Sunday, July 27, 2008

Circumcision - The Decision.

I am utterly surprised at the 'shit storm' and number of comments that my post on circumcision generated. I never would have imagined it. Early on in my thought process we were going to have the Circ' done. After all, 'that's what's done.' Then I read some and backed off on the decision. I wrote the previous post with a neutral position. This post will focus on comment reply/ discussions and my current train of thought.
More than one Commenter suggested some specific web sites:
There were also a couple of other web sites suggested:
I have also read the articles in Mothering magazine. Though, it does seem that there is much more anti-circumcision information available than pro-circ'.
The National Organization of Restoring Men tries to help men reconstruct it. *?. ahh, ohh-kay* but it is an irreversible procedure. And I doubt it can work. You just can't restore natural nerve endings.
The statics seem to be all over the place. One thing I learned that was helpful was that the practice is on the decline in the US. The Mothering magazine published that worldwide only 30% have circum's. 2/3rds of which are Muslim. So, its really the Jews and Muslims that seem to drive a big part of it. Maybe fighting in the Middle East would come to and end if all the men just showed each other their dicks?
The Penis Accords :)
There were pleas in the commenting, not to do it. "Take your whole son home.."
There were many first hand experiences from both men and women. My favorite was from Adam Smith, a 15 year old:

"honestly bro, I really wouldn't do it. I'm 15 and my parents had me "crimped ", watch the videos its pretty gross"

I did read somewhere that Smegma does have some health benefit. Something about anit-

bacterial properties. An argument that kept coming up was that it should be my son's choice. I don't think this is solid since that as parents we need to make decisions for them all the time. This just happens to need a little extra thought.
I once had a gym teacher who told us that when he joined the Navy he had to get circed' before admittance. He and a few guys were there and after the 'procedure' they were all in the same room, And I guess that the nurse was real good looking, so the kept getting boners and making the new cut re-open. "OUCH!" Then they would take smelling salts or something to...ah, soften the rod.
The poll I posted is currently running about 69% No.

This is kind of like having my dogs tail docked, and interesting the hygiene issue is used for that procedure as well. Let me now 'cut to the chase', if you will, and end this shit.
After it all washes out I think the biggest factors in helping make a decision to keep the skin are:
  • That the foreskin is natural. It must be there for a reason.
  • Removing it is basically plastic surgery, and while plastic surgery can look AWESOME (see Nurse pic, right) it is un-necessary.
  • The falling statics in the US indicate to me that it is falling out of favor with US doctors. (younger doctors?)

  • It obviously hurts like a son-of-a-bitch when done. So, why are we going through all the steps to have a natural child birth, only to have this unnatural thing done.

The factors not to keep it are:

  • looks for the ladies (well, some of them),
  • locker room ridicule, and
  • the UTI decrease.

I hope that this adds a real perspective to the debate on circumcision for any new dad's or mom's out there looking for guidance. It's not just statics. It's not just religious. It's not just appearance.


  1. This has been fun to watch. On the declining rates in the U.S., a significant portion of that is due to the rising rates of Asians and Latin Americans in the U.S. population. Not saying that's an argument for or against, just saying.

    So, we voted on his name, now his penis. Wrap this debate up with your decision and then let's vote on something else Sam related.

  2. If you don't have a good enough reason to easily justify doing it, then that is perhaps your best reason for not doing it.

  3. Cactolith, that is right where i ended up.

  4. "On the declining rates in the U.S., a significant portion of that is due to the rising rates of Asians and Latin Americans in the U.S. population."

    Really? Because in my town, where I have yet to actually meet anyone who circumcised their toddler aged or younger sons - yes, I do ask 'cause I'm nosy like that and no, they don't know my stance before they answer - non-hispanic white folks make up over 90% of the population.

    My town is also full of much wealthier (money-wise) people than I'll ever be - technically I can't really afford to live here - so leaving sons intact, based on my personal experience, seems to be something that white, upper/middle-class professionals do. Or maybe it's just because I'm on the West Coast and not many people here circumcise their sons, period...

    Anyhow, it's been interesting reading the comments! Hope I was able to help :)

  5. Just wanted to add my 2 cents.

    When I was having my 2nd child I started doing a lot of research into circumcision. My gut told me no even though I'd never been exposed to any arguments for or against before. I decided not to but ended up having a girl anyway.

