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Just another mama musing about her kids, Attachment Parenting, activism, photography, and life in general

The circumcision post November 6, 2006

Filed under: Activism,Health,Kids,Mothering,Natural living,Parenting — amygeekgrl @ 10:18 am

It’s amazing the number of things you never have to consider before becoming a parent – breastfeed or formula feed; cloth diapers or disposables; vaccinations; when to start solids; organic vs. conventional foods; public school, private school or homeschool; and, of course, if you are having a boy – whether or not to circumcise.

I hope to write about my feelings, opinions and choices regarding circumcision and my son, knowing full well that everyone who reads this blog will not agree with me. I think that anyone who has a son will have their list of reasons for why they decided for or against circumcision. I simply wish to share my reasons here (and some of the information I came across along the way) for deciding against it.

I hope that by including some links below to reputable sources, other parents who are trying to decide what is best for their son can make an informed decision – whether it be to circumcise or not.

I am not here to judge and it is my hope that any discussion that happens below in the comments remain civil and respectful, despite how strongly you may feel about this topic. I also ask that any “anonymous” posters please sign their posts with a name. Thank you.

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The short and sweet answer as to why Jody and I are not having our son circumcised is that we can’t find a single reason to indicate that it is a necessary procedure.

I believe that the body we are born with, in its entirety, is that way for a reason. I think that each different part has a unique purpose for existing. If we didn’t need a certain part, I believe that over time we would evolve so that it no longer existed.

In doing my research on circumcision, I came across a lot of interesting information. Some of it has to do with the origins of circumcision in the United States, some about the actual procedure, some about the effects of circumcision and about the current rates of circumcision in the U.S. I read a lot more than I will blog about here, but these are some things I thought were worth mentioning.

“Circumcision started in America during the masturbation hysteria of the Victorian Era, when a few American doctors circumcised boys to punish them for masturbating. Victorian doctors knew very well that circumcision denudes, desensitizes, and disables the penis. Nevertheless, they were soon claiming that circumcision cured epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, eczema, bed-wetting, hip-joint disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, wet dreams, hernia, headaches, nervousness, hysteria, poor eyesight, idiocy, mental retardation, and insanity. In fact, no procedure in the history of medicine has been claimed to cure and prevent more diseases than circumcision. As late as the 1970s, leading American medical textbooks still advocated routine circumcision as a way to prevent masturbation.” — Paul M. Fleiss, MD The Case Against Circumcision

Uh, I’m not a guy and no expert, but I am pretty sure that circumcision does NOT prevent masturbation.

“Today the reasons given for circumcision have been updated to play on contemporary fears and anxieties; but one day they, too, will be considered irrational. Now that such current excuses as the claim that this procedure prevents cancer and sexually transmitted diseases have been thoroughly discredited, circumcisers will undoubtedly invent new ones. But if circumcisers were really motivated by purely medical considerations, the procedure would have died out long ago, along with leeching, skull-drilling, and castration. The fact that it has not suggests that the compulsion to circumcise came first, the “reasons,” later.” — Fleiss

The fact that new reasons to continue the circumcision practice are being invented is rather disturbing if you ask me.

One website I came across in my research shows step-by-step (graphic) pictures of an actual circumcision of a newborn boy. What Happens During Circumcision There is also a video there, but the pictures alone were more than enough for me. I don’t think I could’ve stomached the video. I had never thought much about the actual procedure itself. I figured that the foreskin was clamped and removed without much effort and the baby was left to heal over the next week or whatever. I didn’t think about the baby needing to be restrained, whether or not any type of anesthesia is used, the foreskin needing to be pried apart from the penis, the amount of bleeding involved, the raw exposed penis, etc. Not to mention the child crying in pain. :( It was not easy to look at.

There’s a laundry list of “things” that are lost forever when a circumcision takes place. While all of these things in the list are noteworthy, I thought I would mention a few here that stood out to me:

“When a baby boy’s natural and intact penis is “circumcised,” this is what is lost forever:
** An estimated 240 feet of microscopic nerves, including branches of the dorsal nerve.
** Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this dense vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, obviously damaging its natural function and possibly stunting its complete and healthy development.
** The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa, which may produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme, also found in mothers milk, and plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies.
** The essential “gliding” mechanism. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin measures about 15 square inches, the size of a postcard. This abundance of specialized, self-lubricating mobile skin gives the natural penis its unique hallmark ability to smoothly “glide” in and out within itself—permitting natural non-abrasive masturbation and intercourse, without drying out the vagina or requiring artificial lubricants.” — Gary L. Harryman – What is Lost to Circumcision

I know some parents may be concerned about whether or not an intact penis requires special care. Personally, having no experience with an uncircumcised penis in the past, I had no idea what the answer was before asking friends of mine who’s sons were left intact. FYI:

“The natural penis requires no special care. A child’s foreskin, like his eyelids, is self-cleansing. For the same reason it is inadvisable to lift the eyelids and wash the eyeballs, it is inadvisable to retract a child’s foreskin and wash the glans. Immersion in plain water during the bath is all that is needed to keep the intact penis clean.” — Fleiss

Also worth noting that the foreskin should never be forced to retract before it is ready.

