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Circumcision: the kindest cut, or the cruelest?

Circumcision: the kindest cut, or the cruelest?

By Alice Bradley

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day, and I’m thinking about circumcision. I assure you this is a coincidence.

So! Those of us who have birthed baby boys are faced with the inevitable question: to snip or leave intact? In most of the world, the majority of boys are left as nature intended, but here in the States, circumcision is a relatively routine procedure. As for our son, I was all for leaving well enough alone. My husband, however, is Jewish and felt strongly about the issue, so I deferred to his wishes. As I do in all things. Hang on, I have to plump his throw pillows.

And I’m back! So yes, our son was circumcised. I’m making light of the issue, as is my way; in truth it was a difficult decision, there were many heartfelt discussions, and in the end we made our choice. We didn’t do a bris because I am a coward, and also because I wanted the procedure to be completed in a hospital and not in my grubby, germ-filled living room. My husband could have the circumcision, if that’s what his bloodline demanded, but we would do it in a sterile environment, as my anxiety-riddled heart required. So it was done, and all was well.

Now, this all went down over five years ago, before I knew there were people who believed that male circumcision was a horrific, abusive procedure. ( I think the Internet didn’t even exist then. We all wrote emails on our Etch-a-Sketches, which we then sent to each other via pneumatic tubes. I’m a little fuzzy on the past.) I mean, I knew there were arguments against it, because I’m not a complete moron, but I had only a vague sense of how heated the debated had become. The arguments against circumcision run the gamut from it being an unnecessary removal of part of a healthy organ, to the idea that it can cause significant disfigurement and impairment of sensation. Mothers Against Circumcision argues that circumcision does far more harm than good, with complications being vastly underreported.

What to believe? Recent studies have shown that AIDS HIV transmission is much less likely among circumcised males. (The risk of infection, however, is actually increased if recently circumcised men don’t wait until the wound is healed to resume sexual activity. Ow.) Other studies have shown circumcision is associated with lower rates of other sexually transmitted diseases and infections; the risk of penile cancer is reported as three times higher for uncircumcised men. Circumcision opponents, however, believe these studies are nothing more than scare tactics. In fact, the organization Doctors Opposing Circumcision implies that circumcision makes transmission of AIDS HIV more likely.

(Updated view from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012: “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks; furthermore, the benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.”) The American Academy of Pediatrics is of little help in the matter, having taken a more-or-less neutral stance on the matter. Their conclusion is that although there may be benefits to circumcision, it should be a personal decision and not a routine procedure. By no means do they characterize circumcision as abusive or damaging.

So, dear readers, what’s your take on the issue? Did you have to make this decision, and if so, which way did you go?

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • Anne Prince

    February 15, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    When my husband and I were interviewing the doctor who ultimately became our pediatrician (19 yrs ago) he said neither yay nor nay, that it was a personal choice and that was that. Since hubby wasn’t – we decided not to since after all he would teach him how to stand and pee (and miss the bowl!).
    We just had to keep retracting his foreskin when we changed his diaper a little at a time and all would be well.
    Well, at age 11 or 12 he had to be circumsized as the foreskin did not retract all the way. And of course I couldn’t check it since he was “grown up” and when his father asked him if everything was okay “there” the kid always said yes.
    So the summer before he started middle school he wound up getting snipped – he was uncomfortable for a few days but everything turned out fine. And since he is away at college I am sure he is putting it to good use – LOL!

  • Christine

    February 15, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t have children (yet) but my fiance and I have discussed this in passing, and we believe we aren’t going to go with the big snip. If he were Jewish or Muslem or there was some big reason to do it, I would cave. As I see it, it seems pretty pointless and more about a vague idea of improved cleanliness and a bit about how it looks.
    I think I made up my mind years ago though in a college lecture course where the guest lecturer was an OB/Gyn who said she was vehemently against it because they would send residents who had no sleep to perform the proceedings and that the results weren’t always so good. And it seemed to me that it was a lot to risk when I couldn’t see any real rewards.

  • Becky

    February 15, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    All three of my boys have had the snip snip. We know a few adults (yes, more then one) that have had issues later in life and had to get it done as an adult. I wouldnt wish that on anyone.

  • Elizabeth

    February 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    We were so relieved when the ultrasound tech said we were having a girl. No more circumcision debate!

  • becks

    February 15, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    We circumsized our son. My husband was circumsized, so that was a major factor. I had never actually seen a penis that wasn’t circumsized until I did research on the issue. I guess the bottom line for me was hygienically speaking, I think it’s the right choice. My mother works in a nursing home and she says the old guys who aren’t circumsized don’t always recieve the proper care that the foreskin requires. Women I work with all have stories about nephews and cousins being circumsized at age 5, 8, 10 because of repeated infections.
    I stand behind my decision. And I’d do it again, if we had another boy.

  • Fawn

    February 15, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Fortunately, I did not actually have to make this decision, but DH and I talked about it before our little girl was born and had decided we were against it. We’re not Jewish, so there just didn’t seem to be any reason for it. I understand that there are even Jewish families that are turning against the practice these days.
    It just so happens that DH *is* circumsized; he remembers having it done (around grade 1, I think) because it was medically necessary (fuzzy on the details). So sometimes it is warranted, sometimes there are reasons.

  • Gillian

    February 15, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    In April or May, we will have our first child, a boy. At first, my husband was very pro and I was very against circumcision. I slowly won him over to my side. I view it as basically a cosmetic surgery, unnecessary. My husband did, too, he just liked the idea of tradition, and I really think he wanted his son to be the same as him.
    I read in the NY Times Magazine recently that boys who have been circumcized, especially ones who did not receive anesthesia, are harder to console and cry longer several months later when they receive vaccinations. It was an article about pain, and how early a fetus or newborn can feel and process pain, and how the early pain experiences can color later experience with pain. Anyway, even after reading this I don’t think of circumcision as brutal, just unnecessary, so we won’t be doing it.

  • Anonymous

    February 15, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    We did it. His dad had it when he was a baby, and he’s fine. I hear it’s cleaner. Why does it have to be such a big deal? I think this is a private choice, not one that needs to be discussed everywhere.

  • Ariel

    February 15, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Well some people think it’s okay to cut the labia and clitoris on little girls too- which is repugnant in every way. I view it in the exact same light- i.e. something horrendous.

  • roughmagic

    February 15, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    My 5-year-old got snipped nearly first thing in the hospital for pretty much the same reason as your Henry — his dad’s Jewish and I had no compelling reason to object. My husband also made the perfectly reasonable point that he thought it would be important for my son to “look like his daddy”. We live in the rural Midwest where the nearest mohel is 200 miles away, so a bris wasn’t an option even if we wanted one, and we were meh on that. I’m not squeamish, but my husband is, so he got his dad to witness the snippage, which was done by my son’s awesome pediatrician — she assured us that she took pride in her circs and “liked to leave a good-looking penis.” Everyone happy, as far as I can tell. There’s no question my son is perfectly happy with his equipment. He’ll cheerfully show it to anyone who asks — or even if they don’t.

  • Mona

    February 15, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    We did not circ our sons, even though my husband was as an infant. He actually made the call and I was glad that was what he chose. And like Alice, my husband makes all important decisions! No – but let’s face it – I don’t have a penis and most boys in the US still are circ’ed and I felt that the social pressures were something better weighed by someone who had the same equipment. I have no idea what it’s like to be a 13 year old boy and the person who does gets a weightier vote, IMHO. The only qualm I have with the AIDS transmission research is that, as my husband put it, you still have to have sex with someone with HIV for this to be an issue, so maybe the emphasis should be on avoiding that part, however naive and simplistic that may be.

  • Megan

    February 15, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I think we need more information about the studies linking intactness and HIV because anecdotally if you look at the US that has a high rate of circumcision among sexual active males we also have a tremendously high HIV infection rate compared to countries that not circumcise.
    And while penile cancer may be higher in intact males its still an incredibly rare cancer. I do not think the benefit of preventing a very rare cancer is worth the risks of circumcision.
    Mostly I think about the issue from genital integrity standpoint. Since there aren’t any immediate medical benefits to circumcision or any immediate risk to leaving the child intact then the default is to leave the child as is. Otherwise you are putting your child through a cosmetic surgery often without any anesthesia. It seems cruel to me.
    And I know to some people they consider circumcision a holy rite but the idea of cutting off part of my child, an intimate part at that, to satisfy God is confusing. The God I understand is loving and giving. He cares for us, especially children, and I can’t imagine him requiring us to hurt out children for His sake.

  • Will

    February 15, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I am neither a mother or a father. I am an 18 year old male who has negative views on infant circumcision.
    There is no logical medical reason to circumcise.
    Penile cancer is very rare
    Girls statistically get more then double the number of UTI’s of uncircumcised baby boys.
    Any sexually transmitted disease can be almost completely blocked with condom use. And honestly, if your son is not practicing safe sex, you have bigger parenting issues you should be focusing on then circumcising.
    Really what it comes to is that parents are scared, and they want whats best for their kid. And its easy to fall prey to the fears of a society that does not understand what a circumcised penis is.
    But in reality, it works fine, there is much less cleaning you need to do with your baby boy, and much less to worry about (no complications from surgery, no adhesions). You just take your baby home and treat his penis like you were cleaning a finger.
    Once people can break free of there fear they can see its fine, and even better to leave a boy intact.
    In the end circumcision is just a cosmetic surgery, its body modification. And just as you would not tattoo something on the stomach of your baby, or force your 14 year old daughter to get breast implants, baby boys should have the right to decide how their body is altered.

  • Mallory

    February 15, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    We had to make this decision four months ago, when our son was born. I had been on the fence about it, but my husband (who is circumcized) was adamantly against it. I’m really glad now that we didn’t have it done, primarily because it isn’t medically necessary, and I don’t feel like I have the right to make that choice for him. It’s not *my* body. If our son chooses to get circumcized when he’s older, that’s his perogative.

  • Annabelle

    February 15, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    What an interesting and timely post! I’m pregnant with our first and asked my husband about this very issue about a week ago. he said that the issue came up in a group conversation a few months ago (I was not there) and after a bit of discussion one of the other guys said, “likelyhood of getting a blow job is dramatically increased… I’m for it.” That seemed to settle the issue in the minds of the men present.

  • Slim

    February 15, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    We didn’t, because we are goyim who would prefer our sons use other methods of reducing the risks of sexually transmitted diseases.
    Isn’t the penile cancer thing a myth? Or is the myth a myth perpetrated by anti-circers? My mind reels. My boys romp on, sans foreskin. All is well.

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey

    February 15, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I really believe circumcision is a personal choice for each family, but yes – we did *not* do the ole snip snip. We had read the the literature (also 5+ years ago during the stone ages of the internet) and came down more on the side against it, but I also left it up to my husband – who was surprisingly *more* against it than I was. Then our son came 8 weeks early and we got caught up in the NICU for 6 weeks. Did you know circumcision is that LAST thing they do when your baby has been in the NICU for an extended period of time? That was the last straw, we just couldn’t face any more poking or prodding and did not even blink when the nurse asked us what we wanted to do.

  • Annemie

    February 15, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Same situation, different decision. I told my husband when we got pregnant that it was his call, and his immediate response was that if we had a boy, he’d be trimmed. (Jewish upbringing, Jewish mother, ’nuff said). However, as we neared our due date, I started to encourage (read: nag/beg) him to think it through more carefully. When he claimed Judaism as a reason, I asked when he had last gone to synagogue. Why not just have him wear a yarmulke? How is this any different from infant baptism, with the obvious exception of blood? His argument about looking the same spurred me to suggest we get the baby tattooed to match his dad. Of course, it didn’t help that I had to sit at work looking over the enormous mound of my belly and watch circumcisions happen every day… hormones + crying babies + scalpels = lots of passive aggressive pressure. In the end, Matt came around to my way of thinking. His mother pitched a FIT – much worse than we thought she might – and that made the early days kind of rough, but since then, neither Matt nor I have looked back once.

  • Beth

    February 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    We chose not to circumcise our son, and although it was a pretty easy decision for us and he’s doing great, I respect others’ decisions to circumcise (except in cases in which circumcision is forced on an older child — completely unacceptable and traumatizing). As for the study on AIDS transmission being less likely among circumcised males, going by the article cited, the study was conducted in Africa and the other variables are not mentioned, so I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it. It’s very easy for people to hear one piece of information and neglect to get all the facts before taking a position.

  • Lisa C

    February 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    As a friend of mine put it, “I don’t make decisions about parts I don’t have.” She let her husband make the decision, as did I. It was still dreadful. I gave my husband the duty of changing the gauze and applying the vaseline. I didn’t feel too badly about the deciion, though, because my brother-in-law had just been circumised due to a series of infections. Apparently the healing process takes a lot longer when you’re in your late 20s.

