Circumcision: I Need Your Help | Ask Your Dad Blog

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Circumcision: I Need Your Help

Not with the actual procedure... with a discussion about the topic in general.  I know this is a private/sensitive topic for some people. Feel free to click away, or comment anonymously, but I'm really hoping for some commentary on this post.
Here's the thing; I am at a loss on whether or not we should circumcise our son – a complete and utter loss. So much so, that my first, full blog post about my son is going to be about his penis. Sorry yet-to-be-named-son. I promise to delete this blog entry before you enter junior high. 
OK… let's get this first part out of the way. I am circumcised. Don't picture it. Think about something else: a beautiful sunset on a white sand beach, wheat fields undulating in the evening wind, the Washington Monument rising high above the national mall… wait, no. Stick with the sunset. Ok. Better? Good. I apologize, but I think it was important to establish where I am coming from. I'm done with the penis jokes. I swear.
Moving on; I am circumcised. I've never minded it. In fact, I've never really thought about it, which is weird since I've been incredibly aware of that region of my body since around 1993 In fact, I've never even seen an uncircumcised penis. I suppose I could use Google to find one, but there are inherent dangers in searching for such words.
So suffice it to say, I was (and am) unprepared to make this decision, which my wife has told me is up to my sole discretion. How come it's "my" decision and not "our" decision? Two factors:
1.   She's afraid it will hurt him, and my wife is the kind of person who puts spiders in cups and takes them outside. She has a very hard time causing pain.
2.   I'm pretty sure she wants me to own the consequences of this decision, which I'm willing to do. That's one "Ask Your Dad" moment I'm sure she's looking forward to.

Son - "Hey mom, how come Jimmy has foreskin and I don't?"
Mom – "Uhm… ask your dad… and what is Jimmy's mom's phone number?"
What consequences you say? Pick one: judgment, shame, animosity, resentment, loss of limb… pick one. To start, there are pretty vitriolic online communities fighting for and against male circumcision.  Outlying opinions range from, and I'm paraphrasing here: "It's a barbaric custom meant to inflict permanent religious markers on non-consenting infants through unnecessary, cosmetic genital mutilation" to "You're abusing your child and should be put in jail" all the way to "Uncircumcised penises will get infected and fall off shortly after giving everyone AIDS!" To "Don't let angry hipsters tell you what to do with your kid's wiener."

I know there are valid arguments on both sides, but this is what it generally devolves into on the interwebs. By the way, we have no religious obligation to circumsize, it is just a pretty common practice in the U.S.
While I have never been upset with, or even questioned my parent's choice to circumcise, I've read plenty of commentary from men who are upset that the decision was taken from them. I've also read stories of people who weren't circumcised and either through medical necessity or personal choice got circumcised later in life. It is consistantly described as a difficult and painful experience.
Lastly, there're the social factors… I can recall few scarier places than a junior high locker room. As much as I would like to believe that by the time my boy is in one, bullying will have been eradicated, I know that things like having a different shaped penis could make life difficult. But then… BUT THEN… what am I telling my child? Am I telling him that it is so important to not be different that I literally cut off the tip of his penis so he wouldn't get made fun of? Do I tell him anything? I never asked my parents. I never cared. Will he?
I just don't know. Like I said, I am at a loss on this one. So please help me. Did you, or do you plan to circumcise your son? How about forgoing circumcision? Why? Why not? Please keep the conversation civil, but let's have a conversation. (There's a way to comment anonymously if you'd like.) I know that this is one of those "Everything you're doing is wrong" type situations, but I'm hoping you all can help.
Sorry again for the wiener jokes,
Dad
P.S. My wife suggested that I outline a couple rules for the comments since this can be such a sensitive topic. Let's all applaud her optimism that people will actually comment.

A) Keep the language PG-13. My mom reads this blog. She's the only one allowed to use the f-word in the comments.
B)  Don't attack other people who comment. Your comment will be deleted if you do.
C) If you quote statistics, link to them or the article where you got them. (Your comment won't be deleted if you don't, but I'll be happy if you do)  
D) Thank you. (This isn't a rule, but really, I appreciate your input and thought I'd add it.)

Washington Monument




UPDATE!!! No really, I wrote an update to this post. Click here to read the exciting conclusion!

111 comments:

  1. You can bang your head against this issue until it explodes. You can search the Internet and medical journals until your eyes bleed.

    What it comes down to is talking to your partner and making the decision that you both feel is right for you.

    This is a very personal decision. Everyone will have an opinion, but it really is only up to you.

    Whatever decision you make will be the right one as long as you made it for the right reasons.

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    1. "This is a very personal decision."

      Exactly. It IS a very personal decision. Logically, then, it would follow that it is not the PARENTS' decision. It is their SON'S. I am a woman, but I have heard firsthand from a number of circumcised men that they wish the decision had not been stolen from them.

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    2. Yep, agree completely. We didn't circumcise our son (now age 10) because I didn't see the point.

      Hubby says he wishes he hadn't been circumcised, so it was an easy decision for us. My sisters both circumcised their boys because everyone else did (their reasoning).

      Bible: Only Jews were supposed to be circumcised and the New Testament removed that requirement (in fact Paul says to the people who are arguing about it that they should go ahead and emasculate themselves entirely-cut it off completely-rather than shame people into a law we were freed from.

      It's not a big deal either way, other than those few hours of pain which I agree he will completely forget. I just didn't see any real reason to do it so we skipped it.

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    3. I am circumcised and happy.

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  2. I'm assuming you're in the US, so I'm aware there's a different social aspect there (I'm in the UK where circumcision is much rarer - only for religious or medical needs).
    I won't cover the religious aspect.
    First - I'm not circumcised.
    Circumcision is absolutely not an essential - look at it logically, is there any other part of your son's body that you would consider chopping off just to conform to social norms? Next - sensitivity: ok, so if you are circumcised, you don't know the difference, but a non-circumcised penis is more sensitive, doesn't (usually) need any lubrication etc. It's a good thing.
    What about how future girlfriends will think if it looks different? Most important point: an erect penis looks pretty much the same whether circumcised or not - the foreskin retracts out of the way (assuming all is well), putting on condoms is the same.
    Health: yes, stuff can get trapped under the foreskin, so it needs to be cleaned - basic hygiene, simple as that. There's no link (as far as I know) to real health issues in uncircumcised men (i.e. cancer); links saying that circumcision protects against AIDS/HIV are far from conclusive (and simple hygiene is probably just as effective anyway).
    As for bullying - I think that could be handled if your open with your son and teach him from the start: it's natural, it's more sensitive, no lube etc. Hopefully, the culture will change over time so that less boys are circumcised unnecessarily.
    Finally, what if he needs to be circumcised in the future? Sure, it might happen, same as he might need his tonsils out or appendix removed. Should you remove those in advance, just in case?
    Hope that helps. Please don't circumcise!

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    1. Love your post! You got to the point
      I leave in US and I'm from Guatemala which in my country is really rare if someone gets circumcise I'm a mother of 4 boys , (8,7,4 and a newborn 15 days old) when I had my first boy born in US Utah, at the hospital they asked me if I wanted to get him circumcise as a single mom didn't know what to do so they told me I could have it done at my pediatrician office before he was a month old, so I called my mom and ask her opinion since she is a nurse and a mother of 2 boys too so she explain to me that it wasn't necessary that the main concern was hygien and that my dad was circumcised and my oldest brother was too and she said she didn't notice any problem between my brothers which one had it done and the other one didn't so my final decision was not to get it done!
      Anyways years after I had my second son and I was on the same road about circumsicion but this time I wasn't alone my husband is circumcise but still was hard for both of us make the decision since my oldest son was 18 months already and I start noticing that every time I would clean him he would feel uncomfortable and some times cried and refused to get clean so our main concer was him what if he is gonna question us why his pipi is diferent but still we didn't want our second son to be on pain or discomfort every time it has to be clean so we decide to get the circumsicion on him and then our third son it was just easier to make the decision and now my 8 year old he complains bout "pain" when he cleans him self and he has asked why his pipi is different from his bros and we explained to him nd he seems happy with it!! So now my newest little man just bearly got his done and I just cannt get over the pain they go thru been so little pain that we made the option to go thru am I regret ? Just for this short period of time till it heals am I regret no to have it done with my first son ? Just for those days he says it feels uncomfortable washing it. Sometimes we make good decisions and sometimes we don't :)

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  3. There is no medical reason to do it. Not to say that there can't be medical reasons, but there are none that you know of right now.

