Is Circumcision Just A Medical Procedure?

Routine Infant Circumcision- Is it harmful to the baby and is there ever a reason it should be done

Disclaimer: This is a post on a very personal and controversial topic. I have gotten several questions about it lately and while I’ve been avoiding the topic due to its controversial nature, I feel compelled to address it as there is a lot of misinformation on both sides and the person most affected by the procedure can not speak for himself in many cases. This is an extremely emotional issue for me, as I’m sure it is for many parents. My purpose in the post is to explain my position (as I have received many emails asking), present the information I found while researching this decision for our own sons, and to facilitate a kind and charitable discussion. I do not intend to judge or offend and I apologize in advance if anything written here is hurtful to anyone. I am not a doctor or medical professional, only a parent who has seen the pain on both sides of this issue. If this is a topic that is not relevant to you or that you’d prefer not to read, feel free to browse my Start Here Page for an archive of health articles, natural living ideas, and recipes instead.

Circumcision: Yes or No?

This is a very personal, and often very polarizing issue. It is a topic that is not commonly discussed, and for this reason, many parents are given incorrect information if they ask well-meaning family and friends. As moms, we can discuss episiotomies, having a bowel movement while pushing a baby out, or the intricacies of breastfeeding with close friends or trusted relatives, but the topic of circumcision is often avoided or it makes us uneasy to talk about.

My hope is to offer information I found while making this decision in our own family and to facilitate discussion on the matter. I hope that this is not a decision that is ever made lightly, whatever the parents choose, and that facts and research are considered.

Medical Benefits and Risks:

Though routine infant circumcision is a cosmetic procedure, many parents feel they are doing it for medical reasons. Many doctors tell parents that it will make the child cleaner, offers lower risk of UTIs, reduces risk of penile cancer, etc. Many also say that it is not painful for the baby and that there is no need to leave the foreskin attached. (Interestingly, surgeries of all kinds including open heart surgery were often preformed on infants without anesthesia and just drugs to keep them still as recently as a few decades ago. It was believed they could not feel pain, which we now know to be false.)

Some recent news has suggested that circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection as well, though this is a statistically flawed argument as I will explain later.

The benefits as listed above are minor, so it seems important to consider the risks as well and to weigh if the potential benefit is enough to make this risk worth it. Many parents list cosmetic reasons as their purpose for circumcision: so that a baby will look the same as his father, not be made fun of in the locker room, etc.

The American Academy of Pediatrics evaluated this and for years, their policy was that circumcision should not be routinely recommended, stating:

“The AAP had formed a task force on circumcision that decided the procedure shouldn’t be routinely recommended. The task force based this policy on 40 years of studies of both circumcised and uncircumcised boys, and it concluded the following:

  • Problems with the penis, such as irritation, can occur with or without circumcision.
  • With proper care, there is no difference in hygiene.
  • There may or may not be differences in sexual sensation in adult men.
  • There is an increased risk for a UTI in uncircumcised males, especially babies under 1 year. However, the risk for a UTI is still less than 1 percent.
  • Newborn circumcision provides some protection from penile cancer, which only occurs in the foreskin. However, the risk of this cancer is very low in developed countries such as the United States.”

Additionally, as research now shows that infants do feel pain as intensely as adults (if not more so), and anesthesia is often not used or used incorrectly. This seems like a very painful experience to subject a child to without a clear medical need, especially just for cosmetic reasons. It can be performed at any point in a man’s life, so should a child want to be circumcised later in life, he can choose this and will be given anesthesia and pain medication which are not given to infants. He will not, however, have the option of getting his foreskin back…

How Is It Done?

Although there are several ways that a circumcision can be performed, the procedure involves forcibly pulling the foreskin back (retracting it) and then removing it from the head of the penis. While the foreskin will retract later in life naturally, doing it at this age is similar to pulling a nail from a nail bed. The foreskin is naturally a very sensitive area and has as many nerve endings as a female clitoris. As this article explains:

“The foreskin, which comprises up to 50% (sometimes more) of the mobile skin system of the penis. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin would measure about 15 square inches (the size of a 3 x 5-inch index card). This highly specialized tissue normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and contaminants of all kinds. The effect of glans keratinization on human sexuality has never been studied.

The frenar band of soft ridges — the primary erogenous zone of the male body. Loss of this delicate belt of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue reduces the fullness and intensity of sexual response.

The foreskin’s “gliding action“– the hallmark mechanical feature of the normal, natural, intact penis. This non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth, comfortable, pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, scraping vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for pleasurable intercourse.

Thousands of coiled fine-touch mechanoreceptors called Meissner’s corpuscles, the most important sensory component of the foreskin, encapsulated Vater-Pacinian cells, Merkel’s cells, nociceptors, and branches of the dorsal nerve and perineal nerve. Altogether, between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can feel slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture are lost.”

This website explains the procedure and shows videos of actual circumcision (graphic).

While I was told by family members and even registered nurses that the foreskin has no purpose, in researching it myself, I found that it actually serves several important purposes:

  • “Protection: Just as the eyelids protect the eyes, the foreskin protects the glans and keeps its surface soft, moist, and sensitive. It also maintains optimal warmth, pH balance, and cleanliness. The glans itself contains no sebaceous glands-glands that produce the sebum, or oil, that moisturizes our skin. The foreskin produces the sebum that maintains proper health of the surface of the glans.
  • Immunological Defense: The mucous membranes that line all body orifices are the body’s first line of immunological defense. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme. Lysozyme is also found in tears and mother’s milk. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, an immune system component, abound in the foreskin’s outer surface.13 Plasma cells in the foreskin’s mucosal lining secrete immunoglobulins, antibodies that defend against infection.
  • Erogenous Sensitivity: The foreskin is as sensitive as the fingertips or the lips of the mouth. It contains a richer variety and greater concentration of specialized nerve receptors than any other part of the penis. These specialized nerve endings can discern motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations of texture.
  • Coverage During Erection: As it becomes erect, the penile shaft becomes thicker and longer. The double-layered foreskin provides the skin necessary to accommodate the expanded organ and to allow the penile skin to glide freely, smoothly, and pleasurably over the shaft and glans.
  • Self-Stimulating Sexual Functions: The foreskin’s double-layered sheath enables the penile shaft skin to glide back and forth over the penile shaft. The foreskin can normally be slipped all the way, or almost all the way, back to the base of the penis, and also slipped forward beyond the glans. This wide range of motion is the mechanism by which the penis and the orgasmic triggers in the foreskin, frenulum, and glans are stimulated.
  • Sexual Functions in Intercourse: One of the foreskin’s functions is to facilitate smooth, gentle movement between the mucosal surfaces of the two partners during intercourse. The foreskin enables the penis to slip in and out of the vagina nonabrasively inside its own slick sheath of self-lubricating, movable skin. The female is thus stimulated by moving pressure rather than by friction only, as when the male’s foreskin is missing.”

(source for above list of functions)

I felt that I needed to know and understand what this surgery does before I could choose it for my son, so I found videos of a routine circumcision  (like this one)  Here are some pictures that show, less graphically, the procedure of a plastibell circumcision.

History of Circumcision

Circumcision is often a cosmetic choice today, though there are certainly those who choose it for religious reasons as well. Before making this decision, it may be helpful for parents to understand the history of the procedure.