  • Sara

    February 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    We didn’t do it. I didn’t want to. Husband did. It came down to whether or not we wanted to add the expense to the list of hospital bills already accrued from the pregnancy, since for insurance purposes, the C word is an elective procedure. I did leave the decision up to my husband, and he made the final call in favor of our budget.
    I think he’s not entirely happy with the decision, though. So we don’t talk about it much. It is what it is. And fortunately, he does at least defend our choice to family–not telling them that it was a money thing, but that we found no proven benefit to circumcising, and chose not to. I am grateful for his support in that capacity. Family can be weird about those things, too.
    As for me, I’m glad that my son is intact, and if he wants the cut when he’s old enough to make that choice, then we’ll happily give him the option. Or if some kind of issue arises, we’ll deal with it then. I just felt really weird about making that kind of decision for someone who wasn’t me. And regarding a part of the anatomy that I don’t possess, but from what I hear is a pretty sensitive one. Even on a little baby.

  • fredr

    February 15, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Although there is much denial, Circumcision causes the masculine prepuce to dysfunction. The function of the male and female prepuce is to enhance sexual desire. Its nerves link to the reproductive parts of the brain. Severing these nerves at birth leads to reproductive brain chemistry malfunction from disuse atrophy. Brain chemistry malfunctions lead to anti depressants. When people go off their medications, leads to campus shootings like VA Tech and NIU. When left undiagnosed, circumcision induced suicidal depression can lead to paranoid delussions leading to 9/11. There you have it in a nut shell.

  • Noelle Carrino

    February 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    I had my son circumsised the day after he was born four years ago. The only reason I did it was because my husband insisted. We are not remotely Jewish, my husband just wanted it done “so he would look like everyone else”. When I got my very upset infant back from the nursery that day and after I looked at that chopped monstrosity that his little penis had become I swore I would never do that to another child of mine. If I ever have another boy, he will stay just as he came into the world. By the way, I volunteer at my son’s preschool and I’ve had to change a few kids diapers, and my son DOES NOT look like everyone else. He is the odd man out now.

  • Someone Being Me

    February 15, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Its not something I felt particularly strongly about. My husband was the one who actively encouraged the circumcision as he didn’t want his son to be made fun of like the guys he knew in high school who weren’t. I also looked at it from a religious standpoint. My husband’s father wasn’t circumcised until he was an adult and he explained to my husband that is not something you want to put off. Best do it when they won’t remember it. My husband was in the room when they did my son’s and he barely cried. He was asleep when they brought him back to me. My sister is vehemently opposed to circumcision so her sons are both not circumcised. To each his own I guess.

  • Liza

    February 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    During my first pregnancy, the impassioned pleas of people on both sides, especially anti, kinda made me nervous.
    I ended up declaring that no one was going to know the answer to our decision unless they were on sufficiently intimate terms to find out directly. Change his diaper and the information is yours.

  • Stacey Green

    February 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    We had our son circed 7 years ago on the advice of all 5 pediatricians I interviewed, and my brother who is a nurse. He has horror stories of elderly adult males getting nasty penile infections because it is so hard to maintain the hygiene of an invalid. Add to this that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that there are valid medical reasons to consider circing, and that the Centers for Disease Control is currently considering strengthening their recommendation of circing because it reduces the likelihood of HIV and other STD transmissions, and I think circing is definitely the best decision for the parents of male infants.

  • caramama

    February 15, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Although my husband and I ended up with a girl, we had discussed this issue prior to knowing the sex of our baby. I didn’t have feelings one way or the other, but my husband felt strongly against circumcision for our children. He does not agree with it even for religious reasons, as he equates it with female circumcision/genital mutilation/cutting, which is also done for traditional and religious reasons. Also, his research suggested that there was no significant health difference as long as proper hygiene was practiced. There are plenty of men who are not circumcised who have never had a problem, so the preventive aspect does not seem necessary to me.
    I hope that all parents look into the issue and facts around it, men and women should be educated about an elective surgery being performed on your infant. I just don’t feel that looking like daddy or other kids is a compelling reason to have a surgery performed on children. There are plenty of ways in which one’s kids will and will not resemble their parents.

  • Kathy

    February 15, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I did not circumcise my son. My husband and I did a ton of research and found that there are no medical benefits even though there are a ton of claims to the contrary. The American Academy of Pediatrics is saying there aren’t any medical benefits. We also found that leaving the skin protects the glans (head), which is a very sensitive area. Uncircumcised males apparently have greater sexual pleasure. We decided to leave it as is. It’s probably that way for a reason.
    We haven’t had any issues with infection. He’s 2 1/2.

  • anonymous

    February 15, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    i find it disturbing when someone thinks that FGM(female genital mutilation) and male circumcision are the same thing. FGM removes all the surrounding tissue including the clitoris. male circumcision only removes the foreskin which on women equates ONLY the the clitoral hood.
    if intactivists want to have a SERIOUS debate then they need to make sure they are comparing apples to apples.
    btw…i have two sons and both were circ’ed shortly after birth.

  • Sara

    February 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    so I can’t believe I’m going to complicate the issue BUT– my husband was not circed originally (being Italian). At 9, he had to be. BUT the drs did a hemi-circumcision. That’s right. This type allows for increased sensation but solves the whole cleaning thing. We opted for the same for our son. Ta da! There is a third option!

  • rathernotsay

    February 15, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    This is such a stressful decision! I sincerely hope that our second is another girl and we don’t have to worry about it. My two cents is that I dated a guy in college who was not circumcised (b/c his dad was a European Catholic) and I found it a little unpleasant. There was always a distinct smell even though he was an obsessively clean person and I had lots of yeast infections which stopped when we stopped dating. Also, it tore at one point and he had to have a really painful surgery. Purely anecdotal, I know, but I will take it into account if we have to make this decision.

  • Jocelyn

    February 15, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    We saw no reason to circumcise our son. He’ll be his own person. I don’t expect him to instantly have long hair or a beard (as his father does), so why should he have a damaged penis (and the potential for irreparably altered synaptic connections in his brain)? We wished for his entry into our family to be full of love and warmth and shelter, not painful betrayal. Birth is hard enough. His genitals are his own. The integrity of his body is a personal responsibility, not a familial “choice”. The atrocities of previous generations need not be inflicted on the current and future ones.

  • edj

    February 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    I think it’s a personal decision. I really don’t think it’s fair to compare it to female circ, however, which is brutal and always causes problems later in life. Male circ seems to prevent some problems later in life.
    My fav take on the problem is an old article by Dave Barry, about a group called RECAP. I have it in a book, but I’m sure it’s somewhere on the internet, as is everything else.

  • emjaybee

    February 15, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    See,just having the same equipment still doesn’t entitle you to decide for another person, in my view, and I have never understood “looking like Dad.” A young boy does NOT look like his dad in that respect, and after puberty, they aren’t going to be showing their stuff to each other.
    It’s my son’s body, and his choice, when he’s grown, whether to keep it or trim it. They used to take kid’s tonsils and appendixes out a lot more on the principle that those things tended to get infected, but they don’t now. I feel the same way about the prepuce; it might cause problems later, like any other body part, but I’m not going to slice it off just in case. I’ve seen no evidence (but heard plenty of “it happened to this boy I know” secondhand stories) that leaving boys intact is any kind of true risk factor.
    And yeah, I’m kind of judgemental about this choice, because causing kids unnecessary pain seems hard to justify. Same reason I don’t like the way some families pierce the ears of baby girls.

  • Veronica

    February 15, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I don’t think I would have my boys circumcised (I only have a little girl at the moment) unless there was a medical reason to have it done.
    That said, I am not going to question someone elses decision to have it done.
    However, I am in Australia and it isn’t really a common procedure here anymore.

  • Christie

    February 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm

    You’re definitely right that the AAP is of no assistance. However, the World Health Organization, who is more reputable and less worried about being PC than the AAP, is pro-circumcision. You can look up their stances if you’re curious.
    As far as the comment from someone else, the funniest thing is I’m AGAINST infant ear piercing. You’re right, it’s pain for aesthetics. However, circumcision is not.
    Nor is it mutilation.
    Anyway, to the OP, probably the best thing you can do is do more research, from UNBIASED organizations and science journals. Doctors Against Circumcision would say that it was torture and horrible even if it was found to CURE cancer. They’re not a good source.
    On the same token, though, pro-circumcision websites aren’t the best either.
    You want to look at things like UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and other medical journals and studies.
    Good luck with your decision and thoughts.

  • Howard

    February 15, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    When my son was born there was no question that he would keep all his parts. A foreskin is a very useful and extremely erogenous structure. All mammals are born with one. Are we so arrogant that we think “nature” made a mistake?
    Circumcision is irreversible. Once the foreskin has been wacked off – it is gone for ever, and there are many men out there who are really bitter that someone stole that choice from them.
    Scandinavia has a circumcision rate of 0.006%, so they obviously treat problems medicaly, not surgicaly. It seems that in North America most “problems” diagnosed by our doctors are not problems at all, and those that are, can be easily treated by far less invasive procedures than amputation. Our medical community needs to be educated.
    I believe that circumcision is a decision that only the owner of the penis should make – after he is an adult.

  • amy

    February 15, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    I’m having a hard time reading any of the comments about having to have circ’s later in life due to non-retraction (normal until/through puberty people) or infections (not related to foreskin… circumsized men can get infections too). I personally think babies go through enough rings of he!! to get here that they don’t need yet another procedure done once they make it. Needless to say I’m not fond of piercing infant girls’ ears to make them pretty either… make of that what you will.
    My son had a bladder infection, that my MIL tried to tell me had to do with his foreskin. Really? In his BLADDER?! From his FORESKIN?! HER doctor also informed me that because his foreskin doesn’t retract yet (he’s 5yrs) that I had to bathe him daily (yes, DAILY) and forcibly retract/stretch the skin until it was easy to retract.
    Sooo… I had to fondle my son’s penis and cause him undue pain by forcing his skin back when it naturally will loosen and retract on it’s own when he goes through puberty… hmmmmm. So the person who’s 11 or 12 yo son wasn’t retracting yet? That was normal. Unless he’d already gone through puberty.

  • Nicole

    February 15, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    My son was born while we were living in the Czech Republic, where circumcision is very uncommon. We would have had to work pretty hard to get him circumcised, and I was rather against it anyway. I did tell my husband that since he was an expert in all things penile that he should have the final say, but in the end we both decided that “looking like daddy” was not reason enough to seek out elective surgery on a baby.
    Honestly, though, I can’t understand why this–like so many things in parenthood–get so frackin’ heated every time they are discussed. I don’t see roving gangs of mohels attacking the defenseless babies of circumcision opponents. I think sometimes that these perennial argument topics are a great way of making sure that parents in the U.S. don’t have the time to really think about how shitty American parents have it compared to the rest of the world. We’re all too busy yelling at each other over the Internet (and sending troll-ish emails to perfect strangers) to revolt and demand crazy things like, you know, parental leave and health insurance.

  • Joe

    February 15, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    I think the most interesting thing about this whole debate is that the only people who seem to have a problem not circumcising their sons (for non-religious reasons) are Americans. Unless you are Jewish or Muslim, nobody circumcises routinely in any other part of the world. Why is that? The medical circumcision rate in the rest of the world is often on the order of a few in 100,000. Why is it that Americans seem to have problems with their foreskins?
    Just about any benefit put forth is either a myth or such a trifle it is laughable. UTIs, if they occur, are treated with antibiotics; STDs are not more common in intact males;16925903 the American Cancer Society had to put out this statement about penile cancer but that myth still persists
    Since the HIV study came out the Australian Federation of AIDS Organization published this statement: the French National council on AIDS published a similar statement (Are we more like Australia and France or Africa?) The last two Australian states have discontinued public funding for circumcision (Victoria and South Australia,23599,22741465-421,00.html ) and the Tasmanian Children’s Commissioner, Paul Mason, received the support of the American Medical Association to ban non-medical/non-religious circumcision this December:
    It seems the rest of the world doesn’t have some chronic problems with their foreskins. What are Americans doing wrong and when are we going to join the rest of the Western world and finally leave this hang over from late 19th century and early 20th century medicine to history where it belongs?

  • Jewel

    February 15, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    My (circumcised) husband had no more right than I to make the decision; since he doesn’t have a foreskin, he _does not_ have the equipment. He has only his cultural conditioning and his prejudices.
    I look at it like this: Who owns the child’s body? Either God owns his body or the child owns his body. Neither the mother nor the father owns the baby’s body. If you believe God owns the child’s body, then you should circumcise if and only if you are Jewish, since Jews are the only people who have received a direct command from God to alter His perfect design. If you believe the child owns his body, then you should not force surgical genital modification on him when he is too small to defend himslef, but should leave the decision up to him when he is mature enough to weigh the pros and cons and take into account his own personal preferences.
    My child’s private parts are his PRIVATE parts. My personal preferences as far as appearance, fashion, and sex are irrelevant. His body, his choice.