    Now I have a son and he is intact. I went through all the research again before I had him and came to all the same conclusions.

    As far as the cleanliness thing, I'd like to say that we teach our kids to wipe their butts and blow their noses; I fail to see how this is any different.

    I never found any valid reasons for having it done and too many good reasons to not have it done.

    I found your blog on a search. I'll have to check back to see the happy little fellow after he's arrived :)

  6. I'm glad to hear you're veering towards 'no'—will you post again and let us know your final decision?

    Oh, if you haven't already seen it, has a great article on circumcision.

  7. Hello! As a European mother with two uncircumcised sons I would like to say that I don't understand the UTI argument at all. No one circumcises here, and UTI's are really rare among boys. Girls get them all the time, but I have never even heard about a boy in my family or acquaintance that has had a UTI. If they had one I'm sure it could be treated in some less drastic way - no doctor here would even consider circumcising because of it!

    So, please don't circumcise your little boy! Please!

    There's no trouble connected with keeping his penis like it was made. Don't retract, and don't worry!

  8. I'm so glad you're taking the time to carefully consider this decision - it's one your son will have to live with for the rest of his life. I'd like to comment on your remaining reasons to have your son circumcised.

    1. Looks (for the ladies). I guess I'm totally confused by this - does this mean you're afraid a woman won't be interested in your son if he has a foreskin? What if you have him circumcised, and the woman of his dreams prefers intact men? At least if he's intact he can choose to get himself circumcised as an adult.

    2. Locker room ridicule. I assume this means you think your son will be teased by other boys if he has a foreskin. Maybe so - or maybe the locker room bully is intact, and teased circumcised boys. Isn't it better to teach our children how to deal with teasing of all sorts, rather than try to appease some mythical bully of the future?

    For the record, my twin sons (age 14) have no idea of their classmates - or even their best friends - are circumcised or not. Todays boys don't really want to be caught looking at another boy's package.

    3. UTI decrease. You must have read about the study showing that intact boys have a 10x greater chance of getting a UTI than a circumcised boy. I've read the actual study - and the boys in question were healthy, full-term boy who were circumcised, compared to preemies or babies otherwise too sick to undergo the operation. Many of these boys were hospitalized and catheterized - a huge UTI risk. You might consider that girls are far more likely to get UTIs than boys - foreskin or not - and they are readily treated for them. Circumcision does NOT prevent UTIs - and circumcised boys who get UTIs are treated with antibiotics. On the slim chance that your intact son gets a UTI, is there any reason it can't be treated exactly the same way as a girl or a circumcised boy?

    Best wishes on the upcomong birth of your little boy, and I trust that you will be able to make a decision that you - and more importantly HE - can live with.

  9. I'm glad to see that you are now leaning towards keeping your son intact. We kept our son intact and are very happy with our decision.

    It's so easy to care for an intact penis. Don't do anything unless there is poop on it. If there is poop, wipe it from base to tip, like you would wipe a finger. Never, ever retract. Inform the pediatrician and any caregivers to never retract.

    Circumcision is an extremely painful surgery. The thought of putting a helpless baby through unnecessary pain is so sad.

    Your son will thank you when he gets older, if you let him keep his foreskin.

    I wish my husband was not circumcised.
    I've had sex with three intact men and many circumcised men. The sex with the intact men was so, so much better.

    So keep your son intact, not just for him, but for his future wife.

  10. The difference between the "90% of US (men) are cut" and "only 55% of US (babies) are cut" is because the rate is going down. Which means the locker-room argument won't work any more, he'll have half the same as him whichever he has. It may even go the other way, and I'd rather explain to my son that he has something that was cut off his schoolmates than have to explain why they've got something I had cut off him.

    Yes it should be his choice - there's no other decision to cut part off a baby, a part he might very much want as a man. The chances of him choosing to have it done are very, very slim, but tens of thousands of men are going to the trouble of restoring their foreskins, getting back the benefit of the action, if not the nerves.

    Of every 1000 circumcisions to prevent UTI, 991 are wasted - 990 because they were never going to get a UTI, and 1 because he gets it anyway. And that's assuming the circumcision proponents are correct, which they probably aren't. (And similar arguments apply to HPV, cancer, HIV and whatever disease the circumcisers are going to wheel up next.)