“As noted, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. Separation will evolve over time. It should not be forced. When will separation occur? Each child is different. Separation may occur before birth; this is rare. It may take a few days, weeks, months, or even years. This is normal. Although many foreskins will retract by age 5, there is no need for concern even after a longer period. Some boys do not attain full retractability of the foreskin until adolescence.” — Newborns: Care of the Uncircumcised Penis

Regarding the rate of circumcision in the world and U.S.:

“Circumcision is almost unheard of in Europe, South America, and non-Muslim Asia. In fact, only 10 to 15 percent of men throughout the world are circumcised, the vast majority of whom are Muslim. The neonatal circumcision rate in the western U.S. has now fallen to 34.2 percent.” — Fleiss

“The nationwide circumcision rate had been fluctuating in the low 60 percent range for some years, but a decline in the percentage of boys circumcised started in 2002 and continued into 2003. From 2002 to 2003 declines occured in all four census regions. Non-circumcision has been the norm in the Western Region for more than a decade.” — U.S. Circumcision Incidence

I think it’s important to note that the circumcision rate is dropping in the United States because the old parental concern of not wanting a child to be teased because they look differently from the other boys will no longer be an issue if the ratio of circ’d boys to uncirc’d boys is approaching 50-50. I know in my own circle of friends, the ratio of circ’d boys to uncirc’d boys (babies and toddlers I mean) is probably more like 20 (circ’d) to 80 (uncirc’d) or even slightly higher in favor of the uncircumcised boys. Some parents I know (both in “real life” and on message boards) had their first son circumcised before they had done much research on the topic, and then, after learning more about the procedure, chose not to circumcise their second son.

(And now at the risk of sharing TMI…) Having never been with an uncircumcised man (yes, you can infer from that that Jody is circumcised), I was very interested to learn that not only is the pleasure of the male affected by circumcision, but also the pleasure of the female. (I mentioned a bit about this above as well.)

“One of the foreskin’s functions is to facilitate smooth, gentle movement between the mucosal surfaces of the two partners during intercourse. The foreskin enables the penis to slip in and out of the vagina nonabrasively inside its own slick sheath of self-lubricating, movable skin. The female is thus stimulated by moving pressure rather than by friction only, as when the male’s foreskin is missing.” — Fleiss

Like I said above, I couldn’t find a reason to convince me that circumcision is necessary for our son. I don’t feel the need to provide a list of all of the reasons against it. They are easy enough to find online. By reading through some of the links I provided below, you can read more information for yourself if you so desire.

I feel it is worth noting that I tried to find some pro-circumcision websites to include in my list (to keep it balanced), but 99% of the information I found “out there” is anti-circumcision. The one site (a members-only list serv “where circumcision is discussed and always supported”) I did find turned out to be centered around pornography associated with circumcision so I removed it from my list. The fact that it is a porn site is not apparent from anything posted on the public side of it.

In conclusion, I don’t feel that it is my right to make the decision to remove a part of my son’s anatomy without his consent. I believe that circumcision is a personal choice – one that should be made by the person who owns the penis. By leaving my son intact, he can always decide when he gets older that he wants to have a circumcision. If I were to circumcise him as a baby, he wouldn’t have the option of taking that back. I feel it is his body, his penis, and his choice.

Resources:

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers

Circumcision Resource Center

The Case Against Circumcision – an eye-opening, very informative (IMO) article By Paul M. Fleiss, MD, MPH (interesting to note that Fleiss is Jewish)

My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin – By Stacey Greenberg

The Case Against Circumcision Discussion Forum on Mothering.com

What Happens During Circumcision? – Graphic photos/video of the circumcision process on a newborn

NEW AAP CIRCUMCISION POLICY RELEASED

Protect Your Uncircumcised Son: Expert Medical Advice for Parents

Circumcision Information and Resource Pages

Doctors Opposing Circumcision

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40 Responses to “The circumcision post”

  1. Michelle Says:

    Glad to see your decision – not surprised, though :)

    You’ve clearly done the research and are making a thoughtful, informed decision – the only way to do it, I think.

    We have two boys and neither are circumcised. I honestly didn’t give it much thought initially, but as my pregnancy got farther along (with my first, Gabe), and I read more, I became more and more convinced that, just as you say, there is no real reason to have it done. And when I saw images of the procedure being done, that made up my mind for sure. Thankfully my hubby was in total agreement.

    Good post on an important topic.

  2. Michelle Says:

    fabulous post, i agree wholeheartedly… his body, his choice.

    i have actually never seen (in real life) a circ’ed penis, as my hubby and my son are both intact.

    i can also attest to the fact that the intact penis requires no special care… maybe you can put in there somewhere that it’s very important to NOT retract the foreskin? i know you said it’s unnecessary for cleaning, but it can be damaging. the foreskin will retract on it’s own as the child grows.

    great post!