  • alice


    February 15, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Ugh, Dwayne, I can’t believe I did that. You’re right, confusing HIV with AIDS is idiotic and offensive, and I’ll make the changes now.

  • alice


    February 15, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    Oh, Nicole, I love you. Roving gangs of mohels! Ba ha ha!

  • Tammy

    February 15, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I’m in the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” camp. All the “if you don’t get your son circumised, he’ll be sexually unpopular, yet he’ll somehow contract HIV anyway” arguments seem to focus on a statistical minority. Also, I’m squeamish.
    Fortunately, my husband agrees with me, despite being circumcised himself. He doesn’t quite get the argument that fathers and sons should have matching penises (penii?). He asked if our (theoretical) daughters should get boob jobs so that they match mine. Good point, that.

  • Sonja

    February 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    We thought about this issue before both of our children were born and had decided not to circumcise. Then we had two girls and it wasn’t an issue. Aha! That wasn’t particularly interesting, nor did it add anything to this topic. But wait! Both my partner and I got pregnant via artificial insemination, and the sperm bank we used is called Rainbow Flag Health Services, and in their contract is a stipulation that the recipient (of the sperm) agrees NOT to circumcise their child. I’m not really sure that’s legal nor how they would go about enforcing that stipulation. But as we weren’t going to circumcise anyway, it mattered naught to us.

  • Laura

    February 15, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I left my 7 yo intact. Routine infant circumcision (ric) is a painful surgical procedure that is without medical justification. No medical organization in the world actually recommends that infants be circumcised to prevent anything. The study on urinary tract infections was shown to be skewed as it used many preemie males that were left intact. We all know that preemies have higher rates of infections. And it is true, as noted in a previous post that girls are much more likely to have a UTI, yet they are treated with antibiotics, not surgery. Penile cancer–men are more likely -intact or circumcised, to get breast cancer yet we are not surgically removing breast tissue? The american cancer society does NOT recommend circumcision as a means to prevent penile cancer. The foreskin has many functions and even if it is shown to reduce the rate of HIV transmission, condoms work better. There are many circumcised men here in the states that have HIV–it does not prevent HIV transmission, why not remove the whole penis? That would surely prevent a lot of things don’t ya think?

  • Laura

    February 15, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Wanted to add…you do kow why circumcision started in the US right–to lessen masturbation. I wonder why removing the foreskin would lessen it…hmmmm…well it must be because the foreskin is a very pleasurable thing to have!

  • Shandra

    February 15, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    We are Canadian, and hospitals don’t do circumcision as a matter of course… you can, if you can find an ob who does it, pay for the procedure. We didn’t. No problems thus far.

  • indie

    February 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm

    After doing a lot of research, I did not circumcise our son.
    As for the HIV studies, a more recent study in the U.S. showed that it did NOT work. I think that there were flaws in the Africa study. Either way, it is simply not ethical to promote the removal of a portion of the genitals to possibly help prevent a disease which can be prevented with a condom or monogamy with an uninfected partner.
    I’ve never understood the UTI argument either. When I get a UTI I simply drink real cranberry juice (not cocktail). If that didn’t work I would get antibiotics. I would NEVER consider cutting off part of my genitals nor would I cut the genitals of my little girls for this reason. That’s an extreme and permanent answer to a temporary problem.
    And the hygiene excuse is so silly. There’s this thing called a shower. Use it.
    I hear people say that they know guys who had a problem because they were not circumcised. This is rare in countries where they do not circumcise because they know how to take care of it. In the U.S. doctors frequently tell parents to retract the foreskin. This is wrong and can cause a lot of the problems that people blame on the forskin. It is not the foreskin’s fault. It is the mistreatment of the foreskin.
    Caring for an intact baby is simple. Clean the penis like you would a finger. Do NOT retract. When he becomes able to retract it himself (usually around age four I think but commonly as late as the teen years) make sure that he knows to retract and clean when he bathes. You shouldn’t have any trouble convincing him to play with it. 🙂 Rarely it does not become retractable on schedule. If that is the case, he can get a cream from the doctor and/or do stretching. Circumcision is not necessary when the problem can be taken care of with a simple cream.
    I have a friend who regrets circumcising her sons. When I’ve changed their diapers I’ve been so appalled at how their little penises look. My son’s penis just looks so normal. I’m so thankful that I found this information before I had a son because I could have made a mistake that I would deeply regret.

  • Sue Sinclair

    February 15, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    The arguments in favour of circumcision have never resonated with me. Previous posters have covered all of the good counters to the common pro-circ claims (hygene, societal pressure, STI rates, etc.). They are all flawed in my mind. In any case, my reaction to them wasn’t nearly as emotional as it is now, after finding out exactly what is invovled in the proceedure as well as the risks. I saw this video (as well as others) and was physically ill. It is horrifying to me. Sometimes I wonder if people really understand what is involved when they make this choice for their sons?
    For the record, I have a beautiful, intact 17m.o. son.

  • Fairly Odd Mother

    February 15, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    We left our guy alone. I figured that anything involving the removal of skin from his most-personal-of-areas may be something he’d want to decide on his own (heck, I wouldn’t even pierce my girls’ ears!). Plus, I found out that our insurance would cover the procedure whenever it was done, so that was another reason to wait.
    The biggest arguments I heard from people I knew who were in favor of circ were A) they want their sons to look like their dads; B) kids in school will make fun of them. For A), I asked my husband if he ever compared his penis to his dad’s—the answer was a horrified “NO!” followed by a shudder; For B), we knew we were homeschooling, so our son will have to overcome the stigma that he is a nerdy goofball already; a funky looking organ isn’t going to help or hurt him.
    I just don’t think he’ll ever be able to work in porn, though. His ‘type’ doesn’t seem to be the standard.

  • finnsmama

    February 15, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    I have two sons. Both were born perfect and got to stay that way.
    And I agree that it’s a personal decision, one that should be left up to the owner of the penis.

  • Katie

    February 15, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Thank goodness I learned about circumcision before my son was born! I left him and his two brothers perfectly intact.
    I think male infant circumcision should be illegal. There is no reason that a parent should be able to choose to have completely unnecessary cosmetic surgery performed on their newborn infant. I am literally sickened when I read comments from women saying they let their husband decide, or they did it because it “looks better”. Stand up and protect your babies, women! And how on earth do you suppose to know the sexual preferences of your baby’s future partner(s)? I am really annoyed when I read of all the misinformation out there – like that circumcised penises are cleaner, or that the foreskin must be retracted for cleaning, or that it must be retractable, or that it’s “just a snip”. I think that if American women would look at circumcision objectively and stand up for their babies’ rights, it would be stamped out within a generation or two.

  • O

    February 15, 2008 at 10:39 pm

    Ugh. Such a hard subject. My husband had it done. I didn’t want to do it to our sons. I was sorry I had a second son because I regretted doing the first. BUT the reason we did the first: my father in law and two of his three brothers all needed theirs surgically removed between ages of 6 and 11 for intensely painful problems which (understandably) he really didn’t want to go in to with me. And when it came down to it, it seemed to me that the only thing worse than doing it to a newborn was doing it to a fully cognizant 6 year old. I am not woman enough to deal with that kind of pain.
    Also, it Never Ever would have happened with anyone but my OBGYN, who explained a long, multilayered pain management approach. (Nursing, tylenol, skin numbing cream, nursing…) I hated every second. But I would have hated more the alternatives for a 6 year old (yes, I called a pediatrician and asked about what options boys have for circs) and would have cursed myself for not having the nerve to do it then.
    Not to introduce another hot button topic here, but it was like the cord blood decision. If one of my husband’s sisters didn’t have cancer at the time of our first son’s birth, I’m not sure I would have done it. But they were testing everyone to try to find stem cells that would save her life. They failed to find them. We banked the blood. Better to have them and not need them…

  • laura

    February 15, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    I did not cut my baby’s penis. I thought being birthed looked, and sounded painful and scary enough, what with all the head trauma, pulling, and then being thrust into this mortal coil. My husband told me he always thought it was wrong of his parents (namely his mother, we always get blamed for everything, don’t we?) to decide to cut him as a tiny precious red baby. If and when my son decides to have a circumcision,or breast implants,or prehensile flippers or tail put on or a perm or bleach/purple hair dye I will totally support him, I will hold his flipper/wing/tail as he undergoes any painful operations/modifications. His body belongs to him. And, all of my male gay friends cornered me with pretty knives and utensils and made me promise TO NEVER EVER CUT HIS PENIS. They claimed it was better, longer, stronger. Ahem. As for the cleaning part, that is up for dad to demonstrate, and with our running water and the rampant availability of soap I don’t expect there to be any problems with avoiding infection/dirt/stink etc.
    I do live in The West Coast,Portland (little Beirut, I am proud to say) so it is easier here, as lesbian dogs adopt human babies, and women/or trans-genders breast feed their 12 year old children named “Bush Lied.” in public.
    I empathize with families making this decision. We do what we can. We try.

  • TakeItAway

    February 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    The idea that circumcision is necessary is ridiculous. As was pointed out in the blog entry, the VAST majority of men all over the world are not cut and they’re perfectly fine and healthy.
    Circumcision-proponents spin themselves round and round trying to come up with reason after reason to justify it when it is very simple: Not your body, not your choice. There is no other part of a baby boy’s body that we would hack for “health benefits.” None. And yet, people delude themselves with things like, “Oh, it prevents UTIs.” Really? No, it doesn’t. And even if it did, UTIs are treatable with simple antibiotics and baby girls have UTIs three times more often than boys. But no one advocates to modify their genitalia because of it.
    As for circumcision preventing HIV, that’s the biggest crock of garbage cooked up since they said circumcision prevents HPV. It doesn’t. Only condoms offer protection from HIV.
    Circumcision is a permanent, altering surgery performed on a non-consenting person. How is it justifiable?

  • jess

    February 15, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Before our first son was born, I did all the research, and I was convinced that circumcision was cruel and wrong — the worst thing you could do to an innocent, pure baby. My husband read everything I fed him and agreed.
    Unfortunately, my son got repeated foreskin infections. We cleaned and cleaned and cleaned his penis — tried everything. Poor kid was in constant penis pain for months at age 5.
    In the end, we decided to end it all and circumcise him.
    And he remembers it.
    And it was horrible.
    But not as horrible as all the infections were.
    We had our second son circumcised. He didn’t seem to notice.
    I know lots of people whose sons don’t have any problems with their uncircumcised penises. But there was no WAY I was going to put a second kid through what my first son endured.
    Not saying circumcision is wonderful, but the alternative? If it turns out wrong, it’s WAY WORSE.

  • Mom

    February 15, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Another recent study pointed out what many lucky women already know – that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of a man’s penis. My husband is intact, and the presence of the foreskin is of benefit to both of us. Despite rumors to the contrary started by those who have not been there or done that, sex with intact men lasts longer AND is more fun for both parties.
    Circumcision rates are dropping in the USA – especially in the west coast. The little boys that are circumcised today may well end up as the minority.
    Our son, I am happy to say, is intact and perfect as God made him. I have no regrets, our son likes his penis and I am confident that the use of condoms will prevent my son from being infected with HIV/AIDS.

  • cagey

    February 15, 2008 at 11:57 pm

    I let my husband decide. He is not circumcised, because that is the cultural thing for Catholics in India.
    So…. we did have our son circumcised because that is the thing normally done here in the United States. Which is where we live. If we lived in India, the decision would have been different. Right? Wrong? It is cosmetic, for sure. I cannot claim otherwise.
    However, I am willing to admit our hypocrisy in that we did not want to pierce our daughter’s ears – which is another tradition in India. I told my husband that our daughter has to be able to VERBALIZE that she wants her ears pierced. He agreed.

  • Chava

    February 16, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Our first son was circumcised. We were stupid and didn’t know any better. The doctor asked, “Do you desire to circ?” Well I guess if you ask that way it must be necessary right? Wrong. Ask any doctor if its really necessary to impose cosmetic surgery, more appropriately termed PREPUCECTOMY (some call it circumcision), on healthy newborn sexual organs. They will say no. In the hospital they brought my newborn son to me screaming and showed me his bloody circ wound. I knew right then that I did something terribly wrong. Only I didn’t know it wasn’t medically necessary until we switched pediatricians shortly after the birth. Our new pediatrician is a Jew and when he took his first look at my sons overly aggressive circumcision he properly informed us saying, “You know, circumcision isn’t medically necessary.” I’d about fainted. THE FORESKIN IS NOT A BIRTH DEFECT PEOPLE! An INTACT adult penis will look no different than a circumcised penis WHEN HE IS ERECT! It takes a SICK MIND to want to see that on a newborn! Bare glans suggest a horny looking ADULT penis! I’ve since had two more boys and they’re as WHOLE as the day they were born and never had a problem with their NORMAL anatomy! Just say NO to circumcision. Despite what the article says, Circumcision IS BARBARIC and completely unnecessary. Don’t brand and maim babies like its some crime to be born male.

