more of a warning that you may, in the future, feel judgmental of yourself should your decision be to circ. And yes, you have been told what to think,
    culture really does tell us what to think, you admitted this in your post,

    “9 months ago I KNEW that women gave birth in a bed laying on their backs “like they do in the movies.” Nope. Wrong. They can…but kneeling, squatting, and on all fours is better. So…to snip or not to snip?”

    That you’re asking these questions and learning these things, is the part that shows that you think for yourself despite cultural messages.

  28. Thank you everyone for all your input, advice, and wealth of information. Kate and I appreciate the participation. Have a happy new year!

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