6/04/2010

To Snip or Not To Snip?

Question:
“I know you have 3 boys so I'd love to hear your opinion on circumcision -- there is so much information out there that's it's hard to know which way to go.”
-Anonymous

Answer:
According to Wikipedia, “Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis.” According to the World Health Organization, “Global estimates suggest that 30% of males are circumcised, of whom 68% are Muslim.” When I began my research to answer this question, I wasn’t exactly sure if the decision I made when my first child was born 8 yrs ago would be the same decision I’d make today. There is so much more information available to us now and I can’t remember the reasons that we made the decision that we did back then. I do remember that at the time, it was something that we researched as much as we could and talked about a lot, but I can’t remember what brought us to our decision. Once we had the first boy circumcised it only made sense to follow suit with his brothers. When we made the decision to circumcise our first child, the rate of infant males being circumcised in America was around 65%, which probably influenced our decision at the time; to be a part of the norm. Circumcision, in America, reached its all time high in the 1970s with 91% of males being circumcised, but it had dropped to 56% by 2005.

But, following the norm isn’t always the best way to go. There is quite a bit of controversy around circumcision for non religious purposes. Some say that it is mutilating their infant without cause and without their permission. Others say there are great health benefits to being circumcised and the procedure is MUCH easier as an infant/child. Yet others argue that sex is quite a bit more enjoyable for an uncircumcised man due to penile sensitivity. Innumerable studies have been done on health benefits and penile sensitivity with varying results.

Some studies showed that men who are circumcised are 50% less likely to contract HIV and a few other sexually transmitted diseases, but offered no protective benefit to some other STDs like syphilis or gonorrhea. Studies have shown that circumcised males have a lower rate of Urinary Tract Infections and Penile Cancer, but there wasn’t a significant enough difference to recommend circumcision as a method of prevention of them. Some people think that circumcised men have reduced sexual sensitivity, and LOTS of studies have been performed on this subject, all with differing results, so their overall finding is inconclusive.

Of the 8 trusted friends and family that I polled, 2 said, definitely would not/did not snip, 4 said definitely would/did snip and 2 didn’t answer (how rude!) The top reasons cited by the “not snip”s were 1. It’s painful, 2. There’s no need, why alter the baby, 3. Sex is supposed to be better. The top reasons among the “snip”ers were 1. It was recommended by their doctor, 2. It was the common thing to do, 3. They were afraid of locker room teasing (which isn’t as much of a concern in urban settings or on the west coast because there is a high population of both circumcised and uncircumcised). One of my friend’s OBGYN highly recommended it. He said that he had a hard enough time getting his teenage boys to wash their hands let alone their foreskin. My OBGYN (who I LOVE and really trust) has very strong opinions in favor of snipping. He has performed quite a few circumcisions on adult men due to infections. As an adult is an extremely uncomfortable and painful procedure; it is so much easier on an infant.

I think that in light of everything I have read/heard, I would still opt to circumcise again, but it’s a close enough call for me, that if my husband didn’t want them to be circumcised, I could be easily swayed. I think that it’s a personal decision that could go either way, and you have to go with your gut. What do you think is best for your little guy? As his mother/father, you’ll do the right thing.

As a final note, I must say, that as a Christian woman, I am intrigued that it was a commandment to be circumcised in the Old Testament, yet is not a commandment today in most Christian religions. I’m sure God had a reason to lift this commandment (they had already proven faithful, we practice better hygiene today, who knows?), but it gives me reason to pause and ponder.

Whaddya think?

21 comments:

