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I'm pretty torn on circumcision (please don't delete this!)

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Up until about 20 minutes ago I was all for circumcising my boy (if we have one) but...I've been reading and I'm feeling pretty nauseous about the whole thing. Now I don't want to get everyone all riled up and yelling at me, because I KNOW this is a really touchy subject here. But I'd like to make a really informed decision. Can somebody tell me medical reasons as to why people have their boys circumcised? What are the benefits/etc...please don't be biased, I'm trying not to be. I'm not trying to offend anyone either. I just want my husband and I to make the right choice for us and our baby.
post #2 of 42
You've come to the right place. I am the mother of two intact sons. I chose that route because it made me ill to think that a part of there body would be removed for vanity reasons.

The mamas and dads here have great info.

Congrats on your upcoming arrivial!
post #3 of 42
Thread Starter 
Is it completely a vanity thing? Because if it is then there's no way I'd do that to my kid. But I've heard that there are medical reasons...?? Like later on in life stuff could happen...
post #4 of 42
I don't have alot of specific info. I am not good at quoting sources and such.

When I was researching it 5 years ago, I came up with NO good evidence that I should circumcise my son.

The US has one of the highest circumcision rates, if not the highest. A friend of mine form England thinks we are nuts! I don't think he personally knows anyone who is cut over there.

Others can give you much better info. I am so glad that you are open minded to the option of not circumcising. It is a painful event for babies. They need our protection.

My opinion is that later in life my sons can always chose to get it done if they would like. But the can never go back and replace their foreskin if I had chose to have it removed. It is their body. They should have that choice, not me.
post #5 of 42
Some people think its cleaner or easier to take care of. The only care a penis requires as an infant is to be wiped off, as they grow older and the foreskin detaches (at birth its attached like a fingernail to the nailbed) they can pull it back and wash in the shower. Nothing really extraordinary needs to be done.

Some also think it protects against disease. Those studies have not been proven though, in fact many have been disproven.

I think what you need to consider is that circumcision hurts your infant horribly. They may not remember it directly but it has to affect their development.
It has no benefits that have been substaniated.

So why would you do it?

Is it worth a surgery to make your child have a penis that looks similar to his father's? What about their nose, something they will certainly see a lot more often than each other's penises?
post #6 of 42
Originally Posted by ryleeee
Is it completely a vanity thing? Because if it is then there's no way I'd do that to my kid. But I've heard that there are medical reasons...?? Like later on in life stuff could happen...
Take a look at the link in my signature. It talks about the major medical reasons given and why they have been debunked. Also look at "like father like son".
post #7 of 42
There are no proven medical benefits. Period. That is why no major medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision. Not the American Academy of Pediatrics, not the American Medical Association, not the American Cancer Society, nobody. In fact, many medical organizations in other advanced nations such as Australia recommend against circumcision.

In European countries, where circumcision is virtually unknown, only a handful out of hundreds of thousands of intact men will end up needing circumcision for medical reasons.

Circumcising your son as a baby to prevent the miniscule chance that he might develop a problem later on that would require circumcision as an adult would be like cutting off your baby daughter's breasts on the chance she might develop breast cancer as an adult. Except your daughter is FAR FAR more likely to develop breast cancer than your son is to have a problem with his foreskin.

You can access medical papers, information, etc. as well as information on the function of the foreskin at www.cirp.org and http://research.cirp.org

You can also read about the history of circumcision in this country - the only country in the world that currently circumcises routinely for non-religious reasons. Routine infant circ was started in the 19th century as a way to stop masturbation, cure epilepsy (seriously!), etc. It has been a procedure in search of a reason ever since. All sorts of "medical" reasons have been advanced for circumcision - preventing epilepsy, tuberculosis, syphilis, other STDs, cervical cancer - and every single one of them has been proven false.

I think you will find the more you research, the more circumcision makes no sense at all! Any more than cutting off your daughter's clitoris and labia would make sense for medical reasons.

Good luck with your research!
post #8 of 42
Hi Ryleee,

I'm also in Canada and it's already something like 50/50 here now, so things are certainly changing over time.

There have been medical claims that it reduces risks of certain diseases of the penis, but they've all been disproved. So once I learned about that, it just didn't make sense to do something permanent to my baby boys. I don't feel like I own my kids, you know? I've been entrusted with them until they are independant.