    I've just had a son, in America, and he's not circumcised, but then I'm not either.

    Since there is no reasonable medical reason to do it (my source on this is the British Medical Assoc.), the main reason for doing it s social.

    In Europe, it's very uncommon, except for religious reasons. In part this is due to socialised healthcare - it costs money, and has no benefit; many of he medical benefits have been disproven. In the US it's big business, so there is an inherent bias to keep doing it.

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  4. Bear in mind, the percentage of boys being circumcised in the U.S. has been and continues to decline steadily. You might have been the odd man out, but your kid will probably be in the realm of 50/50.

    One of the reasons it is so common was Kellogg's brilliant notion that it would cut back on the evil predisposition to masturbate.

    A lot of the "good" medical reasons don't hold much water, for instance, we don't remove parts of the breast to ward off cancer risk, and in male genitals that risk is vanishingly small, occuring mainly in men over 70. We don't slice off bits of female labia to make it cleaner. Look, I did a lot of research and none of it was compelling honestly. Even the American Pediatrics doesn't recommend it which is why it is so often not covered by insurance.

    Don't do it to an infant, it's terrible and unnecessary. If it becomes necessary later it can be done then, but let the child (later adult) have a say in what happens to his body.

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  5. I don't have kids, so I may not have a super valid opinion. My husband isn't circumcised and we will not circumcise our sons if we ever have any. I've asked him about the cleanliness factor as a kid and also the "locker room" stuff when he was growing up. He always says it was never an issue for him. Personally, making decisions to permanently alter someone's genitals without their full consent makes me kind of uncomfortable.

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  6. There are no medical organizations in the world that recommend the procedure - the best you can find is that it's simply a "personal" choice. I have an uncircumcised 6 month old. I believe that he has as much right to bodily integrity as we all do. My parents made the choice for me, and while I lived just fine, I wish I was the one who got to decide what was right for MY body.

    If the thought of circumcising your daughter gives you pause, think about why you'd even consider doing it to your son. "It's common" or "He might be weird with an intact penis" are NOT reasons to make an irreversible decision for anyone but you.

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  7. Everyone's right - ultimately, it's a hard decision and you have to pick the lesser of two evils - but when/if I have a son, he won't be circumcised. In my mind, it's an outdated procedure that everyone still does just because everyone else still does.

    Except everyone else still doesn't. By the time your kid hits the locker room, I'm thinking there will be quite the diverse array of penises on display. Although as I remember it, we ALL went to great pains to avoid displaying anything more than our boxer shorts all the way through junior high, so the point may be even more moot.

    I think you nailed it when you pointed out that circumcising as a means to desperately preventing your kid from being any more "different" than he has to be sends a less-than-ideal message. Everyone gets picked on in the locker room and everywhere else in junior high (says the gay kid who was really, really bad at sports). Nothing you can do will prevent that. You're not going to encourage your kid to do poorly in school so he's not picked on for being nerdy or teacher's pet; you're not going to hand him a pack of cigarettes so he can get a bad-ass reputation. So why start with the penis as the one place where you do try a little coolness intervention?

    I've been pretty opposed to circumcision for a while, but what cemented it for me was when I tragically stumbled on a YouTube video that was purportedly created as a PRO-circumcision video. This doctor was demonstrating the process and showing how not-that-bad it actually was. Listen, anything that makes an innocent, helpless, brand-new human being scream like that - like, literally lose his breath from screaming - is bad in my book. Or, at the very least, not good enough to be worth it.

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  8. You son should be the only person who makes this decision, unless he ends up being one of the very rare few who need it done for medical reasons. It is his body, and no one should be able to chop off bits of someone else without their permission. I was circumcised as a baby, and I hate that fact. And nothing is ever going to reverse that for me.

    Medically, there's minor risks and minor benefits, but at the end of the day, if you go through it, you will be doing something to him that can never be fixed.

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  9. We didn't circumcise our son and I'm glad we didn't. We aren't religious, so that argument didn't matter to us. We just decided that there weren't any good reasons to do it other than the fact that so many other boys will be circumcised. Personally, I think it's a shame that so many baby boys undergo the procedure here in the U.S..

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  10. Hey there. I come from Germany where it is also very uncommon for circumcision to happen unless its religious / medical.

    I am also intact. My 1 year old son is intact. I have to agree with my culture and many posters here that unless there is a medical or strong religious reason you should not have parts of your sons body cut off without him having a say in it just simply to bring him in line with other people. We should never do things just because others are doing it.

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  11. I can think of 2 reasons why I wish my parents would have just done it when I was a child.

    1.Phimosis is a bitch. Look it up, you don't want it, and if it's bad enough the only cure is adult circumcision which does hurt and you will remember your whole life.

    2.In America it is still the social norm to be circumcised. As you become a teenager who plays sports and or is sexually active others are likely to see your genitalia and more often than not those that are uncircumcised are ridiculed and given grief while those that are circumcised are not.

    The risk of a botched circumcision is much lower than the risk of suffering from phimosis later in life.

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    1. 1. Phimosis is treatable by other surgery (Z-plasty, preputioplasty) or non-surgically. (Anonymous must have had a US doctor who only learnt one thing about the foreskin, how to cut it off. Some US anatomy texts don't even show it.) Not sure if your figures are accurate, but phimosis is a medical condition that can be treated when it happens, IF it happens. A botched circumcision is a disaster forever.

      2. With the rate now running around 55%-60% the days of circumcision being "a social norm" are over. It varies from area to area, but you have no guarantee he's going to spend all his school days where he was born, or even end up living in the USA.

      He's sure to be differnt from some of his peers, so which would you rather have to tell him - "They're different because their parents all had part cut off of theirs, but we didn't"? Or "You're different because we had part of yours cut off so that you wouldn't be different - but theirs didn't, so you are."?

      No good studies have been done but informal polls suggest that the proportion of circumcised men who wish it hadn't been done is MUCH greater than the propotion of intact men who wish it had. If you want your son to be happy about your choice, you chances are much greater if you do nothing.

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  12. So what if there's valid arguments for both sides? That doesn't create a dilemma.

    You have a baby. You don't remove components of his body when there is no medical need.

    You don't cut away stuff because it's the social norm, unless it needs to be done. Circumcision doesn't!

    It's a new human being. You are his caretaker. That means you have to act in his interest, not freely have things cut off that your son can't grow back, just because of a social norm.

    Why not break off a few of his teeth too, less time needed to brush.

    Free your mind, once you break out off the chains of tradition and look at your baby and his wonderful body, and a knife that is about to cut something off irreparably, you'll realize that it's fucking sick, and no amount of societal rationalization will change that!

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  13. This is obviously psychobabble speculation with no research to back it up, but I sometimes wonder if America has so many sexual hangups compared to places like Europe because our men have repressed penis-related trauma buried deep in their psyches. :)

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  14. The biggest argument you appear to be making in favor of circumcision is that you're concerned that your son will be the odd man out in the locker room.

    Circumcised is no longer the default state in a lot of places. Depending on exactly where in the U.S. he grows up a circumcised penis might be in the minority.

    What it comes down to is that you are performing irreversible cosmetic surgery on your son's genitals. This surgery will almost certainly be performed without anesthetic.

