I picked my newborn son up from the adoption agency September 21, 1983 and took him home. Later when I changed his diaper I wasn't surprised to find him circumcised, nor was I upset. It was the done thing to circumcise babies, most of my friends had their sons circumcised. I didn't even question it.
My second son was born January 2, 1997 at 9:10 p.m. Early the next morning when he was less than a day old a pediatrician came into the room to give him a check-up. He took off his diaper and said "Your son will be circumcised this morning." I replied "No he won't!" The doctor stopped what he was doing, turned to look at me for the first time since entering the room, and after glaring at me so long I was beginning to feel like a small child who had done wrong, he said, "Have you thought about this ?" "Yes I have," I replied, "I researched it well."
I was older when my second son was born, less likely to follow the crowd. When I discovered I was carrying a boy I decided to do some research on circumcision. When I was finished I knew my son would not be circumcised. My next job was to convince my husband who thought that his boy should look like him. I printed out the information on circumcision and gave it to him to read. He still wasn't sure what to do. I asked him if we were carrying a girl would he want her circumcised and he said no and that was the end of the discussion. (Female Circumcision. Male Circumcision. Is There A Difference?)
Parenting brings a whole new set of responsibilities. We have the care of another human being to consider. We can't follow the crowd when it comes to the most important job in our lives. These little children are counting on us to protect them. Here is some of the information I uncovered while making my decision on circumcision. Read this article and research the issue further on your own. Come to a decision based on collecting all the information you can gather. I am against circumcision based on the research I have done. I never found any evidence that showed circumcision is necessary, but from the information I have read I feel that circumcision is one of the biggest crimes committed against our baby boys.
"Whatever is done to stop the terrible practice of circumcision will be of tremendous importance. There is no rational medical reason to support it." - Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author, Birth Without Violence
History of Circumcision in the U.S...
When and why did doctors in the U.S. start performing circumcisions. Circumcision started toward the end of the1800's to prevent masturbation. It was performed almost exclusively on children and teens on a very limited basis and rarely on babies. Circumcision was performed in order to cause damage to the penis. Removing the foreskin reduced the sexual feelings and removed mobility of the penis and the desired result was to prevent masturbation which some doctors believed caused diseases including epilepsy, tuberculosis and insanity, asthma, deterioration of joints, alcoholism, kleptomania, bedwetting, etc, -- any disease for which there was no known cause at the time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics...
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy on circumcision. "Circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits. These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision." - American Academy of Pediatrics 1999 Press Release
Note the word "potential" when referring to the medical benefits. Potential means may or may not develop. Also the damage caused to the penis during circumcision was not even addressed. "Two years ago, the Canadian Pediatric Society concluded that the benefits and harms of circumcision were 'so evenly balanced' that there was no valid reason to justify routine male circumcision." - Ottawa Citizen Online
Urinary tract Infection...
The intact baby has a slightly increased chance of developing a urinary tract infection in infancy but a lower incidence of UTI (urinary tract infection) the rest of his life. UTI's in females are found at rates of up to 50 times that of males (Understanding Urinary Tract Infection, Infect Urol 8 (4), 111,114-120, 1995) and we do not alter their genitalia as a preventative measure. Most UTI's in the intact male are iatrogenic (doctor caused) by inspecting, probing and even retracting the fused foreskin and introducing bacteria the foreskin is designed to keep out. - Eileen Wayne, M.D.
"Toronto researchers studied almost 60,000 boys. The study suggests 195 circumcisions would need to be performed to prevent one hospital admission for urinary tract infection in the first year of life. Since a conservative estimate of the number of significant complications of circumcision is 2-3%, this would mean that circumcising nearly 200 boys to prevent one urinary tract infection would result in at least 4 boys suffering a major complication to prevent one easily treatable urinary tract infection." - The Lancet 1998; 352:1813-16
The breast cancer rate is incredibly high but we don't perform mastectomies on our daughters when they develop breasts in order to save them from 'potential" breast cancer.
"Submitting your son to the procedure to prevent urinary tract infections makes only a little more sense than buying insurance against being gored by a unicorn in Riverside." - Eugene Robin, MD, Stanford University Medical School San Francisco Examiner, Nov 5 1987. p. E-5
Cancer of the Penis...
Another "potential" benefit you may have heard about is a lower risk of getting cancer of the penis. This type of cancer is rare in circumcised and intact men. Penile cancer affects elderly men with a history of genital warts, genital rashes, smoking and over thirty sex partners. The only way to prevent rare cancer of the penis is to amputate the entire penis.