I know this sounds like we're all anti-circ, because we mainly are, but it's only because we have researched it ourselves. The Canadian Academy of Pediatrics doesn't endorse routine circumcision either. It's just that so many people think they should circumcize because everyone else does, and it doesn't seem a good enough reason. My son's penises wouldn't look like their Dad's anyway whether they were circed or not, you know? (I mean size, hair, etc., not to be gross!)

post #9 of 42
Here's some good resources to get you started:

Dr. Sears, on circumcision: http://askdrsears.com/html/1/t012000.asp

Mothering Magazine, “The Case Against Circumcision”: http://www.mothering.com/articles/ne...cumcision.html

Garry Harryman's "Lost List": http://www.norm.org/lost.html

Men’s Health article, “Separated at Birth”: http://www.noharmm.org/separated.htm

Vincent Black’s, “Vulnerability of Men”: http://www.udonet.com/circumcision/v...ty_of_men.html





AUDIO only: http://www.cirp.org/library/procedur...ibell/circ.wav


The most important thing to remember that NO (not one) medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision as a preventative health measure...it's completely elective, and done for cosmetic/cultural/religious reasons---not medical ones.

There is no reason to put your son through it.

post #10 of 42
I remember when I was pg with ds and I assumed we would circ him b/c everyone else does. Then I read about it on BBS and it was difficult to figure out all the arguments pro and con, esp. the medical data. The problem with reading studies, is even if you find one that is up to date, you don't know if it is a good study (did it control for confounding factors, etc.) I quickly read about the functions of the foreskin, which are really important, and that was easy to understand. Check out the 2nd link in my sig to read about that. That was the easy part. What was confusing was all the arguing whether circumcising prevented UTIs or cancer. I kept trying to find more accurate statistics, and it was tiring. Then, I had 2 thoughts - first, the rest of the world does not circumcise to prevent cancer, so that can't be it, and second, I have had plenty of UTIs, and they weren't from lack of hygiene, and I just took antibiotics and they went away. No need to circumcise me! Once I put it together it was obvious and we didn't circ ds. I am very happy with our decision. It was confirmed when we actually had him and changed his diapers - you just wipe the penis like a finger and all done! Circ'ed boys you have to clean the scar area very carefully and put vaseline on it for a year and check for adhesions (scar tissue) and it makes them cry when they pee. Plus if you see a normal (int act) penis the head is all red and moist and soft and it seems unnatural to expose it.

post #11 of 42
While dh and I were in the hospital still struggling over circ...I had done thorough research on everything but...the doctor came in on the tail end of our conversation and said, "I just want you to know that circ. is purely cosmetic". Although, I have tons of other reasons now, that was enough for me then. Thank God our little one is still intact. "When you know better, you do better."
post #12 of 42
Good for you for wanting to do the best for your son. I wished that I had done the research 3 little boys ago. I posted a while back (where do we go from here?) about my middle sons botched circ. I didn't have strong feelings about circ until I did the research later. My little middle has suffered because of my indiffernce. The complications of it will have to be surgericlly corrected. I am not telling you what to do by any means. I have three circ'd boys, and at the time I thought I was doing the right thing. I am just saying read EVERYTHING you can. Do this in enough time that you can consider all the evidence before the birth of your son. Please realize that the risks of complications are very very real. I never thought I would send off a perfect little boy and then get him back with a problem. Everything I have read since studing the subject has not compelled me to believe that there is a good medical reason to circ a baby. I don't have any good links, but the ladies here have posted some great ones! Good luck to you.
post #13 of 42
Hi from Scandinavia.

Yes, North America is the only place in the world where non-religious circumcision is done. Here it is totally unknown and I, as so many Europians, was absolutely horrified when I lived a year in USA and learned what was done to little boys. Since I come from 100% intact culture, the health reasons sounded so ridiculous. Here, men actually needing circumcision for health reasons is LESS than 0.006%.

If you are interested in knowing why circumcision started in USA, read this, In the Physicians' Own Words;


A word of a warning though if you decide to leave your son intact, the medical community in USA is unfortenately very uneducated about the proper care of intact, normal penis.

Please read this thread ... "A Warning For Parents of Intact Sons"

post #14 of 42
There are no medical benefits.

It is purely cosmetic.

I was pretty shocked when I researched it myself five years ago, because surely there must be some very compelling reason to do that to a newborn, but no, it's completely irrational.

The link in my signature is a very nice non-threatening introduction to the absurdity of circumcision. I'm so glad you've asked about it!
post #15 of 42
Originally Posted by ryleeee
I'm Pretty torn on circumcision (Please don’t delete this)
You don’t have to worry about that. It is obvious you are concerned for your son and are here for information. We are probably going to give you more of that than you can handle.