  3. Dawn Says:

    great post Amy. I am glad to see all the research you’ve done, I just wish I had done the same when I had my son 10 years ago, I was clueless about the penis. I mean, I of course knew what it was *for* but the forskin? no idea. I left that up to my husband (ex now) and he made the choice to do it, I know now that I should not have consented, but I really didn’t know, I thought they were the same, circ or not. Boy do I feel dumb now. :( His reasoning for it was “I want him to look like me” my thoughts were “honestly how often is he gonna be lookin at your penis?” but, I let them do it anyway, even though I did feel at the time it was wrong. Its a choice I (and I guess my son too) have to live with.

    When I was pregnant with E, we knew it was a girl so I didn’t have to consider it, but I did know if I had a boy I wouldn’t have done it again. at all.

    My husband is circ’d and we are actually (TMI and he will kill me, lol) looking into forskin restoring,he’s happy with his penis how it is, and doesn’t feel like he has “lost” anything, nor does he have any bad thoughts about his parents, but we’ve done some research and read some websites and have talked about it a bit ;) (obviosuly it wouldnt be the same as having not been circ’d but it would be an improvement.)

    bad spelling blamed on lack of sleep and too lazy to spellcheck!)

  4. I think you wrote a fair post, Amy! Although I am surprised about the numbers for 20/80. Boston is fairly liberal and the numbers are certainly not that steep for uncircumcized.

    We don’t have much of a choice since this baby is Jewish, so the decision is pretty much made, but if I had my choice I wouldn’t do it.

  5. Penny Says:

    Yes – unless you have a religious reason for it, I would not have it done.

    I second the fact that uncirc’d is easy care.

    Interesting about the sex thing… I never really thought about that before.

  6. Your research seems extensive and thorough. As the mom of two circumcised boys (with another, possible boy (50/50 shot?!), on the way)…I will tell you that it was not nearly as traumatic an experience as it might seem to be — my children were both circumcised by trained professionals (one a doctor, one not — a mohel, a trained circumciser in the Jewish tradition) who were quick, efficient, and, if you are considering circumcision (those reading this) — I definitely recommend you go with someone who is as well-traind and does as many circs as possible. I also recommend that you find someone who will NOT strap them down as they do it — I have seen many circumcisions and let me tell you, the strapping down is probably the most traumatic part for the little guy.

    Whatever you decide, let it be right for you.

  7. BlueGoddess Says:

    I am so glad that you did the research. I am also glad that it is in favor of not circumcising any boy. But I actually took a look at some of those websites and I have to say that I am so happy that I didn’t let any “doctor” do that to my little boy. I would have been heartbroken.

    I would have to say that you did write very fairly. It seems like you put a lot of thought into it. No matter what anyone says, I think you made a good choice for you and your family.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    You did a great job researching all of this, Amy, and I am so happy you and Jody came to an agreement for your family.

    On a personal note, I hadn’t done the research with my first son, but by the time my second son was born, I knew I didn’t want him circ., but dh insisted. Despite MANY discussions, (some heated) he would not change his mind. He didn’t think it would be right to have one son circ. and the other one not, even though I tried to reason w/ him and point out the boys would not be compairing their penises- dh also used the argument about circ. penises not not being as clean and hygienic, and his sons looking like him- again, do father and sons really compare them?

    I refused to sign the circ. papers at the hospital and left it to dh- and I didn’t go to either circ., but INSISTED they use lanocaine (sp?) it is like novicane and numbs (and the hospital assured me they did all circ. w/ lanocaine), but it just makes me cringe to think about both my boys even having shots there- I really can’t even think about this too much, b/c it makes me SO upset. It is the one point that dh and I argued over more than anything w/ all the decisions you have to make. Sometimes I think I should have been stronger for my sons, and not finally given in, but after birth & pregnancy I was just too tired to fight about it anymore. I hope one day, I can talk to them about them and tell them I really didn’t want them circ. – I hope they won’t hate us down the road for this.

    Finally (sorry this is so long) I am still really angry at dh for choosing this, and talk about irony- after son #2 was born, he was telling his parents (when I wasn’t there) that I didn’t want baby boy circ. and he went on and on w/ his parents on about how hard it was to keep uncirc. ones clean, etc., His father got up and left, and then his mom told him that his father was uncirc. Dh had no idea- so I guess that proves fathers and sons don’t compare their penises. He felt awful about going on like that w/ his father, and THEN decided maybe I had valid points after all- Jeez… I just wish our sons didn’t have to go through this b/c of his issues.

    Anyway congrats on leaving your son intact.

    Heather G.

  9. KleoPatra Says:

    Good, thought-provoking post there, Amy, and i appreciate all the research.

    In my religion, Judaism, circumcision is the supposed covenant between G-d and man… and along with that, i’ve been taught that New Year’s Day is also the feast of Jesus’s circumcision…

    Just thought i’d interject that.