"Isn't it insulting to the average male's intelligence to think that surgery is preferable because he can't be entrusted with washing his genitals when somehow he manages to brush his teeth, clean his ears and blow his nose?" - Louanne Cloe, Ph.D. Sexologist San Francisco Examiner, pB-7, Aug 11, 1993.
The rate of this cancer in America is about the same as other countries and higher than the rate in intact Japan and in northern European countries. With so many circumcised American males we should see a decrease in our rate of cancer but we don't.
We would have to circumcise over 200,000 newborns to possibly prevent cancer in one elderly man and those who were circumcised would still be at about the same risk.
The American Cancer Society states "Penile cancer is extremely rare in the United States and accounts for less than one half a percent of cancers diagnosed among men and less than one tenth of a percent of cancer deaths among men. Proven penile cancer risk factors include having unprotected sexual relations with multiple partners (increasing the likelihood of human papillomavirus infection), and cigarette smoking. The consensus among studies...is circumcision is not of value in preventing cancer of the penis."
The suggestion that women married to intact men have an increased risk of cervical cancer has been disproven many times. "Having intercourse at an early age, multiple sex partners and smoking are the strongest factors in contracting this type of cancer." - Elizabeth Stern, M.D., Peter Neely, Ph.D., "Cancer of the Cervix in Reference to Circumcision and Marital History, Journal of the American Women's Association," vol. 17, no. 9, Sept. 1962
Sexually Transmitted Diseases...
Also suggested is that intact men are at a higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. The AAP states that behavioral factors are more important in determining a persons risks of contracting diseases. If you want to do something to help your son avoid sexually transmitted diseases, education and use of condoms is the answer. The medical literature shows that circumcision does not lower the incidence of STD's, but in fact may increase the risk. ....."the odds of contracting a bacterial STD triple among the circumcised." - "Circumcision in the United States," Journal of the American Medical Association, April 2, 1997 "...the incidence of chlamydia may be 25 times higher among circumcised men." - Time magazine, April 14. 1997
Circumcision can be recommended as a preventive measure for phimosis, paraphimosis, and balanoposthitis. "These problems involve the foreskin directly, so circumcision prevents problems in the same way as pulling teeth would prevent cavities.
Phimosis, is a condition that occurs when the opening of the foreskin is too small to permit the glans to be uncovered painlessly. This problem cannot be diagnosed in infancy and childhood because the foreskin is immovable then. In Europe, the first treatments involve gentle stretching, sometimes combined with steroid creams.
Para-phimosis is a similar problem except that when the foreskin is retracted the opening is tight enough to restrict blood flow to and from the glans. It is treatable the same way as phimosis.
"Balanoposthitis is an infection of the glans and foreskin which is normally treatable with antibiotics. Surgery should be a last resort, not an initial treatment." - Wayne Hampton, Negative Aspects of Routine Infant Circumcision
"Psoriasis is found only on the glans of the circumcised penis." - Robert Van Howe, M.D.
"Balanitis is an infection of the glans and the circumcised penis has an increased risk of balanitis." - Genitorurin Med, 1993.
Circumcision is Surgery...
Lets talk about the possible complications of being circumcised. First let me point out that circumcision is surgery. Surgery has inherent risks, risks that you should be aware of. The most common complications are local infection, and minor bleeding. "Infection occurs after circumcision in up to 10% of patients." - Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
Other complications include excessive bleeding, complications from anesthesia, surgical mistakes, including loss of glans and loss of the entire penis, and death. Death doesn't happen often, but for the parents who's son died from cosmetic surgery, it was once too often.
"It is an incontestable fact at this point that there are more deaths each year from complications of circumcision than from cancer of the penis." - S. Gellis, M.D., Circumcision Am J Dis Ch, v132 #12 December 1978. p1168
"Most parents don't know what is actually done to a baby when he is circumcised. The baby is placed spread-eagle on his back on a board and his arms and legs are strapped down so that he can't move. His genitals are scrubbed and covered with antiseptic. His foreskin is torn from the glans and slit lengthwise so that the circumcision instrument can be inserted. Then his foreskin is cut off, usually without anesthetic." - National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
Is circumcision painful? A study that was being conducted on babies who were circumcised without pain killer was ended early to prevent any more babies from being subjected to the operation without anesthesia. "The researchers discovered that not only was there severe pain but an increased risk of choking and breathing difficulties." - Atlanta (CNN)
It is now recommended that parents insist on the use of pain killer during the procedure but it has been argued that injecting anesthesia can be as painful as circumcision itself. Some say that babies don't remember the pain but we know that young children can experience trauma and that although they may not remember, it can cause emotional problems.