  • The first recorded history of circumcision I could find were references to primitive tribes that used both male and female circumcision as a rite of passage into adulthood thousands of years ago. Other rituals involved skin mutilation, walking on hot coals or other feats of strength and bravery. Many of these rituals often ended in death.
  • There is speculation that the ancient Egyptians practiced circumcision, although this theory is largely based on paintings found from this time period that seem do depict a circumcision, though these don’t show the context or explain the reason. Other interpretations are that these paintings show pubic hair being shaved. No circumcised mummies have been found.
  • About 600 BC the first five books of the Hebrew bible were compiled, including the command to Abraham to circumcise himself and his descendants. Circumcision is adopted in the Jewish faith as part of a covenant with God. Historical evidence suggests that this was a different practice than what is done today, involving a nick or “shedding of blood” or removal of a small part, but not all, of the foreskin, as this would have been a difficult and dangerous procedure at this time, especially for adults.
  • During this time, historians note that several cultures, most middle eastern, practiced circumcision.
  • Jesus was born and circumcised in accordance with Jewish teaching. (though again, historical evidence shows that this was probably a much different procedure)
  • In roughly 43 AD, the Council of Jerusalem, led by Apostles Peter, Paul, John, and James the Lesser decided that members of the newly formed Christian church were not bound by Jewish ritual or custom including dietary guidelines, restrictions against dining with Gentiles, and circumcision.
  • 570 AD- Mohammed born “already circumcised,” which supposedly led to the rule of circumcision among Muslims, who are the largest group of circumcised men today.
  • From this time to more modern time, there were many bans on circumcision in Christian nations, forced circumcision in other nations (often my Muslim conquerers) and reversals. You can see those details here.
  • 16th-17th centuries- Medical research started to explore the function of the foreskin,  finding that it provided lubrication and pleasure during sex.
  • 1716 AD- “Publication of Onania, or the heinous sin of self-pollution, and all its frightful consequences in both sexes in London, giving rise to the irrational phobia about masturbation which persisted throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For the next 250 years doctors insist it is a scientifically proven medical fact that masturbation is physically and mentally harmful and must be stopped at any cost.” (source)
  • In the 1740s, medical science found ways to remove tissue that was affected by syphilis, and since this infection often occurred on the foreskin, one doctor advanced the idea that circumcised men were less prone to the disease.
  • 1758- “Publication of Onanism, or a treatise on the disorders produced by masturbation, by Swiss physician Simon-Andre Tissot, further spreading the theory of masturbatory disease throughout Europe.” (source)
  • 1850s- “James Copland, in Dictionary of practical medicine, popularizes the idea of circumcision as a means of discouraging masturbation among boys.”
  • 1860s- “Circumcision as means of curing or preventing masturbation in boys becomes widespread medical dogma in Britain. For the next 100 years (and in the USA 150 years) doctors insist it is a scientifically proven medical fact that the foreskin is harmful to the physical and moral health of males and must be surgically removed before they even become conscious that it was ever there.”
  • 1870- “In the USA Lewis A. Sayre applies theories of Lallemand and announces that circumcision cures “paralysis” (polio), epilepsy and masturbation, setting off the medical craze for “therapeutic” circumcision. Calls for universal circumcision of male infants.”
  • 1877- “John Harvey Kellogg MD (1852-1943, of Kellog cereal fame) publishes the first edition of Plain facts for old and young, in which he promotes circumcision as a cure for masturbation. He writes that the operation was to be performed “without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment.””
  • 1882- “Norman H. Chapman, Professor of Nervous and Mental Disease at the University of Kansas City, writes: “It is always good surgery to correct this deformity [a long and contracted foreskin] … as a precautionary measure, even though no symptoms have as yet presented themselves”, thus ushering in routine or “preventive” circumcision. (Medical News (Philadelphia) Vol. 41, p. 317)”
  • 1885- Dr. Samuel Newman promotes routine circumcision of newborn boys, claiming the advantage that it could be done without anesthetic and he borrowed the idea of strapping the baby to a board from the Indians. This board, the circumstraint, is still used in many hospitals during circumcision.
  • 1880s- “The newly formed American Academy of Pediatrics supports Lewis Sayre’s call for routine neonatal circumcision. Determined to lower the nation’s infant mortality rate by reducing often-lethal diarrhoea, the AAP argues that the foreskin irritates the penis, which irritates the nervous system, which hampers digestion, which causes diarrhoea. Simultaneously, the AAP also condemns breast milk, claiming it is a leading cause of infant diarrhea. This is the nineteenth century version of the urinary tract infection scare (UTI), the only surviving justification for infant circumcision.” (source)
  • 1914- “Abraham Wolbarst, Jewish doctor in New York, urges universal male circumcision as a preventive of syphilis, cancer and masturbation. (Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 62, 1914, pp. 92-7)”
  • 1941- “Alan Guttmacher writes (approvingly) that some US doctors circumcise routinely without even consulting parents, and that 75 per cent of boys born in urban hospitals are circumcised. (“Should the baby be circumcised?”, Parents Magazine, Vol. 16, pp. 26, 76-8)”
  • 1965- “W.K.C. Morgan publishes “The rape of the phallus”, the first criticism of circumcision’s murky psychology to appear in a US medical journal. Full text here.”
  • 1971- The American Academy of Pediatrics declares that they find “no valid medical reasons for routine infant circumcision.”
  • (during this time, the debate about the necessity of circumcision raged and it was first addressed by some in the US as a human rights issue. Read the full details here.)
  • 1996- Female Circumcision (genital mutilation) banned in the U.S.
  • 1997- Research released showing that circumcision can heighten pain and reaction to vaccines and other procedures. Evidence also found that circumcision does not reduce STD risk.
  • 1998- A baby dies from anesthesia in a procedure to reverse damage done during circumcision in a highly publicized case. Research also finds that statistically, it would take 195 circumcisions to prevent one UTI.
  • 1999- “The American Academy of Pediatrics issues new policy on routine male circumcision which states that the potential medical benefits of circumcision do not warrant performing it routinely, but that pediatricians may perform it at the parents’ behest for “cultural, religious, and ethnic” reasons, but that analgesia is essential. You can compare that policy with their policy on female genital mutilation.”
  • 2002- At Barcelona conference, World Health Organisation rejects circumcision as element of strategy in control of AIDS in Africa.
  • 2007- Information released that human baby foreskins are actually big business and used in cosmetic uses like the making of face cream. (good reason to make your own!)

The current rationales/rationalizations for infant circumcision developed after the operation was in wide practice. Some of them include: to make sons resemble their circumcised fathers; to conform anatomically with peers (note: circumcised boys now find themselves in the minority); to improve hygiene; to prevent tight/non-retractile foreskin (which is normal in childhood); as prophylaxis against urinary tract infection (UTI), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and cancer of the penis, prostate, and cervix. If circumcision were a new procedure being proposed today for any of the above conditions, it would not be acceptable based on insufficient medical evidence and/or medical ethics (it is against medical ethics to perform unnecessary surgery).

Risks of routine circumcision include: infection (including infection with MRSA), lacerations, skin bridges, chordee, meatitis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, glans necrosis, hemorrhage, meningitis, sepsis, gangrene, penile loss requiring sex re-assignment, pain, irritation, prolonged bleeding, nursing strike, loss of or diminished sexual function, accidental cutting of an artery during the procedure, erectile dysfunction later in life, and even death (every year more than 100 American boys die from circumcision complications).

[Note: all quotes from this timeline unless otherwise noted]

Statistics and Facts

While circumcision is considered a common procedure in some places, especially within the U.S., it is interesting to note that worldwide, this is not the case. In fact, “Worldwide, only about 20 out of every 1,000 male infants are circumcised—and 18 of those 20 are in the United States alone.”

While parents are often told that circumcision is common and their sons outcast in the locker room if they aren’t circumcised, even in the U.S., circumcision rates have fallen from 56% to 32% in the last 4 years alone, meaning that for current newborns, circumcised males will be in the minority.

Circumcision is often done to prevent risk of future problems like penile cancer, though each year, only about 300 men die from penile cancer, while 500+ die from complications related to circumcision. In the U.S. alone, “About 117 boys die each year as a result of their circumcision, most from infections or blood loss.

While it is a cosmetic procedure, it medically alters the body and changes the sensitivity of the penis drastically. “Circumcision regularly removes a shocking 3/4 of the penis’ sensitivity through the removal of the ridged band, foreskin “lips,” and most often the entire frenulum.”

“As adults, men circumcised in infancy are almost 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED).” (source)

“The complication rate for circumcision varies from 3 to 6 percent. The average male will have more health problems from being circumcised than from being left alone” (source)

“Circumcision has never been proven to be effective in either reducing or treating cervical cancer, penile cancer, urinary tract infections, or sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.” In fact, the recent studies that suggest that circumcision may lower HIV rates are reporting circumcisions done on ADULT males in high risk areas with only a six month to a year follow up period. It seems logical that in this time, a man would still be partially recovering from this painful procedure and would not be as likely to engage in sexual activity or may be more careful about using “protection” which also both reduce the risk of AIDS. Additionally, as HIV/AIDS are not always diagnosed immediately, this doesn’t account for longer term rates.”

Circumcision is often done to “lower the risk of UTI” which is increased the most in the first year of a child’s life. Both circumcised and uncircumcised males have a lower rate of UTI than all females, though in most places, it would be considered barbaric to recommend female circumcision to reduce the risk of UTI.

“The foreskin contains over 240 feet of nerves and over 1,000 nerve endings, as well as being a highly vascularized structure.”

“Women have a foreskin as well, which covers and protects their clitoris. It is alternatively referred to as the clitoral foreskin, clitoral prepuce, or clitoral hood.”

“Complications are often overlooked or un(der)reported. They include: Lacerations, skin bridges, chordee, meatitis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, glans necrosis, hemorrhage, meningitis, sepsis, gangrene, and penile loss requiring sex re-assignment. The literature abounds with reports of morbidity, and even death, from infant circumcision.”

“Ob/Gyn fees for circumcision range to $400, averaging $137 nationwide [U.S.] Circumcising 10 infants weekly for only 10 months of the year at $125 each (1987 U.S. rate), circumcisers earn at least an additional $50,000 annually. 74% of the Ob/Gyns surveyed perform circumcision. Ob/Gyns are generally not aware of preputial (foreskin) structure and function, or of the growing numbers of men undertaking foreskin restoration.”

“In the 1980s, retrospective studies by Wiswell et al. suggested that 98-99% of intact (non-circumcised) male infants will not develop UTI (compared with his finding of 99.9% in circumcised male infants). In 1989, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) cautioned that Wiswell’s studies comparing the two groups may be methodologically flawed, and that the percentage of intact male infants who will not develop UTI may be even higher. Research in the 90s has since confirmed that Wiswell’s studies are flawed, as the AAP cautioned, and that the incidence of UTIs in intact male infants is significantly lower than the 1-2% he reported.” 

“Scandinavian society (virtually non-circumcised) has a lower rate of cervical cancer than the U.S (a majoritarily circumcised society).”

Religious Aspects:

Certainly, as circumcision was/is a part of Jewish belief and teaching, there is a religious aspect to some parent’s choice to circumcise or not. What I did find fascinating in my research was that the circumcision done in biblical times was likely very different from the one done today. As this writer explains:

Turns out modern circumcision is nothing like what happened in Biblical times. The two Hebrew words used to describe Old Testament circumcision are namal & muwl. Namal means “clipped,” like you might clip your fingernails. The word muwl means “to curtail, to blunt, to cut shorter.” There are totally different words used in Hebrew for “cut off” or “removed.”