  1. I think I'm one of the rude people who didn't respond. I have 4 sons, all circumcised. One has had penile issues, eventually requiring surgery. Had he not been circumcised, it would have created much larger problems for him and he may have had to do it now. I can't imagine putting a child through that. Just pray, take a deep breath, and do it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think I am the other rude person who didn't answer. We chose to circumsise on the advice from my pediatrician father. While he totally supports people who choose not to, his opinion was that (as Toni experienced), future issues may be more complicated if the boy is not circumsised. In the event the boy would need a circ later, it would be a much more tramatic and painful experience. Still, you have to weigh the chances of some issue later with the hassle and maybe unnatural snipping at birth.
    We did notice that a lot of OB/GYNs like to perform the circ. (It's a quick easy surgery that insurance pays nicely for) My advice would be to check and see if there is a more experienced OB/GYN or a pediatrician who can perform it. We had one son whose circ was poorly done (by an OB/GYN) and had to be fixed a little later by a pediatrician. I wish we had just requested a better surgeon to begin with. Also, in some cases, pediatricians are able to use a little more numbing agent which means less pain for the little guy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have three circumcised sons and, of all the mistakes I've made with regard to parenting, every one of them pales by comparison to my allowing someone to cut off a part of my sons' penises. I'll go to my grave knowing my sons will never know the wholeness of their bodies or the fullness of their sexual experience because I didn't know enough to protect them--because my doctor lied to me. I didn't realize that 80-85% of the males in the world have all the penis they were born with without the complications our medical associations predict will happen if our boys are left whole, intact, and normal. I didn't realize that the foreskin has important functions, including protection (it covers and protects the urinary meatus, keeping the urinary tract sterile), the skin necessary to accommodate a full erection, and 20,000-70,000 erogenous nerve endings, making the foreskin the most sensitive part of the penis. CJ Fallier wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1970, "...the fundamental biological sexual urge becomes, for the circumcised male, simply the satisfaction of an urge and not the refined sensory experience it was meant to be." Because I didn't protect my sons' body or their sex life, I have spent the last 31 years working to educate parents about loving, respecting, and protecting their sons. During those years, the circumcision rate has dropped in the USA from 80-85% down to a little more than 50% nationally and less than 25% in the western states (22% in California, 18% in Washington, and 14% in Nevada). The USA is joining the other English-speaking countries and the rest of the world by becoming a non-circumcising country. Our boys deserve our protection. Circumcision is a primal wound, it interferes with the maternal/infant bond, it is painful, even when analgesia is used, and it undermines the baby's first developmental task of establishing trust. In the 21st century, there is no place for harmful traditional practices in civilized society. Cutting off normal body parts of non-consenting minors is a human rights violation. Mothers, protect your sons!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I should have included this in email to you, but religious reasons were actually convincing to us to NOT circumcise. You should definitely have consulted the scriptures to reveal what Heavenly Father has to say about circumcision after Christ came to Earth and fulfilled the Law. First, in Moroni: "Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them; and the law of circumcision is done away in me" and in Doctrine and Covenants: "Now, in the days of the apostles the law of circumcision was had among all the Jews who believed not the gospel of Jesus Christ. And it came to pass that there arose a great contention among the people concerning the law of circumcision, for the unbelieving husband was desirous that his children should be circumcised and become subject to the law of Moses, which law was fulfilled. And it came to pass that the children, being brought up in subjection to the law of Moses, gave heed to the traditions of their fathers and believed not the gospel of Christ, wherein they became unholy. Wherefore, for this cause the apostle wrote unto the church, giving unto them a commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself, that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever; except the law of Moses should be done away among them, That their children might remain without circumcision; and that the tradition might be done away, which saith that little children are unholy; for it was had among the Jews; But little children are holy, being sanctified through the atonement of Jesus Christ; and this is what the scriptures mean". Fortunately, we don't follow the Law of Moses: therefore, mutilating our sons' penises is unnecessary and we can eat shellfish.

    On another note... our pediatrician discouraged circumcision (and he's a very well-respected ped in the community). He told us as long as Atticus was showering regularly, we would never need to worry about extra cleaning. It's only if he goes on a month-long hiking trip (which is entirely possible) that extra attention to keeping it clean would be an issue. Also, botched circumcisions!? Scary.

    On another note in response: to avoid issues that could require later circumcision, the little boy who is intact needs to learn to not be afraid to retract the foreskin. If he is taught that his genital area is dirty and not to be touched, then he may have issues later in life in which the foreskin becomes fused with the glans of the penis. This can be avoided with proper education.