    I had a long-time beau who was born to a Jewish mom and his mom, one of the original “hippies” didn’t want him circumcised and so he wasn’t and it was like a MAJOR uproar in the extended family like you couldn’t believe. Years and years later, they still talked about it like it was some awful thing.

    *rolls eyes*

    I am gonna check out those links, too. Thank you for making them available!!

  10. Christina Says:

    Good to hear your decision! We will not be circumcising if this baby is a boy.

  11. Amy Says:

    Our decision not to circumcise was hardly even discussed. This was because I was against it and my husband is intact and comes from a culture that does not circumcise. If I had an American husband, I imagine there would be a lot more talk.

    Your post was very informative and cites all the same reasons I’m for leaving babies intact. In the end, it’s that child’s body, not mine, not my husband’s. The choice to alter their most important body part should be made by them!

    The numbers of men today going in for foreskin restoration also demonstrates that nature knows what she’s doing… and I think these men seeking help probably feel some resentment at being cut without a chance for them to have any say in the matter. I’ve known a few men in the past who have been uncut and I asked them if they’d ever want to be circumcised and I always heard a very clear and firm “NO”.

    I hope America eventually goes the way of the majority of Europe and Asia where most men are intact. Africa I’m not so sure of because of their Muslim population. Nor am I sure about South America, but I bet that from Mexico southward, most males are left alone. With more families making the choice to leave it up to their son to decide about his own penis, we’re on the right track.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    A potentially valid reason for circumcision other than cultural norms posted today on MSNBC…
    Circumcision cuts STD risk, major study shows
    Circumcised males are less likely than their uncircumcised peers to acquire a sexually transmitted infection, the findings of a 25-year study suggest.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15593753/from/ET/

  13. It’s sad to see this new study out saying that circumcision reduces the rates of STD’s. There’s no other normal body part that doctors would seriously consider cutting off to prevent disease. We did not circumcise our son and got into alot of arguments about it with my mom and sister (they don’t have penises, why should they care?), and diapers are such a toxic mess, I couldn’t imagine caring for a surgical wound in there.

  14. amygeekgrl Says:

    Thank you all for being so respectful in your comments. I really appreciate it! :)

    Michelle 2 – Thanks for pointing that out about not retracting the foreskin. I added it into the post.

    Dawn – Very interesting that you are looking into restorative surgery for dh. I haven’t read much about it yet, but I am intrigued.

    HL – My numbers are just guesses based on the friends I know who’s sons are intact vs. circ’d. I’m sure they aren’t representative of this entire area, though I know the West does have a higher intact rate.
    I can’t begin to comment on the religious reasons for circ’ing because I’m not Jewish. But I did think the article I linked called “My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin”? was an interesting read.

    Penny – I was interested to read in your other post that it would seem most men in New Zealand are left intact.

    Rabbi Phyllis – Thank you for pointing out the importance of having a trained professional (doctor or rabbi) perform the circ if one is desired. Another thing I think parents need to demand is something to numb the pain.

    Heather – I’m sorry this subject became such a struggle for you and DH. I don’t think you are alone in that from what I’ve heard and read. It seems a lot of men feel their son should look like them, etc. Very interesting though that your DH’s dad is intact and DH didn’t know about it. I, too, wonder about how often boys compare penises with each other or with their dad. I would think that once the boys get to a certain age, they establish their boundaries and seeing dad’s penis is no longer commonplace, like it may be when they are little. Anyway, just wanted to say hugs to you.

    Kleopatra – Again, I can’t comment on Judaism, but wow – that is interesting that the “hippie” mom leaving her son intact caused such an uproar even years later. I wonder if the son wished he had been circ’d after all of that?

    Anonymous (I wish you would’ve signed a name like I’d asked) – Thanks for posting that link. It’s interesting to see the studies now show that there *may* be a link between circ and preventing STDs, when a previous study (also from MSNBC) showed that circ’ing
    was tied to a higher STD risk – http://www.menweb.org/msnbcirc.htm . I guess the jury may still be out?

    Rather than surgically removing all boys’ foreskin indescriminately, another much less invasive way to prevent STDs would be to educate our sons about SAFE SEX, LIMITING PARTNERS, AND USING CONDOMS.

    Beanie’s Appa – Welcome to my blog. :) I can see from your blog that circumcision is a topic you feel very strongly about. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here.

  15. Paul Says:

    I’d like to make three points about your commentary:

    (1) The federal government doesn’t include home births in its circumcision statistics. Most babies who are born at home are left intact so the actual circumcision rate in the US is probably much lower than what’s being reported.

    (2) Circlist is a sexually oriented website run by gay circumcision fetishists that has many explicit pictures of nude men engaging in erotic acts. I was surprised to see it on the list you made because I assumed this discussion would be restricted to the health-related aspects of this controversy.