The whole idea of circumcision as it was ordained by God at that time in history was that a little blood would be drawn as a symbol. It was a symbol of the sin of the world, which would eventually be repaid by the Messiah. God-ordained circumcision was in the same category as animal sacrifices (another symbolic tradition with blood that found its fulfillment in Jesus).”

From my understanding, even today, Jewish circumcisions are sometimes done in this way, by a specialized practitioner, at home, on the 8th day, and are in stark contrast from the circumcisions performed in hospitals on the first or second day after birth. Interestingly, there are modern, faithful Jewish people who do not believe that circumcision is necessary and there is even an organization called Jews Against Circumcision.

For Christians, the command to circumcise was lifted with Christ’s sacrifice. Some Christians go so far as to say that God forbids circumcision in the New Covenant. This is even addressed in the New Testament in several places:

~Rom. 3:29-30 “Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles, also? Yes, of Gentiles also. Since the God who will justify those of the circumcision out of faith, and those of the uncircumcision through faith, is One.”

~1 Cor. 7:17 “As God has called each man, in this manner let him walk. And thus I command in all the churches. Was any man called in the circumcision [i.e. Old Covenant]? Let him not try to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in the uncircumcision [i.e. New Covenant]? Let him not be circumcised! Circumcision is nothing. And uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called.”

~Gal. 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision gives spiritual power, but faith working through love.”

~Gal. 5:11 “But if I still proclaim circumcision. . . then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.”

~Col. 2:8-14 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men…rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form and in Him you have been made whole.. and in Him you were also circumcised, with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, and raised up with Him through faith. And…in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him. . . having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which were hostile to us. And He has taken them out of the way, having nailed them to the cross.”

[Note: More biblical verses and explanation here]

There are also several Christian organizations that oppose circumcision including Catholics Against Circumcision, and parts of the NoHarmm organization.

My Personal Experience

Our two sons are not circumcised. While I am extremely grateful that we researched extensively and made this decision when we were pregnant with our first son, I have regret and guilt for not sending information to several pregnant friends who I later found out did circumcise their sons because they hadn’t researched both sides of the argument and then deeply regretted it.

Researching the actual circumcision procedure was the turning point for me in my decision not to circumcise. Prior to my pregnancy with our first child, I had never even considered the topic and knew incredibly little about it. I vaguely knew that such a procedure existed, but as a woman, it wasn’t something that had ever affected me.

Once I was pregnant, I started researching everything from delivery options to episiotomies, to Vitamin D testing, to gestational diabetes testing, to all of the medications used in childbirth. I tended to glaze over the topic in books because I figured it was a decision my husband would make, but something kept nagging me about it.

When I was working on my birth plan, this was something that was suggested to include, so I started researching it and I am forever grateful that I did. My husband researched the issue in depth as well, and thankfully, he came to the same conclusion, as I have seen this be a source of disagreement and pain for several couples. While my husband and I are in complete agreement on this issue, it is a source of disagreement (and sometimes pain) in our extended family.

For those who may have concerns of the care of an uncircumcised penis, less care is actually needed in the younger years than with a circumcised infant and nothing must be done to it other than basic bathing and hygiene. The skin will retract when they are older and they are the only ones who will ever need to retract this skin (injury can occur if it is done by others or too soon). In fact, many of the problems commonly associated with being uncircumcised are actually caused by forced retraction at an early age by someone other than the foreskin’s owner.

Neither of my sons has ever had a UTI or any other issues or complications from not being circumcised.

This post is written in hope that I won’t ever feel the same guilt that I feel with my friends for not presenting this information to any of you who are genuinely curious or researching. I also share this in hope that no one becomes one of these thousands of parents who live with this guilt because they didn’t have all the information. It is based on my own personal research and convictions.

I know several friends who deeply regret their decision to circumcise, and share their story in hopes of sparing other mothers this pain. For the record, I have tremendous respect for parents who have made the decision to circumcise, and after research regret their decision but still share their pain for the benefit of others.

I hope that I have conveyed my research and opinions on this in a non-judgmental way and I certainly would NEVER judge anyone for the decision to circumcise, especially since I have seen first hand how this procedure is marketed as a much more medically necessary and beneficial procedure than I found it to be in my research. I read the pain and heartache of many parents who regretted their decision in my own search for information, and I am so grateful to them for sharing their pain and sparing our family the same pain.

I implore parents to research this issue thoroughly, make sure they are familiar with the procedure (witness one in person if possible, or a video if not), the technique, the possible risks, and the form being signed before consenting to a circumcision if this is the decision they make. (More here on some of the actual problems with the consent forms for circumcision).

This article addresses many of the reasons often given for “medically necessary” circumcisions and I’d also encourage parents to thoroughly research any of these particular issues before consenting.

In the end, to me, the issue comes down to whether we (as parents) have the right to make a permanent medical decision (that some consider a human rights issue) for a child who is not even yet old enough to talk or verbalize pain when there is no clear medical need, and the issue of risk vs. benefit can certainly be hotly debated.

For us, the answer to this question was unequivocally that we do not have this right, and we chose to leave our sons as God created them (just as we did for our daughters). My plea is that all parents will give this issue a lot of through, consideration and research before making a decision, and not do it for strictly cosmetic reasons or because a doctor or family member suggests it.

My sons could, if they wish, choose this procedure at any point in their lives. Many ethicists suggest that parents only have the right to choose life saving procedures and surgeries for their children but that surgeries like circumcision that alter the body without medical need can be unethical.

Though I personally consider this a human rights issue that boys should have the right to make on their own, I also think the the slope of letting the government be involved in the process at all would be a very slippery one (though female circumcision is banned in the U.S., despite some people who have personal or religious reasons for doing so). I do know men who were circumcised who feel strongly that parents should not have the right to make this decision and who have anger over the decision that their parents made.

My purpose of this article is certainly not to judge anyone over a decision either way, and my purpose was to share information that shaped my decision in hopes that it might be helpful to others. While my heart aches for men who were never given the right to make this decision, I think that the answer is access to research and information, not government intervention or policy.


Here is a list of resources I found helpful in my research on this topic. It is by no means an exhaustive or unbiased list, just ones I found worth the read:

Catholics Against Circumcision

Doctors Opposing Circumcision

DrMomma: Are You Fully Informed? (Huge list of resources and things to consider)

Mothering Circumcision Forum (Huge forum of parents who regret circumcision their sons and experience from actual people, not just statistics)

The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)

The National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NOHARMM)

Nurses for the Rights of the Child

The Case Against Circumcisions


Helpful links from a article:

Infant Pain, Adult Repercussions: How Infant Pain Changes Sensitivity In Adults

Dr. Momma: Cut Vs. Intact Outcome Statistics

Babies Do Feel Pain

Basic Care of the Intact Child

Is this an issue you have had to decide? What influenced your decision? [Let’s keep the comments kind and charitable. I am all for open debate, but any personal attacks or rude comments will be removed]

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Reader Comments

  1. well i watched the most heartbreaking movie on the net :(- I just don´t understand how anyone can choose it for your tiny son???- but then again I live in Denmark were a minority of jews and muslims might choose it -but danish doctors are evry much against it .

    • I strongly believe in keeping things organic and true to the nature of the whole, but in this case I was lead to have a circumcision for my male child. I also believe he will be happy I did when he is older. My partner for the last 10 years was not circumcised and though I found no issue with it, he was always having trouble with it as an adult and was angry with his mother for not having done it for him. He constantly had pain and sensitivity. He took several showers a day to keep himself clean. He was prone to yeast infections and was very self conscious about any type of oder. He wants to get a circumcision as an adult but wishes he had one as a child. I know for my son the procedure was very quick and he didn’t hardly shed a tear an did not appear to be in any pain afterwards. Not to say the procedure itself wasnt painful. I am happy with my decision and I believe my son will be as well when he is older.

      • Your partner is lucky to have the choice. If he is truly unhappy with his genitals, he can make the adult, informed decision to undergo surgery. He will be able to vocalize his need for pain medication, express his preferences for the amount removed or kept, etc. Maybe he wasn’t quite informed about proper intact care. The struggle is real here in the U.S. because there is so much MISinformation to start with. Too much cleaning of male or female genitals will lead to pain, discomfort and other issues. Maybe you can pass this link along to him.

      • Jenna, I too have known guys who wish they would have had the snip. It is very common for older men to not be able to keep clean and that leads to infections and possible cancer, All women need to understand that not giving them a circumcision might turn out OK but in many cases they have to be done later in years. Yes, it hurts for a boy but it heals quickly and most men seem to be happy that it was done and many wish it was done. I would guess that you made a good choice and would advise women to make sure tat who ever does it is very experienced. Women should always be involved with this matter and do plenty of research pro and con.

        • I am an American baby boomer who grew feeling very self-conscious, because I was usually the only intact male in the locker room. But now I am very glad that my mother refused to permit my circumcision. If the foreskin is normal and retractable, it is very easy to clean the area between the foreskin and the glans. If the adult foreskin is not retractable, in most cases it can be made retractable without surgery. There is no evidence that the circumcision of adult men is common in any of the many countries where infant circumcision is rare or nonexistent. The human foreskin is not a mistake of nature, but is an important in the sexual satisfaction of both genders. Not every circumcision can be performed by an experienced surgeon; somebody somewhere has to be the guinea pig the surgeon uses to acquire experience.
          Most American men have no objections to their circumcision. But they also have no knowledge of what life would have been like had they been left intact at birth. Many circumcised men have penis problems they are not aware of, because doctors and sex ed do not tell them “if you are experiencing X, the circumcision you underwent shortly after birth could be the cause”.