  11. Hi there - as a nurse I want to applaud you for actually taking the time to do some research on a decision that will affect your son, his sex life and his future wife forever. I know you said that parents make decisions for their children all the time, but deciding to permanently cut off part of a fully healthy and functioning sexual organ for no good medical reason is not the same type of decision as whether they should go to public or private school.

    I have worked in pediatrics for over 5 years and in that amount of time I have seen MANY more complications from circumcisions then complications from being intact. The first time I saw a baby circumcised in nursing school I knew that I would never let that happen to my own babies.

    In the US you cannot so much as prick a girl’s genital with a needle and make a drop of blood - but it is still perfectly legal and acceptable to do the same (and more) to a little boy.

    Keep reading, keep researching...I assure you - the more you know the worse it gets.

    For the record - my husband is circ'd and i wish every day that he wasnt.
    Lots of love.

  12. If you were having a baby girl, would you do it to her?

    My hubby was on the fence until he saw the videos of a circ being done. The first time I held my little dude, I couldn't imagine changing one thing about him-- especially the way nature made his penis!!

    PS- sex with an un circ'd man IS better. let your son have the benefit

  13. Hey, keep going after Sam. You can be like this family:

    Seriously, some people just don't know when to say when. The world can only sustain so many people.

  14. I made the unfortunate choice to circumcise my son. My husband felt very strongly that it should be done and I just did not want to argue with him. I deeply regret that decisions. My poor sweet baby has had many problems with penile adhesions. He is 16 mos old and his pediatrician has had to forcibly pull back the skin when it adhered to the head of his penis at least 3 times. I've had to do it as well... although I am much gentler than his doc it still hurts him. I will NEVER circ another son, no matter what my husband thinks.

  15. First off, I totally commend you for actually taking the time to educate yourself on circumcision instead of just doing it! Unfortunately, there are still too many people who choose to stay blinded by the whole "but, everybody's doing it!", when everyone isn't because people are finally opening their eyes and realizing that it's completely pointless.

    I was one of those people who blindly allowed her son to be circumcised and it's something that I VERY deeply regret. I took his choice away.. and it was simply not my right to do so.

    Just a few points..

    1) UTI - Ok, I hate this argument with a passion. As a woman who has had chronic UTIs for years upon years, I can't even fathom removing any part of my genitalia to *possibly reduce* my chances of getting another one!! My 7 year old niece is plagued with the same problem, but no one has ever mentioned cutting anything off of her to help prevent them.
    Yes, they suck majorly, but they're easily treated with meds. Big deal.

    2) Smegma - Ooooh, that *dirty* sounding word. You are correct in your readings that it's beneficial. It's there for a reason (just like that foreskin). Funny enough, it's not dirty at all (Greek origin meaning "soap). You know, women and cut men have it, too. Depending on women's labia size and shape, well, let's just say some get more than others. Same thing with circumcised and intact men. Again, big deal! We all produce the stuff and we can all easily wash it away. Soap and water are awesome together.

    3) His penis, his choice - Yes, I know you don't like this argument, BUT..! You can ALWAYS take it off.. at any age.. but you can NEVER put it back. Sure, restoration is possible, but it will never bring back everything that was lost. Leave the decision up to your son.. it should be no one else's. Period. This isn't a medical decision (you mentioned something along the lines of "we all make decisions for our kids"), this is a purely cosmetic one. He will most likely love his foreskin (lots of benefits, yep), just as he does the rest of his penis (typical man, haha), but in the rare case that he doesn't.. guess what? He can decide to remove it! Which brings me to my next point..

    4) Yep, it's plastic surgery - One that should only be performed on an adult. Anyone who says that circumcision is worse on adults isn't educated enough on the matter. An adult man's penis is finished growing, the foreskin is no longer fused to the glans, and is usually fully retractable - therefore, there is no extremely painful forced separation needed. That process is already done (why doctors don't discuss this part with parents just ticks me off). He can also choose how much to take off, he will get plenty of pain relief before and after (something that infants are typically not given), and he will not sit in a dirty diaper with an open wound. Yes, a man can get painful erections during the healing time, but umm, infant boys get erections, too. So, how the hell can adult circ possibly be worse than on an infant? Umm, hello?!?! Just because an adult can voice his pain more doesn't make it worse on him.