Maria Fitgerald of University College London writes in the Medical Research Council's journal that "Reports in clinical and psychological literature indicate early injury or trauma can have long-term consequences on sensory or pain behavior that extend into childhood and beyond." - Circumcision Resource Center
A report in the New England Journal of Medicine states that babies do feel severe pain from the procedure, in fact more than older children and adults. The study recommends anaesthesia and pain management for circumcision. The report also mentions that even when anaesthesia is attempted, it is not always successful, and the use of anaesthesia adds risks to the procedure. Topical anesthetics are woefully inadequate.
"Most babies scream frantically when their foreskins are cut off. Some defecate, some lapse into a coma. The reason some babies don't cry when they are circumcised is that they can't cry because they are in a state of shock." - National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
If you decided to have your son circumcised...
If you decide to have your son circumcised be there with him. If my son was to fall down and hurt himself, I would go to him and comfort him. If a baby is being circumcised I believe parents should be there during the procedure to do the same.
A little about the foreskin....
"The foreskin contains thousands of highly sensitive sensory receptors called Meissner corpuscles, which are more abundant there than in any other part of the penis. Richly endowed with a profusion of blood vessels, it also has a riged band of peripenic muscles that protects the urinary tract from contaminants, and an undersurface lined with mucocutaneous tissue found nowhere else on the body, which contains ectopic glands that produce natural emollients and antibacterial proteins similar to those found in mother's milk. With it's frenar ridges and its thousands of nerve endings, the foreskin not only protects the glans, which in an intact male is extremely sensitive, it also accounts for roughly one-third the penis' sexual perceptivity." - Circumcision in America - Debra S. Ollivier
"The foreskin protects the glans throughout life." - American Academy of Pediatrics
The methods used today to circumcise removes much more of the foreskin than required by the bible. Men who had been circumcised during biblical times appeared intact.
"The Biblical technique of circumcision designed to fulfill the Covenant with Abraham removed only preputial tissue that extended beyond the tip of the glans penis (Bris Milah). By first pulling up on the foreskin, then placing a glans shield, the operator preserved virtually all of the sensitive inner lining of the prepuce. ... sensitive tissue that was preserved during Biblical circumcision, is almost always excised during "modern" circumcision with the Gomco Clamp or the Plastibell....The Biblical technique was completed much more quickly. Part of the foreskin is slid into the slit on the shield, and a knife slices off the portion above the shield in less than one second. Gomco Clamp circumcisions have been known to take up to 20 minutes. ..." - George C. Denniston, M.D. M.P.H. "Modern" Circumcision: The Escalation of a Ritual
"Some Jews are replacing brit millah with brit shalom, a bloodless baby naming ceremony." - George C. Denniston, M.D. M.P.H.
"The percentage of Jews in the National Organization of Restoring Men exceeds the fraction of Jews in the general population by several times. Religious parents who are concerned about various negatives surrounding circumcision might seek information from the Circumcision Resource Center, PO Box 232, Boston MA 02133, which specializes in religious issues."- Negative Aspects of Routine Circumcision, by Wayne Hampton
In the Book of Mormon, Moroni 8:8:
"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. In the New Testament it says circumcision is unnecessary and even discouraged.
"Behold, I paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing."
Only 15% of the world's Christian males are circumcised.
Problems your circumcised boy may develop as a man...
When the foreskin is removed the opening to the urethra is exposed. Chemical and soaps can cause irritation. Meatal stenosis which is a narrowing of the opening caused by ulcerations may occur. This can happen to men and women but being circumcised makes it worse. Another problem that can develop is painful erection and painful intercourse. This can happen if your son is circumcised too tight. Meatal ulceration, skin tags, skin bridges, tearing of tight shaft skin and testicles drawn up to the body at erection can also occur. Men complain of many other problems that are a direct result of being circumcised. An entire article could be written on this alone.
Ethics is an issue we can't skip in this discussion. Do we have the right to decided for another person what should be done to their body. I don't believe we do. The foreskin of a boy belongs to him and only he should be allowed to have it removed. His cries tell us he would rather be left intact.
The American Academy of Pediatrics policy on circumcision concluded by saying "however, that it is legitimate for parents to take into account cultural, religious and ethnic traditions..." I disagree, in countries where girls are circumcised because of those reasons we shudder at the thought and consider the practice barbaric, so why is it okay to take those into consideration here.
Dr. George Denniston, President of Doctor's Against Circumcision, sums up this issue very nicely: "The issue of circumcision is a very simple one. Suppose a doctor came up to you just after you had delivered your first son and said to you, "Now I am going to remove his eyelids!" What would you say to him?" Well, that is exactly what you should say to a doctor that wants to remove part of your son's normal penis." Doctor's should not be doing circumcisions. Removing normal tissue for no medical reason is NOT covered by their licenses. In addition, a doctor violates all seven Principles of the AMA Code of Ethics every time he performs a circumcision."