        • I agree with both Jena and Carmen. While there may be some circumcised men who wish they had not been circumcised, there are also many uncircumcised men who wish they had been. Its much more painful and more embarrassing to be snipped as an adult, than be done routinely as a child when the nerves on the excess skin haven’t fully developed, and for this reason, many men continue to live with uncircumcision rather than get circumcised. Women also, it seems, have been taught to say nothing if their true preference is to have their husband circumcised.

          With the circumcision issue, I think women tend to be less emotional than men (who tend to focus on momentary pain, or having the son look like his dad). If circumcision were totally, or at least primarily, a woman’s choice, I think the outcomes would be better for all involved.

          • First of all, it’s absurd and offensive to refer to radical prepucectomy as a “snip.” Circumcision removes up to 50% of the motile tissue protecting the glans (between 13 and 15 square centimeters). When this radical, painful, and unnecessary penis-reduction surgery is performed on neonates, the prepuce is fused to the glans much as one of your fingernails is now fused to the finger beneath it. It must be torn off with a surgical instrument before then being crushed and finally cut away. All this is done with only topic anesthesia which is absolutely insufficient because general anesthesia is contraindicated (unsafe) for newborns. That’s not my idea of a “snip.”

            Your statement “If circumcision were totally, or at least primarily, a woman’s choice, I think the outcomes would be better for all involved” is likewise absurd and offensive. It contradicts the bedrock principle of autonomy that is at the very heart of common law and of the rights guaranteed under the constitution. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Thirteenth Amendment. It abolishes the foundation upon which slavery rested: the idea that one person may own another person’s body and thus subject that other person’s body to harm against the wishes of that person. Do you believe that it should be up to men rather than women to determine whether or not women are subjected to female genital mutilation? How about abortion rights or other matters that affect women’s health and only women’s health: do you support the principle that decisions affecting these ought to be made “totally or least primarily” by men rather than women?

      • How unfortunate for your husband. My husband is intact and has never had a problem. Issues pertaining to being intact are quite rare. To force surgery on your son because of your husbands issues would be akin to removing your daughters breast buds if you developed cancer.
        It is possible that your husband has been over-cleaning. To take several showers a day is odd to say the least. Just like the vagina, the penis is self-cleansing. Constantly washing it changes the pH level, leading to infection. I recommend doing more research in the event you have any additional children. While your son may very well be OK with the decision you made for him, he may also be very upset. Many men are speaking out against the permanent cosmetic surgery forced on them as children. Be prepared for that, and please be more kind than some of the mothers have been in reaction to their children’s very valid complaints.

      • If your partner wants to get his penis circumcised, by all means, more power to him. But because it’s his body it should be his choice, and no one else’s. As for your son, I find it difficult to believe, from your description, that he didn’t “hardly shed a tear.” Most likely he went into shock from the trauma and agonizing pain. And, as with your partner, the ultimate decision on whether to undergo a permeant amputation of an important body part should have been your son’s to make when he turns 18 – not yours when your son was incapable of protesting or defending himself. You may well hope that your son will be happy with the irreversible decision that you made about his body when he is an adult but it could easily go the other way, especially when he realizes that he is being deprived of a significant amount of sexual pleasure. He will never know – mark my words carefully – never know what intercourse was supposed to feel like as nature intended it. There are any number of choices a parent may impose on a child: whom to marry, what to do for a living – but the ability to substitute your judgment for your child’s, especially on so personal a matter as the very configuration of his body, does not mean that it is appropriate or ethical for you to have done so. It wasn’t.

      • I don’t think parents should feel bad about either decision. I will say however, that my father was not circumcised until he was in his 30’s. He claimed hygiene was a huge issue among other things. His surgery recovery was brutal: he was stuck in bed for a whole month. That is why my brother was indeed circumcised as a child.

        • Your father claimed that “hygiene was a huge issue”? He didn’t have access to soap and running water? If that’s true, he had bigger problems than having intact genitalia.

  2. Thank you so much for this article. We chose not to circumcise our son at birth, but about 3 months of age, his penis began to balloon to nearly 3 times it’s size while he was urinating. We were referred to a pediatric urologist who recommended some skin softening/conditioning cream to try to avoid circumcision. Unfortunately, it didn’t work and we elected to do the circumcision at 13 months to avoid an emergency, which was imminent. We are expecting again and are very torn. Circumcision at 13 months was much much harder than it may have been at birth.

    • Definitely just research and do what you feel you must do. The forum I linked to has some other forms for parents and doctors who give advice on intact care. Apparently there is a lot of misinformation in the medical community on this. From what I can tell though, circumcision is actually more painful the earlier it is done, babies just can’t express the pain in the same way. Obviously, I’ve never had the experience so I can’t speak from first hand knowledge though… Good luck and hugs!

      • But around year 1, the procedure requires more anesthetic (even general anesthesia) as opposed to a local injection at the base of the penis.

        • True, because babies are more adept at expressing pain by then. Just because infant circumcision can be done at a day or two old without more intense pain treatment, doesn’t mean it should be. Also, from every report I’ve seen, over half of all doctors use either no anesthetic at all, or only a topical one which would do nothing for the pain of the nerves being cut.

          • Katie, I really respect your website and advice. This is a great article and has enlightened me. I do want to comment on the idea that babies feel intense pain during circumcision and that it would be better to do it later because more medication would be used. I am a registered labor and delivery nurse and I see circumcisions regularly. While I find the procedure highly invasive and almost mutilating, I want to shed light on infants’ responses to it. In the hospital where I work, local lidocaine is injected into the groin area and penis. The first injection usually illicits a short whimper but the lidocaine quickly numbs the area and the infant shows no sign of being in pain. If I were to pinch a baby, s/he would cry and/or pull away, so we can see that infants do show aclear response to pain. For the remaining of this short procedure, an infant may give another short whimper when a tool is used to cut the frenulum but the babies almost always are very easily consoled and again, do not generally show signs the they are experiencing pain. Afterward, I always encourage mom to breastfeed, not only is that extremely comforting but we know that breastmilk releases endorphins that decreases the sensation of pain. Infants rarely show sign of being miserable or inconsolable or even in pain. In fact, babies usually cry more when getting their diaper changed than at any point during the circumcision. Again, I am not supporting circumcision as a routine practice and I agree that it would be better for boys to be able to make their own decision later, however I do not at all agree that the procedure would somehow be less painful later on in life just because more anesthesia would be used. The recovery would be much longer and more painful later on in life despite medications. I base this on my knowledge and experience as an RN. Thank you so much for your article! I am going to ask my husband to read it to help us make our own decisions when it comes to having children.

          • Honestly??? Have you read the insert warning on lidocaine? It warns that it is NOT to be used on children or genitals but somehow it’s okay to use on a newborns genitals? I cringe to hear you matter of factly talk about a tool to cut the frenulum….since this is a normal part of a males penis and has been designed by nature for a purpose which was NOT to be cut! Because an infant might be easy to “console”… no way makes unnecessary genital alteration surgery acceptable or matter of fact. You say you are against it….but it seems you have become jaded in your view of this medically unnecessary surgery performed on infants born with NORMAL genitals…..Just saying.

          • Whether painless or not, cutting off the frenulum should be a sex crime punishable with long prison terms. The frenulum IS the sex organ for males, and cutting it off leaves you sexually impaired. I have had sexual problems my entire life, never being able to wear a condom because of all the damage some smiling quack did to me. I really have no respect for my parents, and what tey allowed you criminals to do to me.

            Watch any video you like, the result is always the same: when men masturbate, they rub the shaft right below the head. This is the part you baby molesters cut off.

    • I’m sorry to deliver this information too late, but ballooning, as long as it isn’t accompanied by any pain, is not really any cause for alarm or medical intervention, in many cases.

      For further reading on this topic, please see:

      • Yes, for any new people reading this, that urologist was sadly misinformed. Ballooning is common and happens as the frenulum begins to stretch, a natural thing to happen in a penis with a foreskin.

        • He wasn’t misinformed. Doctors that mutilate babies are medical prostitutes that gladly cause permanent damage to a non consenting infant, as long as a little money changes hands in the process.

        • Ballooning of the foreskin during urination is a normal and temporary condition in some boys. Ballooning comes as a surprise only to those adults who have no experience with this phase of penile development. Ballooning disappears as the foreskin and glans separate and the opening of the foreskin increases in diameter. Doctors and urologists who advise parents to circumcise because of ballooning are uneducated about the normalcy of an intact penis.

    • Problems with intact penises like what you’re describing (which result in later circumcision), in most cases, occur because of forced retraction. Either the parent during cleaning, or an ignorant doctor during an appointment, retracted the baby’s foreskin when they shouldn’t be touching it. At all.

