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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Nine years ago on another family-orientated website I offered my own view on the subject of male genital cleanliness on its Circumcision forum.

I repeat it here because it's parents like you, raising a family, who are eminently able and entitled to answer this question. Your views will impact upon your sons' genital well-being. My opinion may be controversial but I ask you to read what I have to say, then freely comment with your own personal outlook and experience.

It's a lengthy treatise but I have tried to make it as 'readable' as I can, so please take a look:

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I'd like to explain something which may be revealing to many Americans.

Until I began visiting and contributing to online websites discussing and/or debating male circumcision, I had not come across - ever in my life - the notion that a retractable foreskin/prepuce needed specific 'care'.

Initially, I noted North American anti-circ parents stating unequivocally that while the foreskin was still adhered to the glans, the penis needed no more cleaning than a finger or any other part of a boy's body. This I was pleased to see because I knew it already. I visited pro-intact support boards and the message was the same. But then I soon became aware of further advice regarding the retractable foreskin; and at this point I was left non-plussed and not a little shocked...

"Just retract - rinse - and replace," was quoted over and over again - often referred to as the 3 Rs. [The 3 Rs to me meant Reading, 'Righting and 'Rithmetic when I was at school!] It smacked of a combination of well-meaning intent, of ignorance or - at worst - abuse. Some advice told parents to do this for him at first, showing him how; other parents advised a verbal explanation on a DIY basis; yet others stated that the boy should be left alone to discover his retractable skin himself and encourage him to retract it when he is ready. But ALL maintained a single end-purpose - which was to wash away anything lying between the inner foreskin and glans. I'm sorry, but my reaction to this is an astounded: "WHAT?"

Who tells a little girl to discover her prepuce/hood and retract it to expose her clitoris and wash it? Put simply, it's her 'penis'. But, niceties apart, and silly as it may seem to equate one with the other, male and female genitals are there as nature made them for very good reasons.

Some will immediately think 'smegma' - a word that, by its sound when spoken, suggests something nasty. Yet the word is derived from the Greek for 'soap'. Intact males and females secrete smegma naturally - an odourless, translucent substance with protective, beneficial bacteria...and an ever-ready lubricant as a bonus. Smegma is replenished cyclically.

The popular but mistaken misuse of the word 'smegma' refers to fatty deposits and shedded skin cells which are flushed away when we urinate - males more effectively, perhaps - and fresh urine is sterile. The same is true of stale semen and stale female lubrication. All emit an unpleasant odour, but are usually eliminated after urination. And in any event, smells don't carry disease, as we used to think in Tudor times! Today we wash to rid ourselves of germ-laden dirt - and to smell 'nice'.

This brings me to my final point. In the UK our boys almost universally live with their foreskins until their life's end. We neither make them, instruct them nor encourage them to retract their foreskins for the purpose of 'cleaning'. Some parents may monitor their son's ability to retract and allow him to 'play' with himself freely (as boys do) to keep his foreskin supple. But most parents don't give a thought to the condition of his genital development. He is born as nature made him and he lives with nature's sexual benefits and no more problems than any other part of his anatomy.

It distresses and confounds me that the US anti-circ community has reached a point of near total acceptance of a natural penis - but has somehow clung to a belief that it still requires our invasive intervention. The 'cleanliness' issue is the last bastion of pro-circ advocates, yet its anti-circ opponents continue to give them the very fuel they need - a 'dirty' penis cured at the stroke of a scalpel.

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Please reply frankly and honestly. Pro or anti-circumcision, we all love our children.

Christopher
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
And see this from The American website, Doctors Opposing Circumcision:

The notion that boys need special hygiene merely repeats an old myth that has led to much unnecessary genital tampering. Such a notion does not even credit evolution. If boys ever did need such care, that line of hominids never survived evolution as they would never have reproduced. Our primate ancestors did not waste valuable food foraging time cleaning their children's genitalia down at some river.

Penises are self-cleaning and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. Urine is sterile, and the interior of the penis is washed at each urination. The other secretions are are moisturizers and the body's first-line of protection against pathogens. Its appearance, just as it [is] in females, is no cause for alarm. Many cases of UTI and other irritations and infections can be traced directly to genital tampering, not to failure of hygiene.