  • Amanda

    February 16, 2008 at 1:18 am

    My son is intact and I would have it no other way.
    NO ONE has the authority to tell my son which of his own body parts he can and can not keep.
    Circumcision is wrong. Period.

  • Chava

    February 16, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Not every Jew or Muslim circumcises their sons. Brit Shalom is a cut free naming ceremony, more and more Jews are choosing a Covenant without Cutting.
    The Qur’an never mentions circumcision. Its cultural baloney!

  • Poppy

    February 16, 2008 at 1:38 am

    My husband wanted to–he is–but I said no, my son is not a Great Dane, and he’s not getting bits of him cut off to make him “prettier.”
    And I got my way, because I’m a ball-crushing power-crazed bitch, and my husband is a circumcised wimp with pretty genitals.
    So there’s that. Fine, circumcise your sons. Just realize the results may not be all you hoped for.

  • pnuts mama

    February 16, 2008 at 2:07 am

    well, we’re expecting a boy this summer and are both on board with having him circ’ed- by our lovely pediatrician who also happens to be an orthodox jew. i actually do trust my husband’s judgment on this one in that he feels that boys are not so great on the hygiene front (especially as they reach adolescence) and he doesn’t really want his son coming up to him at some point wondering why his thing has turned black…
    ok i know i’m trying to make light of the subject, but i can’t get over how this has turned into another one of these *things*= i think nicole is right on when she states that we spend too much time on non-issues like this instead of the important stuff like why aren’t we all insured and why don’t we get longer and paid maternity and paternity leaves? sigh.
    i am really offended by the comparison of female genital mutilation to circumcision, however. in cultures where females are routinely mutilated just as they reach puberty *to prevent them from having any sexual enjoyment at all* it is an act of power and oppression and repression of women. i defy any of you to find a circumcised man and ask him if he is a) unable to reach orgasm either manually, orally or through intercourse because he is without his foreskin or b) feeling like he is repressed in any way by his culture due to the fact that he is circumcised.
    my understanding of the religious significance of circumcision for jews (and then christians) and muslims was originally based on hygiene as well as covenant with god to show kinship with the group who recognized the monotheistic god yahweh. for those of us who believe in that, it’s kind of hard to listen to the whole “you’re abusing your child with an unnecessary painful procedure” crowd. if a two minute procedure that my son will never remember is the most painful thing he ever has to experience i’ll consider us lucky.
    but the whole linking circ. to brain damage and violence? wow. talk about confusing causation with correlation, if that is even true! i mean, i don’t even know where to begin on that. it’s one thing to say circ. reduces sexual pleasure for men (which again, i’d have to defer to my husband who would seem to disagree) but to then link it to the tragedies of gun violence in schools? wow. just, wow.

  • carriesegall

    February 16, 2008 at 5:26 am

    Same situation, Alice — Jewish Dad insisted on it, so I agreed as long as it was done in the hospital. Now I don’t know how this is done elsewhere, but at the hospital where I gave birth the circumcisions are done by obs — who specialize in the care of adult women and have nothing to do with baby boys. From the start we thought our little boy’s didn’t look quite right, so we asked the pediatrician at his 2 week check up. His response was, “this child has been circumcised? You can’t tell. Better have it done again… and soon. Once he’s a little bigger he’ll need stitches.” So we schlepped off to a different ob to have the procedure redone. Yep, my son was circumcised twice — while I sat in the waiting room trying to remember how to breath. Good thing our next one was a girl, because I don’t think I would have put another child through that no matter how Jewish his Dad is!
    But it’s a personal choice and I respect which ever way a parent chooses to go.

  • aviva

    February 16, 2008 at 7:18 am

    When I was pregnant, we didn’t find out whether it was going to be a boy or girl. I’m Jewish. If it was a boy, we decided to do the circumcision in the hospital while we were there, not have a bris. (My husband isn’t Jewish, but IS circumcised and said that if it was a boy he’d look the same “down there” as he did, so there.)
    A friend of mine at the time was dating a Jewish guy (so he WAS circumcised) who I didn’t know very well, who sent me an email detailing his unsolicited opinion that circumcision is a mutilating procedure and asking me NOT to circumcise my male child if it should be male. He attached graphic disgusting pictures and I cried and begged him to never email me or mention this again. The nerve!
    Well, I had a girl. And I think it’s up to whomever the parents are and how they feel. But if I had a boy I would agree with you – I’d have him circumcised in the sterile hospital by a doctor with sterile instruments. My piece has been said.

  • moms

    February 16, 2008 at 7:54 am

    We circumcised and had a bris — ME, a nice Catholic girl! My dear parents, who paid for 12 years of Catholic schooling, attended and were nice about the whole thing. The bris was important to the Jewish dad, my dear husband. I wasn’t super crazy about it, though. Turned out that one of the doctors in my OB practice did brises, so that helped seal the decision. In the end, we all survived. Looking back, should there be a (male) baby #2, I’ll probably skip the bris. The snip-snip was over pretty quick and I witnessed the whole thing. However, I’m not eager to go through it again. Also? It just so happened that the bris was on my birthday. I wouldn’t recommend the birthday-bris combo.

  • Will

    February 16, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I took a human sexuality class in college, with a teacher who was well respected in his field. Anyway at one point we looked at a study done in Sweden that found the AVERAGE age of natural retraction for boys was around the age of 12. So any doctor who tells you your 5 year old needs to retract his foreskin, is a doctor who has only studied in a American Medical school (where the natural penis is rarely discussed)
    If you go to most of the world, you will find it extremely rare for a intact man to get a lot of infections. The reason we see so many stories about uncircumcised boys getting infections on this comment wall is because parents are told to forcably retract their sons foreskin. This act is what causes the high infection rate, because it is not natural for most uncircumcised boys to have a foreskin that can retract.

  • kate

    February 16, 2008 at 11:15 am

    I’m totally against it. We ended up with a girl, but there’s no way we would have circumcised. My (European) husband is uncut and shudders at the thought. Without going into too much detail, he had a problem in his early teens and got it fixed, but there was no need to take anything OFF. I’m a bit puzzled by the stories of late circumcision because of this and can’t help but feel that it’s a cultural difference in medicine. And having had partners that had crew necks and partners that had turtle necks, I’d choose a turtleneck (you know in that imaginary situation where I somehow have the choice between two hunks…). I understand the religious reasons, but even so, I’m not sure I would choose to do it. I wouldn’t choose to circumcise my daughter so why would I do it to my son? A conservative Jewish friend of mine went through with it for her baby, but said it was “horrific” and wishes they could have chosen not to. Anyway, I respect the choice to do it and I’m not about to shun my friends who’ve done it, but I don’t necessarily agree with it.

  • Laura MacDonald

    February 16, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I wonder how those pro circumcision mums who’ve commented on here feel about the mums in other parts of the world who have their daughters’ foreskin or labia sliced off in infancy or childhood? [examples Egypt, Indonesia, Afghanistan, parts of Africa and the Middle East]
    Is that justified if it reduces her smegma? makes a man more likely to want to go down on her? makes her less likely to be bullied at school as everyone else is cut too?
    Is it justified, when as it typically has been in Egypt, it is done by a doctor? A doctor who tells the parent the little girl will be less likely to get cancer and HIV and her husband will like the look of it better cut?
    Mums of America you need to wake up to your vicious hypocrisy on this issue.

  • Angelina

    February 16, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I have two sons and both are intact(natural). My husband and I are against genital mutilation on boys and girls. I recently came across a book titled:’Sex As Nature Intended It.’ After reading it…it became obvious to me, why I enjoy sex so much with my sexually intact husband.
    It’s the first book to detail the many sexual functions and benefits of the foreskin.
    Benefits for—not only the man—but especially for the woman on the receiving end of the penis during intercourse.
    It clearly explains:
    The foreskin has a purpose — a sexual purpose. And during the intimacy of sexual intercourse,
    the foreskin. . . ultra-erogenous tissue and the penis’s only moving part . . . not only makes a difference, a superlative difference, in a man’s
    sexual pleasure, but its presence during intercourse also makes a phenomenally greater difference to the woman on the receiving end
    of the penis, enhancing her pleasure and comfort immensely, and substantially increasing her rate of orgasmic success.
    Conversely: Circumcision has newly-revealed, adverse effects on the sexuality of both the man and his female partner causing profound detrimental consequences on the way they experience intercourse, diminishing their pleasure to an astounding degree.
    How circumcision adversely alters a man’s sexual performance
    —to his detriment, and to his female partner’s.
    Why the surgical-altered, circumcised penis makes it difficult —in some cases impossible—for most American women to achieve orgasm from intercourse.
    Why millions of American women routinely experience
    chafing, redness, soreness, and discomfort (even pain)
    as a consequence of “circumcised intercourse”

  • Ishkadebble

    February 16, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    Being female and childless, I haven’t had to make a decision either way. But for those of you struggling with the pros and cons of circumcision, I can at least share with you what I have learned so far from men in regards to their own penis and circumcision issues.
    Not one of the uncircumcised men with whom I have been involved has had any problems, ever. Three of my circumcised lovers had issues related to being cut. And for whatever reason, my most pleasurable intercourse happened to be with my uncut lovers. I figured this was just coincidence, as a little bit of skin just doesn’t seem as if it could make such a difference. But I have spoken with other women who have experienced enhanced pleasure that they ascribe to the uncut status of their lover. And my uncut lovers appeared to experience a higher level of pleasure….
    I personally believe that the medical arguments for circumcision are quite inconclusive. HIV or STD transmission? Condoms. Hygiene? Teach your sons. You teach them to clean the reset of their body, right? Retraction? If a problem does develop, which seems rare, then it can be addressed. But once cut, always cut.
    There are those of you with religious, cultural, and family traditions that define appropriate treatment for a penis. I respect that those issues will probably be more compelling, and more difficult to resolve emotionally, than medical arguments. It is not my place to tell you to apply my personal and cultural opinions to your life.
    But I can say that many of my circumcised friends and lovers truly wish they had not been cut. And that none of my uncircumcised friends and lovers wished they had been cut – even a couple of religious Jewish men who experienced the complicated realities of being uncircumcised in spite of the religious convictions of their family and the interesting locker room issues that they had to navigate. Including for one man, taking a leak on the day of his Bar Mitvah and having his uncut penis commented on in the Temple bathroom. It wasn’t traumatic at all – he ended up having an amazing dialogue with a devout 75 year male who himself had had a “bad” cut and wished that circumcision was a personal decision and that he couldn’t see how a little flap of flesh could impair one’s faith!!!

  • Tina

    February 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I can’t believe I’m going to be the first person to reveal this reason for leaving our son uncircumsized. It wasn’t a decision based on studies, although we did look into the reasoning on both sides.
    DUDE. The baby! He was so little and cute! We could not cut him! We could not have him cut! He’s just a little peanut! He just got here! No scalpels! My word! You can sweep around the area with a stuffed animal, doctor, and if his foreskin falls off, then that’s fine. But that’s it.
    Are we wimps? Indubitably. Were we wrong? Who knows. However, we totally passed the buck on that one. And THAT is the truth.
    (Finn, it’s all on you, buddy. When you grow up, you can thank us or curse us. Either way, we’ll understand.)

  • Hugh

    February 16, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I can’t believe how shallow some of the reasons given for cutting an integral, healthy part of a baby’s genitals off are.
    “the old guys who aren’t circumsized don’t always recieve the proper care that the foreskin requires.” So GIVE them the proper care already! You’d cut BABIES for that reason?
    “blow jobs”? Find more committed women.
    “To each his own” Absolutely! That is, to each male, his own decision about having part of his penis cut off. The vast majority decide to keep it – and that’s reason enough for leaving them.
    “His dad’s Jewish” 1) Orthodoxy says if his MOTHER isn’t Jewish, he isn’t either. 2) Hospital circumcision without ritual has nothing to do with Judaism. An excellent book on this is “Marked In Your Flesh” by Leonard Glick.
    “To look like his father” Just his luck if his father’s lost an arm or a leg…
    HIV and STIs? Check the Numbers Needed to Treat. In Africa it would take 30-50 circumcisions to prevent one HIV transmission, much more where the AIDS rates are lower. The much-touted STI study actually found more than 20 circumcisions would be needed to prevent one minor, treatable STI, but that got very little publicity.
    “Some kid got teased at school” Kids will tease for anything or nothing, sometimes just because the kid reacts to it. With circumcision rates falling, it’s the circumcised kids who are going to be teased from here on.

  • Laura MacDonald

    February 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Tina you just restored my faith in motherhood! Thank you.