    Ok, I'm almost done, promise! I've thought of so many things because of reading this: the HIV thing. Yes, it can decrease the risk of the man contracting HIV. But, and there's a huge BUT to that, it often gives men a false sense of security. Now, I doubt (or hope) my son will ever be having risky sex with women from sub-Saharan Africa or using IV drugs, so this is hopefully not applicable to him. When I was working at the AIDS clinic in South Africa, male circumcision was being haled as the next big thing in AIDS prevention. But, later studies showed that men who were circumcised later in life were contracting the disease more because they were still engaging in risky sex but misunderstood that they weren't completely immune to contracting the disease. They thought since they were circumcised they didn't need condoms. Aka, circumcision was thought to be this great public health program but actually failed.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Keeping an intact penis clean is a non-issue. Once the foreskin is retractile--and the only person who should fiddle with it, to find out if it is retractable, is the boy himself--you can tell the boy that, when he bathes, he can retract, rinse (warm water only--no soap, it's mucous membrane), and replace. He really doesn't even need to do this until after puberty. The foreskin, like the vagina, is self-cleaning. However, most boys will fiddle, especially when in the bath tub, and, in the process, keep themselves clean, too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shay,

    I am not a regular reader of your blog, but I did read this post, and I felt compelled to leave a comment.

    I am only 24, and I have never had kids, so I can't tell you anything about that.

    However, I can tell you about my life, growing up with a foreskin in America. I am sure that when I was growing up there were fewer kids with foreskins than there would be today if you were to have another child. I think you're very right that the rate is declining. I will say, there were times I felt different. I heard some of the things that people would say, every once in a while. But, you know... even in those situations, I never once wished that I was circumcised. Instead, I felt a need to explain to these people about what they didn't understand.

    You see, I'm sure you know on a very abstract level, but the foreskin is an extremely sensitive body part. I think we grow up thinking that the foreskin is just a "flap of skin" in this Country, and that it's removal is no big deal. I mean, how can we seriously have a study that concludes they don't think circumcision removes sensitivity. I can't fathom how someone would get that result, when you're talking about removing one of the most sensitive parts of the body. The foreskin, and you can look this up, has the same type of nerve endings as those in the fingertips and lips. How much stock would you put in a study that said cutting off fingertips didn't remove sensitivity?

    The sensations of the foreskin are totally unlike those provided by any other part of the penis as well.. it adds a totally different aspect of pleasure to "THE BODYPART" that men care about. That there are men claiming to be GLAD to be rid of their foreskins is merely a symptom of our culture teaching them it isn't all that useful... and them clinging to it in the face of new evidence to the contrary. Like I said... the penis is THE BODYPART... so of course men are going to be extremely emotionally invested in it.

    What I, as an owner of such a body part, don't understand is... (and I don't want this to sound like an attack at you or anyone in particular) ... where do you get off thinking this is YOUR foreskin to decide the fate of? I mean, I realize it's just the result of the cultural perspective we grow into... but.. let me assure you.. my foreskin is MINE. It has never ONCE belonged to anyone else - not my parents, not my parent's god (wtf), and certainly not to my parent's OBGYN who makes his living on cutting up healthy baby boys.

    (end of part 1)

    ReplyDelete
  7. (continued from last comment)


    It seems all this is bestowed, in our country, into the parents hands, because it is somehow an "easier" thing to do to a baby... and because it is somewhat inevitable that it will need to be done at some point. I have to disagree on both points. Babies can't even be put under for the procedure... which amputating surgery would you like to undergo without being put under? It matters less because the baby can't talk? The common idea seems to be that babies will just forget anything that happened to them... but babies just don't record their early memories the same way. Babies learn so fast because everything is stored differently... and studies have shown traumatic events, even before a child is born, are most certainly recorded.. and likely have subconscious effect on their owners. Beyond that, babies can only lose a small amount of blood before it becomes a dangerous situation. If they have a blood clotting problem, it usually isn't discovered before they undergo this practice - extremely dangerous! Then the wound has to heal in a dirty diaper? Without adequate pain-relief (and adult can take T3s). Let's also not forget that an infant has a foreskin tightly adhered to the still-developing glans. The foreskin has to be ripped away before the cutting can begin in children, further complicating the procedure (and without adequate pain-relief, making it far, far more painful).

    And, if you're curious, you should ask the men from non-circumcising cultures, just how inevitable it is that they will need to be circumcised later in life. It isn't. At all.