The notion that boys need aggressive cleaning is an invented one, which dates to the 1870s and was part of an advertising campaign for circumcision. The notion does not exist outside the influence of Anglo-American medicine.

Parents do best if they practice 'benign neglect' and leave their child's penis to develop on its own. The occasional bath is all the hygiene the child needs.

John Geisheker, JD, LL.M.
Executive Director
Doctors Opposing Circumcision

Christopher
 

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I was under the impression that intact boys, especially babes in diapers, needed the occasional care that you detailed above. Thankfully, I learned otherwise before I had my son! I had planned to leave my child intact ever since I can remember, but had just accepted that "cleaning" as a part of caring for a child. I don't remember where or when I learned otherwise, but I agree, it is all too common (mis)information in the US. I even had a friend recently mention that she planned to leave her son intact, should she have one, and fully accepted that she would have to clean him because her husband didn't want that responsibility. I thought by now that mode of thinking was outdated, but I guess not. I told her it was unnecessary and emailed her some information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good for you, Mama505. A perfect penis!
happytears.gif


Enough said for parents like you - and they are growing as every month and year goes by in the USA, at last.

'Benign Neglect' is the password to a boy's happiness with his penis.

Christopher
 

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My two intact boys are 13 and 17 and I have no idea what they do for cleaning of their penises, nor do I know what my two girls (11 and 15) do. I've never given any instruction except-"please take a shower"

They don't smell and are well liked, so I guess whatever they are doing, it's working out ok.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just like British mums (and dads)! And as for "Please take a shower/bath," that's pretty much universal I imagine, wherever we live.

Do most other parents in Buffalo, NY do the same?

Christopher
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yet it's parents like you, leaving their boys intact, who are unwittingly mounting an advertising campaign for genital autonomy and the "benign neglect" every American parent practises when caring for their daughters' genitals. Or do some use invasive methods to wash their labia? I hope not.

Christopher
 

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Our boy is intact and generally untouched by us. The only issue we ever had was a very disrespectful nurse who attempted to " force retraction" at 3 months. It was horror to see, and she did it without consent or warning before I could stop her. I treated the tear which occurred with a little coconut oil after each bath and diaper changes. I think circumcision being the norm is quite harmful for this very reason. I am sure she meant well, but was completely out of line, none the less.

I also know of a boy who was made to undergo circumcision at age 2 due to some sort of infection. I don't know more details, but I have to wonder if it actually could have been avoided.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Amie, I do hope the injury to his foreskin healed without too much scarring. It will have hurt him badly, poor mite. I've no doubt the nurse meant well, but her training should have covered every aspect of a foreskin's function and its care. In the UK, if a nurse so much as attempted retraction, let alone actually force it, she would be severely reprimanded and required to take further training before she was allowed to perform infant examinations again. If she went as far as your nurse did, she would be subject to a charge of criminal abuse.

I had to be circumcised in adulthood as a direct result of deliberate, punitive premature retraction when I was about six years old, leaving me with permanent scars, ruining the foreskin's elasticity.

As for the two year old boy you mentioned, the remote chance of any intact boy contracting an infection is addressed with medication, in the same way as any girl. Newly circumcised boys (or men, for that matter) are immediately at danger of infection from the consequences of the surgery itself, as I am a witness to. So of course it could have been avoided. I despair at the American medical fraternity's entrenched attitude towards foreskins: get rid of them. Yet circumcision is still a 'cure' looking for a disease...

Christopher
 

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Christopher- He was definitely miserable for the following week or two every time he urinated, but it did heal without infection. There is still a small scar from the tear, but seems to have no troubles otherwise. I did file a formal complaint with the local medical board, but was never updated on the outcome. Hopefully she was properly dealt with. I can't stand to think how many little boys have similar things happen to them in the US from other misguided healthcare professionals. I really hope things are changing in this regard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Amie, I fear with the AAP's latest statement on circumcision it may take a lot longer than we had begun to hope, before real changes are made in US health-care with regard to foreskins.