    • Oh my, ballooning is quite normal. I’m sorry you were misinformed. 🙁

    • From a Norwegian doctor’s site. We have never mutilated (aka circumcised) our sons and therefore have a lots of experience with foreskins. The same information you will fins at all Norwegian docs’ sites, it’s also handed out to parents after giving birth. Your doc is/was ignorant, as most of American docs are when it comes to foreskins Norwegian first, then in English):

      “Blåses opp som en ballong
      Av og til kan det se ut som om tuppen av penis blir blåst opp som en ballong når gutten tisser. Dette er opphav til bekymring både blant foreldre og guttene selv. Ingen fare: dette er normalt, det er urin som midlertidig kommer inn under forhuden, og er på en måte naturens egen måte å gradvis strekke i forhuden.
      Selv om forhuden er såpass trang at han får slik utposning når han tisser, er det ikke nødvendig med mer enn vanlig hygiene, ikke prøv å rengjøre under forhuden.”
      (Inflates like a balloon
      Sometimes it may seem as if the tip of the penis is blown up like a balloon when the boy’s peeing. This rise concerns among both parents and the boys themselves. No worries: this is normal, it is urine which temporarily come under the foreskin, and is a sort of nature’s own way of gradually stretching the foreskin.
      Although the foreskin is so tight that he gets this ballooning when he pees, it is not necessary with more than usual care, do not try to clean under the foreskin.)

  3. Thank you for posting such a well informed and researched page on this sensitive topic. (pun intended!) I think this needs to be something that is discussed within the new or soon to be parents realm.
    I birthed my children at home with a midwife. I chose not to circumcise my son after much research. When we went to our family Dr for check ups he did inform me that I needed to force the foreskin back while he was still young. This caused my son pain, and I could see it would get red and sore when we tried this. I did more research and found that this is NOT necessary. I am very disappointed that our family Dr was misinformed on this topic. I hope that from people like you having open discussions on this topic we can help parents and medical professionals to be more informed. Thank you!

    • I was told this as well… I truly hope as more discussion occurs on this, doctors will also be given the newer/correct information and be able to help parents.

  4. Great article. I had girls but I planned if I had a boy to not circumcise him. As a nursing student I watched a dr perform this procedure on several babies and it was not pretty. He kept saying they don’t feel it they just like to cry. Didn’t believe it then and still dont

    • Just sickening a doctor would dismiss the agony of a little baby…….just sickening!

  5. Wow, that was a great research and writing on your part on both sides of decision. To answer your question on the very bottom of your article.:-)
    “Is this an issue you have had to decide? What influenced your decision? ”
    I did it for one reason because “to be like Daddy”. BUT because of my research and reading horror stories , & knowing friends that had botched or half-done circumcisions, or knowing you can’t be with your baby to watch procedure or comfort right away, we decided to wait eight days and hired a Mohel to come to our house. It was done by an EXPERT & without any toxic drugs, & quick. My baby came to me in two seconds to breastfeed.

    Of course the Vitamin K shot is to help colagulate the blood so we made sure he didn’t get that damaging “vitamin” because I waited 8 days when blood naturally coagulates. God is awesome that way.

    So when my 2nd boy was born we decided the same thing and he came home the next day without any shots or circumcision. After day six after having bowel issues we gound he had an UTI and he was bathed with warm water since birth so we aren’t sure how it happened. He was born with a precipitous labor & delivery and had mecomian(no time for spell check) on him so not sure if that caused it! Anyway so after 2 1/2 weeks in the hodpital because hospital gave him STAPH infection he was circumcized at home by the same Mohel as my older son. They are healthy boys with healthy penises.

    • Actually, they don’t have “healthy penises” The boys are damaged for life. Regarding the the “came to me in two seconds” statement, well, that’s an outright lie.
      1: It’s impossible to it that quick
      2: Without any kind of anesthesia you boy most likely went into chock

  6. Thank you for this. My doctor had encouraged me (since I refused to circumcise) to routinely stretch his foreskin back until it was fully detached when he was still a baby. I did it once, but my gut said it was wrong and I haven’t touched it since. I feel much better about that choice now.

    • We had the same experience with our first son! Our Dr. advising us to pull it back on occasion. Glad we went with our instincts and left it alone. Now we have 3 sons all intact and never a problem with any of them.

    • It’s sad how misinformed medical professionals are about proper care of an intact male child……thank goodness you listened to your instincts….we don’t go poking and prodding around in the vulvas of baby girls, what makes them think that doing it to boys is acceptable?

  7. We have a son…he is 13 months old and circumcised. I did my research, as did my husband, and we weren’t going to, but in the end trusted my family Dr/ped and circumcised. My Dr had said he had alot of intact boys with issues needing a urologist. Thank the Lord my son’s procedure went well…we have had no issues or anything as a result of circumcising. However, after reading your article and making it through less than 10 seconds of a video, we will not be circ’ing future boys. The info I found while pregnant was not as clear and referenced as yours.
    Great article….well written!! Thank you 🙂

    • Isn’t is tragic that the same problems an intact boy might encounter are caused by misinformed medical providers giving potentially harmful care advice for intact boys?

    • I am a 35 year old uncircumcised male and I have been researching this topic quite a bit recently. I have also decided to go ahead with the procedure to become circumcised. I’m finding that there is a huge movement online of the anti-circumcision kind with lots of “research” behind it but almost no personal experiences from anybody who have been both. If you happen to find comments from men who have been both, you’ll find that most prefer to be circumcised. There are a number of reasons, and these are the same reasons I chose to circumcise my son as well.

      The claim on this very article that hygiene is the same for both is laughable. One of my biggest complaints (and my wifes as well) is the odor. I can clean my penis thoroughly and not an hour later I can smell the odor. The later in the day, the worse it gets. This is a big problem, and a turn-off for my wife as well.

      Also, the claim of the one-way valve, and that sex is better uncircumcised, I also do not believe. From day one with my wife I’ve always felt much more pleasure if I could hold down the foreskin while having sex (something that’s not always possible). There were even times where I could ask my wife to hold it down, though not all positions allowed this. The “gliding action” described in this article is the very reason for the problem. Because of the foreskin retraction, this reduces the friction on the sensitive skin of the penis and having sex feels no different than masturbation. Most men who have had sexual intercourse uncircumcised and also circumcised claim a significant increase in pleasure during sex – a camp I’m sure to be in soon.

      It’s easy for an article like this to make parents feel guilty for circumcising their sons. While I think probably leaving it up to them to become circumcised as an adult is not a bad idea, I personally wished I had it done much sooner. I think most of the people making “noise” about the issue are circumcised men who’ve never experienced being uncircumcised and have never had to deal with the problems it comes with. Overall, I don’t feel guilty about circumcising my son, and you shouldn’t either.

      • Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s good to hear it from someone who is intact and can tell us what it’s like.

        • The lengthy comment above (7.2) is from a circumfetishist who trolls pages dealing with this issue and purposefully conflates adults choosing genital surgery for themselves with forcing it upon children.

          He pretends to be just discovering a “huge movement online” yet he says this every time he posts such comments, to set himself up as innocent to the issues being discussed.

          He states that his penis is odorous, so much so that it offends both him and his wife, and yet 80% of the world’s men who are intact, (and their partners) are not voicing a similar complaint. If his penis is so smelly that he (and his wife) feel the need to cut off his foreskin, well that’s their problem, but it certainly does not validate violating children.

          He belies himself saying that he’s about to be circumcised, “a camp I’m sure to be in soon” yet at the same time claiming so much knowledge about what it’s like to be circumcised.

          This is all pure fabrication, a made-up story by a fetishist who tells it so often (over so many years) that all the details are always the same. This is a significant part of this issue, men who fetishize their circumcisions and then slyly use articles like these to promote it, pretending they are about to be cut or have just been cut and now they are circumcision enthusiasts, promoting cutting the genitals of children. It’s evil and deceptive.

      • You’re missing the point of the Intactivist movement entirely. It’s not anti-circumcision, per se. It’s anti-forced/non-consensual circumcision. If you want to get part of your penis amputated, by all means, have at it. That is your choice, and that is exactly as it should be. That is all that this movement aims at. But you should be grateful THAT YOU HAVE THAT CHOICE. My choice was stolen from me and, yes, that is a human-rights violation, just as surely as it would be a human rights violation if I had been born female in a culture that practices FGM and I were subjected against my will to genital cutting.

        To your point about making parents feel guilty, that too, is not what this movement is all about. Yes, that occurs in the rough and tumble of online debate about this topic and, purely as a matter of strategy, I personally prefer moral suasion and education – particularly the latter since the more people actually know about circumcision the more they oppose it. But don’t blame the messenger. You write “its easy for an article like this to make parents feel guilty about circumcising their sons.” That parents should feel guilt for having harmed their sons, violated their basic human rights, and forever deprived them of the opportunity to experience sexual intercourse as nature intended is certainly not the fault of people who tell the truth about circumcision but rather the inevitable effect of that truth upon those unfortunate parents who made the mistake of subjecting their sons to needless genital surgery and now have conscience enough to regret their mistake.

        Finally, to your last comment: “I think the people making ‘noise’ about the issue are circumcised men who’ve never experienced being uncircumcised and have never had to deal with the problems [that come] with it.” First, the very fact that you used the word “noise” and in quotation marks demonstrates that you have a dismissive attitude toward people like me, which is insulting. To dismiss arguments in support of the most basic of human rights – ownership and control of one’s own body – as mere “noise” is profoundly insulting. Do you dismiss the calls to end FGM by its victims as “noise”? The fact that you also use the pejorative term “uncircumcised” also demonstrates that you approach this issue with a cultural prejudice in favor of circumcision because the term “uncircumcised” establishes circumcision as a norm and defines being intact as a deviation from that norm rather than the other way around. As someone who was subjected to circumcision without my consent and thus “never had to deal with the problems that come with [being intact],” I also “never had to deal with” the pleasure and meaning that come with being intact. Do you derive physical pleasure from intercourse? I don’t. I was well into my 50s before it even occurred to me that sexual intercourse was supposed to by physically pleasurable for the male. I just assumed that the only pleasure involved was the conceptual satisfaction of knowing that one was having sex and the physical pleasure of having an orgasm, but it never even dawned on me that the actual act of intercourse itself is supposed to be mutually physically pleasurable for both female and male. You know how I found out what I had been missing my whole life? An intact male opened my eyes when describing the intense sensation of intercourse. That is what people like you get to take for granted and that is what people like me have been deprived of. I will never know what intercourse is supposed to feel like. I will never experience simultaneous mutual physical sensation with my wife during intercourse. Intercourse for me is an empty, unsatisfying experience. That is what parents who subject their sons to circumcision are condemning them to. So when write dismissively of the objections of victims like me your argument carries very little weight because you are writing from a position of privilege. It’s like being poor and listening to a rich person complain about how money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s like being homeless and listening to a home-owner complain about having to repair his roof.