  • Reverie

    February 16, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I have two sons–17 & 14–who aren’t circumcised. My husband is, so we didn’t make our decision lightly. I read everything available in 1990, and still based my decision as much on my heart as my head. My husband went along with me, and I was grateful for his support.
    I don’t think there is a right or wrong decision regarding circumcision, but I do think parents should discuss and understand both options.
    Whatever your choice, teach your sons to believe in themselves and be comfortable with their bodies.

  • chark

    February 16, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Previously, I would defer to my husband, but after what happened when my now 3 month old nephew got the snip. His father insisted something wasn’t right, it didn’t look right (he’s also circed). My sister, thought it was fine, she asked the doc, and it was all good.
    At his 6 week appointment, though, they asked the doc (different one) again. He said.. well, yeah. You’re right. the skin of the penis where it was cut has attached itself to the head of the penis. There were two options. PULL the skin off the penis, or have another surgery.
    They elected to pull the skin as they didn’t want him subject to more surgery.
    It took pulling his skin back every couple days for 3 weeks to correct the problem.
    Had they not done it, and caught it in time, it would have wreaked havoc one he started getting erections. Where the skin was attached to the head the penis would curve sharply (it wouldn’t be able to engorge correctly) My nephew was worst case, because the skin was attacched all the way around. He would not have been able to have an erection.
    My point is this: Circs have thier own list of complications.. It’s not just cut and go. You have to be careful, either way you choose.

  • Jen @ amazingtrips

    February 17, 2008 at 12:11 am

    When our GGB (girl, girl, boy) triplets were born nine weeks prematurely, I was still on the fence regarding circumcision. Fortunately, circumcising our son wasn’t an option at birth because he was so premature. He was in the hospital NICU for six weeks and our pediatrician would not have circumcised him after he was six weeks old w/o anesthesia, nor would he circumcise a baby that was still three weeks premature.
    We had the option to have him circumcised when he went in for a hernia repair at 10-months old, but by that time, I had done a load of research, spoken with several men who were uncircumcised – and many who were circumcised later in life with much regret – and ultimately, we decided to leave things as nature intended.
    We had our second baby boy this past July. He was born full-term and I was asked if we wanted to have him circumcised in the hospital. I’m grateful that I had so much time to think things through with our first son because I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d had our singleton first. In my opinion, there seems to be so much pressure to circumcise and by in large, all the males I know ARE circumcised (w/ the exception of my husband but oddly, he didn’t have a strong opinion one way or the other). Seeing as we’d already made the decision once, we made the same decision again.
    Now I believe that unless there are religious or cultural reasons, I see no need to circumcise. Thus far, my husband nor my two sons have had any issues. In regards to the anon poster: I believe this topic is a very private matter, but if it can help someone make their decision (one way or the other), I think it is important to discuss it here and there and everywhere. That’s why I wrote about it on my blog back in June.

  • Eliza

    February 17, 2008 at 1:13 am

    My husband is Jewish too. When we initially discussed circumcising our son, he wanted to do it. I really didn’t want to… mostly because I felt that circumcision isn’t medically necessary and I also didn’t feel like it was our decision to make. We talked about it for a while, and he eventually came around we decided we wouldn’t do it. One big consideration is that we lived in Seattle at the time where the ratio of circumcised infants to non-circumcised ones was about 50/50, so we knew he wouldn’t be the only one in the locker room.
    We did not tell my husband’s mother. She found out inadvertently when our son was about 10 months old and threw an astounding fit. She was visiting us at the time and actually booked a flight back to New Jersey that very afternoon. Oh, and she also “disowned us.”
    She has since come around and everything is kosher again (ha!) but it really made me realize that people have VERY strong opinions about this subject. But even after all that’s happened, I still don’t regret our decision.

  • Mo

    February 17, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Our son isn’t circumcised. It was an easy decision and I’m glad my husband and I were on the same page. If we don’t want our sons to be at risk for STDs, let’s make sure we educate them and have open lines of communication so that they have the tools to make smart choices.

  • meghan

    February 17, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Our son is almost 4. Or 3 and 11/12 as he would prefer me to say it. We did not get the thing cut off. Seemed like a waste of money and a bit barbaric. We did no research, read no books about it, we just decided that our son was not getting the deed done.
    And then I never thought about it again until he went to his one year check up. The Doctor was doing the regular routine of checking the screaming one year old’s parts and he asked if my son was circ’d. I said he wasn’t. So you can imagine my horror and surprise when the doctor reached down there and suddenly started to pull the foreskin back on my little baby, who of course screamed the loudest scream he had ever made. Because he was basically being molested by an old man in front of his mom.
    I said, “Can you stop doing that right now?”
    And he did. He stopped doing that and told me that I would have to do “that” if his foreskin didn’t start to do it on it’s own. I just grunted and we walked out.
    Needless to say I do not stretch my son’s foreskin. He plays with it enough as it is, I am sure it’s all streched out by now. And he has had an infection down there once, we treated it with drugs, not the knife.

  • caramama

    February 17, 2008 at 11:34 am

    The comparison to FGM/FGC: Actually, there are four types of FGM/FGC (the term now is Female Genital Cutting) defined by WHO, including just the removal or splitting of the clitoral hood. You can read about it on the WHO website: Also, Wikipedia has good information:
    IMO, cutting a male’s genitals is very similar to cutting a female’s genitals.

  • DML

    February 17, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Ooh, this was a big argument around here, as I’m from the UK, where it’s not common and I really couldn’t see any point to it. I did lots of research and ended up deciding that, while I’m not for it, the actual health implications for either side of the debate were only slight, if that.
    So, in the interests of world peace, I finally said that my husband could make the final decision, if it meant that much to him. He saw a newborn wailing right after having the procedure done and changed his mind on the spot: no circumcision for my son.
    It’s been a relief to read here that foreskins don’t have to retract by 5 years old, though – we were getting worried (my brother had a late circumcision). No one has a clue about foreskins around here, as they all lost theirs at an early age!

  • Frankie

    February 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Well. I have no choice, really, except to make desicions regarding body parts I don’t have. I am a lesbian. I have a son. That line of thinking is kind of unrealistic considering that as parents of any gender, we routinely have to make decision for our children of any gender based on the fact that we are grown ups and can read and research and what not….
    I also disagree with comapring FGM to Circ. Another commenter has already pointed out why this is not really a valid comaprison, except on the very surface. The whole, FGM is done at puberty to eliminate sexual pleasure thing… not the point of male circ… anyway..
    All that said, I think the decision is personal and more power to whatever anyone decides. I know lots of moms who did not snip and their sons are happy and healthy and doing great! I know lots of moms (myself included) who did snip and our kids are also happy and healthy. My son did not cry a lot as an infant and was only inconsolable when he had his one ear infection.
    So, you know… whatever.

  • Frankie

    February 17, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Wow. I didn’t read through all of the comments before commenting myself. I now have two more things to say.
    First of all, to Laura who said:
    “do live in The West Coast,Portland (little Beirut, I am proud to say) so it is easier here, as lesbian dogs adopt human babies, and women/or trans-genders breast feed their 12 year old children named “Bush Lied.” in public.
    I empathize with families making this decision. We do what we can. We try.”
    You crack me the hell up!!! Children named “Bush lies” HAHAHA!!!!
    Second, to all of the commenters actually judging a persons quality as a mother based on their decision to circ their child…. wow. I can ASSURE you that you would not want your personal decisions scrutinized by some judgmental stranger on the internet. No one is a bad mother or an unconcerned mother because they decided to snip their child, no matter WHAT the reason for doing it. We routinely make decisions for our children and YES< some of them DO involve removing body parts… it’s called being a parent and everyone does the best they can out of love for their children and the information they have availbale to them at the time combined with their own personal experience.
    Circumcision is NOT “wrong no matter what”. How can anyone make such a blanket statement??? It is a personal choice.
    I guess I am just appalled at how absolute some mothers are sounding, as if they know for a fact they are correct. People whose JOB is to research these issues and give us answers don’t know for a fact they are correct…The research is conflicting…so I would be interested to know how ANYONE can know for a fact that they are correct. Except in their own personal lives and for themselves.

  • heather

    February 17, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    3 years ago we read all the research and decided not to do it. I was sort of on the fence, and my husband (again, the issue of having the same physiology giving his opinion more weight) decided he’d rather let things alone. I was glad he felt that way.
    Then, after having the baby, more than a few of the nurses on the postpartum ward told me they hadn’t had their sons circumcised, either. By and large they said “it’s no big deal, he’ll be fine.”
    I agree that it should remain a decision made by the parents and supported by the medical establishment, whichever way the decision goes.

  • lisa

    February 17, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    Ummmm, I gave birth twice to 9lb plus babies naturally. It hurt like hell to say the least. Nonetheless, I don’t really remember the pain. Physical pain does not haunt the way emotional pain does. My point is: to argue that the baby does not need this added pain is not really valid. He won’t remember, and it won’t scar him.
    What he will remember is having to be circumcised as an adult, which happens quite often and is really, really awful. Plus, the blowjob thing; totally true. Uncircumsized dick is yucky looking. I know I’m not the only one who thinks that.
    I would never let fashion dictate such an important decision. It’s like the ultimate boho-green parent statement right now. Weird.
    Plus, the last thing I want to have to do is worry about cleaning a penis with q tips or whatever. Having to wipe someone else’s ass for five or so years is truly bad enough. Cheers.

  • Sarah

    February 17, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hi-It is definitely a personal and private decision. We did not circumsize either of our two boys. The biggest issue I’ve discovered is that doctors and nurses do NOT know what they are talking about 1/2 the time when giving info on caring for uncircumsized penises. We live in the midwest and myself and several friends have been told the wrong things. You should not touch your son’s foreskin when they are little. Just like AMY said, it will loosen on it’s own after puberty. I already have one friend whose doctor insisted her 4 year old be circumsized since it hadn’t retracted yet. And he was a urologist. WTF? The other three points I wanted to make were that I also know several boys who after circumsision had to have repeat similar procedures due to re-adhesion. One was done with anesthesia, one without. And lastly, do men in nursing homes really get more infections than women? Women have more folds of skin and tissue to clean than the foreskin of a penis, but yet we never discuss removing the labia to prevent infections when we are invalids??? Lastly, even if the increased transmission of HIV is real, we should be more concerned with the safe sex of our children, than removing the foreskin in the hopes of REDUCING the likelihood of transmission. Good luck with the decision new parents! It is tough!

  • LW

    February 17, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Circumcision is common, but it should not be considered natural. The male foreskin reflects a decision by Nature/God to include it as a part of the male genitalia. Much of the comments that support circumcision can be categorized as a)ignorance b)laziness c)prejudice. None of these responders display any understanding or respect for the inherent wisdom built into the male genitalia by Nature/God.
    Parents before you damage another son or for anyone else interested, please read this study by a renown pain specialist.
    Anna Taddio, a pain specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, noticed more than a decade ago that the male infants she treated seemed more sensitive to pain than their female counterparts. This discrepancy, she reasoned, could be due to sex hormones, to anatomical differences — or to a painful event experienced by many boys: circumcision. In a study of 87 baby boys, Taddio found that those who had been circumcised soon after birth reacted more strongly and cried for longer than uncircumcised boys when they received a vaccination shot four to six months later. Among the circumcised boys, those who had received an analgesic cream at the time of the surgery cried less while getting the immunization than those circumcised without pain relief.
    Taddio concluded that a single painful event could produce effects lasting for months, and perhaps much longer. “When we do something to a baby that is not an expected part of its normal development, especially at a very early stage, we may actually change the way the nervous system is wired,” she says. Early encounters with pain may alter the threshold at which pain is felt later on, making a child hypersensitive to pain — or, alternatively, dangerously indifferent to it. Lasting effects might also include emotional and behavioral problems like anxiety and depression, even learning disabilities (though these findings are far more tentative).

  • Claire

    February 18, 2008 at 12:29 am

    I have two sons; both were circumcised shortly after birth. I deferred all decision-making in this process to my husband, you know, the one with the equipment. He is also circumcised.
    I’m not really for or against. I do, however, find it quite hilarious that anti-circ advocates cite that circ’ed individuals will experience decreased penile sensation. My husband doesn’t think it’s possible for him to get more boners in a day as it is.

  • Lisa C.

    February 18, 2008 at 1:00 am

    My husband is culturally Muslim. In his culture, all males are circumcised. When I got pregnant in 2002 I knew nothing about circumcision other than the fact that my parents circumcised my brother when he was a baby. Since my husband was insistent about it, and I didn’t know much either way, we had our son circumcised.
    For me, it was the wrong thing to do. I wish I had done more research before hand. Honestly it’s one of the main reasons we won’t be having any more kids… I don’t think I could accept circumcising another child.
    However, I DO think it is a decision that should be made within families.