    5) The ol' locker room - Well, for starters, considering that we're roughly 50/50 (give or take a little) these days, this argument is totally shot. It could go either way, can't it? Look.. kids are going to be kids. They're all going to be brats at some point and tease each other no matter what. If it's not over a big nose/big ears/big feet/buck teeth/freckles/a giant zit/stinky breath/weird clothes/penis, it's going to be something else. Why is the highly unlikely scenario of making fun of a kid's penis worse than all of the above? Think about it..
    Why not just help your son learn how to stand up to bullies instead? Encourage him to tell the locker room jerks to stop looking at his pecker!

    6) Looks for the ladies - Well, how about we look at this a bit differently? How about - the foreskin is a shallow woman filter..
    I'm sorry, but if a woman would turn down your son for being intact, then she needs to hit the road anyway. And again, referring to my last point (5), this scenario is pretty unlikely anyway considering that the rate of circ is dropping to about half, by the time your kiddo is having sex, being intact won't be out of the ordinary at all. Chances are, he won't be the first (or last) intact man the woman will have been intimate with.

    Ahhh, now that I got all of that out, congrats on your upcoming baby boy!!! They're a blast!!!

  16. Thanks for looking at your options! I'm glad to hear that you are leaning toward keeping your son whole and intact :)

    My husband is circ'd, and it took him a while to warm up to the idea of leaving our son intact when I was pregnant. He (my husband) has thanked me several times since our son was born for 'showing him the light.' His concerns were 'locker room banter' and 'not matching Daddy,' but he came to realize there's more to our son's body than those petty and shallow issues.

    As others have mentioned, please watch one of the online videos of circumcision if you're still considering it. I couldn't even watch it past strapping the baby down and cannot even imagine what it must be like for those poor babies :(

    Oh, and as someone else mentioned, make sure your doctor knows to NEVER retract his foreskin for any routine exams!!! I'm amazed to hear how many docs just don't know how to care for an intact penis, and it's funny that their patients sometimes know a little more than they do about some things.

    Congratulations on your baby boy, and enjoy every minute of him!!

  17. Hey man, congrats on your new son. I came across this blog when doing some mindless browsing, and I figure I would chirp in. This seems to be a tough decision for some parents. However, as an intact guy I can say that I'm really happy with my folk's decision to leave me alone. In my 20 years of life, I never had trouble with it, just lots of fun, lol. Cleaning is obviously extremely simple. It does not take me longer to clean than a circumcised guy nor is it more difficult. So, hygiene is just a BS reason. Really, so are all the other arguments. Girls, for example, get UTIs much more often than boys. Nobody is suggesting we should cut off parts of the vulva now. You treat UTIs with antibiotics. There is absolutely no proven link between the foreskin and UTIs, and certainly no proof that circumcision reduces the odds. Same thing with penile cancer and STDs. Every time a study comes out that says that circumcision may reduce your chance of some STD, another comes out that says the opposite. If STDs were really a problem, most of our penises would be falling off by now. I say most because most guys on this planet are not cut and are doing fine. Not to mention that Europe has one of the lowest HIV and circumcision rates in the western world while the US has one of the highest in both categories. So, the STD argument just does not hold any water. There is no bio/chemical proof of any linkage. Here are the concrete facts: you are more likely to get breast cancer than penile cancer (nobody says I should cut off my nipples). UTIs are much more common in girls than boys and are easily treated by antibiotics. STDs are only prevented through smart behavior and condoms. So, this kills all the medical arguments.

    So, what's left are the cultural "excuses," which are "locker room" and "look like daddy." A) I really don't give a damm about my dad's penis. Thinking of him naked is just not the nicest image in my mind, lol. So, whenever I hear people using that, it's clear that this is more about the father having some issue than about the son. Seriously, no father bonds with their son through the penis. Like I said, I don't really care about my dad's penis. Do you really care about your father's? The answer to that is probably a no. So, that kills that argument.