    If he really wants to change the way his penis looks let him make the decision when he's older. At least when they circumcise adults they knock them out first before they start slicing.

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  15. Just like your wife I deferred to my husband when we found out we were having a son. We researched things together and my husband decided we would leave our son intact, but I had no strong feelings about the decision either way.
    That changed the first time I held our boy. I think if my husband had decided to circumcise him instead I would have fought tooth and nail against it at that moment. My son was perfect and there was no need to augment that.

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  16. Hell fucking no, don't do it. I would rather lose a finger than my foreskin.

    First up: it's not yours. It's his. Bodily integrity is a human right. Imposing cosmetic surgery on non-consenting infants is not.

    Second, foreskins are awesome. Let me count the ways:

    * Tens of thousands of nerve endings. That's an *astounding* amount of sensory bandwidth.
    * Those nerve endings include a whole lot of sensitive stretch receptors - as the foreskin moves, it reports a whole lot of positional detail. That's a whole extra *kind* of sensation we're talking about.
    * Frictionless gliding mechanism. The foreskin isn't just a "piece of skin", it's a toroidal linear bearing, providing *completely* frictionless movement, far superior to any amount of lubrication. Okay, break to explain this one:

    Take a stretchy satin shirt, with the sleeves too long, about a hand-length past your fingertips. Put it on, turn the end of the sleeve in on itself, and glue the cuff to your watch strap. You now have a functional model of an intact penis. Your hand is the glans, the sleeve is the foreskin, your arm is the shaft.

    Now grasp your sleeve, and extend your arm to look at your watch. The fabric *rolls* over your hand - it doesn't slide. There's no friction against your hand at all, because nothing slides over it.

    Or take a pinch of eyelid/elbow/scrotum skin, and rub between thumb and finger. Again, no friction on your finger pads whatsoever, despite a firm grip. This is what we experience. We don't need lube to masturbate, because we have something far better built-in.

    * Stimulation from friction **sucks** next to frictionless massaging. Intact guys have access to both - and while friction can be an interesting place to visit, none of us would ever want to live there.
    * The frenulum is known by some as the 'male clitoris', and is exquisitely sensitive. Even if it's preserved (it usually isn't), one of the things it's most sensitive to is stretching as the foreskin retracts. No foreskin, no stretching, you've just lost a vast amount of sexual pleasure.
    * The foreskin protects and moisturises the surface of the glans (which is an *internal organ*, and does not have skin), keeping it sensitive and supple. Men undergoing foreskin restoration report that the difference in sensation is akin to the difference between wearing a condom and going bareback.
    * Because we don't rely on friction for stimulation, condoms don't suck *nearly* as much for us as they do for circumcised guys.

    There are no good reasons to circumcise.

    * Hygiene is not an issue. Five seconds in the shower, just pull back, wash, release, done. Washing your ears is harder work than that, but you don't go cutting those off.
    * I daresay that there are lots of guys in the world that find intact female genitalia 'weird', too - but if someone suggested you should cut up your daughter to suit them, you'd punch them in the face. Think about that.
    * In some places, the majority of girls are circumcised, too. If you went to live there, would you have your daughter circumcised so she would be "normal"?

    ... continued next coment

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  17. ... continued

    Even if you wanted to, there's no good reason to do it early.

    * It's his body, it ought to be his competent adult choice. You wouldn't give him a tattoo - or even let him get one himself - until he was an adult, so why this?
    * Done as an adult (assuming he wanted to), there's vastly more margin for error, plus he could actually choose exactly how he wanted it done.
    * In infancy, the foreskin is fused to the glans, like your nails are fused to the nail bed - and needs to be forcibly stripped free. Why deliberately choose the extra-traumatic option?
    * Infants cannot be given sufficient pain relief, either during the operation or during the healing process. There's research to indicate that the trauma has permanent effects on neural development, including permanently lowering their pain tolerance. Why would you do that to your own kid?
    * A diaper environment is a *terrible* place for a wound to heal. Jesus, just think about that.

    And that's not even covering stuff that can go wrong. Google for 'botched circumcision' sometime, along with 'necrotizing fasciitis'.

    In short: there's lots of inherent downsides, lots of risks, no benefits, and no all-fired hurry to do it as a child.

    Just leave it alone. Your kid does not need bits cut off him.

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  18. I did it for my son. My wife & I thought about it for a very long time and it wasn't a carefree decision. He's 2 1/2 now and no issues at all. He acts and points/plays with his piece like any other boy (like his ~same-age cousin who is uncut). We spoke with his pediatrician a lot (we also have a 5yo girl) and I even chatted with my dad about why he chose to do it with me. (I have never felt any issues about the decision being made for me either)

    The Dr used the plastibell apparatus. There was no problem at all with it and it came off after nine days I believe.

    The mentality around here is going to be way one-sided on this issue, but I'm sure you already know that. I just did what I felt was best for my son and I do not have any regrets. Hopefully you make the best decision for what is best for your soon-to-be son. Good luck!

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    1. The question is not whether you have any regrets, but whether HE will.

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  19. Did you know that we only need our big toes in order to balance and walk properly? You should also cut off your sons other toes, in order to prevent potential fungal infections later in life. You know it makes sense, don't listen to the anti-chopping-boys-bits-off hippies!

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  20. I went through this same issue with my soon-to-be-born son. Initially my husband said he didn't care, but said that because he's circumsized and is fine with it, my son would be too.

    Since I don't have the experience of having a penis, I decided to research it. As others have said, there is no medical reason to really do it. I'm not worried about him not looking like other boys because rates in the US (as others have also said) are on the decline and quite honestly, it is a way to show him that people can be different and that's okay.

    If, as an adult, he chooses to have it done, that's fine. It is his body and neither myself nor his dad should just decide to have non-needed procedures done because it is status quo.

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    1. So you talked your husband round, Stephy? Bravo! Some men have what we call the Adamant Father Syndrome and can't be talked around for love nor money (though not many women try money).

      A trump card many women don't realise they have is "Sure you have a penis, but I have intact genitalia, and I wouldn't give any up today, and I'd be mad as hell if anyone had cut anything off before I could resist. I'm guessing an intact penis is no different." (And you'd be guessing right.)

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  21. Sorry I didn't read all the responses so I don't know if this has been addressed. Insurance companies do not cover any portion of the circumcision. I know in my sons cases it was like a $300 procedure. We (my husband and I) made the decision to have our first son circumcised so that he would look like daddy. With our second son, hubby said I wish we hadn't gotten son one circumcised cause I have changed my views but I don't want son two to be confused as to why he doesn't look like daddy and brother. Not great reasoning I know but it's not a decision you can take back once it's made.

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    1. Please don't cut him. Two wrongs don't make a right. :(

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    2. He won't want to look like his father or his brother - especially not when he knows what that entails. He'll be glad to look like HIM.

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    3. Our insurance covered the expense of it. Also, if he doesn't like it, then it's just one more thing he can hate me for when he's a teenager; I'm sure there will be many other, more important reasons by then for him to hate me. (no car, curfew, I don't understand him, money, clothes, homework). These were why I hated my parents as a teenager.

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  22. My son was circumcised when he was born 2 years ago. All the doctors in my family agreed that it was mostly for sanitary reasons and to lower chances of spreading STD's in the future. I left it up to my husband, but he agreed that this is what was best for our son. I've had 3 cousins who have had to get circumcised later in life (one at about 13 and the others at around 20-22) and it was a very traumatic experience. The baby did not feel any discomfort, i didn't have to see the procedure while it was performed, we took good care of it with Vaseline and gauze for the first few days and it has always been easy to keep clean. Other than it looking a little raw for about 4 days, it wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be. He didn't even seem to flinch when being changed.