    (3) With all due respect, I see no need for the insistence on “fairness” or “balance” here. This is a medical issue, not a political one, and there’s no reason why anyone should feel they have to present an opposing view if that view is irrational or unsupported by the evidence. Alternative theories about how the AIDS virus infects its victims, for example, are routinely ignored by the mainstream media and no one ever accuses them of being “unfair” because of it. Interestingly, I’ve never seen those who favor circumcision express the slightest bit of concern about being “fair” so any circumcision opponent who champions “fairness” in the misguided belief that their “fairness” will be reciprocated are going to be very disappointed.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    As a 64 year old happily circumsized male, I have NO regrets that my parents made that choice for ME 64 years ago.

    I did a little research this morning (early) to see what I could find. Sites other than what Amy posted.

    I will keep my opinions short. I notice only one male posting before me.

    One lady posted on previous blog about your male child looking different than others. She said when would they see other males? Well, for myself, it started in the 7th grade thru 12th after gym classes. We did not take showers in individual stalls with curtins. When I first saw uncir’d penis, I wondered what was wrong with him.

    I briefly read on site about the pros and con. As Paul said above, STDs are more common in Uncir’d. Also, the case of penal cancer are almost 100% lower in a cir’d penis. The one pro for Uncir’d penis is an infection of the opening is less common.

    If you asked 1000’s of adult males like myself, both circ’d and uncirc’d how they felt about there current condition, what would they say. Most of us have lived all our life in the current condition, therefore cannot really compare. You also hear about a lot of adult males getting circumsized.

    Cleanliness, it would be very hard to tell me that it is as easy to clean a penis with foreskin than one without!

    Ok, ladies, as a MALE, I am in favor of Circumsizion! Sorry I took so much of your time, Amy and others.

    Roy
    TXphotog13@cs.com

  17. amygeekgrl Says:

    Paul – Thank you for your feedback. I did not realize that homebirths are not included in the govt’s stats, though that makes sense.
    I also had NO idea about CircList being a porn site. There was nothing on the public portion of the site that indicated it as such. I was simply trying to include a site that was pro-circumcision. I did some digging and found what you said to be absolutely true and have removed the link from my list. Thanks for pointing that out to me.
    Lastly, I know I didn’t have to be, but I chose to be as fair and balanced in my post as possible. I know I personally am more tolerant and respectful of others when they show me some common courtesy and I felt that my blog readers deserved that courtesy from me.

  18. I think this has been an excellent post and forum for the discussion of circumcision- with great respect and good points for both views. I have been reading the post and comments with interest. I think other parents making this decision would find it all very helpful!

    Personally my family has very “crunchy” ideals apart from the circ issue. (We don’t vaccinate or do many “normal” procedures, etc.) However, all 3 of my boys are circ’d. If my husband and I could have agreed on it, I wouldn’t have done it. But it was an issue that he felt so very strongly on in many aspects- personal, religious, etc. The only way I would go along with it is if I could be right there during the procedure and that my son would have a local anesthetic. We set up an appt to discuss this with our doctor before baby was born. Our doctor said we were the 1st parents to ever ask to be a part of the procedure. I will say that it was nothing like I had imagined- no blood and the only time he fussed was when being held down, and he stopped after a moment. We were there to comfort him the entire time and immediately afterward he was placed at the breast to nurse and was just fine.

    This is still a very sensitive subject for me. I am telling my experience not as pro-circ, as I would wish you’d seriously consider not doing it. But if you ARE going to do it, please make sure they don’t use a topical pain relief- be sure to use the local anesthetic- and be there for your child the whole time.

    I have heard both sides- from my cousin’s child having to be circumcised when older due to medical issue and then some adult males in college wishing they HAD been circ’d to uncirc’d adults feeling so grateful that they were left intact. We are all different and will do things differently. But, I don’t think the decision to circ or not should be taken lightly at all, and should be an informed decision no matter what.

  19. Paul Says:

    Amy, I have no problem with common courtesy. It’s the idea that we have some sort of obligation to explore the “other side” of this issue that I have a problem with.

    To be perfectly blunt, the “other side” of this issue is nothing more than a collection of old myths and deliberately deceptive research that’s utterly undeserving of recognition (except perhaps in the context of a discussion about modern-day quackery or the like). To give it any credence by even mentioning its existence is a disservice to all concerned, in my opinion.

    Even if Circlist didn’t contain sexually oriented material, it shouldn’t have been on your list for this reason. In any case, I’m glad it was removed.

    I must also object to a statement made by the commenter whose comment appears after mine.

    Contrary to what he says, I never made the spurious claim that STDs are more common in intact men. Please don’t put words in my mouth, sir.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Quick note to Paul:

    Sir, I was NOT putting words into your mouth. Sorry if you felt that way!

    I was “quoting” what I had read earlier on some medical site. Do not now remember which one as I was only doing some research.

    Sorry, Amy, not trying to carry on a conversation on your blog. If Paul would like to communicate with me, he can use my email below. Just put something in the “subject” line that tells me not to “report as spam”.