    B) The locker room argument. Well, I have been around locker rooms plenty and I still don't know the status of my friends. I think that you would get your ass kicked if you got caught starring at some guy's dick and making comments about it. Now, obviously, jokes are said in the locker room about all kinds of things, and last time I checked nobody is traumatized by them. Jokes are jokes, the vast majority of which are in good fun. And seriously, not to be crude, I can make so many more jokes about the guy who gut half his dick cut off than the guy who talks about my wonder rocket, lol. In any case, I never had to do that because the subject never came. Nobody really paid attention. Everybody just changed and they were all very private about it. Most guys I know cover up with a towel when we go swimming or something. Nobody ever openly looks at your junk. Like I said, I don't know the status of most of my friends and I don't care. And those that I do know, some are cut others are uncut. Obviously with the circ. rates where they are today (50/50), half or maybe even more of your son's friends will be uncut anyway. So, I don't see how he would ever feel alone. It certainly never bothered me.

    I also don't understand the cosmetics argument. I don't think a circumcised penis looks better. My last girlfriend was of the same opinion. She even said that all genitals are ugly, a statement that I totally concur with. Seriously, I don't know any self-respecting person who really would judge someone based on their genitals. If you have a pulse and a bit of a brain, you won't care whether your partner has or does not have an inch of skin at the top of his penis. Not to mention that the foreskin is really sensitive, something I def. concur with. Having one can only improve your sex life in my opinion, given it's 15 square inches of tissue rich in nerves and sensory receptors. Considering that fact alone, I don't know why anyone in their right mind would cut it off.

    Lastly, I feel it should be the kid's choice. You can't chop off his nose because it may not fit your taste; so why can you chop off the foreskin, when any possible benefit of doing so is cancelled out by the costs (possible: infections, painful erections, blood loss, loss of sensitivity, disturbance in sleep and breast feeding patterns, etc)? By the way, I think I would cry if I did not have my foreskin, lol. I'm happy I got the choice. I can always get it cut off if I want I guess, but I'm really happy the way I am. So that's out of the question. However, if I did go though the procedure at least I would get a proper anastetic. With an infant, half the time they don't use an anastetic, and when they do, most of the time the medication does not have a chance to take effect, given the small dosage that can only be administered. So, something like that really hurts, and I don't think you would be too happy if somebody cut off a part of you with you feeling the full effects and there being really no good reason to justify it. Yeah, that would suck. Now, doing something like that on day one of life is even worse. Basically, the first sensation that you are providing your son with in his genital area is one of pain, and I think that's just wrong, even if he won't remember it. He probably won't remember it if you punch him either, but that's no justification for hitting him.

    So, this concludes my little spiel. To summarize, leave your kid's penis alone. I am sure he will be beautiful when he is born. Why alter a part of his body? Really, I feel as if we have to justify that we should not cut off parts of the genitals. This just shows how screwed up this world is sometimes. So, let's try to make things right and leave people alone when they are born. I'm glad that I got a choice. I would be willing to bed my life savings that your son will be as well.

  18. Hey, I am a 19 year old circed guy, fresh from finishing his high school, "lockerroom experiences" and I can tell you there is nothing to worry about there, here are the two main reasons explaining why I never saw anyone make fun of a guys foreskin. (and there were a few guys in my gym class.

    1. Most guys my age have a friend, or a few who are uncut, its not some weird "alien" thing. Its just something some guys have, and that others dont have. Its just an everyday thing, and nothing to make fun of.

    2. Teen guys are afraid to be called gay. The worse thing that can happen to a teen guy is for someone to call them gay. So generally guys are not going to go around commenting on other guys dicks in the locker room unless they want to gain a rep around school as being gay. This may not have been true in the 1950's, heck maybe even 10 years ago. But sadly, these days many teen guys are homophobic and along with that, they have dropped the dick comments.

    In general, I think infant circumcision is dumb. Like if a guy is happy being circumcised, or decides he wants to be circumcised, cool. But why do it to infants. Its his body, he is going to be healthy either way, why not let him decide what to do with it?

  19. Ok, um.. short and sweet.

    You might want to check out whatever source has led you to believe intact penises run a higher risk of contracting a UTI than a mutilated penis. There is substantially higher risk of infection/damage involved with circumcision than leaving a child intact. Your son may even die from the surgery.

    It's his penis, his life, his choice. Leave it.