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    1. Ah, those cousins, or uncles, or grandfathers, or... who "had to get circumcised later"! How many unnecessary circumcisions are done in their name!

      In the US, medical schools teach that the foreskin is "the part that is removed by circumcision". In Europe, where doctors have their own, they value the foreskin and learn the many surgical and non-surgical alternatives to circumcision, and the lifetime risk of needing to be circumcised is one in thousands.

      As many studies show no difference in STDs as show any difference. There are two much better ways of preventing STDs - choose who you sleep with, and wear condoms when you sleep with them.

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    2. I try not to judge people who do choose this option, but you are mistaken if you think he felt no discomfort. Look up youtube videos. There are plenty out there. They babies are strapped down, given no anesthetic or pain medication, and do indeed feel pain as the skin is sliced off. If you had seen the procedure you would have seen and heard him crying. You accidentally clip a tiny bit of his finger when trimming his nails, do they not scream bloody murder? Imagine something more sensitive and filled with many nerve endings.

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    3. Plenty of doctors use anesthesia.

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  23. There's no reason to have your infant son circumcised.

    The benefits from having one's foreskin cut off are minimal, and most of them exist only once your son becomes sexually active -- and presumably, at that point, he can decide for himself (or, you know, just do the smart thing and use a condom, which he should do anyway).

    The only significant benefit as a sexually-immature child is a lower chance of UTIs -- UTIs which are normally solved very simply with antibiotics.

    On the other hand, the downsides of circumcision are varied, numerous, and immediate:

    http://chasevectors.blogspot.com/2009/07/circumcision-human-behavior.html

    Without digging too much into those studies, have you seen what a circumcision looks like? What happens? That the foreskin has to be ripped from the glans (it's attached in an infant), the incredibly sensitive tissue gets crushed or cut (depending on the procedure used).

    The current rate of circumcision in the United states is about 54%, and has been falling for years:

    http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/02/27/prse0302.htm

    So your son isn't going to be "out of place" either way.

    As for phimosis, the vast majority of the time, simple stretching and possibly some steroidal cream (if stretching alone doesn't work) is a non-painful, non-surgical option that works the vast majority of the time.

    Circumcision, even with severe phimosis that doesn't respond to stretching, is not necessary; various procedures allow one to keep his foreskin if he wants.

    Remember that if you don't want to decide for your son, you don't have to. He can make his own choice later in life -- if you let him keep his foreskin.

    There are many men who are angry at their parents for surgically altering their genitals. There are not so many who are angry at their parents for not doing so (how could they be?)

    Finally, if you do decide to circumcise your infant son, please, please make sure they use anesthetic. Too many infants have the horrific operation done with no more than straps to keep them from struggling--until they go into a state of mild shock from the pain, that is.

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  24. Mike and I have talked a lot about our decision to circumcise our son and we both agree if we could take it back we would. I wish we had given it more thought beforehand and not made the decision because it was the social norm. We had a baby without getting married and didn't care that it wasn't the socially acceptable thing to do in our society but didn't really give much thought to cutting off a piece of our sons body. I put myself in my son's shoes and think if my parents had decided to alter my body before I ever even knew my name I'd be upset. Its my body and there is no going back from that. And its not just a decision to cut hair or pierce ears. It is his most personal part of his body. And to be honest if you held down a grown man and chopped off his foreskin without his consent you'd go to jail. Why do we think we can make that decision for our children just because they don't know whats going on?
    With all of that being said, my son is a happy, healthy boy who at this point doesn't know the difference(as far as I know, maybe he does realize his foreskin is gone and that's why he's always playing with the damn thing!) and if you do make the decision to do it don't lose to much sleep over it afterward. He'll be a happy, healthy kid because he has parents willing to really weigh the pros and cons of how their decisions now will affect him in his future.

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  25. I'm cut, but I didn't have my son cut. Not once has he ever felt different because he doesn't look like me. The one time he did ask, I explained why I looked different and he was horrified that someone did that XD

    Really, if you ask most kids when they are old enough to understand it, if they want you to cut a part off their body, they will say "hell no".

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  27. My ex was not and so neither of my boys were circumcised. They are now 8 and almost 11 and it's been a complete non-issue. They were taught how to clean in and now that they both shower alone, they are perfectly capable of keeping it clean. The oldest is on his way to 6th grade so locker rooms haven't been an issue yet however, as an earlier commenter mentioned, it is becoming more popular to not circumcise.

    In 2009 only 32.5% of boys born were circumcised.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/u-s-circumcision-rates-on-the-decline/

    At this rate he will look "different" if you do circumcise, not if you don't but at the end of the day, it's up to you and your wife.

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  28. ??? I am not circumcised, and I made the choice not to have any of my 3 sons circumcised. My father was not circumcised, and when a good friend of mine asked me for the same advice as you are asking, I put it to him this way: look at the pros vs. the cons and create a risk /reward analysis.

    Pros: Aesthetically pleasing look to penis for those who judge the look of penises; slightly lower risk of UTI infections; less likelyhood of spreading STD's if acquired.

    Cons: Intense pain as a welcome to this life; risk of potential permanent damage to his reproductive organs and of the psychological and developmental consequences that could result; potential infection as a result.

    As I look at it, the severity of the risk far outweighs any potential reward. When I asked our pediatrician for a risk / reward breakdown, the only thing she could come up with was a slightly (less than %1) increased risk of UTI infections throughout life. Personally, I never had any of my friends, anyone in a locker room, or an intimate partner make anything more than a passing inquiry. I've never been hassled for it, even as a light joke. I suppose that if I did, I could always say "Why are you staring at by penis?" or "At least I have 100% of my penis, jerk." or (Not that there's anything wrong with the majority of males who are circumcised...) It's just that in my years growing up in the desert, where outdoor urination and resulting "light-saber duels" were common, as well as in gym class. It's never come up. My intimate partners have never complained, and I like to think that I am fairly competent and effective in that area (how is that for PG-13?)

    If I were a male prostitute or a porn star, the risk / reward might pan out differently. As it stands, the only time I even think about it is when friend ask me whether or not to circumcise their sons, which has the most I've ever seriously discussed my penis.

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    1. I just want to add that I don't think there is anything wrong with people who are circumcised or people who choose to have their children circumcised. I just wanted to illustrate my thought process. The prostitute porn star comment was meant entirely in jest.

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  29. His body, his choice.

    It's that simple.

    I was circumcised at birth and I strongly resent it.

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  30. Leave the choice up to the person the penis is attached to.

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  31. (1) You can take away, but you can't give back. He can decide later in life if he wants to be circumcised.

    (2) As others have pointed out, it's his body, not yours. Again, he can make that call himself.

    I decided that I would be the last male in my family to get cut without permission. My two boys are part of team turtleneck. The one who is old enough to talk has *never* asked why his johnson looks slightly different from mine. It is a complete and total non-issue.

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  32. Cut male here.

    In terms of personal development and functionality, it doesn't matter, my penis feels normal, it's never been an issue, I've never felt weird about it, never been picked on for it, sex is great/mind blowing, and there are much more important decisions the child has no control over that affect them. So it doesn't really matter IME, to me it's something I was practically born with, like my hair color or some other physical feature. Initially, when I started reading up on the debate, I was upset that it was done to me, but when I thought about it objectively I realized it I wasn't upset until someone told me I should be, and until that point I never cared and it had no affect on me otherwise.

    However, I'd say unless you feel very strongly about doing it or its part of your family's ethnic/religious identity, don't do it. Practically, the hygiene issue might have been relevant back when people didn't bath for months or years, but you live in the first world and it's probably not difficult to teach them to wash their junk, so in other words it simply isn't needed. That said, you aren't going to ruin the kid's life, emotionally damage them, or make things suck for them later on or take something away from their quality of life by doing it, nor will it by not doing it.