  • Tamara

    February 18, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Two sons, neither circumcised. I finally won my husband over to the “Don’t do it” camp when I researched the current rates of circumcision here in the US, and it’s about 50%. Point being, ours sons won’t look different than their peers if there is an even split. I’m Jewish as well, but feel pretty firmly that (not doing) this procedure won’t make them any/more or less Jewish than, say, actual religious observation. It does seem ridiculous to do this to infants.
    And have you seen any photos of the procedure? That might turn you against it right there.

  • Michelle

    February 18, 2008 at 3:04 am

    I have 3 sons. We are not Jewish or Muslim and saw absolutely no reason to circumcize our sons although my husband is. My two oldest were born in the US, but my youngest was born in Australia. You have to specifically request it here now if you want it. So that works out well, as the majority of boys are uncut and my sons will grow up, I assume, not being too self conscious about it. It was a no-brainer for us in general.

  • Julie D.

    February 18, 2008 at 5:53 am

    I have 2 sons. The oldest is circumcised, the youngest is intact. Both are perfectly fine now, as far as I know, but trust me – leaving the baby intact (uncircumcised) is the way to go!
    My oldest was born when I was just out of high school. Honestly, I didn’t give it any thought, I just assumed that was what was done. My oldest had such a raw, bloody stump for weeks and cried his head off every time he wet his pants. I felt horrible and so did he!
    When I had my second son 6 years later I took time to interview a few pediatricians and read several good articles. It just made sense to leave the child as he was born. I figure he was born with those parts for a reason and why put him through surgery without a reason?
    Neither child has suffered through any infections or hygiene problems. The difference in appearance doesn’t bother them (if they even have noticed).
    I feel you’ve already received responses similar to what I’ve said, I just need to make a comment about the HIV and std issues. Basically, I’ll teach both of my children about having protected sexual encounters. The status of their penis IMO won’t do a thing to protect them either way. From what I understand, HIV is much higher in the US, which also has a higher circumcision rate than in places like Europe and South America, which has a lower HIV rate despite having a mostly intact population. Bottom line, you run the risk of HIV/std/pregnancy if you don’t wear a condom EVERY time!!! Anyone foolish enough to think having a foreskin removed will protect against disease will be sadly mistaken.
    And to the person who mentioned a man would only get oral sex if circumcised, I guess I don’t understand. Don’t they all look and work the same when erect? Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about here but I don’t think one can really tell a difference when it’s in an “excited” state. he he!

  • Jem

    February 18, 2008 at 7:21 am

    I don’t have kids, but I just wanted to say that in New Zealand, I suspect its really uncommon. I have never seen a circumised one (ooh-ahh) and although I’m not necessarily against, I wouldn’t see any reason to do it if not for religious reasons.

  • Jenny

    February 18, 2008 at 11:36 am

    My husband and I have decided not to circumcise. My husband is uncut, and we see no good reason to do it, so we’re defaulting to nature.
    Also, the blow job thing? Not seeing that as a reason. You need at least one hand involved, but as far as I know that’s useful no matter what.

  • Amy

    February 18, 2008 at 11:58 am

    As a nurse who has seen many an uncirced men, the decision was an easy one. Hygenie becomes an issue later on in life (especially with adolescents and the elderly) and many end having to do it then. The thought alone was traumatic to me! However, I had my son’s Dr do it in his office when he was a week old. By then, my milk had come in and he was much easier to console. Absolutely, let your Dr or a pediatrician perform the circ- I have also seen reconstructions from a resident’s botched job.

  • CJ

    February 18, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    We looked into it. I found enough evidence to convince me that it did some harm (removing such a sensitive part of the penis, plus the pain of the procedure and recovery), and no real benefit to anyone living in the United States. The HIV prevention thing really only applies to countries with extremely high prevalence AND cultural aversion to other forms of prevention, such as condoms. You’d have to circumcise a whole lot of babies in the U.S. to prevent one case of HIV. As for the other infections and cancer risks, I think good personal hygeine can take care of most of that, and the risks are still very small.
    I found one research article that concluded “the vast majority of people will derive no benefit from, nor be permanently harmed by, circumcision.” (I’m quoting from memory so it’s not verbatim.) Of course, that’s only true if you don’t consider removing one of the most sensitive parts of the penis to be permanent harm. Some people are also saying that newborns feel pain more accutely than older children and adults, since they have never felt pain previously. Obviously we chose not to circumcise.
    If you do choose to circumcise, I would definitely wait until the baby is at least a week old, or wait until the kid is 13 and can decide for himself.

  • Chava

    February 18, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Actually, circumcision is ALREADY illegal. All citizens have equal protection of the Laws. The current laws protecting girls from circumcision make no exemption to cultural, cosmetic, hygienic, religion, or medically unnecessary reasons. She also must wait to the age of 18 before undergoing the operation herself. The 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution states that, “…everyone has the same protection under law and shall not be deprived of that equal protection.” It is clear that fully protecting girls from any form of genital cutting but not boys is unconstitutional. Intact genitals are the birth right of both genders, not just females. If a man decides on his own that he wants to undergo circumcision after being informed, then he is entitled to make that decision. There is a danger if boys are not allowed the same protection – lawmakers and politicians may find the laws protecting girls from circumcision unconstitutional and allow parents to liberally circumcise their girls for any reason as well. After all, female circumcision is a Sunna right for Muslims.
    Slavery was still condoned long after the LAWS declared slavery illegal. Anyone deprived of personal freedom is a slave.
    “Freedom of Religion”
    How is forcing someone into a religion – by marking their body into that religion, “Freedom of Religion”? America has a moral obligation to protect ALL citizens of their inalienable rights.
    “Right is still right even if nobody is doing it and wrong is still wrong even if everyone is doing it.” – Texas Ranger
    Pro-slavers used the Bible to justify their actions.
    Pro-circ’ers are using their faith to justify their action. Hell, I could say my faith declares sacrificial ceremonies of Black Cats on Halloween. I could face prosecution for my actions but would “Freedom of Religion” justify my actions? And NO I don’t advocate killing animals for the sake of religion. Although I have to admit, Halal meat sounds pretty darn good.
    Circumcision has always been a solution IN SEARCH of a problem. When one claim is refuted, another claim takes its place. The latest propaganda is the “Circ to reduce your chances of getting HIV/AIDS!” Thats like [having sex] with a condom that has a hole in it!
    Learn your History. If you neglect History, you are bound to repeat it.

  • Karen

    February 18, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Uncircumcized males most certainly DO have a greater risk of bladder infection, particularly in the first year of life: 1 in 100 versus 1 in 1,000 for circumcized males. Foreskins harbor bacteria that increase the risk of UTIs, and thus can lead to bladder infections.
    Honestly, I feel strongly that to each his own, as long as you’re making a decision based on facts. But we need to KNOW all the facts in order to make an informed decision.
    We circ’d both of our boys. Neither of them made a peep or showed any indication of pain (yes, we watched the procedure because we didn’t like the idea that it might hurt them). The local anesthetic apparently worked like a charm. Much better than stretching their foreskin forcibly later in life which sounds VERY painful.

  • Momof2Hoodies

    February 18, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    We have two sons, 18 and 12 neither of whom were circumcised. This was WAAAY back before the stone ages and I think I was so against the procedure because I had read up on how it is performed, and also had read about the case in Canada where one twin’s junk was seared completely off…He was sexually “reassigned” to “female”, raised that way, switched back at puberty and then killed himself. That was enough to scare any pregnant mom into at least considering not having their son snipped! As a female child I had multiple UTIs while growing up, my eldest boy had none and my younger son had one…using a little yeast infection as a scare tactic to convince parents to snip is beyond silly. “looking like dad” isn’t a good excuse either, unless you’re into a nose job for the little guy too, to match Daddy.
    My boys both wrestle, they are NOT the only “hoodies” in the shower and no one has EVER said boo to them about being different “down there”. We always told them that if anyone DID say anything they should first ask the kid why they are “pecker peeking” and then tell the poor unfortunate soul that THEIR mommy and daddy didn’t want to mutilate them. That’s not what I would *ever* tell another adult that was wondering what to do, I feel it is an intimate decision that parents have to make for themselves, but in the interest of shutting down any potential teasing we felt that firing the big guns right off the bat should shut teasers down. I have been a little surprised but very pleased that neither boy has ever had an issue with teasing, and as long as they keep their hoodies clean just as women have to do with their privates, they should be fine well into old age. My grandfater in law was not circumcised and he made it to 92 with nary an ill effect, even in nursing care, hospice and ICU.

  • DM

    February 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I don’t have a decision one way or another. I’m not even sure if my nephew is circumcised. I honestly don’t care. Since I am never having children, I don’t see how I can tell other people what they can do. Do I think it is mutilation? No. Do I think it should be a religious decision only? No. Would I run screaming away from a man who wasn’t circumcised? Possibly not but I’d be very confused.

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    “We just had to keep retracting his foreskin when we changed his diaper a little at a time and all would be well.
    Well, at age 11 or 12 he had to be circumsized as the foreskin did not retract all the way.”
    So, and WHY did you do this? This was guaranteed to give hijm a case of phimosis and cause a later circumcision! More circumcisions are due to ignorancelike this than for any other reason!

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    “All three of my boys have had the snip snip. We know a few adults (yes, more then one) that have had issues later in life and had to get it done as an adult. I wouldnt wish that on anyone.”
    I always find it amazing that the chances of any NECESSARY later circumcisions is about 6 in 100,000, yet people post these anecdotes all the this due to ignorance, or just propaganda?

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    “We did it. His dad had it when he was a baby, and he’s fine. I hear it’s cleaner. Why does it have to be such a big deal? I think this is a private choice, not one that needs to be discussed everywhere.”
    No, his Dad is NOT fine–he has lost 3/4 of his penile sensation–his ignorance does not change that. That cleaner nonsense is just nonsense–RETRACT, RINSE, AND REPLACE!
    PRIVITE choice? How is something forced onto an infant a PRIVATE choice?
    We are talking about damaging an infant here, not a haircut!

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    “Looking like Daddy, and having a “pretty penis” is about the lamest excuse I can think of for harming an infant…80% of the people in the world think a dried-up. leather-like scarred paraody of a penis is NOT pretty!

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    “My husband was in the room when they did my son’s and he barely cried. He was asleep when they brought him back to me. My sister is vehemently opposed to circumcision so her sons are both not circumcised. To each his own I guess.”
    Apparently, like so many people uneducated about circumcision, you did not know that many infants go into a trauma-induced coma-like state?
    Interesyting use of “to each his own, when many forcefully remove what one owned.

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Christie, I could care less about OPINIONS by any organization including Who, I want facts–and I want those facts to be scientifically supported–and non of those OPINIONS can be supported thusly.
    Scientifically, ther is not a sinlger scientifically-credible benefit for circumcision yet many scientifically-credible harms done by circumcision–so forget OPINIONS

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    “So…. we did have our son circumcised because that is the thing normally done here in the United States. Which is where we live. If we lived in India, the decision would have been different. Right? Wrong? It is cosmetic, for sure. I cannot claim otherwise.”
    Ah, the second lamest rationale–the herd excuse?

  • Tandy

    February 18, 2008 at 7:16 pm

    “Uncircumcized males most certainly DO have a greater risk of bladder infection, particularly in the first year of life: 1 in 100 versus 1 in 1,000 for circumcized males. Foreskins harbor bacteria that increase the risk of UTIs, and thus can lead to bladder infections.”
    Sorry, but that claim is based on an extremely flawed bit of nonsesne by Wiswell, and his worked have been roundly criticised–PLUS these infections are not seen in the real world!
    “Honestly, I feel strongly that to each his own, as long as you’re making a decision based on facts. But we need to KNOW all the facts in order to make an informed decision.”
    IF, you believe this should decision should be based on FACTS, then you should be against it as the FACTS are such that the only rational decision can be to leave them intact.
    “We circ’d both of our boys. Neither of them made a peep or showed any indication of pain (yes, we watched the procedure because we didn’t like the idea that it might hurt them). The local anesthetic apparently worked like a charm. Much better than stretching their foreskin forcibly later in life which sounds VERY painful.”
    Apparently you also do not know about shock-induced comas? And even the AAP states that anesthesia only REDUCES the pain?
    STRETCHING the foresin later in life? what is this nonsense and where did you get this idea? I thought you were a proponent of doing research? And you bring this misinformation here?