    They also have studies showing female genital mutilation reduces HIV infection. They also have a study showing circumcised men transmit the virus to women much faster than intact men. I say... wearing a condom nullifies the whole argument. having unprotected sex with an hiv infected partner is so stupid... you probably deserve what you get. We should be spending money on education and sending condoms to Africa.. not scalpels.

    Lastly - I want to say that even though I've written this response somewhat argumentatively, I don't blame any parents who have bought into these ideas in the past, and thought they were doing the best for their children. You didn't know! There is so much misinformation out there, I just think everyone should pat themselves on the back for doing what they thought was best - for trusting authorities, and trying to make a better life for their kids. BUT... it isn't okay to pretend you're still uninformed. To knowingly cut off healthy, valuable genital tissue from your child is a crime. plain and simple.

    and for the record... I am not uncircumcised. Neither are you uncircumcised as a female. Call it whole, natural, intact, even 'not circumcised'.. but being in your original state is not "un-" anything.

    I hope reading this monstrous comment was a positive and not a negative event. Thank you for being open-minded. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, Joel, for your sane, reasoned offering from the experience of a young intact male in a circumcising society. Your empathy for the plight of male babies in this country attests to the benefits of not inflicting a primal wound on the body and psyches of our males. Instead, you show care and concern, not an interest in passing the wounding along, without care for the infant or child who the cut will affect. Yes, it was your body and your right to keep it. Bless your parents for protecting your body and bless you for passing that protection along! You give me hope for the world!

    ReplyDelete
  9. @nocirc,

    My parents are amazing people, and I love them extraordinarily, but they are not some special breed of human, that just innately understood this was wrong to do to children.

    My older brother was circumcised. As great as my parents were, sometimes you just can't know until someone educates you. I've heard this line before, and I think it applies. "When you know better, you do better."

    I suppose I am fortunate that they didn't buy into the idea that you have to keep making the same mistakes over again with your children.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The funny thing about this is that we (as a society) are constantly confusing two very different arguments. One: Is circumcision valid as a medical procedure, and two: should we choose for someone else's body.
    The answer to one, does NOT determine the answer for two.
    Let's say circumcision DOES prevent STDs and such (laughable, considering the US has poor genital health compared to nations that don't cut) but let's say... Just because there's a benefit to a procedure in one person's opinion, doesn't mean you can ignore another's right to their body.
    We're also constantly forgetting that the foreskin is there for a reason. Every time we have chopped something off routinely in the past, we've discovered... ooops, that's an important body part (tonsils, appendix) Now we're learning that the foreskin has immunological, protective, and (HELLO - IT'S ON THE PENIS) sexual functions! hahaha.
    With respect to the mothers who believe their sons would have worse problems from being intact. We just don't have the info that other countries have. They don't circ, so they know how to treat an intact penis. What's done is done, but from now on.... leave it be, the guy above is right, it's NOT YOURS =)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I appreciate everyone's comments. It is always good to broaden our horizons and look at things from another perspective. I absolutely agree that circumcision in not an issue to take lightly. It should be studied and carefully thought out before a decision is made and I definitely have read things here that cause me to lean a bit to the other side of the fence.
    I do agree that two issues are constantly being intertwined here: is it medically necessary and can we make that decision for someone else's body. As their mother I absolutely have the right to make medical decisions for my children. Whether or not I choose to circumcise my children for medical purposes is just one of the decisions I will make for my children; right up there with whether to immunize, whether to put tubes in their ears and whether to let them undergo the procedure to correct an undecended testicle. Whether it is medically necessary is a separate and extremely controversial issue, but I do have the right to make medical decisions for my children.
    While I welcome your comments, I caution you against parent bashing. Any parent reading this is doing so because they care about the issue and are looking to make the right decision or atleast want to see another's perspective. To see my opinions on judging other parents, read my article "It takes a village to raise a child. A kind one."
    I appreciate your strong opinions and feelings on this subject and I welcome them. I have read things I agree with as well as disagree with. They have all definitely caused me to pause and ponder, but let's be cautious to keep our strong opinions kind and our judgements to ourselves.
    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Since the rates of an intact man ever needing a medical circumcision are exactly the same as those of an intact woman ever needing a circumcision are identical (1 in 6000), I don't consider circumcision a medical decision. Now many of our intact men have been circumcised for "medical reasons", but I think if you dig a little deeper into their particular story you will find that either A. their circumcision was not truly medically necessary or B. the complication that resulted in their circumcision arose from improper care during childhood. The proper care of an intact boy is to leave the foreskin alone and only clean the exterior. This care advice was not published until 1989 by the AAP and even today most US doctors are clueless as to the normal, natural development of the intact boy. Though it is normal for the foreskin to not retract until the FINISH of puberty, we still have a vast majority of foreskin ignorant doctors prescribing circumcision for boys who are not yet retractable based on an entirely phony diagnosis.