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  33. Oh, and the only cogent medical argument I've seen pro-circumcision is that thing about HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa. Note anyplace where "dry sex" is a common practice is going to have very different realities when it comes to STD transmission.

    http://www.salon.com/1999/12/10/drysex/

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  34. Great post and great blog, brother. I've been meaning to tell you how much I like it and how much I enjoy your writing. It was always good but it is now really excellent. Keep it up!

    It's amazing that you would post this today. For the first time in my entire life, I am actually thinking the same thoughts as you. Mary and I toured a birthing center this morning in preparation for her delivery in December.

    We still don't know the gender of the baby but the midwife told us that they do not circumcise at the birthing center but that they could recommend several good pediatricians to do it if we wanted to. She also told us that 150 babies actually DIE each year during the procedure due to blood loss or other complications.

    I don't have a cite for that and, granted, statistically that is a pretty small number. Also, this midwife is a complete hippie (she had feather earrings). A lot of what she said was very anti-establishment.

    At the same time, it got me thinking. I have absolutely no conclusions yet but I think it's great that I'm not the only one concerned about my potential future son's junk. Well done!

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    1. Scott man! I didn't even know you guys were expecting! That is fantastic! Congrats. Thank you for the compliment. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. It has been a lot of fun to start writing again. Please keep reading.

      A link to this post ended up being posted by someone on an anti-circumcision message board on reddit.com, which I think may have led to the comments being a little skewed in one direction. (Perfectly fine, and I welcome all of you who are here from http://reddit.com/r/inactivists.)

      I knew it was an emotional issue when I wrote the blog, and that the comments would probably get a little heated. That doesn't mean they're not making good points. I am going to separate the facts from the emotion, talk to my wife and our pediatrician, and when it comes down to it, I'll make the decision I determine to be best for my son.
      Keep in touch buddy!

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    2. Another thing to keep in mind guys - the US medical industry is built around extracting as much money from people as possible. So your doc and nurses are going to pressure you to cut your kid, if you live in a state where it's more-common. Circumcision is a cash cow.

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  35. honestly less and less babies are being circumcised in the US, it is barbaric and should not even be done unless necessary. Would you circumcise your daughter? if not, then why consider it for your son?

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  36. This has been very interesting, I didn't realize people felt so strongly about this issue. I just want to add to the discussion that both of my sons are circumcised, and we have not had any problems. If you are concerned about pain to the baby, at least in our boys, this was a non issue. When the nurse brought them back to us they weren't even crying. And just for arguments sake, I want to comment on the idea that it should be left up to the child. There are many things my kids would like to decide for themselves, what they can eat, what to wear, when to sleep, to wear their seatbelt, and so on. If it were up to them, my kids would be naked and running around hopped up on M&M's all day and night. As a parent we have to make tough decisions based on what we feel is best for them. I am not saying to "cut" him or not, I'm just saying that choosing not to is also making the decision for him. If he chooses later on in life to do it, it will be much more painful. Just my thoughts, Kat

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    1. as a nurse, i can tell you that the baby was sleeping because he was screaming while the procedure was done and afterwards, we don't bring the babies back until after they are calm because we do not want to upset the parent. After all, we can not put it back, sorry.

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    2. "Choosing not to" is not making the decision for him, anymore than "choosing not to cut off his ears" is making a decision for him.

      Yes, parents make all sorts of tough decisions for their children, but cutting their genitals is nothing at all like asking them to wear a seatbelt, or to eat broccoli instead of M&M's.

      Delete
    3. I should clarify, I didn't mean that it didn't hurt them in the moment of the procedure, but that the pain didn't last. And, no, this is nothing like making a decision about what they eat for dinner. Just an example of the many decisions you have to make as a parent that are hard and may not be popular, but you have to do what you feel is right, not what other people says is right. No matter what you chose, it has to be your decision, and you have to be committed 100% and not let others view points make you feel like you are making the wrong choice. I had to have my 3 kids via c section for medical reasons, and I have encountered people who look down on me for that, asking if I think I am as good of a mom as someone who delivers vaginally. No matter what we do as parents, someone is going to think we are making the wrong decision, so you have to decide for yourselves, and not base it on what others think.

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    4. @Anonymous: "the pain didn't last" Taddio et al. (Lancet. 1997;349:599-603) found circumcised babies reacted differently to the pain of vaccination months afterwards.

      I'm damned if I can think of a single thing circumcision has in common with C-section except that people have opinions about them. C-section is something that is forced on a mother, or else she chooses, for her own reasons - such as the many downsides of vaginal delivery. So far as I know, the only clear effect it has on the child is on the shape of its head.

      Circumcision makes a lifelong change to a boy in the most intimate possible way, in ways that the parents can't predict. The alternative is doing nothing, just leaving the baby's genitals alone. It ought to be a no-brainer.

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  37. woman here so I dont have one, but I can tell you that intercourse with it el'natural is much more satisfying.

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  38. I might regret admitting this publicly on the internet, because ... well, heck, I probably won't - but my hubs isn't circumcised, being from the UK (and I'm American) and it was the first one I'd ever seen that wasn't, and honestly, I thought he was deformed. I felt terrible for him. I actually talked with my girlfriends over coffee about it the next day (sorry boys, but we girls really do talk a lot) and they laughed their a**es off, because it turns out most Brits aren't circumcised, and my girlfriends already knew this.

    And as soon as I learned that, I got over it and it has never been an issue.

    We don't have boys, but if we had had boys, we would have left their foreskins alone. Once you start thinking of it as genital mutilation on BABIES, it seems too wrong to snip off, even if it's not a problem for just about all guys who've had it done.

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    1. This is one of the things we feared (which admittedly is kind of a silly fear, but aren't most parental fears silly?). It obviously worked out ok for your husband. I'm confidence plays a roll :)

      Delete
    2. I'm a woman and the second guy I ever slept with was uncircumsized. He told me about it before we ever got very physical because he was worried about how I would feel about it (this was after I confided in him about a mole on the back of my neck that my parents had made me self-conscious about).

      When he explained to me what was up, I was mostly curious...and a little turned-on, to be honest. I found having sex with him to be much simpler and more pleasurable than almost anyone before him or since. Now, every new guy I've ever gotten involved with, I secretly wished to find out that he was uncut...but sadly, they never are.

      I'm not from an anti-cutting group. Just a therapist and compassionate woman who sees no good reason for cutting and lots of good reasons for keeping! BTW, there will always be things kids will tease about. I'm sure, with your open-heartedness and courage, that your son will have great confidence in himself, which is way more important than "fitting in" could ever be.

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  39. As a nurse who works with newborns and having assisted with many circumcisions in eight different states I have some comments to make about this decision.
    -Many others have stated this but I will reiterate there are no evidenced based medical reasons for circumcision!
    -Even if a circumcision is done there can be scar tissue that forms and becomes a problem, possibly needing further surgery to repair it.
    -Most places do provide some type of pain relief for the procedure unlike when I first started my nursing career 25+ years ago. Things that are done to try to keep the baby comfortable include swaddling the arms against the baby's chest, numbing cream applied about 1 hour prior to the circumcision, numbing injection (like having your mouth numbed prior to a cavity being filled) and something called sweetease. Sweetease is a very concentrated sucrose solution that is dripped into the baby's mouth and he is allowed to suck on something. This sweet taste and the sucking allows the baby's own endorphins to be excreted and has been proven to be useful in relieving pain during painful procedures until the baby is about 3 months old. Some facilities will also give a dose of tylenol prior to the procedure and as needed for the first 24 hours.
    -Some insurance companies don't cover the circumcision procedure so I would contact your insurance company to find out your out of pocket costs which will be one more part of your research.
    -If you are really interested in finding out what an uncircumcised penis looks like and don't want to search on the internet, go to a University library and look in a medical text book.
    -And lastly I can definitely attest to the fact that circumcision is becoming less common in the US than it was during the generation of men who are becoming new fathers now. When I first started working as a nurse (a long time ago) circumcisions were much more common but the pendulum has swung back to the middle. I can say that in the facility I work at the rate of circumcision is about 50% so you do not need to worry that your son will be bullied because his penis is different than his peers.
    You and Stevie are excellent parents and your son will grow up to be a well adjusted happy young man no matter what you decide on this issue.