  • Joe

    February 18, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    There are two or three things that have come up in this thread that should be addressed. Every time this question gets asked, on an American board, there are always some people who have a story about a boy who, despite regular scrupulous cleaning, continued to get infections. There are also people who speak about how terribly difficult it is to clean an intact boy. Often some BS about retracting or Qtips comes up; this couldn’t be further from the truth. I post this so that parents who find themselves in similar situations can get the right information. It’s not the parents fault; doctors, particularly in the US, are notoriously bad about providing correct information along these lines.
    The AAP guide can be found here
    “Foreskin Hygiene: The foreskin is easy to care for. The infant should be bathed or sponged frequently, and all parts should be washed including the genitals. The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. No special care is required! No attempt should be made to forcibly retract the foreskin. No manipulation is necessary. There is no need for special cleansing with Q-tips, irrigation, or antiseptics; soap and water externally will suffice.”
    The Royal Australasian College of Physicians:
    “The foreskin requires no special care during infancy. It should be left alone10. Attempts to forcibly retract it are painful, often injure the foreskin, and can lead to scarring and phimosis.”
    There is no difficulty involved, no special ritual, no retracting, nothing. Just wipe it like a finger. As both these groups point out vigorous cleaning, as is sometime implied or suggested, could lead to problems. Along these lines, a good article parents of intact boys should read is Paul Fleiss’s Protect Your Uncircumcised Sons:
    Second hygiene after infancy/childhood is equally easy. It seems some people essentially think it would be too much for their boys to handle; I can’t believe men aren’t offended by that notion. Most of the rest of the boys in the world, some living in retched conditions, don’t seem to have a big problem with this, why would Americans? Again from the AAP: “Penile hygiene will later become a part of a child’s total body hygiene, including hair shampooing, cleansing the folds of the ear, and brushing teeth.”
    Finally, someone mentioned older men in nursing homes. Again I have to ask: Why don’t we see an epidemic of these problems outside the US? What are we doing wrong; or better yet what are they doing right? Perhaps, like problems people report with boys, is the same. Unfamiliarity with proper care of and intact male. It’s not the man’s fault any more than the boy’s fault or the fault of a body part which has survived 10s of thousands of years of evolution during most of which hygiene wasn’t anything like it was today.
    So like just about every other ‘bad’ thing you hear about the foreskin, hygiene is yet another myth. The real problem are medical professionals who are unfamiliar with proper care of the foreskin and may not be willing to learn and instead jump right for the knife. Boys and Men deserve better.

  • Frankie

    February 18, 2008 at 9:43 pm

    Wow. This issue has made you a little stabity, hasn’t it?
    In America, at least, parents are legally charged with making the decisions that they feel are in the best interest of their children. By contrast, they are also held legally responsible for the damage that their children do. This is because they are CHILDREN. They are not capable of making these decisions on their own. While I find it interesting that you use this as the basis for your argument why no child should ever be cut, allow me to list the multitude of other things that I and many other parents will do to my (our) child(ren) becasue I believe it is in his best interest and without my childs consent! Yay! I’m a monster!!!
    ~ Vaccinate him
    ~ Have teeth pulled (under a dentists advice)
    ~ Get body parts removed, like appendixes, or tonsils
    ~ Give him antibiotics when he is ill, even though he could just have a (shudder) virus
    ~ force him to eat food he doesn’t like becasue those pesky nutritionists say it’s “good for him”
    ~ Keep other foods away from him because, given his choice, he will eat skittles 24/7
    ~ Cut his fingernails and toe nails (hey, YOU’VE never heard him scream about it..)
    ~ discipline him and take his things away from him when he does something I feel is wrong
    ~ manage his money, including taking it all and putting it in an account he can’t touch
    ~ perform whatever religious ritual I see fit. He is MY SON. I have a RESPONSIBILITY to bring him up with some spiritual guidance as opposed to letting him “figure it all out” later. Why shouldn’t it be the same religion that his family is???
    ~ In my particular case, I am considering getting surgery on his stomach to correct a slight hernia, even though the doc says it may not be needed… operative word being MAY. My son does NOT want it. My thought? Do it now before he has serious problems later. He is six and doesn’t get this. What kind of mother would I be to let it go because he doesn’t want this procedure on his body done and then watch him suffer when his bowel has been compromised several years from now because of what I didn’t do???
    ~ determine if his organs will be donated if he dies.
    ~ determine if his bone marrow or blood will be donated while they he is living
    I could go on and on.
    And yes. IT IS A PRIVATE CHOICE. If you don’t believe me, then go ahead and start calling up your local Children Services. Tell them in the report that you are turning in your neighbor because she got her infant circ’ed. Unless they did it themselves, you will get hung up on. It’s a personal decision, it’s legal, and except for the fact that we are all being brave enough to share on this board, it is no ones business.
    Now, I have to go.. my son, ‘Bush Lied’, is trying to get at my pocket knives again and he KNOWS it’s not time for me to remove his pinky toe yet!! Silly thing….

  • Laya

    February 18, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Reading these replies just made me sick. It’s just as wrong to do to boys as it is to do to girls. Do some research people. There is no justifiable reason for cutting off a piece of your son’s penis. As for those who chose to leave your boys intact and are forcibly retracting their penises…stop it! I’ll say it again; many of you need to do a lot more (unbiased) research on this issue. Doing it because it was done to daddy (or because you assume that it’s cleaner) is just not cool.

  • Frankie

    February 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    Ok, Little Bush Lied is asleep, so I want to ask this question now that I wanted to ask before.
    Many of you who are really REALLY against cutting are citing the issue that it’s not your body and therefore you will not decide what is done to it.
    Fair enough.
    My question is, as a parent, how will you deal with this in the reverse?
    When your son comes home at age 9 or 10 and tells you he wants to get a body mod of some sort.. piercing/tattoo etc… how will you handle this? Is it still his body, his choice? Bering in mind that a body mod has no health benefits and is puruly cosmetic in nature. And also permenant. Can he do it?

  • sarah

    February 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    two things:
    1. why don’t we have the slightest bit of regard for the way millions of years of evolution made our bodies? true, life expectancy is now longer and men never needed their penises to last longer than 35 years (this is in regards to all the geriatric penis horror stories), but if the uncircumsized penis were somehow maladaptive, it would fade out of the gene pool. to the best of my knowledge… lots of uncircumsized men have high reproductive success, and in fact, all little boys are born with forskins.
    2. why is this SUCH an emotional subject? it’s a piece of skin on a penis and it has little bearing on a person’s overall life (think grand scheme). there are horror stories both ways! it’s no one’s business what you decide to do with your son, and i am amazed at what a standard question it is: “what are you going to name him? what will his penis look like?”

  • Jennifer

    February 19, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Americans tend to be a little weird about circumcision. And perhaps slightly obsessed with the infection/retraction/STD connection, which seems a little forced to anyone not living in the United States.
    It is more a cultural/religious practice than anything. If it is that important to you, have your son’s penis cut. If it isn’t, don’t. But save yourself (and everyone else) the grief of going on and on about “hygiene” and retraction. Anyone sophisticated enough to debate the pros nad cons of circumsising their child lives somewhere that is developed enough to ensure access to suitable sanitary conditions.
    My husband is European. We live in Europe. No one ever mentioned circumcision. It never came up once. Much to my relief.

  • HerrMetik

    February 19, 2008 at 3:17 am

    There is a pretty obvious reason why people make a lot of fuss about circumsision: Because you cut away a part of a boy’s penis! Sure, he’ll survive, and maybe – and this is a huge maybe, since I really really doubt that – it doesn’t make a huge difference to him, but it is NOT necessary in any way (and whoever cites “medical reasons” is either deceiving you or himself, thanks for the examples, amy) and will definitely impair the sensitivity of the penis. For what reasons – other than cultural and traditional ones – should one deliberately decrease the sensitivity of the sexual organ of one’s son?
    Muslims and Jews (and who knows whom else) have made it part of their cultural heritage, so there’s no point in arguing with that. Other cultures impose torture or ritualised mutilation on their adolescents; as with circumsision, it is a something to distinguish between “us” and “them”. Since Christian lore doesn’t prescribe circumcision, one could speculate if the loss of sensitivity (and the impaired ability to masturbate) is the very reason for making circumcision so popular in the puritan-christian-influenced american culture.
    And one last word to the often claimed “medival reasons”: I am a guy, I live in Europe, and I’ve got a penis that is not circumcized. Not once in my life did I have an infection on my penis, and I’m not experiencing a cancer-ridden, disease-spreading environment over here. Circumcision does NOT prevent STDs and is in NO WAY a replacement for safer sex; lowering the risk of contracting AIDS from, say, 70% to 65% is _NOT_ in any way an argument for circumcision. Just tell your boy to wash regularly and use condoms (less than 1% risk of contracting anything or impregnate anyone sounds far better, eh?) and he will be just fine.

  • jami

    February 19, 2008 at 10:09 am

    There’s so much contradictory information out there, that in the end, it’s obviously a personal choice.
    Ours was influced by my husband (circumcised); my father (uncircumcised, wished he had been, for several reasons); one doctor who was from the UK – against; second doctor, American, was for, citing several studies including STD’s. I didn’t vote, as most of my penis experience was, um, on the receiving end – and from that, um, position, I didn’t notice an appreciable difference, (although I will agree that the visual is prettier on the cut version).
    So he’s circumcised. The procedure was quick, my husband was there, I was recovering from c-section, and there were no adverse effects. At 5 years old, our son seems neither over-sensitive nor under-sensitive to pain. I think the fact that he was stuck in his heel about 30 times in the first 24 hours for various tests was more traumatic.
    It seems strange to me that people who do choose to circumcise are all “to each his own” and (many)who don’t are all “it’s barbaric! How dare you!” As my mom would say “MYOB!”
    Also, sadly Alice, it seems that you’ve attracted the wrath of the folks who are a little rabid about this topic. Google “Tandy Circumcision” and you’ll find that s/he has a lot to say on this topic, seemingly everytime it comes up.

  • JorgeM

    February 19, 2008 at 10:41 am

    My son is intact, despite pleas from grandparents on both sides of the family. They warned of “infections” and “it’ll be hard to clean” and “he’ll just have to have it done later!” and all sorts of dire warnings.
    He’s 4 now, fully retractable, and the only sickness he has ever had is the typical winter cold. No problems at all.
    Most of the foreskin “problems” you hear about are actually doctor problems. American doctors aren’t very knowledgable about penises that have all their parts.
    Cleaning: Some doctors advise that you have to retract your son’s foreskin for cleaning. Wrong. The foreskin is attached at birth and can still be attached until puberty. Retraction before it is ready is akin to peeling back a finger nail and will cause the very infections the doctor is hoping to prevent. The correct to clean a diapered intact boy is to simply wipe the outside like a finger. When the boy is old enough to bath himself, anything he does in the bath is enough.
    UTIs: Girls are 4 times more likely to have UTIs than boys. When a doctor quotes a UTI study, he’s thinking of the flawed Wiswell study from the 1980s. Wiswell compared preterm (NICU), catheterized intact babies with healthy, full term circumcised babies. Considering that catheters and prematurity are strongly associated with UTIs, there’s no surprise that his “intact” sample had more UTIs. Even if Wiswell’s study was accurate, you’d have to circumcise 100 boys to prevent one antibiotic treatable UTI.
    Cancer: Check the American Cancer Society webpage. They don’t recommend circumcision to prevent any cancer. Worried about cervical cancer? Get your daughter vaccinated. Still think that penile cancer is prevented by circumcision? A quick search on PubMed will show many cases of penile cancer in circumcised men, usually starting at the circumcision scar.
    Phimosis or tight foreskin: Someone above mentioned that their 11 year old wasn’t retracting. Retraction can take through puberty and isn’t a big deal until the boy is sexually active. If there’s a problem at that point, steriod cream and stretching exercises take care of the problem a lot less invasively than circumcision.

    BTW, guys don’t look at other guys in the locker room. While in the locker room, I never saw a penis that wasn’t mine. When a father says, “I don’t want my son to be teased”, translate it to “I don’t want to feel different than my son”.

  • Liz

    February 19, 2008 at 11:42 am

    I just wanted to point out that Muslims (as well as Jews) often circumcise for religious reasons. So, it’s not exactly true that “In most of the world, the majority of boys are left as nature intended”….In predominantly Muslim countries, the majority of boys are circumcised.
    The WHO puts the worldwide circumcision rate at about 30%, with some countries have none/very little and other countries having very high rates.
    AS for the HIV studies, check out this link
    That gives a bit of an overview and also gives the names of various researchers involved in the studies so you can do further primary source reading….