Up until about 20 minutes ago I was all for circumcising my boy (if we have one) but...I've been reading and I'm feeling pretty nauseous about the whole thing.
Once you understand what circumcision is all about, that’s a typical reaction.

Now I don't want to get everyone all riled up and yelling at me, because I KNOW this is a really touchy subject here. But I'd like to make a really informed decision.
And that’s exactly what we want you to do and I can promise you, no one here is going to yell at you.

Can somebody tell me medical reasons as to why people have their boys circumcised? What are the benefits/etc...
There is only one medical benefit of circumcision. That is to the bank account of the medical professional who does the procedure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics assembled a Taskforce on Circumcision about 35 years ago to investigate circumcision. At their latest meeting in the early 1990’s, they studied 671 research projects on circumcision looking for benefits and they did not find even one conclusive benefit from circumcision. However, they did find substantial and documented risks and those risks can be severe all of the way up to and including death.

please don't be biased, I'm trying not to be. I'm not trying to offend anyone either. I just want my husband and I to make the right choice for us and our baby.
To be quite honest, we are going to be a little bit biased. Many of us here have done a substantial amount of research into this issue and we have a pretty thorough understanding of it. Personally, I have read hundreds of research projects and visited thousands of websites fleshing out information and as most here will tell you, the more you learn, the worse circumcision looks. Under those circumstances, it is hard to not be biased. I am also biased against female circumcision. (Would you believe it was once practiced here in North America?)

Is it completely a vanity thing? Because if it is then there's no way I'd do that to my kid.
Actually, I think the only time vanity comes into it is when a father wants his son’s penis to look like his and he is circumcised. The only benefit is to the father and none to the son. I just don’t think that is right.

But I've heard that there are medical reasons...?? Like later on in life stuff could happen...
Well, possibly. Let me give you a run down. There is a possibility of an infection, most likely a staph or yeast infection. The chances? Probably in the range of 1%-2% which is lower than the risk of infection for a girl. The cure? Usually an antibiotic cream that will clear up the symptoms in 2-3 days. Not so bad, Huh? It’s the same treatment a daughter would get if she got the same infection.

There is also something called lichen sclerosis that is very rare. In all of the time I have been doing this, I’ve only seen one possible case that was cleared up quickly and easily. However, there are reports of this infection in Scandinavia that have required a circumcision. The chances of this happening? Less than 1 in 18,000. Odds like that are why I don’t play the lottery.

There is also something called “phimosis” that is very rare but often falsely diagnosed. Chances of this are in the range of 1 in 18,000. Generally, it is treated with circumcision but there are less intrusive and severe alternatives. There are also some cases of phimosis caused by diabetes in men generally older than 60 years old. The risk of this is a fraction of 1%.

Finally, there is the risk of penile cancer. This is something that gets way, way too much press space. It is incredibly rare. To give you an idea of how rare it is, imagine a city of 50,000 people where all of the men are intact. In a city like that, you could expect one case of penile cancer every 156 years. While there are a lot of assertions that penile cancer is more prevalent in intact men, there is just as much evidence that there is no difference whether the man is circumcised or intact. Personally, I have only heard of one case of penile cancer in real life and the cancer was on the circumcision scar. Kinda knocks that one in the head, Huh?

Actually, penile cancer is just a skin cancer just like the ones you see on people’s faces and arms. They go to the doctor’s office and they are removed in a very simple procedure. The patient leaves with a Band-Aid over the site and that’s the end of it. However, just like that skin cancer, if penile cancer is ignored for years, it can kill you. There is no excuse for any man dying of penile cancer. It’s too simple to cure.

Now, let’s look at the flip side. Meatal Stenosis is an affliction exclusively of circumcised boys. It just doesn’t affect intact boys at all. Meatal Stenosis is when the urinary opening becomes inflamed and then heals over. It can be an emergency situation that has to be handled RIGHT NOW! Although rare, it can result in kidney failure. The exact incidence of meatal Stenosis is unknown but is at least 9% and perhaps as high as 31%. The only cure is SURGERY. Not what you want for your son, is it?

There is also the possibility of adhesions. These have become quite common because the way circumcisions are done has changed over the past few years. Previously, so much skin was removed from baby boys that when they grew up, they suffered from painful erections and worse. Occasionally, so much was removed that skin had to be moved from another part of the body to recover the denuded penis. We have had one case of that happening here. The bad thing is that the skin on the penile shaft is only similar to the skin on the eye lid and no one is going to cut off an eyelid to replace skin on the penis. The donor skin is usually taken from the hip, back, thigh or similar area. This skin looks and acts very different from penile skin and the cosmetic results of this skin graft surgery is usually very poor and it leaves a large scar at the donor site as well.