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    1. Slater et al. (Lancet, 376:9748, 1225-32, 2010) found sucrose does not actually relieve pain, it just relaxes the facial muscles so the child appears calm.

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  40. This video is very well researched, with many references, and is explained beautifully. You will not find it through search engines because it is unlisted.

    WARNING: This video is very graphic in that it shows an actual infant circumcision.

    I hope that this helps you in your decision.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSM-SkwGEf0&feature=my_liked_videos&list=LLLMYn_Wfjcv3pPbLeg56Lqg

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  41. Cut man here. My son is uncut. Babies and toddlers are easier to care for when not cut. The foreskin is fused to the head at birth and doesn't detach till well after they're potty trained.

    My son is now six and is very confused why anyone would want to get part of his dong cut off when it's not hurt.

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  42. I'm just curious, would you as a father be fine with the female equivalent of modern male circumcision? (Removal of the clitoris hood) If you wouldn't want it for your daughter, don't want it for your son.

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  43. Our soon-to-be son won't be circumcised, mainly because I was. I really don't appreciate the choice not being my own, and I wish that my parents hadn't decided for me.

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  44. WOW! Quite the response on this post! Thanks everyone for your comments. All of them. Like I mentioned in the blog, I knew this was a sensitive subject. I didn't quite expect this big of a response. I am grateful for it. Thank you for making this a conversation and not an attack fest. You are all awesome! Please keep reading my blog and commenting whenever the urge arises. Without all of you I am just shouting in the darkness.

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  45. My husband isn't circumcised and I've left the decision up to him with regards to our future children. He is PRO-circumcision for our sons.

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  46. One important topic to talk about is sex. A Danish study found that "Circumcision was associated with frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men and with a range of frequent sexual difficulties in women, notably orgasm difficulties, dyspareunia and a sense of incomplete sexual needs fulfilment. "

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/06/13/ije.dyr104.abstract

    In addition, circ men are 4.5x more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction, as it involves severing the perineal nerve:

    http://www.mensstudies.com/content/2772r13175400432/?p=a7068101fbdd48819f10dd04dc1e19fb&pi=4

    I would also like to mention one more thing. Many procirc people liken foreskin to a vestigial organ, even though it's been shown to have atleast 10-12 functions. Anyone with a basic grasp of biology would know that this is bullshit. Wisdom teeth are vestigial due to the change of our jaw shape. The appendix is vestigial as we no longer have a diet that primarily consists of vegetation. However, I am not aware of there being some drastic change in the way that humans would have sex.

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    1. In addition, the Canadian Pediatric Society did a review of circ studies and found that in the case of UTIs, for every 1000 circs, 9 cases of UTI would be avoided, however there would be 12 cases of moderately severe complications.

      http://www.cps.ca/english/statements/fn/fn96-01.htm#PREVENTION%20OF%20UTI

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  47. A couple more things to mention:

    Supposed HIV protection benefits are based on highly disputed studies, in a third-world country with a very different sexual culture. Also, the touting of circumcision as a preventitive is significantly undermining safe-sex education.

    In short: any preventative effects are not conclusively shown, are unlikely to be relevant to someone living in the west, and are completely swamped by the presence or absence of safe sexual practices. Using a condom is going to be hundreds of times more effective, while also acting as a contraceptive, and preventing all manner of other STIs at the same time.


    As regards phimosis: it's rare, and extremely treatable by non-destructive methods. A simple regimen of gentle stretching covers the vast majoriy of cases, and the addition of a little steroid cream in conjucntion with stretching covers the vast majority of remaining cases.

    Only a very small percentage of phimosis cases (which themselves are an even smaller percentage of the population) require surgical intervention - and even the majority of *those* can suffice with a far less drastic approach than radical amputation of the foreskin.

    In the *extremely* unlikely event of your child ever needing surgical intervention for phimosis, a dorsal slit or at worst partial circumcision will easily suffice, removing little or no actual tissue, and retaining full protection of the glans and functionality of the gliding mechanism.

    In any event, the likelihood of intervention being required is so small that a 'just in case' approach is completely unmerited.

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    1. Jean-Babtiste, Thank you so much for contributing to the conversation. I appreciate the facts you brought in to support your opinions. Please continue to read my blog! I'll eventually post an update to our decision :)

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  48. I must admit I am surprised at the strong opinions on this topic, I expected much different results in the comments. We have circumcised our first and will do the same for our second. It might just be the "normal" thing in our area both location and faith, but I would think it odd not to have it done. My sister-in-law's first son had problems with it reattaching and they had to have it done again or corrected, and even with that they still did it for their second son as well.I would hate for the procedure to have to be done as an older man or child even when they'd remember it.

    Good luck with your decision! Boys are great either way.

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    1. http://www.sickkids.ca/AboutSickKids/Newsroom/Past-News/1997/Study-shows-that-infants-feel-and-remember-circumcision-pain.html

      While an adult can actually go under general anasthesia...

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    2. Thanks for your comment Courtney, and thanks for reading. This has definitely been an enlightening post for me too!

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  49. http://i.imgur.com/mJi6T.gif

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    1. If anyone is wondering. That url is for an infograffic made by folks who are anti-circumcision. It is not a link to a scary picture (which I was almost sure it would be)

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  50. I can't think of any other medical procedure where healthy parts are cut off a healthy body, without the permission of that body's occupant. Can you?

    It seems kind of strange to have to come up with reasons not to do that. I think the burden of proof falls on the other side. And all their claims have fallen far short of anything like a preventative measure. Especially when the cost is considered.

    Males who were circumcised at birth often have difficulty imagining what that cost is. Kind of like asking a color-blind man what colors look like.

    But in recent years, some hard facts have come to light that point up the absurdity of routine circumcision.

    For example, it's very likely that the pain from circumcision and the healing process will impair a boy's hip flexibility. (http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/avoiding-cobra-pose.html) How long into his growth this continues, no one knows. I wonder if it's the reason so many white guys dance, well, like white guys.

    Another little fact is the discovery of estrogen receptors on the inner lining of the foreskin. (http://www.cirp.org/pages/parents/lostlist/) (#6 on the list.) One thing we do know about estrogen is, tiny amounts of it in a man's bloodstream reduce his risk of heart disease. Another thing we know is that the following men suffer heart disease out of proportion to their numbers: Jews, Americans, homosexuals, the celibate. Think that through to the finish line.

    Neither of these in and of itself is an argument, but they underscore the basic principle that our bodies were made in a certain way, and it's probably best to let them be. Whether you think God or nature designed the human body, you are correct. In either case, we weren't given any purposeless parts.

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  51. First off congratulations on the upcoming birth of your baby!

    I think the medical stuff/research/etc. has been covered at length above so I'll just share our experience. It's not scientific but it's ours!

    My husband is circumcised and when I found out we were expecting our first son (who is now 4) I asked what his thoughts were. His automatic response was that he wanted the baby to be circumcised. Because I didn't have the same "equipment" I felt like the decision should be his.

    Fast forward to the baby's birth. We ran into a lot of complications and although the baby was born happy and healthy breast-feeding did not go well. At the hospital that I gave birth at they will postpone the circumcision if breast-feeding has not gone well and ask you to come back (typically when the baby is 7 days old). So off we trundled with our newborn.

    We got home and breast-feeding continued to go poorly. On top of sleeplessness, some post-partum depression and poor feeding I was experiencing horrible anxiety about the fact that we were expected to bring Luke in to have part of his penis removed in just a few short days. Rather than sleeping when I could I would stay awake and read about circumcision online and work myself into tears thinking about my baby going through it. I watched videos of actual circumcisions and cried.