  • Chava

    February 19, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Frankie, I agree with your post, up to a point. If my child at the age 9 or 10 comes to me asking for a tattoo, permanently marking his body, I’d say no. When he is 18 and he wants a tattoo I’ll support him b/c its his body. Its wrong for a parent to cosmetically alter a boy’s sexual organ to appease THEIR own sexual fetish. A child’s private parts are his PRIVATE parts.
    Why do you think most American women go googoo gaga over European men? Weather they realize it or not, Europeans are intact! Apparently they’re smarter than us Americans because they know how to clean their sex organs whereas circumfanatic Americans say its too hard for their boys to remember the three R’s regarding hygiene:Retract Rinse Replace. And European doctors must know an awful lot about the intact penis because problems with the foreskin for a European man is virtually unheard of. What causes problems in AMERICAN intact boys? Its the misinformation parents are given and the lack of education our American Doctors have about the foreskin. You are to NEVER EVER NEVER retract a boys foreskin! It’s self cleaning like the vagina! Time and time again I’ve read on this blog about a mom saying they were told to retract and scrub their infants foreskin. DON’T DO THAT! If you forcefully retract an intact penis on a baby you will cause damage to the synechia. Thus, creating a domino effect for problems that may result in a “Well, he had to be circ’d later”.
    It’s not that we’re obsessed with the penis. We want people to LEAVE THE PENIS ALONE!
    It’s not an obsession or a fetish to prefer sexual parts the way nature intended them to be. The ones with the unnatural obsession are the ones that can’t deal with a normal set of genitals and have to cut parts of them off to find them attractive. Finding whole genitals of the opposite sex attractive is ENTIRELY natural, and how things are supposed to be. It’s not possible to have a sexual fetish about normal genitals, because it’s, well, normal.On the other hand, not being able to find normal body parts attractive is unnatural, and I’d say that having to cut parts of them off and having to have a denuded penis in a partner would be the ones with the fetish.

  • amy

    February 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    we did not.
    We went with the look like yr dad route
    pops is from Europe and not
    I am happy we did not though
    I can’t help but wince
    when i think of it
    it is a choice

  • Anonymous

    February 19, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    To the person who said “Change his diaper and the information is yours.” That should be the take we ALL have on it. It is the parents that will deal with the cries (or lack thereof) of their infant if they decide to have this done. No one does or does not do this to be intentionally cruel to their child, they do it because they think it’s the best choice for their baby.
    That being said – My husband had this procedure done shortly after he turned 21. He was a preemie (1lb. 2oz.) and couldn’t have it done as a baby. When he turned 21 he decided to have it done because although he was an extremely clean person (Read: 2 showers a day) he still felt unclean. At 34, he has never regretted the decision to have this done. We now have a 2 year old son and as the previous entry says…Come change his diaper and the information is yours!

  • ozma

    February 20, 2008 at 3:11 am

    The men in my family are uncircumcised. According to my father, this is a deep cultural tradition and he would take custody of my first born child unless I followed it.
    My husband is Jewish. There is no way in hell that his child would be uncircumcised. I had trouble giving my child vaccines so I have to say I wasn’t thrilled about the process but it was too clear my husband was right that 4,000 years of tradition trumps a little bit of skin (and some pain. BABY PAIN).
    I can’t tell you the relief I felt when we discovered that the baby was a girl. I don’t want to go through that kind of suspense again. Adoption of a girl seems like a wise choice for the next one rather than take the chance of a hostage situation arising at the bris.
    The mixed marriages motif is very fifties but issues do arise now and then.

  • SMT

    February 20, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Alice, I am sorry you allowed your son to be circumcised. I figured if God wanted my son circumcised he could come down and do it himself. Besides, what sort of perfect being would create guys and then go “Whoops! I didn’t want THAT to be on there. You should cut that off”
    As far as older boys not being able to retract, there are a few topical creams that can be applied for a few weeks to resolve that.
    Sexually transmitted HIV is NOT an issue for a baby boy. If he wants his foreskin removed when he is older because he wants to partake in risky sexual practices and he thinks circumcision will protect him then let HIM decide. Just be sure to remind him that he still MUST wear a condom to be protected.
    Most importantly, a number of people mentioned that circumcision was a personal choice, and what they typically mean is that they (the parents) want to circumcise and don’t want to be criticized. Hello??? A PERSONal choice is one the PERSON makes for their own body. A parent deciding for the child has NOTHING to do with a personal choice… it is FORCING a decision on the PERSON affected.

  • Ari

    February 20, 2008 at 8:11 am

    My husband wanted it done for our son, but not on the first day of life, because we had heard that it interferes with breastfeeding. We thought either on the 8th day (optimal Vitamin K levels) or a couple of weeks later would be fine, after breastfeeding was established. Well, in our area once you leave the hospital, they don’t do it until about the age of 1 when they do it as a surgery under general anesthesia (no one told us this). Because there’s a study done on mice that indicates anesthesia can cause slight brain damage (that shows up later as memory, learning, and behavioral problems) in the rapidly developing brain (until about age 3 in humans), we decided to postpone this elective surgery until after he is 3. I’m still not crazy about putting his young brain in a coma for the procedure, though.

  • Jessica

    February 20, 2008 at 8:51 am

    With comments like:
    “We just had to keep retracting his foreskin when we changed his diaper a little at a time and all would be well.”
    It is no wonder that so many US boys and men have problems.
    How horrible for the boy to be forcibly retracted?! The foreskin is not supposed to be pulled back by parents OR by doctors. That is the reason for so many “problems”.
    There is a lot more good information available to parents (and doctors) these days. We left our son intact, and his father is Jewish. One of the things that helped us was to consider a bris shalom, that honored the tradition of the bris without harming our sons body.
    I’ve continued researching the issue, however, it just seems to big of an issue (especially when you have a perfectly healthy intact boy, despite all the ‘hype’) to ignore.
    When you discover the functions of the foreskin, biology and nature just make a lot of sense and ‘preventative removal’ because it was done in the past (religion or in the US, just the ‘culture’) without medical reason seems just simply crazy.

  • erinberry

    February 20, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I really don’t understand why parents would choose to issue a pre-emptive strike on a body part that is healthy, normal, and serves a distinct purpose. Your child *could* end up having problems with a lot of different body parts as he ages, but that doesn’t mean we go chopping them off at birth. A previous commenter said some uncircumsized men in nursing homes have problems… Are you really going to remove a body part of your son because he *may* have an issue 90 years in the future?!
    I also don’t see why so many women simply defer to their husband’s wishes on this topic. I don’t need to have a penis myself to make an informed medical decision about my son’s.
    If having an uncircumsized penis carries so many dangers, why aren’t we seeing skyrocketing rates of penile cancer and other such maladies in Europe?
    My husband’s penis is intact. Cleaning it is a very simple thing to do. Girls have a lot of folds and moisture to deal with too, and I doubt that anyone is suggesting we should cut off their labia so as to make cleaning easier.
    I’m assuming a previous commenter (who posted that the decision to circumsize her son was largely made by other men saying circumsized men get more blow jobs) was posting in half-jest; at least I hope she didn’t really make a decision about her son’s body based on a few random men’s *perceptions*. And just to offer the opposite perspective: My husband is intact and has never had a problem in that arena.
    To sum up, I don’t believe it’s right to perform a cosmetic procedure on an infant who clearly has no say in the matter. This is not our body we’re talking about; it belongs to another human being. I will not pierce my baby girl’s ears, and I would not tattoo my child. Similarly, I would not circumsize my son.

  • LGraves65

    February 20, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    “one could speculate if the loss of sensitivity (and the impaired ability to masturbate) is the very reason for making circumcision so popular in the puritan-christian-influenced american culture.”
    My 15-year-old circ’d son certainly doesn’t have the “impaired ability to masturbate,” if my Kleenex bill is any indication.

  • mim

    February 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Um, someone said that male circumcision was JUST LIKE female circumcision. I think female circumcision (female genital mutilation) is more like castration than like male circumcision. I think most women end up not being able to achieve orgasm ever and sex always involves pain. Ugh, it just doesn’t seem like it compares.
    Anyways, I definitely think it’s a personal choice, whichever way works for you. I think the HIV transmission statistic is only really important if you live in an area where HIV infection is really prevalent. I mean, in some parts of Africa, something like 1 out of every 3 or 4 people are infected with HIV, in which case the chances of infection are a lot higher, so it would seem worth it. Here in the US, it’s something to think about, but the weight of the argument probably isn’t as high.
    Still, personally, I think if I had a son, I’d circumcise. From a female perspective (ok really just mine), they look and feel nicer, and seem easier to clean. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  • Brooke

    February 20, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I am due with my first son in 7 weeks. We will not be circumcising him. My husband is circumcised, my stepson is not. I live in California where it appears only about 20% of parents circumcise their boys. I’m pretty confident he’ll be OK.
    I’m glad I read all these comments; I will look further than my son’s doctor for information on how to care for his penis.
    I love the BJ argument. Are moms really so concerned that their sons get them? I would think any girl who’s willing to give one could certainly get past a foreskin. And hey, you don’t spend a lot of time looking at it while you’re giving a BJ, do ya? I don’t.

  • Frankie

    February 20, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    “Most importantly, a number of people mentioned that circumcision was a personal choice, and what they typically mean is that they (the parents) want to circumcise and don’t want to be criticized. Hello??? A PERSONal choice is one the PERSON makes for their own body. A parent deciding for the child has NOTHING to do with a personal choice… it is FORCING a decision on the PERSON affected.”
    OMG, I am about to WET MYSELF over this comment!! I am cracking UP! Ok, My kid is circ’ed and I could give one flying fig what ANYONE thinks of me or what their opinon of snipping is. Critisize away! I did not make this or any decision regarding my kid based on what others think. I care LESS what other people think. Period.
    What I find amusing is how completely irrational and judgemental people come across where this issue is concerned. Like taking a holier than thou attitdue and making assumptions as to where peoles heads are at regarding this issue is really going to affect change. If you feel THAT STRONGLY about the issue, then isn’t that your goal? To elimiate the proceedure by getting others to think and not do it? Because I can tell you right now that your tactics won’t work for most people. Treating people like they are idiots because they don’t agree with you never made anyone “see the light”.
    When my son was born, I didn’t breastfeed. Nope. And I felt no need to explain myself, becasue see above RE: could care less what people think. But after being hounded, I mean HOUNDED by the women who felt it important to regale me with stories of the damage I was doing and how a real mother would never make such a choice, I finally broke down and told them the truth. That I breast fed for a week before the doctors realized I was making no milk and my kid was HUNGRY. I have had no issues with the breast feeding fundies since, but I should NOT have had to explain myself to get them to BACK THE FUCK OFF.
    Shame is a really bad motivator. Consider that on the quest to save the penis. You may want to remove words like “crazy” and “wrong” and “ignorant” from your argument.
    Oh and as for all this “it’s his little body not mine so I can’t make the choise” stuff… come on. Really? I bet you vaccinate. Becasue in that instance, the argument to do so is more in favor of it being healthy and in the best interest of your child than not. I also bet you control his diet. And bathe him to a certain age? What you are saying is that YOU as a parent are not convinced that snipping is healthy and good for your child and so you will not impose it on his body. Which I think is awesome. But don’t frame it like the reason you didn’t snip is becasue gosh, well, I just don’t have the right.

  • Chava

    February 22, 2008 at 1:08 am

    My 4y old intact son is retractable. I know because I’ve seen him retract himself. This isn’t normal. Full retraction isn’t expected until they reach adolescent. I’m not worried about teaching him to Retract Rinse Replace, yet. Just like children don’t need to put on deodorant, there is no real need to pay a whole lot of attention to the genitals. Washing on the outside is efficient. We’re not spreading our daughters labia to clean her are we? I don’t see what all the fuss is about.
    I bring this up b/c I want to address the color of the glans. Sorry, I’m trying to say this the best I can. My circ’d son has white color glans. Whereas my retractable intact son has a deep purple color glans. It made me think, whats suppose to be an inner organ, gets surgically altered into an external organ thus the organ dries out. Much like the tongue. Stick out your tongue and expose it for a few days to resemble an external organ. You’ll notice your tongue will get dried out and it will toughen, loosing sensitivity. Thats exactly what happens to the glans when its not protected by the foreskin. Just a thought.
    Also, if you want to ensure breastfeeding is successful, I suggest not circumcising for the simple reason: post-circumcision trauma interferes with the breastfeeding relationship. It was tough getting my circ’d, marked with my ignorance 🙁 , son to breastfeed. I managed but not without some serious work. My intact children were champs.

  • anon

    February 22, 2008 at 1:24 am

    I did a lot of research before deciding not to circumcise my son 4 years ago. After watching the straightforward ‘these are the three basic kinds of circumcisions, no commentary’ video available from the hospital, I decided emphatically against it. I will pay for the procedure if he would like to have it when he is older.
    My son’s was the first uncircumcised penis I had ever seen in the flesh, but very quickly I felt that penises lacking foreskin (for instance my nephews) looked sad and incomplete. A single example of a whole penis was all it took for me to change my own personal prejudice as to how a penis ‘ought’ to look.
    Further, I coincidentally have a new partner who was lucky enough to keep his foreskin nearly 40 years ago and WOW. I won’t pretend there weren’t a few days of adjustment on my part but I think that my son and his future partners will be quite pleased. And as circumcision has become so much less common, there shouldn’t be any sort of cultural adjustment on anyone’s part.