        Every body-part has problems and needs maintenance. The solution is not to just lop off those parts from another person’s body without his consent.

      • Actually, you haven’t done your research properly. There are lots of regretting men out there. Regarding “odors”. Women have much more odors than men will ever get as they have much more bacteria and grit in the nook and crannies between their labia and under their foreskins than men will ever get.

      • Thanks for providing some honest feedback on 4skin. I always feel sorry for the mums who do the research, decide that circumcision is best for their sons, then all the insults and blame they face from ignorant people when they talk about their decision online. As guys, we don’t miss the extra skin (or if we still have it, know we won’t if its snipped), but the nastiness of many people probably introduces a lot of doubt into well meaning wives and mothers.

        If it was alright for the heroes of the bible (and look how many children some of these had), its alright for men today.

        • 1: If they had done the proper research, they would never had done it to their sons. The damaging effect are horrific.
          2: The intactivist are in fact the ones with knowledge regarding this matter, the ignorant ones are the parents, the doctors, nurses and health care workers, the AAP and the CDC.
          3: Guys miss “that extra skin”, just google it. Guys who have had it done later also miss it. The main issue however, is that the guys who have it done later makes an “informed” consent. A baby boy is forcibly mutilated without his consent. Ethics thrown over board.
          4: The “heroes” of the bible did just a little cut, a blood sacrifice, you could hardly see any difference between a cut and a intact penis. Jews pulled the foreskin so they would not look different than the Greeks. That’s why the Jews, after several centuries, started to remove it all. The New Testament says that circumcision isn’t necessary, if fact, it says it’s wrong.

          70-75 % of all the parents of the world don’t mutilate their boys. In the US fewer and fewer boys are mutilated as more and more parents educate themselves.
          By the way, that “extra skin” is muscle tissue covered with a an outer and inner layer if skin. The inner layer contains lots of sensitive nerve endings. A male genital mutilation (MGM, aka circumcision) remove those nerves an by that deprives the boy of about 75 % of his sexual sensation as an adult. Add the keratinization (callusing) of the glans and the sensation is reduced even further. The receiving end, the women, suffers too.

  8. this was an incredibly informative article for me and im so thankful to you for sharing. your blog is one of my favorites and all of the information you present is done in such a clear and thoughtful manner. i have long felt uncomfortable with the idea of circumcision but felt that it was necessary for my child to be ‘normal’ and ‘accepted’ – now that i know that this generation of infants has less males being circumcised than not, i feel so much better about not circumcising when i go ahead and have children. i’m so glad i was able to read this now. thanks!

  9. I want to commend you on a wonderfully written article. I just wish more parents were as well informed as you. As a nurse I’ve seen many circs performed and have always felt very sorry for the poor boys who didn’t have the ONE doc that used at least a local. I’ve always felt that it should be left up to the individual on weather he’d like to be circumcised or not just like little girls and getting their ears pierced (I hate seeing infants with pierced ears, poor things). Well done!!!

  10. I have 3 boys 20, 18 and 11yrs old. They are all circumcised and so is dad. My reasons at the time were to be like dad, had heard that the foreskin could be troublesome and difficult to keep clean. My brother in-law had to be circumcised as an adult because of medical issues. Also my sister (a nurse) had worked in a seniors home and highly recommended it without going into detail. 20 years ago the internet was not what it is today and researching this type of information was nearly impossible for the average person. After reading your post i am not so sure i would make the same decisions…

    • It’s so sad that we listen to well meaning advice that is so misleading. The chances that an intact male will have problems with his foreskin are low….but the fact that someone you know or a family member had a circumcision has nothing to do with perfectly normal healthy babies born with normal genitals! The nursing home myth is one of the worst myths being circulated…….because if you really think it over, elderly women have more genitals issues than elderly intact men, but we don’t hear about those, do we???? Somehow a “problematic” foreskin is memorable….but problematic labia and vaginas are not? I doubt it!

  11. We had our baby and live in Alberta Canada, which doesn’t always have politics I agree with but we are blessed be have the services of Midwives covered under healthcare. We wouldn’t have circumcised anyways, but our midwives had a lot of similar research. One of them did suggest that when your son is a toddler and they begin to play with themselves that the parents should allow it, in the home of course:) She said this will allow the foreskin to loosen and make it easier to keep clean.

  12. Wonderfully well written article! If we are ever granted with a little boy he will remain intact until he chooses other wise!

  13. Very well written. Kudos to you for tackling such a difficult subject. Our son (5) is not circumsised and we have considered it, but 2 different uroligists abd his ped has told us there is no need and have said “why put him through surgery and recovery?” And after research, we too come back to leaving him the way God made him. I love your site and I hope it encourages parents to take a more proactive approach in their child’s healthcare.

  14. Good article and I think that information regarding circumcision is hard to come by. However as a circumcised guy I’d like to let everyone know that most guys are pretty oblivious to the fact. We don’t harbor any deep emotional scars and we don’t have any problems with ‘enjoyment’. Do uncircumcised men experience more enjoyment? Obviously I can’t answer that but if they do I doubt it is by much since there are generation after generation of well performing circumcised men.

    Don’t beat yourself up if you later regret having your son circumcised. Most likely your son doesn’t think twice about it.

    Having said that my wife and I choose to leave our son uncircumcised taking the approach that we need to be convinced of altering our son’s natural state. We couldn’t find anything to compel us to have the procedure done to our son.

    I do encourage fathers and mothers to look beyond tradition to make the decision and the info in this article is a great resource!

    Having said that one thing I should mention is that my wife has caught our son pulling back his foreskin to pee (while standing up of course) to ‘pee like daddy.’ He’s only done it a couple of times and hasn’t done it now in quite a while.

    Also I will add this one additional tidbit that might fall under the TMI category but we’re all adults here right? 🙂

    For me, when it gets cold the penis retracts and causes the foreskin to curl inwards. When this happens pubic hair can get caught and pulled in with it making for an uncomfortable situation that requires ‘adjustment’. I don’t know if this is a problem for uncircumcised guys or not.

    • Not generally a problem- the geometry doesn’t change as much with an uncircumcised penis. I do want to say, I agree that it’s not something to agonize over if you’re circumcised- most men and many “circumcised” women report that they greatly enjoy sex also, and frequently reach orgasm. Where it gets my hair up is doing it to a helpless child.

  15. We did not circumcise our son. My husband is not circumcised and I did read a little during my pregnancy, but did not research it like you did. My main thoughts were very simple–God created the male body this way, so why try to alter it?

  16. As a former registered nurse who assisted with countless circumcisions, I knew in my heart if I ever had a boy, I would never put him through that. It tore my heart up every time. I was later blessed with a son, and he is a young man now and intact. He played lots of sports growing up and never had teammates in the locker rooms comment on his intact status. I never understood the “so he’ll look like daddy” argument either. What child looks like his or her adult parent physically? Great article. I plan on saving this for my children for the sake of any future grandsons in the coming years!

  17. My fiancé and I are discussing this. He wants his future sons circumcised so they will “look like him.” My view is that if my future son wants to have it done, he can make that decision when he can make the decision.

  18. We never saw the need to let someone cut our newborn sons. And husband couldn’t care less that they don’t “look like him”.

  19. I am thankful that my first child was a girl, because at that point I had not researched ANY of the “biggie” topics. She was vaccinated and the works, and I’m sure we would have circumcised as well since we weren’t questioning anything at that point. Our 4th child ended up being our first boy, and thankfully by then I was researching everything. We have opted not to circumcise either of our two boys (5th is a boy as well), and so far have not had any issues with infections or hygiene (including UTI). Great informative article on this sensitive subject!

  20. Great article! I was surprised when my aunt called me in the hospital and actually asked me if I had circumcised my son – who knew people would be so worried about my little baby’s junk! (sorry – penis!) I decided I did not want to do it – I could not imagine putting my little guy through that pain for no good reason! He is 6 years old and has never had any trouble – maybe a little irritation like 2x ever – his step-brothers are circumcised and they get infections all the time – I remind him every day to clean his privates (yes pull back the skin and clean too) just like I tell him to clean his behind, his face, neck and body – we have no issues whatsoever!

    • kim, I think the majority of older women tend to support circumcision because that’s what the medical establishment taught them a few decades ago. I have talked to nurses who still think its best because it was drilled into their heads by schools and doctors.

  21. This is why I’m so glad we didn’t have a boy. I didn’t want to circumcise if Ember had been born male but her father was very adamant about it. It is one of many reasons I don’t really want another baby. I don’t want to put a son of mine through that.