    I had left out some of my reasons and will NOT clutter up you blog with the other few opinions I had.

    Roy
    TXphotog13@cs.com

  21. Dad of 2 Circ' Sons Says:

    You’ve odviously have made up your mind what you want done with your son. But as a Circ’ male and Dad of 2 Circ’ sons. I just wanted to add my 2 cents. Why? it probably won’t do a thing but still.

    With all this talk about sex it makes me wonder. Do you have complaints about your sex life with your Husband since he is Circ’?

    Also, How does you husband feel about being circ’ does he hate his parents for their choice? I am proud to be circ’.

    Does he remember the exact day he was circ? Does he remember if he felt pain or not?

    and for the comment a uncirc’ penis is easier to keep clean then a circ’? Where the hell did this come from?I have not had to do anything extra to help my sons keep their penis clean, nor myself.

    Also, for the poster who said something like “when would their male child see another male child naked?”

    I have to agree with a fellow male poster and say it started in 7th grade gym class. The showers were opened not enclosed at all. Not all guys showered in gym class but if you played after school sports then most of the guys did take showers after pracite. Especially in high school.

    My oldest son is 2 and potty training. He notices very well the difference between boys and girls (as he has a sister). He is very smart he has even picked up how to stand to pee just by watching me. My question is how would you explain to your son why his penis looks different from Daddys? After all your son will most likely be real close to his dad. I was with my Dad and I remember when I was little always wanting to be JUST like him. If he was doing housework shirtless, I was right along beside him shirtless too trying to be just like him.

  22. Anonymous Says:

    For the comments about having foreskin restoration. I work with a man who wasnt circumcised and paid out the money to become circumcised.

    and to reply to beanie’s appas post “They dont have penis, why should they care?” Exactly, women dont have penis’ why should they care,or have a say? Men don’t like to be judge on their penis so why start at an early age or before birth discussing what our sons penis should or shouldn’t look like.

    also to reply to Heather G.

    “do father and sons really compare them?”

    No probably not. But they will notice a difference especially if the father is a part of helping your son potty train.

  23. amygeekgrl Says:

    Roy – Thanks for sharing your perspective. I have to disagree w/ some of the research you refer to (specifically the penile cancer) because it differs from what I’ve found – http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/312/7033/779/c -, but it’s possible there are different studies out there showing different results.
    And about the gym class argument, I feel that as more and more boys are left uncirc’d (which is the trend these days), the less big a deal it will be for the circ’d boys to see the uncirc’d boys.

    Adventures in Babywearing – Thanks for sharing your unique perspective. I think you made some great points about IF parents choose circumcision for their baby, to be present for the procedure (which I can imagine is so much more reassuring to the baby to hear mom/dad’s voice rather than being alone with a doctor) and insist on the anesthesia.
    I’m with you 100% that whatever decision is made, it is important that it’s informed.

    Paul – I appreciate your thoughts, but this is my blog and I chose to write my entry the way I did for a reason and don’t regret it.
    Also, I’m not sure if Roy meant that he was quoting Paul Fleiss (the author of some of the articles I posted), though I don’t know that Fleiss ever said that STDs were more common in an uncirc’d male.

    Dad of 2 Circ’d Sons – I appreciate hearing from the other side (if you will). You have the right to think that circ’ing was best for you and your sons, just as I have the right to think that not circing is best for my son.

    I’m not sure how my sex life is relevent to wanting to leave my son’s penis intact.

    I can’t speak for my husband other to say that he has no desire to circumcise our son, but he may jump on here at some point to answer your questions directed specifically at him.

    You asked: “and for the comment a uncirc’ penis is easier to keep clean then a circ’? Where the hell did this come from?” In one of the articles I quoted above, the author (Fleiss) says that “The natural penis requires no special care. A child’s foreskin, like his eyelids, is self-cleansing. …Immersion in plain water during the bath is all that is needed to keep the intact penis clean.” He never says an intact penis is “easier” to care for than a circ’d penis.

    How will we explain why our son’s penis looks differently than daddy’s? Um, by telling him that he has his foreskin and daddy does not or something along those lines. I’m not sure how that question would require a tricky answer other than telling it like it is.

  24. Paul Says:

    As Paul said above, STDs are more common in Uncir’d.

    I fail to see how anyone could reasonably interpret this statement as being a reference to anyone other than myself given the juxtaposition of the post and the fact that doctors are usually referred to as such (Dr Fleiss, for example, not “Paul”).

    If Roy, the commenter, was quoting something he read on another website, then he should have made that clear in his statement. I’m not psychic and I had no way of knowing this nor would anyone else who read what he said.

  25. Michelle Says:

    i think the whole “an intact penis is easy to care for” discussion is here because many people think that it’s actually very hard to keep an intact penis clean. in fact, people in real life that i’ve talked to, who choose to circ, state this as one of their main concerns.. that the penis wouldn’t be clean, that it would lead to infection, etc. when in reality, this isn’t the case.

    so i don’t think we’re trying to say that intact is easier to care for vs. circ, but that intact penises require no special care.