    So here is a little something that I wrote about misdiagnosis of intact men in America:
    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/phony-phimosis-diagnosis.html

    Now there have been studies that link circumcision to lower STD rates and there have been equally numerous studies that find no link. Interestingly there have been studies that also show a reduction in HIV among circumcised women. I also don't consider this a reason to circumcise infant boys routinely. Firstly, infant boys are not having sex and don't generally engage in sex until they reach an age where they could make their own decision about the fate of their foreskins and secondly the studies that show some link to HIV/STD reduction are all conducted in Africa where the HIV and STD epidemics are entirely different. In America HIV is primarily spread through homosexual intercourse and IV drug use. Circumcision has shown no benefit in those two categories. In fact a heterosexual, American man with moderately risky sexual behavior has a less than .03% chance of ever contracting HIV. Lastly, the US currently has the highest rates of STD transmission of any other developed nation and is the only nation that continues to routinely circumcise boys. Condom use prevents STDs and unwanted pregnancy, not circumcision. One study found that circumcised men were actually less likely to use condoms.

    Here is something I wrote about why it makes little sense to promote circumcision as a prophylactic measure against HIV and STDs:
    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/nuts-and-bolts-of-hiv-in-usa-and-why.html

    I think the biggest problem in the US is that our society down plays the important protective and sexual functions of the foreskin:
    http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html

    I actually on consider circumcision of all minors already illegal. I know that probably sounds crazy. 3000 boys are strapped down and circumcised each day in America and here I am saying that is is already legal. Before you get upset about this statement take a minute to read how and why I have come to this determination:
    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/04/circumcision-already-illegal.html

    Thanks for listening and reading. It's always nice to find a blog that is willing to ponder this very serious matter and even question why we are the only developed nation continue to do this to our baby boys.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I forgot to mention that if an adult intact man ever chose circumcision for himself, (which is unlikely) he'd have all the benefits of general anesthetic and REAL pain meds. These are two luxuries that are not afforded to infant boys. If you think circumcision is traumatic for an adult, it is 10 times worse for an infant who can not have a general anesthetic, the appropriate recovery pain relief nor reason as to why this is happening to him. Less than 20% of North American infant boys who are circumcised even get a nerve block (which may or may not work) and the most they might get for recovery pain relief is Tylenol. The vast majority of boys only get a lousy topical ointment (which is like only using Orajel before getting a tooth drilled) and a sugar pacifier. Not that the pain is really the determining issue, because the real issue is that infant circumcision removes functional healthy tissue from a non-consenting minor, but I thought I would address that since you mentioned it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I know it's so touchy this parental rights thing... but what I hope people will think about is that tubes in the ears and undescended testicle surgery are, well, correcting a problem, whereas the foreskin is not a birth defect. There's nothing WRONG. Nothing to fix. You're talking about REMOVING a perfectly healthy body part; one with lots of functions.
    Another thing that is coming about that our parents didn't have to deal with is that this issue is becoming REALLY talked about, and men who feel wronged are finally speaking. Your son is going to learn about it all at some point. I know I wouldn't want my kid demanding to know why I had something like that taken from him while his penis was healthy. =/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shay, parents do have a right and an obligation to make decisions about the health and well-being of their infants and children. I made mine and my three sons were circumcised.

    As a nursing student, I witnessed a circumcision, long after it had been done to my own precious babies because my doctor told me it was a necessary health measure. As the tethered baby screamed and writhed in pain and agony, I began to cry. The circumcising doctor said to me, "There is no medical reason for doing this!" I did the research then and began speaking out against it, and thankfully, I now have four intact grandsons. The oldest is 28 this year, he saved two of his teachers' baby boys when he was in school, and he's proud and knows how lucky he is to be intact and whole.