    Finally after several days of ruminating I went to my husband and told him of my worries. He was a champ - said that if it was causing me so much worry we just wouldn't do it.

    Luke's four and he and his dad pee side by side. Never once has he seemed aware of any difference (except that his dad's penis is "HUGE"...yeah ego boost for his dad there). He's never had any infection or any problem related to being intact.

    When we found out we were expecting another boy (who's now 10 months old) it was obvious that he would not be circumcised either.

    I guess my "advice" as it were, is that you can always choose to have a circumcision performed if it bother you/there are medical problems/etc. What you can't do is undo a circumcision.

    Good luck with whatever you and your wife decide.

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  52. Like your wife, I deferred to my husband- until my child was born. Then my mama instincts kicked in- and it changed from, "It's your decision, honey" to "Over my dead f-ing body is someone cutting into my child because of fear that someday in the distant future a teenage girl will think his penis looks weird."

    So, yeah- you should just do what feels right to you.

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    1. A few folks have said something kind of similar. Since publishing this post my wife has read through every comment we've come to the decision that we will both have an active roll in deciding how move forward on the decision.

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  53. I have to children, ages 2.5 and five months. We had both circumcised, partly because we're Jewish (though I'm atheist) and partly to conform with my own appearance.

    I hated it both times. I really wasn't sure the second time around, but we ultimately went through with it. But I feel that it is unnecessary, and a practice that will mostly die out over the next couple of centuries.

    I'm not anti-circumcision. Unlike many here, I don't think it's comparable to what they call "female circumcision". The anatomy is different. They're different procedures. One is a ritual for manhood in some cultures, the other is meant to subjugate women. It's a false comparison.

    I'll go out on a limb and say that there's no wrong decision here. I don't feel hurt or lacking anything because I was circumcised. Your kids won't either. And if they're not, they will fit in just as well. There might be a conversation at some point about why they don't look like daddy, but it'll be a one-time event that probably lasts thirty seconds. It's a non-issue.

    Lastly, your wife is wrong. This should be a mutual decision between the two of you.

    - me - (an actual blog subscriber. Not here from Reddit)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for reading! I also think that the comparisons to genital mutilation and female circumcision aren't accurate. I asked for folk's opinions and definitely got them! I have been incredibly happy with the response to this post, and really enjoyed reading through everyone's comments. I learned a lot about circumcision that I didn't know before, and that knowledge will help my wife and I's decision. (After she read through the blog and the comments she decided that she wanted to be a part of the decision after all).

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  54. We didn't circumcise our son. For many reasons that previous readers have already given above, so I'm not going to go into that. I read your comment above and see that Stevie has decided to join in on the decision. That is good to hear. Feel free to ask us any questions about it. From what I understand, the original practice of circumcision stems from religious beliefs that it will desensitize the penis and prevent the boy from masturbating. Good luck in your decision, it's good that you are putting thought into it. You guys are terrific parents no matter what decision you make.

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    1. Thanks Traci! We love you guys. Let's have dinner soon and talk about our kids' penises!

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    2. I guess I should add that our pediatrician has never questioned our decision to not circumcise and the hospital never gave us any grief about it. In fact, one of the pediatricians that cared for Samson when he was born (ours happened to be out of town) flat out said that it's done for cosmetic reasons, not medical.

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  55. We circumcised our son. Like your wife, I had no strong feelings about it either way so I left it up to my husband. He is circumcised and wanted our son to be. I did have him take the boy to the appointment because I did not want to be there for that. I guess I'm glad we had it done, but no biggie either way.

    I would add, from a woman who has *cough* been around the block a bit, that in my humble opinion circumcised penises are more attractive. They're the kind of penis you can bring home to mom.

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  56. The best advice we got with our son was that little boys like to "look" like their Daddy. So we decided to circumcise him. We had it done in the hospital and they have some new techniques that make the caring for it and the healing a much better process.

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  57. As a parent it is your job to protect and teach, provide and care for your child. It is not your job to cut off pieces of your child just because you don't like them, or you don't think they should be there. Removal due to medical necessity is one things, but cutting off skin just because it's in your religion, or because of misguided cosmetic ideals is barbaric. "He should look like his dad" just perpetuates a shitty decision from several generations ago.

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  58. First, I'd like to say you're so awesome for wanting to think through this decision carefully and truly consider both sides!

    For me, I knew I didn't want Junior to be cut - there just wasn't enough evidence to convince me it was necessary or helpful. But my (circumcized) husband was on the fence. After we researched the pros and cons and he still felt unsure, we decided to watch a non-partisan medical video of the actual procedure so that we could understand exactly what our son would experience if we did it.

    We didn't make it past the first 6 minutes of the video. It was so painful to watch this tiny new life undergo so much obvious pain. It just seemed cruel and bizarre and unfair, even if it does heal in a few days.

    The video is what sealed the deal for my husband. He became outraged that someone had done this to him as a baby without having a say in it and he declared there would be no way in hell anyone would do this to our precious, perfect wee babe.

    Fast forward 3.5 years and our son is a happy, well-adjusted kid. He's casually noticed that his nether-regions look a little different than dad's but he absolutely couldn't care less. We've never made it a big deal so it's not a big deal to him either. And hubs and I feel 100% solid about our decision.

    So maybe consider watching the procedure to get a realistic idea of how it is done. If you have to turn away because it's too painful to watch, or if you can watch it and feel okay about moving forward, then there's your answer. Good luck!

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  59. I just want to give my two cents. After my homebirth (second baby) I got into the natural birth community. What drove me out? They're bullying about circumcision. Seriously. People can get really extreme and extremely rude. I really hope you haven't encountered those people.

    This is how I feel: My son was circumcised. This was before I even found out people were against it. I just did it because that's just what you do. Didn't really think twice. Now I regret it. Why? Because 1-there's no (real) reason, 2-he had absolutely no say in it, 3-I can't take it back. If we have another boy, he's keeping it.

    By the time your son is a teenager, there's going to be a lot more uncircumcised kids. A lot of insurances no longer cover it, and a lot more people are choosing not to.

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    Replies
    1. Krista, Thank you for your comment! Your cents are always welcome here :) I sincerely appreciate your input. I'll be posting a follow up blog in the next month or so regarding how we came to our decision. I hope you'll keep reading :)

      Just realized how weird that sounds. "Stay tuned if you want to hear more about my son's wiener..." Oh well, thanks for reading!!

      Delete
  60. Dangit I wish you could edit comments. I wrote they're and I meant their. :/

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  61. I wrote about this on my blog (http://goo.gl/1awTK) and got the most comments I've ever had, mostly from psychos who can't even begin to imagine there are reasonable arguments on both sides.

    It's not torture. It's potentially healthier. But it's not necessary and it potentially reduces sensation. But it has never bothered me.

    There is no wrong answer here. Nothing definitive has come down. Until it does, do what you think is best. That's all we parents can do anyway, right?

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  62. HI, I have not read any of the other comments. I can tell you that we did not circumcise either of our boys. I am the father and the decisoin was left to me. In the end there seemed to me to be no medical reason to do it, and from what I understand it becoming much less common here. The thought of giving them that pain with no clear benefit was enough for me to say no. They are both under 4 still, so what effects this will have on their social will have to wait.

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  63. We've agreed not to. If it makes no meaningful difference to anything serious, and it involves cutting off something we're born with, I won't do it just because other people are.

    Aside from the differences when you're actually using it (which can be a bit hard to choose a preference for about as a parent), I've noticed sometimes that I'm uncomfortable with my clothes... then I realize I have the skin pulled back and the resulting contact is a bit painful. So I just try to find a way to make the adjustment without anyone seeing and stop the discomfort. Sometimes you just need to cover up. On the other side, hair does get caught in there (less frequently) and pulled. That's more painful and a bit harder to fix.