  22. I thought you did a good job addressing this issue (you also know your Bible very well). It was thoughtful and non-judge mental. My first born son was born with penile detortion (crooked penis) and had to be circumcised in order to correct the problem. He was only six months old and they put him to sleep. I thought he did very well and healed fast. There are some medical reason why son kids or grown men need to be circumcised. Other then that, you did an excellent (and tactful) job addressing this issue.

    • A crooked penis doesn’t need a circumcision to be fixed. Another buck in the doctors Pocket. 🙁

  23. Agreed. This was something I never thought about until the sono clearly showing a little boy. You did great, but I’m biased. We decided to wait until our son wanted the procedure. (I basically told my husband I felt strongly that it wasn’t necessary and that he would have to be there the whole time. I couldn’t stomach the idea of watching my son being cut for flimsy reasons. He did some reading on his own and decided our son could decide for himself. We also realized the procedure wasn’t like a Jewish bris so it didn’t make sense for religious reasons either. )

  24. I have one son who is circumcised. The other is not. Their father (the same for both children) is not circumcised either. I was very young when I had the first child and had no idea the doc did not used anesthesia. With the second child, I had graduated from nursing school and had done a 180 on my opinion of the subject by the time he was born. While circumcision is not necessary, I don’t think anyone should beat herself up about deciding to have a child circumcised, even if you are later convinced that it was not the best decision. My kids are all (3) grown now and there are many things I think I did well as a parent. There are also many things I didn’t do well. All are irreversible at this time. Such is life.

  25. Thanks, Katie. All four of my boys were born at home and uncircumcised, but one of them, my third son, had to have the procedure done last February, as his foreskin was closing up and would not retract. Twice we tried a prescribed steroid cream (had to be used 3x daily for 3 months!), and each time we stopped, the foreskin closed up around the glans again. Finally, he really wanted it done–I think he was sick of the hassle and humiliation. It was terribly painful for him, but he is now glad it was done.

    I had another problem with my youngest son getting an infection beneath the foreskin, which subsequently became so tight and inflamed, pus was oozing out and I couldn’t get any colloidal silver on it (what I sometimes use for such things–doesn’t sting at all), but with soaking and huge doses of vitamin C we took care of it without the doctor being needed. It made me consider circumcision, but it is not really a step I willingly take, and I rather risk minor problems than deal with major pain…I don’t know if it is the right thing, so I pray hard for discernment!

    The reason I have written all this is to express that there are valid reasons to have it done, just as there are valid reasons for women not to breast feed, home-birth, cloth diaper and so forth. I have done all the aforementioned, but know of cases that make these things not the best choice for an individual.

    Thanks for discussing a controversial topic!.

    • The foreskin isn’t supposed to retract until it goes by itself. How old was your son?

  26. Tell that to all the elderly men with phimosis….bet its real fun to have your foreskin harden over your urethra so you can’t urinate, then have to be circumcised anyway in a much bloodier and much more traumatic experience than would have occurred as a newborn.

    • I’m not disagreeing that it would certainly be a painful experience then too, but it would be done under general with a lot of pain medication. I’ve seen multiple studies that prove that babies feel pain even more intensely than adults and that pain in these early years can even have a neurological impact, so I disagree that it would be more traumatic than as a baby…

    • Actually you are wrong……because at that age the foreskin has already been naturally retracted and even with a problem that might require a surgical intervention for an elderly man……at least his healthy foreskin was not scraped, ripped and torn from his glans which is what is necessary before an infant circumcision can be performed! There are also other less invasive treatments that should be tried before surgery and if doctors don’t do them first it is very unethical.

    • While that is unfortunate to happen to an elderly man and I sympathize for his pain, at least he became an adult and had the CHOICE whether or not he wanted his genitals to be permanently altered! A grown man can research and rationalize whether or not he wants the procedure in his 20’s, 50’s… whatever. How awesome that he had the choice about what would be done to his own body! A little defenseless baby has no say in the matter and is mutilated for life. My husband has had many complications from his circumcision, including experiencing pain frequently during sex because his skin is too tight. As for the hypothetical man that you are referring to…at least he got to enjoy the full functionality of his penis for the longetivity of his life! And if it ever became an issue (which for most intact men it is not!) then there is still the option for something to be done. For a circumcised male, he doesn’t get the option!
      I am pregnant with a son right now and he will most definitely not be circumcised. We will only choose to have surgery performed on him that is medically necessary and allow the rest ofthe decisions to be made by him.

    • Tell me, how elderly men get phimosis if they haven’t had it before? Why does 75 % of the world’s males live happily with a foreskin without any problems while “all” of the Americans have? Can it be that American doctors haven’t got a clue regarding foreskin?

  27. Great article and I currently have two boys that are circumcised. I regret not doing the research. With my second son the Dr. who performed the procedure did not use any thing for pain and when I raised the question, he said there was no need because there was no feeling in that area. I trusted the Dr. but it bothered me and is the reason why I read this article. If I have any boys in the future, I do not believe I will do it again.

  28. I do not have kids, so as far as that goes, I guess I just do not understand and I am not going to try too.
    However, I understand the other side. My grandfather as well as another gentleman I know, both had to be circumcised in their mid 80’s. They went through months of significant, horrible pain, a lot of complications and side effects due t o not being circumcised. The procedure at this point, was very involved. They were both layed up for weeks afterwards as well. They could not lift anything over five pounds, reach above their heads, bend over, it was crazy.
    Knowing what they went through and the long term complications, if it is done correctly as an infant, good pain meds and like, it might be easier then than when they are older and go through even more.
    I think like most things, all of the sides need to be evaluated. Doctors need accurate information, not just what the drug companies want them to know. An informed decision needs to be able to be made by the parents, not pressured.
    Like I said, I do not have kids, so I cannot say anything there, just the experience of my grandfather and a friend later in life.

    • Remember that if you ever had a friend or family member with breast cancer…..that can as you know be very very painful and even deadly…..but that doesn’t mean we are carving out the breast buds in infants to prevent that pain or death just in case they grow up and might get breast cancer!!!

  29. Thank you for a wonderful article.

  30. We have two boys and both of them are circumcised. I don’t regret making that choice – informed or otherwise. I also know of two young men (early 20’s) who weren’t circumcised both had problems. At least one of them had trouble with the foreskin closing so he couldn’t pee. It took a couple of different rounds of treatment with meds/procedures and several weeks, etc. to fix it. He was in extensive pain as well. IMO, the pain they suffer as babies is minor compared to this. I would do it again.

  31. what an interesting article! one of the best i’ve read on the subject. i really appreciate you covering the historical and religious aspects of circumcision as well. we just had a baby girl, but circumcision came up during my pregnancy since we didn’t find out the gender until birth. i’ll definitely be continuing my research for whenever baby boy comes around.

  32. Thanks for bringing this up – our son is uncircumcised, for many of the reasons that you listed above. We recently had some difficulty with foreskin irritation, and it was kind of amazing the things the nurse and doctor said. The doctor was actually very helpful – it was clear he had done his research, even though it was also clear that he did not have much experience with uncircumcised toddlers. The nurse blew my mind – she was so critical, though her son was uncircumcised as well. She basically made me feel like I had been doing things wrong by not pulling back the foreskin and forcibly cleaning every day! Our situation has now resolved itself, but it sure was an eye-opener. In my area (Seattle) it is apparently becoming less and less common to circumcise, so things may be changing on this issue for our children’s generation!

    • Oh how terrible….if that nurse was doing what she was recommending to you……she was harming her child! How horrid that medical professionals are so very “unprofessional” where normal natural male anatomy is concerned!!!! You never ever retract an intact boy……the median age for natural retraction is about age ten or even later is normal. Be sure to share that piece of information with your uninformed care provider!

  33. Very simple issue.
    For “boys” substitute “girls.”
    There are very rare conditions that require corrective surgery for girls’ genitalia, as well as for boys. Does logic tell you that ALL boys or girls should be “circumcised?”
    If this discussion were taking place in North Africa, there would be passionate diatribes about how girls as well as boys MUST be circumcised- here we see that as an odd cultural backwater.
    If you believe circumcision is that important, for the sake of all that is decent limit your actions to persuasion rather than mutilating helpless children, and by all means go get yourself circumcised if you’re over 21. Yeah- very very few people would do that. For very good reasons.

  34. Thank you for your piece. We did choose to circumcise our son because my father in law , who is a retired MD, had quite a few patients who had to have circumcisions as adults due to UTIs, etc. and he felt that a circumcision would help protect against many issues (although as you point out, it can be a serious procedure and not one to be taken lightly). I did not make my decision based on anything like “he should look like daddy” or “what if kids tease him?” but purely, that this might have more pros than cons for his long term health. I’m still conflicted about my choice but my husband, who was the one who was more pro-circ than I, promised me that men are generally very happy with sex regardless–and that he certainly had no lingering trauma or anger due to his circumcision. I realize this is a tough issue to discuss calmly–but I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

    • I still fail to see the connection between a man choosing a circumcision for who knows why they were getting UTI’s…..and a perfectly normal healthy baby with normal genitals having unnecessary genital alteration surgery. It seems so illogical.