  26. Tony Says:

    How to explain to a boy that his penis looks different than his father’s? Seriously?

    It really is as simple as saying “Daddy doesn’t have a foreskin because, when I was born, people thought it was better to remove them. We don’t think that way any more, so we left your foreskin alone.” Or something like that. My brother had that talk with his son. My nephew’s response? “Oh, okay.” He’s never asked about it again, or expressed discontent.

    Bottom line: kids can handle the truth.

  27. Ash Says:

    My 2 cents…

    Firstly, great post!

    My husband & I chose not to circumcise our son as well. Why? Because we did not, and do not, believe we have the right to make such an alteration to his body. That is something for him to decide for himself, if he would even want to in the first place, when he is older. We are merely the custodians of our son’s body, not its owner.

    Parents need to put themselves in their children’s place and imagine what it would be like to be tied down against your will, and have your genitals cut at with inadequate or no anesthesia at all. How can people subject a newborn infant to such a painful, inhumane practice and defend it? Especially when it would be assault if it was done, without their consent, to an adult.

    I think about circumcision this way… If I wouldn’t want some one to mutilate and permanently damage my genitals, then why would my son want that done to him?

    Just because it seems “everyone” is circumcising their sons doesn’t make it the right thing to do!!!

  28. Jody Says:

    Well stated Ash. Wasn’t in Kindergarten that we were handed “The Golden Rule?” I’ve gone by that rule pretty steadily in my life. Just because I was circumcised doesn’t mean that I need to pass on the legacy to my son.

    Regarding the question posed (as I am Amy’s husband) as to whether I remember the day I was mutilated… er… circumcised; what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I don’t remember the day, I am not traumatized… I am still not circumcising my son. I don’t think its a necessary process and I think it is ignorant to do it just because a) everyone else does or b) the Dr. tells me to. Doctors are people, they are fallable… they don’t get to make that decision for me or my son.

    Lastly, about what to tell my son when he asked why his penis is different than mine? Tony already said it… I tell him the truth.

    The closest thing to a valid argument anyone has made in these responses was that other kids will tease him. I anticipate I’ll have a smart kid, and I don’t doubt he will be able to rebut such nice facts as:

    1) sex is better for me (or will be) because I have all of the nerve endings in my penis I was born with

    2) sex is better for my partner (or will be) because we are not relying on friction for her stimulation

    3) i don’t have a disfigured penis

    4) i am not missing out on anything that MAY have been diverted by a circumcision.

    5) my parents respected me enough to allow me that decision and at this point I’ve not found a valid reason to pursue such a pointless operation

    Of course he could also just point out that he is cooler for it, more like a European and you that those who mock him are all simply crude Americans.

  29. amygeekgrl Says:

    Michelle – Exactly! :)

    Tony – Yep, you got it just right. We are big on telling our kids the truth and this situation would be no exception. :)

    Ash – Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences on why you chose to keep your son intact.
    (Oh, and welcome to my blog – Ash and Tony!)

    Jody (my dear husband) – Thanks for sharing your thoughts on why our son will remain intact, even if you aren’t as tactful as I try to be. ;) I love your passion.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    I see how this conversation went..

    Amy: jody our son will remain intact *Cracks whip*

    Jody: Yes ma’ma!

    And as for this comment:

    “1) sex is better for me (or will be) because I have all of the nerve endings in my penis I was born with”

    does this mean you have a crappy sex life?

  31. Jody Says:

    Yup you got it, Amy is all about having a subservient husband. Insightful.

    Regarding sex life, since when does ‘it’s better’ mean, “everything else sucks?”

    You’re projecting sir/madam, please spend that time elsewhere, you’ve even stopped “signing” to further maintain your anonymity.

  32. amygeekgrl Says:

    I’d like to remind everyone of what I said in my original post:

    “I am not here to judge and it is my hope that any discussion that happens below in the comments remain civil and respectful, despite how strongly you may feel about this topic. I also ask that any “anonymous” posters please sign their posts with a name. Thank you.”

    So anonymous posters, please sign your comments.
    And everyone, please note: If comments continue to be ugly/attacking, they will be deleted.

  33. rebecca Says:

    Amy,

    Whoa you’re pregnant? Congrats!

    As for circumcizing… I’ve never had to think about it regarding children because I’m childless. But Amy, I think you make a lot of good points. And a bunch of the commenters do too. I think it’s good to research these kinds of things before you have children to be able to make an informed decision.

    The only other thing I wanted to mention was regarding Jody’s comment – “5) my parents respected me enough to allow me that decision and at this point I’ve not found a valid reason to pursue such a pointless operation.”

    I don’t think most parents who get their male children circumcised are lacking respect for their children. They may be uninformed or doing it for religious reasons. I agree that it is in a sense respectful to give your child the opportunity to make such decisions about his body himself, when he’s older. But I don’t think it’s fair to suggest other parents did not respect their children because they got their children circumcised.