    This grandson saw me on the Donahue Show in 1987, when he was four, and asked if stuffing the 4,000+ envelopes with material for people who requested information after that show would help the babies. He knew he wanted to protect the babies from the pain, trauma, and loss caused by circumcision. When he was eight, he started NOCIRC KIDS (Keep Infants Darn Safe).

    Yes, we do have a right to consent to medical help for our children, and, once educated, people will recognize the harm inflicted on our babies by circumcision, the sexual crippling that occurs because of circumcision, the reduction in size and sensitivity of the organ of pleasure and procreation of another human being, and the right of the child to his own body and to self determination, we do make better choices for ourselves and our children.

    I have been adopted by several adult males whose parents consented to circumcision for them. They are angry and devastated by that choice, but their parents refuse to apologize or even consider the graveness of the perceived assault. That's sad. I've told these men that their parents did they best they could with the information they had at the time. To them, it's not enough. Their parents need to understand the harm that was done. And, until they do and apologize for their grievous mistakes, these men will call me "Mom."

    So, in determining our choices for our sons, it seems to me it's easier to explain why you did NOT circumcise a boy, "It's your body and your decision, it wasn't our choice to make," than to say, "Sorry you don't like it, son, but we thought it looked better and wanted you to match your dad. It's too bad you miss your foreskin."

    With half of American boys now intact, I am no longer asked, "What will I tell him when he asks why he's different in the locker room?" Today's parents are asking me, "What can I tell him? He asked why we let someone cut off a part of his penis when his friends have theirs."

    It seems to me, it'll be easier for parents to get over their foreskin fears than to have to answer to their sons for its amputation.

    And, believe me, I'm not bashing any parents here. As I said, I have three circumcised sons, but we've brought an end to this anachronistic blood ritual, this non-therapeutic amputation of a normal body part of a non-consenting minor to an end in our family. We're joined by untold numbers of others today. We can learn!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Joel,
    In response to your latest post, it is the absolutes that I disagree with. Life rarely deals out absolutes. Life is rarely black or white, which is why this is such a controversial issue.
    As I've said before I disagree that as a parent I have no right to make choices which I deem are in the best interest of my child even when that pertains to their body.
    I disagree that every mother who has chosen to have their child circumcised will have to one day answer why. Surely some will, and maybe I will be one of them, but there is a stronger chance that I will have to answer to my boys why I take them to church every Sunday.
    I disagree that most doctors lie to us about this subject. Surely some do, but I believe that most doctors who recommend circumcism are not doing so because their boat needs a tune up but rather because after researching the topic, they truly believe it is best. Maybe they need to research again, but I doubt they are flat out lying.
    I disagree that there will be a bonding issue between a mother and her son if she decides to have him circumcised. I have a great relationship with my boys and I can't imagine that will change once they understand the meaning of the word "circumcise".
    I believe that the procedure is MUCH easier for a child than an adult. I've had 3 boys circumcised, while my husband was present, and they were much more traumatized by their immunizations than the circumcism. And the recovery was peanuts compared to the broken arm that one suffered from.
    However, I do believe that it is probably not a necessary procedure anymore. My one hesitation to be completely swayed is because my OB/GYN (who I interviewed and chose for his on-the-ball, think outside the box nature) strongly recommends it. Having performed multiple circs on adult men due to infections, he has seen how the recovery time for them is excruciating and in his opinion, avoidable. The number of adult circs in the US is low, because most adult US males are circumcised. With the rate more 50/50 now, 20 years from now will tell more how necessary or not this procedure is.
    However, having said all of this, it does seem to me that education on foreskin care would most likely be a better, healthier way to solve this problem.

    I think that there are a lot of factors involved here but anytime we (not necessarily you) explain our opinions in absolutes, you loose valuable credibility to what could have been a very valid and important point.