See my signature. Will Durant (an American, by the way) and his inspired description of education hit the nail on the head. Do American school biology books illustrating the human reproductive system still show the penis without its foreskin?

I'm glad your son seems to be little the worse for his experience now that his injury has healed. As you implied, hopefully the nurse has learned her lesson. Intact America and The Whole Network (particularly the latter) are the driving forces in your country towards genital autonomy for boys.

Christopher
 

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My 5 yr old DS is intact. I don't wash him or do anything special. He takes showers/baths and plays with it a lot while in there sometimes (lol). But thats all on his terms.

Our ped, while never retracting him, has always wanted to look at his pee hole during his routine physicals. I always have to be vigilent and tell her no way, the only person that gets to touch his penis is him! Obviously everything in that department is fine and if there was a problem with urination, I would tell her.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marnica View Post

My 5 yr old DS is intact. I don't wash him or do anything special. He takes showers/baths and plays with it a lot while in there sometimes (lol). But thats all on his terms.

Our ped, while never retracting him, has always wanted to look at his pee hole during his routine physicals. I always have to be vigilent and tell her no way, the only person that gets to touch his penis is him! Obviously everything in that department is fine and if there was a problem with urination, I would tell her.
I have to wonder, when I read stories like this, if these doctors do this to girls. We all know they don't. Why do they find it acceptable to treat boys this way but would never do it & would likely be appalled at the suggestion, to do it to girls. So bassackwards!

Sus
 
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I completely agree. Our pediatrician takes the diaper off to quickly eyeball the general area, but I don't recall him even touching the vulva ( much less the labia). I am sure he would if something appeared questionable, but not otherwise.
 

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Thanks for sharing this. All three of my sons (ages 12, 9, and 5) are intact, but I was under the impression that the retract and rinse advice was correct. It's not something I've mentioned more than once to my younger sons, but I've had the idea that it was more important once puberty started. (Don't ask me why I thought that. I truly don't know!) I was actually just thinking yesterday that I should remind my oldest to do this, and I'm glad I saw your message before I said anything to him. What you wrote makes perfect logical sense, and I think it's very sad that our circumcision-laden society has forgotten to think logically. Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
FF, perhaps you thought it was more important when puberty began because that's when an erection can trigger ejaculation, unlike pre-puberty when boys' penesis simply grow hard and therefore erect from time to time?

Oh, and I chose Logic as one of my exams at A-level in school, which I happily passed with flying colours!
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But thank you!

There's a question I asked earlier when replying to someone else which was missed. It's this: "Do American school biology books illustrating the human reproductive system still show the penis without its foreskin?" I ask because it seems to me to be a very important part of children's education. I'll bet a pound to a dollar that the female reproductive system is illustrated acurately.

Christopher
 

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I cannot speak for the school books but I do have an older medical book perhaps early to mid 1900's and the penis is intact. Where as a medical book from 2000 the penis is circumcised.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's interesting, Asiago, because the two books match the state of American male penises approximately 60-80 years apart. In the early 1900s RIC had barely raised its head (pun not intended), whereas by the year 2000 it was rife.

On a similar theme, my wife has kept a British Nursing manual/handbook which belonged to her mother. She (my wife) has a deep interest in all things medical, and loves to compare the information in this old handbook with medical knowledge today. There's a section on Circumcision with no mention of the infant procedure. Rather, it discusses older-boy and adult foreskin anomalies as an immediate indication for surgery. It shows two photographs of an adult male: one with his foreskin (looking perfectly normal to me) entitled 'Phimosis', and another of the same man circumcised with nothing of his foreskin left, entitled 'Circumcised'. But the most disturbing part of the article is this, and I quote: 'Circumcision of the prepuce is a simple procedure which should be considered for all men in general. Its benefits outweigh any post-operative pain which he must endure.'

No mention is made of the foreskin and its function. I'm astounded by its inclusion in a British Nursing manual, reflecting the advocacy for circumcision in the USA at the time. The only thing in its favour is no suggestion that baby boys should be treated in the same manner.

Christopher
 

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I was happy to read this. For years, I have worried that I needed to "do" something to my boys to clean them but could never stand the thoughts od retracting them. My momma instincts to leave their private parts alone were correct...
 
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