    In any event, I’m really excited for you two and for Ava. I hope the labor and delivery are problem-free and that your baby born is happy and healthy! I’ll be thinking of you the next couple weeks.

    ~ your cousin Rebecca

  34. Anonymous Says:

    Unfortunately, when it comes to men and their bodies, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re more vain than supermodels. If you’re skinny, you’re a sissy. If you’re fat, you’re lazy. If you style your hair, you’re gay. The whole foreskin issue is so amusing sometimes because if you stand back and take a look at the anti and pro comments going back and forth, doesn’t it sound like the same old “mine is bigger than yours” debate? If you decide to leave your son intact, the last thing you should be concerned about is how he feels about his penis. You start your kid with a positive self image and dose of self confidence and he’ll learn how to stand up for himself (not to fight, but to brush off the retardedness of “fat-heads” he’ll encounter throughout life). Let’s face it. If it’s not about a foreskin, a bully will find something else to bully others about. It all goes down to vanity and the fact that society teaches us to raise our boys with the idea that their masculinity is all based on how great they feel about their penis. You have a great chance here to raise a self-respecting man here who could care less about the other man’s penis. The more you make a big deal about this as he grows up the more concerned he’s going to be about himself. And unfortunately, it will be the parent’s guilt of “what if” that will give him a bad self image. You raise your son to know that you are 100% happy with his whole being and he will be 100% happy of himself.

    I know the whole issue of religious aspects of circumcision a of great importance, too. But I would like those who argue religious tradition to feel free to search the difference between a “bris milah” and a “bris periah” and figure out which one is indeed “biblical”. You’ll be surprised to find out that the real covenental circumcision is something we’d probably call a partial circumcision these days. People don’t seem to understand the foreskin is attached to the glans until about puberty and it would take a tremendous amount of force to separate the membranes. The mandate was to cut off the foreskin (the skin in the front of…also called the overhang) of the penis…not rip it off.

    Best wishes!

    Sincerely,

    Carlo Virtucio

  35. amygeekgrl Says:

    rebecca – it’s good to hear from you. :) i sent you an email to your gmail acct.

    carlo – thank you for your well-thoughtout, intelligent and wise response. i think you make an excellent point and that is “You raise your son to know that you are 100% happy with his whole being and he will be 100% happy of himself.” i appreciate you taking the time to share here. :)

  36. Alex Says:

    Congrats on not circumcising your son. I am the circumcised father of an intact son. I hold no grudge, but wish my parents hadn’t signed the consent form to have me circumcised. My father is intact, so it’s not a family thing. I have suffered ridicule, premature AND delayed ejaculation, body image problems, manic depression and a whole host of other problems due to my circumcision. Growing up, all of my friends were intact, so now I have made sure that this generation of males in my family will remain intact, whole and the way god meant them to be.

  37. Anonymous Says:

    hey there! im a 21 year old intact male.

    really the only thing i wanted to say was that im SO PROUD of you mothers for really taking the time to look into all of these things (formula vs. breast milk, circumcision, etc), and really making informed, educated decisions so that you can best care for your son.

    and i think that if you honestly do your best to make the right decisions, that if your son chose to be upset with your decision, that anger would be misplaced.

    i grew up in a time where i was the only uncircumcised male in my class, and i had several females in my class make rude comments, but i learned very early on from my parents that the REASONS why i was left intact, and that was very important to me.

    i will admit i dont know what it would be like to be circumcised, but i have grown SOO attached to my foreskin, and the way it moves and feels, that the suggestion of cutting it off, compeltely confounds me. i couldnt like it more, and i am so glad that our future generations are being given the chance to see what its like to be intact as well.

    unlike what everyone seems to think, adult circumcision, should you want it, isnt such an impossible thing to do. its not the pain afterwards that scares me, its actually being without one of my favorite body parts!

    this post is clearly way too long, but i just want to say again that im really proud of all the mothers who have looked at the facts, and made those important decisions.. and also, i want to thank the circumcised fathers who were able to disassociate the state of their penis with the state of their sons penis. its a brave and powerful thing to do, and i think its an immensely respectable decision to make.

    cheers!

    -joel

  38. [...] for fear of offending someone, somewhere. Or if I do write about something controversial, like circumcision, I’m so careful to be as politically-correct as possible, that I feel like I’m walking [...]

  39. tcmom Says:

    I couldn’t help but come read this post! As a mother of 2 uncirc’ed boys, I truly appreciate your perspective and excellent research! While we stand by our decision, I secretly worry my sons might be pointed out in later years. I dread either son ever being angry we didn’t circ them. I hold on to the stats I have heard that no circ is becoming more common (40% of infants). Interestingly, my husband stands behind this decision even more than I do which I truly appriciate. I know it was absolutely the RIGHT decision. Thank you again for this post!

  40. Deangelo Barreca Says:

    Your webpage won’t display appropriately on my iphone – you may wanna try and repair that


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