    ReplyDelete
  17. And for the record, thank you all for adhering to my admonition. We are all just trying to do our best here.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Shay,
    I agree with you that not every parent will have to answer "why" to their sons. Totally. There are plenty of circumcised men who are perfectly happy that way (lucky for them I guess.. because it is always a real shame when you meet a man who doesn't feel that way.. and you realize the hurt it caused him). I guess my question is how many men have to feel hurt before we start paying attention to them?

    There are thousands of devices sold each year in America that allow a circumcised man to stretch the skin on his penis so that it will once again re-cover the head of his penis like a foreskin. It doesn't return all that is lost, but it does return enough that it is worthwhile to some men. I mention it because that is evidence that there are thousands of men in America who care that much about what happened to them, that they would wear a device for years to try and recreate what was taken from them in a few minutes.

    But, you're right.. it doesn't make sense to talk in absolutes. Not all men feel victimized. In fact, many men will mock and shame any man who publicly admits feeling victimized by the practice. I guess when we're talking about penises, it's hard to really get any man to open up about his insecurities. But, there are men who like even more unusual things cut off of them, so I am sure the same applies to circumcision.

    When a man grows up feeling circumcision is the default, it’s probably just some strange foreign idea to have a foreskin and probably makes him feel uncomfortable looking at something he's never seen before and trying to imagine it being his own penis! Trying to put myself into those shoes isn't easy, but that's how I imagine my thought process would be – I might claim I preferred to be circumcised too.

    There is something to be said, though, for knowing what it IS like to have a foreskin. Once you know and appreciate it's value, it isn't something you'd ever want to be without (at least, this is my opinion, which I think is valid since I think it should only be ME who gets to decide the fate of my own genitals).

    I will say though, the difference between circumcision and church is that when he grows up he can stop going to church. I know that I used to be taken to church, and went willingly most of the time. I'm glad that I have the choice now though. I'm especially glad my parents didn't have a Cross tattooed on me for their religion. Especially not on my penis. :p (that was sort of a joke, but you get the idea).

    -End Pt.1-

    ReplyDelete
  19. -Con't from last comment-

    I also completely agree with you. I don't think all doctors are just lying to make money. Nevertheless, I think you have to agree that someone who profits from performing the surgery, and has performed the surgery thousands of times, and has likely had the surgery performed on themselves as an infant - you have to think they have a bit of a bias.. a bit of a conflict of interest. Don't you think? Nevertheless, I believe many honest, GOOD doctors in circumcising cultures do still recommend the practice. Though, those who do are going directly against the stand of the medical organizations that inform them. I find that unusual, especially if they wouldn't mention to parents that they are recommending against what medical organizations say.

    We already know that outside the US, the rates are literally unheard of. It simply isn't necessary AT ALL. The only reason why more men have problems in the US compared to other cultures is that doctors in the US used to tell parents to forcibly retract a babies foreskin to clean! This caused scarring and other issues because it wasn't SUPPOSED to be retracted at that age. It was that misinformation that was causing the problems, not the foreskins themselves. Trust me when I say this, the foreskin is not flawed. It works perfectly fine. All mammals have foreskins. Men throughout time have had foreskins. There has been no great need to circumcise the animals or the men in cultures that don't do it as a ritual.

    I think you make some incredibly valuable points, and I think that I will take better care to not even give the illusion of using absolutes in my answer. You're right, that doesn't help anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Joel and Shay, This is probably the most educated and polite discussion on the subject of circumcision that I've had the opportunity to witness during the past 31 years of doing this work. Shay, I thank you for the forum and for the wise and just management of your blog. I thank you for joining in the discussion and sharing your perspective while giving others an opportunity to share, even when it challenges your own experience. Joel, I appreciate your wonderful responses and your willingness to listen to Shay's comments and to learn from them. You two have given me real hope that people can come to the table and they can learn from one another, be kind in the process, and come out richer in the end. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  21. It seems to me that one should ask what the foreskin is, what it does, why it there, and what happens to a male who is circumcised before one makes a decision.

    Here are three papers that give information on the foreskin and its functions.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/STD/fleiss3/

    http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/cold-taylor/

    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/118508429/HTMLSTART

    Here is an article on the behavioral aftermath of circumcision

    http://knol.google.com/k/circumcision-and-human-behavior#

    I think that when you have this information, your answer will be clear.

    ReplyDelete