"My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another son would be to leave his little penis alone." Dr. Benjamin Spock, Redbook, April 1989
"The best reason to let a baby keep his foreskin intact is that it's almost a certainty that he will be glad you did." - John A. Erickson
60% of US males are being circumcised (but over 80% of the world's males are intact) so 40% of American boys are leaving the hospital intact.
In England and New Zealand the infant circumcision rate is less than 1%, in Australia 10% and in Canada now down to 17%. All English speaking countries (outside of the U.S.) now have a combined infant and child circumcision rate less than 10%.
For parents who want their sons to look like boys who have been circumcised there isn't much reason for concern. Now that the American Academy of Pediatrics has released it's new policy and "there is not a single national medical organization in the entire world that advocates or supports routine infant circumcision - not a single one."- George Denniston, M.D. M.P.H., -The Salt lake Tribune, Thurs., March 11, 1999- more and more parents are going to leave their sons intact. It soon will be the circumcised boy who looks different. It shouldn't make any difference though if we don't all look alike, don't we encourage our children to appreciate their uniqueness. Isn't it important that he be sexually fully functional physically and sexually?
Care of the uncircumcised penis...
Care of the uncircumcised boy is quite easy, leave it alone. "External washing and rinsing on a daily basis is all that is required." - American Academy of Pediatrics
Intercourse with the intact penis...
The 1999 British Journal of Urology Supplement has a study of American women who have experienced sex with both intact and circumcised partners. "The results of the survey are truly astonishing. Among other things, the vast majority of surveyed women indicated that they overwhelmingly prefer intercourse with a man with a natural penis (approximately 90%) and that they were significantly more likely to achieve a "vagina" orgasm during "natural" intercourse. More astonishing is the fact that many women actually rated circumcised intercourse a negative experience when compared to the natural intercourse.' Kristen O'Hara, Author of Sex As Nature Intended.
When making a decision whether to leave your son intact or not, take into consideration the possible potential benefits and weight them against the risks of surgery, trauma, pain, reduction of sensuousness, limited mobility, long term damage, loss of glans protection, death, better sex for the female and the very real possibility that your son will be glad you left him the way nature intended.
There is more information on circumcision available. It would be difficult for me to cover it all. This article should at least make you want to learn more before making a decision that will affect your son the rest of his life. Circumcision can't be undone.
"Nature knows more about designing the penis than do American doctors" - Jerry W. Warner
"Within minutes, three feet of veins, arteries and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves and more than 20,000 nerve endings are destroyed; so are all the muscles, glands, epithelial tissue and sexual sensitivity associated with the foreskin. Finally, what nature intended as an internal organ is irrevocably externalized." - Circumcision In America - Debra S. Ollivier
Dear parent, here are some organizations you can contact to get more information on circumcision. You can also look them up on the internet.
My deepest thanks to Ken Derifield of The Intact Network for contributing to this article. He can be reached at the following address; The Intact Network, 703 E. Walnut St. Washington, IN 47501 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers - (NOCIRC) an organization of diverse individuals committed through research, education and advocacy to securing the birthright of male and female infants and children to keep their sex organs intact. P.O. Box 2512, San Anselmo, CA 94979-2512. Tel: 415-488-9883
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NOHARMM) P.O. Box 460795, San Francisco, CA 94146-0795. Tel: 415-826-9351 National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) 3205 Northwood Drive, Suite 209, Concord, CA 94520-4506. Tel: 510-827-4077
UNCIRC P.O. Box 52138, Pacific Grove, CA 93950. Tel: 408-375-4326
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.) is an organization of physicians, and others who are opposed to routine neonatal circumcision. D.O.C. has members in 50 States, 12 Canadian Provinces and Territories, and in nations on six continents. These doctors recognize that no one has the right to forcibly remove sexual body parts from another individual. They also believe that doctors should have no role in this painful, unnecessary procedure inflicted on the newborn. Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.) 2442 NW Market St. Suite 42 Seattle, Washington, 98107 U.S.A
"The grandest privilege of those who have the means is to alleviate suffering." - H. P. Blavatsky
The precious babe lay at my breast.
"Shall we cut him?"
You shall not.
I would sooner give you a part of me
to cut off.
We shall leave him to be
As God made him.
Rachel Hyde, NY, May 1999
FREE ARTICLE: You are free to publish this article on websites and print publications. You can also email it to friends and/or associates. We just ask that you include this information with the article and let us know where you published it. This article first appeared in The Wise Mother magazine, published in Salt Lake City, Utah. http://www.motherchronicle.com email email@example.com
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