To avoid all of this, doctors have changed to “loose circumcisions” which often leave the child looking as if no circumcision was done at all which leaves the question of “Well then, why do it at all?” These loose circumcisions are very prone to adhesions and are very difficult to prevent.

The worst complication is one that has had a profound effect in Alberta. In August 2003, Ryliegh McWillis was circumcised in Vancouver and died a few days later. Canada’s and Alberta’s circumcision rate was already low but as a result, it dropped an additional 40% in 2003 and a similar drop is expected for 2004 when the figures are tabulated. Less than 1 in 10 of your son’s school mates will be circumcised, so that knocks out any concerns about the “locker room.” As a matter of fact, if you do circumcise your son, he will be the “odd man out” among his peers. I also suspect you will find it hard to find a doctor willing to circumcise your son as the CPS has issued some very stern warnings to it’s member doctors against providing circumcisions and the vast majority have heeded that warning and will not do circumcisions any more.

These are just the questions you have asked. You may also want to know about the pain involved in the procedure and the post-op recovery time, the human and civil rights issues, the sexual effect of circumcision and many other areas of concern. Ask questions and we will be glad to answer. You may also want to check out the sticky at the top of the forum titled “Web Resources.” There is a wealth of information there from reliable sources.

post #16 of 42
Good for you for doing your research. So many parents don't, and just do 'what everyone else does'.

It's hard to follow Franks' post - he pretty much covers everything! But you've heard from Scandinavia - I thought I'd let you hear from the UK.

I'm American, but live in the UK. My husband is British and intact. We've been married for 10+ years, and during that time, he's had one yeast infection, which was cleared up in a few days - he just put some Canesten cream on it, and that was that.

I did (awhile back) ask him if he wishes he'd been circumcised at birth to prevent that one infection and him having to use Canesten cream for a week. His response was, 'Hell, no!'.

In the UK, they used to circumcise 50+ years ago. When the National Health Service came in (and suddenly the government was paying for health care), they took a good long look at circumcision and stopped providing it, because it simply causes more problems than it prevents (and the problems it might prevent - like an infection of the foreskin, since you can't get an infection in a body part you don't have! - are trivial).

Now, whenever I tell anyone that Americans (and some Canadians) routinely circumcise their little boys, everyone (without exception) is horrified. People react in exactly the same way that we react to female circumcision in Africa...the principle of the two is the same.

If it isn't OK to genitally modify little girls, why is it OK to genitally modify little boys? Something to think about...

Must run, as we need to leave in about 5 minutes...there is a link floating around about a study that was done showing that circumcision is not cost-effective medically (i.e., in causes more medical problems than it prevents).

Good luck with your research - lots of good links!
post #17 of 42
The foreskin is there for a reason see http://www.cirp.org/library/sex_function/.

It has immunological functions that are provided by a special type of cell that is in the foreskin. The tip of the penis is a mucosal type skin and it is intended to be covered - think of eyelids for eyes or the type of skin on the inside of your mouth. It also is important for sexual functioning, uncircumcised men have greater sensitivity and better sex lives.
post #18 of 42
Plain and simple.... there is NO medical reason to circumsize a baby. NONE. It's a purely cosmetic surgical procedure. (as said by my pediatrician)
post #19 of 42
Hi Ryleee,

Here's a link to information from the Canadian Pediatric Society on circumcision:


The rates in Canada vary from Province to Province, but overall, the rate is ~17%, not 50/50 as previously stated. Here are some links on Canadian stats:


Here is an extremely telling memo from the Registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan to its members. It's a must read to understand the current Canadian medical thinking on this issue:


Hope this helps!


Lindsey (96/02/26)
Jason (00/06/08)
post #20 of 42
You've gotten a lot of good information so far. You can also read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision by Dr. Paul Fleiss.

Also, you may want to read through this (long) thread of mothers who regret circumcising their sons:


It does take a paradigm shift to go from "yes, I'll circumcise" to "no way in **** would I ever circumcise!" But once you make that shift, you can't believe you ever considered it in the first place.

PS. Both my pediatrician and Obstetrician (at the time I had my son) told me that there are NO medical reasons to circ. But, both of them offered to circumcise my son, anyway. Go figure. Must be the $$$$. (I told them both NO!!!!!)
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