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  64. Don't. I'm cut, and really wish I wasn't. It's not medically necessary, and unless your religion requires it *and* you're that observant, its butchery.

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  65. As has already been stated on this topid, the people of Israel were commanded to circumcise their sons. Abraham was even circumcised as a full-grown man. While it may have served a hygienic purpose in a time where bathing was far less common, the main point was to set the nation apart from the others. Paul was addressing a problem: some Jews were telling Gentile Christians that circumcision was necessary to please God. Paul was reminding his readers that circumcision was never necessary to salvation -- that would mean God isn't powerful enough to save you; He needs YOU to cut your PENIS first. Silliness, right?

    He had no commentary on circumcision's physical benefits or disadvantages. His point was that it doesn't actually matter, besides its original purpose -- to set apart the nation of Israel.

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  66. John,
    I actually came to your blog through your now VERY VIRAL post.
    There was a German court decision a couple of months ago...
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/27/world/europe/german-court-rules-against-circumcising-boys.html?_r=3

    I will also post anonymously some of the comments that were made on my post of the article.

    OK here comes my probably VERY unpopular opinion.

    I have no problem with circumcision and I feel it is every mans right to alter his body as he sees fit. Just as I feel if a woman wants big fake titties she shoudl go right ahead and not let what anyone else has to say stop her.

    That said Plastic surgery OTHER than reconstructive has no place in infant care. There is no informed consent.

    If my boys decide as an adult to be circumcised they certainly can. Had I made that decision for them at birth there was no undoing it at any point.

    Religion tradition is no excuse to allow assault. Should we allow men to beat their wives since it is also religious tradition????




    The practice was started for a good reason. I understand that and no I am not angry at my parents for having me circumcised but in this day and age... medical neccessity for them is few and far between... We need to allow people, as adults, to decide what to do with their own bodies.

    With those couple of comments my opinion is pretty clear, but I want to say this. You are the parent and it is still your choice and you need to do what works for you and your family... your traditions etc. By and large the necessity for circumcision has passed... still YOUR choice.
    After reading your other writing, I am sure your intuition and sense will lead you to the right decision for you, and I (yes a total stranger would back that decision) would back your choice no matter what it is. Simply because of the amazing human being you have shown yourself to be; I am confident that you will make the decision that works best for you and your family!

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  67. Don't cut him, you'll save him a fortune in turtlenecks.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R_OLbfL28g

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  68. In all of the discussions I see on this topic, few people ever comment on the potential complications of the procedure. There are real risks to circumcision, however small they may be. If your child ends up one of the rare boys with a botched circumcision, how would you feel as a parent, as a man? I was circumcised as an infant and left with a skin bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_bridge). While I am lucky in that it is relatively minor in my case and more of an aesthetic issue than a functional one, it is still something that resulted from an unnecessary procedure that cannot be reversed and which left an important part of my body deformed and scarred for life. Growing up, I didn't understand what was wrong with my penis, but I knew it was different. I finally worked up the courage to ask my family doctor about it when I was around 12 years old, during the whole sex talk she had with me. To this day, I have to explain to every sexual partner I have "what's wrong with" my penis. To anyone considering circumcising their infant son, I advise you to take a look at the following pictures (http://www.circumstitions.com/Restric/Botched1sb.html). Sure, a competent doctor and proper aftercare should prevent such problems, but do you really want to take that chance? Do you want to be responsible for your child's penis ending up like this? What kind of attention, jokes, and teasing do you think a penis like that would get in the locker room?

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  69. I am circumcised, but my sons are not. If they want to get circumcised as adults, that will be their choice. The medical justification is about on a par with amputating toes to reduce the risk of ingrown toenails, and as others have pointed out, what's done can't be undone (though some try).

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  70. i'm, cut. sex is awesome, so never really thought about it much. but darn, now you all have me thinking that i have no idea what good sex really is, bacuase I am cut and am missing out on an extrordinary additional pleasure universe. Well that just sucks. And lube aint cheap!

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  71. I'm about to go to your update to the post but wanted to share my cousin's post on the subject. My husband and I have three boys and had them all circumcised. The first one I didn't realize I had a choice the second I wondered why not and the third I left my concerns out of it and my husband decided. Good luck with what ever you decide.
    http://memoirsofastarvingartist.blogspot.com/search?q=circumcision

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  72. I am biologically female, not a parent, and feel no tie to or affiliation with any of the religious aspects of the practice of circumcision.

    This is how I feel about it:

    I personally don't condone circumcision. It seems to me a violation of one's body without that person's consent for what seem to me unconvincing reasons. The simple energy of intrusion it evokes to me makes me cringe and energetically retreat at the idea of it.

    Considerations such as the social one, of one's penis appearing different in environments such as the locker room, strike me as understandable. They just don't supersede the above consideration for me.

    I wish you and your family all the very best always (regardless of whatever choice you choose on the subject at hand, of course), and deepest best wishes for a bountiful, beautiful, nourishing birth of your son.

    Much love,
    Emerald

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  73. I was circumsized when I was 12yo. The only reason: my family did not discuss sex or penises. So when I was having a bit of a problem keeping my penis clean (nobody explained how and why it was important) the doctor advised them to cut the foreskin. Am I unhappy? Let's say I don't blame my parents. But I would prefer to have all of me, and having someone give me that dad-to-son conversation what to do with your dick, where not to put it, and how to clean it. If there is no medical reason to cut, I would sincerely advise not to do it. We as a society do not condone female genital mutilation, why would we approve male genital mutilation? And the locker-room? Seems bullshit to me. If you are uncut and others are, you can say, proudly so, that you at least are complete, where others miss something, so instead of looking at the uncut boy, they might go complain to their daddies.

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  74. I was circumcised as a child. One day, when I was about eight, I was in the woods with a friend when we needed a peeI. I noticed his dick looked very different and we started comparing as little boys do! Then he showed me how he could retract his foreskin and the end popped out. It looked bright purple and shiny but mine was a dull pink. I tried to pull what little skin I had left, over the head but it wouldn't even pass over the rim. My friend said this was because the doctor had 'cut' mine when I was a baby.

    In shock and disbelief at this news, on returning home I asked my mother if it was true. (dad has never been around, she was/is a single mother) She just laughed and shrugged and said "yes!' More shock! Then she explained it was her choice for me because she believes it's cleaner and healthier and looks neater. To her it was a simple incident in my life and not worth worrying about.

    But the thoughts of what had happened to me haunted me for some years. without any say in the matter, someone who didn't have a dick and a doctor to whom it was all in a day's work, had set aside a few minutes to make my dick look unalterably different forever. Later, when I became sexually active it troubled me to realise this minor surgery meant I could never experience or provide 'natural sex' with a female partner.

    I'm happy to say that eventually I married a girl who banished this baggage from my life. She has similar views to my mother and helped me realise that there are benefits and advantages to being circumcised. Not least that women appreciate sex is cleaner, healthier, and more stimulating for them without a foreskin to get in the way. As my ambition is to please her in intimacy as much as she pleases me, I'm now completely happy with my circumcision.

    Needless to say, both our sons are circumcised - my wife's choice and I was happy to go along with her. But, we will explain what and we did this for them long before they are the age I was when I discovered not all dicks look alike!

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  76. I'm a young italian physician, married with a son; I was myself circumcised when I was a teenager cause my dad read an health magazine for families describing advantages of circumcision. I healed very quickly. By working as an anaesthesiologist I performed many anaesthesias for circumcisions and I support the procedure as healthy; the uncovered glans is helthier for a lot of diseases and easier to clean. I chose with my wife to have our son circumcised and we are sure it has been a good hygienic measure also for him. He also healed very quickly.

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