  35. Have you done research on how circumcision can actually be beneficial to man in his elderly years, once diabetes and/or Alzheimer’s has set in? UTI’s often become a concern during this time, and increase with the presence of diabetic neuropathy and mental decline, as it may interfere with the man’s ability to notice an infection, or provide hygiene care to himself to minimize infection. My father was diabetic, suffered from Alzheimer’s, and spent at least four to five major episodes in the hospital each year for several years due to UTIs. I was told, by the director of nursing at the last nursing home that my father was at, that many elderly diabetes/Alzheimer’s patients die from a constant barrage of UTI infections they contract as they age. It is very difficult for nurses and 24hr. caregivers, particularly due to the current shortage of nurses, to keep abreast of patients’ hygiene; this is especially true for the growing population of elderly male baby boomer patients. My father’s quality of life was severely diminished by UTIs, and many times, his mental decline was blamed on the Alzheimer’s, until someone finally discovered that he had a UTI, and prescribed him antibiotics. His cognition improved each time. Sadly, he had also had become antibiotic-resistant, and the medical establishment was sometimes very resistant to giving him regular cultures as a means of maintaining appropriate medication procedures to manage the UTIs. My father was not circumcised, and I wonder if he would have suffered fewer energy-depleting UTIs as an elderly man,had he been circumcised as an infant. Perhaps it would have given him a better quality of life, and would have even allowed him to live longer. Could circumcision, in all actuality, also reduce medical costs, for both the caregiving families and society in general, by reducing the amount of UTIs that elderly, diabetic Alzheimer’s patients suffer? Just a thought.

    • I just wanted to let you know that my grandfather also suffered from recurrent UTIs his last few years of life. He had significant mental alterations with them, so much so that he had CTs, MRIs, and a spinal tap. He was diabetic, died in a hospital hallway waiting for a chest X-ray after being taken to doctor for yet another UTI. He WAS circumcised, so don’t beat yourself up with the “what ifs.”

      • I am so sorry for both of you and for what your grandfathers suffered. While there is a rare chance of complications much later in life, diabetes and Alzheimer’s bring their own set of complications, circumcised or not. This is certainly a procedure that can be chosen down the road, so I am just suggesting proper research before subjecting all babies to it at such a young age.

    • I still don’t see the logical connection between a sick elderly person with health problems and a perfectly normal healthy baby having his normal genitals surgically altered…..there is NO logic to this line of thinking. By the way… father was diabetic and intact…..and passed away in a elderly care home facility and NO ONE ever suggested that he be circumcised. He died as he was born…..with normal genitals.

  36. Great article!! I didn’t know that and I’m shocked to know the reasons why it was performed! When I was single, I’ve read (or heard, can’t remember) that uncircumcised man are more prone to infections. Then I had a coworker that for medical reasons had to be circumcised (he was around 30) and was very painful.

    So I decided that when having a child he will be circumcised at birth. Years later when I was pregnant I asked the insurance company if they cover it. They told me no, and the girl said: “don’t put your baby under that unnecessary pain at that age”. I thought she said so because they don’t pay for it (unless for medical reasons).

    My husband who is uncircumcised but believed my words that it was best for him and was willing to accept it but we decided to ask my Dr and he advised not to, he explained it was not true that he’ll get more infections, etc. we trust him a lot. So, we decided no to circumcise my baby. But the Ped did tell us to pull his foreskin back to help getting it loose. I didn’t like to do it but his Ped always said he didn’t feel pain for doing so. It was good for him right? So we gently did it for a year. Sad to know it was not necessarily but at least we did not circumcise him.

    It’s great to read this type of articles. I think there is a lot of misinformation on this regard!

  37. There are a few things that we just do in my family we breastfeed or babies and we don’t circumcise our boys. My husband and I talked about it since he is circumcised and I tried to talk him out of having our oldest done, his argument was that the boys would wonder why they were different luckily 20/20 happened to do a show that showed a circumcision and once he saw them clamp onto the baby’s foreskin he turned green and looked at me and told me we’d never do that to our boys. His next question was why would his mother have done that to her sons! We’re old enough (36 & 39) that his brothers and him would have missed out on pain meds. I’m so proud of my sister and sister-in-law and younger cousins who continue to make this choice.

  38. Very well written and interesting article! It is so interesting to see the wast cultural differences in this area. I am Danish and here it is just an unthinkable thing to do if you are ethnically Danish. It might be something you consider if you are of muslim or jewish decent, and even then I doubt it is the norm.

  39. I just want to say that I wish I had done the research on how the procedure was done prior to having our son. I have 3 girls so I guess I was unprepared when it came time to make that decision. I had the procedure done on the 7th day since insurance doesn’t cover a “cosmetic” procedure. My husband and I were in the room during and all I can say is as I watched I cried for my son. I am sure that he does not remember it now but I will always have that memory and both my husband and I walked out horrified at how barbaric the procedure is. Our doctor whom I love dearly I am sure did exactly what he was supposed to but man at the time I never felt more helpless for my child and had we chose to have more children we would not have done it again. My husband is circumcised and he does not remember it either. I wish that we would have done the research before.

  40. Both my sons are circumcised and to be honest I’m still unsure why I ever agreed to it. Maybe it was Dr. pressure, family pressure, I don’t know. Maybe because unlike any other aspect of pregnancy/delivery/bringing home baby I never really dug into the topic and really researched – I just trusted what husband/father in-law/doctor told me. Even though it was against my natural instincts. Every time I read an article about circumcision I feel like a complete waste of life – I really really regret not going with my gut about the decision to circumcise. I practiced attachment parenting in every other way …. so yeah those of you who say “I don’t know how a mother could do that to her son” (like some kind of criminal) – uh huh, yeah me neither. But I did and I regret it, however I can’t take it back (or rather put their foreskins back on!) so I will continue down my path of parenthood, making decisions. Some bad, most good, lots of great….. but I will never ever go against my gut again in any aspect of life. Mine or my children………. Lesson learned.

    • *hugs*. Thank you for sharing your story and it sounds like you are an awesome mom and your boys are lucky to have you!

    • My story is similar to yours. I only have one son (possibly 2…not sure what the little bean is yet. :D) I spent so much time during my pregnancy researching pregnancy, birth, and delivery, etc, that I only minimally researched the circ issue. I based my decision on misinformation I got from hubby, MIL, and a poorly informed pediatrician (who only told me the benefits and ignored the risks of circumcision). Sending my baby to the nursery to be circumcised went against my very strong gut feelings that it was wrong. Unfortunately my son now has a couple small skin bridges where the scar healed incorrectly to the glans, which will most likely need to be surgically repaired when he gets older. I thank God that he didn’t have a more serious complication from the procedure. For weeks, I really beat myself up over the choice to circ my baby boy, and I still get a bit weepy about it when I share my story. I hope and pray that it doesn’t cause issues for him in the future, and if we are blessed with any boys in the future, they will remain intact, just the way God made them. 🙂 Thank you, Wellness Mama, for presenting the facts in a charitable manner. This way will be much more effective at informing parents, than using words like “genital mutilation.” That tends to make people more angry and defensive, rather than open to learning more about the risks.

  41. Thank you for this very well thought out and informative post. It is important for parents to know all the facts before they make such an important decision for their child.

  42. Thank you so much for posting this and basically combining all the research in one place. I appreciate your blog so much!

  43. I think that taking away the option of circumcision, as many want to do, is no good either. I had a hard time with the decision to have my son circumcised, but with our family history on both sides of men having problems later in life and then having to have it done as adults I considered it medically necessary to have done. I had to wait til he was about a month old for it and he did have local anesthesia and did not seem to care either way about what happened. Afterwards the dr said that his foreskin was so thick that he likely would have had the same problems as other men in the family and it was better to have done it now, so if I have any more sons I will want to have them circumcised also and want the option to be there.

    • Thanks for an interesting perspective, I wonder though… would you feel the same way about wanting the option for female circumcision to be available for those who feel it is necessary (cleanliness or religious reasons?)

      • I have never researched female circumcision so I don’t know enough about it to know if there are any medical reasons for it. I do not think cleanliness is a good reason for male or female circumcisions, so if that is the reason behind it perhaps it should not be available. Religious reasons are probably a separate issue as it is not a dr performing the circumcision.
        Where I live it was hard to find a doctor willing to perform the circumcision, and when we found one we had to pay because it is considered cosmetic, but it should not be that way when something is medically necessary, male or female.

        • Mandan- what AWESOME and enlightened area do you live in that it’s hard to find a doctor to perform a circumcision? We need to replicate rant across try country.

          Although you “feel” your sons circumcision was medically necessary, it was not. At least not based on a “possibility” of future problems. Thick foreskin? Cut it off! Thick eyelids? Cut “em off! Madness.

    • A man needing a circumcision is very, very rare. In most cases this is because of improper care as an infant (for instance retractions and washing under the foreskin with soap). Most of the cases can also be cured without surgery at all, some can be treated with a slight cut. In rare occasions a circumcision is needed. American doctors are mostly ignorant regarding foreskins, and they don’t know how to treat them correctly. Have a look at this one:

  44. It should never be done on a baby! Muslims have to do it culturally but educated parents do it when the child is about 9-10 with his consent and with painkiller. I know for a fact that it stops bonding mother and baby and subconsciously baby thinks the excruciating pain and the experience is his mother’s fault.

    • A nine or then year old should not give his consent as he is not aware of the consequences. He most likely are not told the truth about what damage it does, and that it in the worst case might kill him.

  45. First, I want to say I just found your website a few days ago. I am so glad I did! Thank you so very much for all of the helpful information you are getting out there. I have already ordered supplies to start making personal care items. I can’t wait to get started. On to my question…
    Both of my sons are uncircumcised. The first was a home birth and the second didn’t go as planned! We went to a homeopathic doctor for them up until my second was about 6 months. He always told us, as you said, not to retract the foreskin. We no longer live where there are any homeopathic doctors nearby.
    I took both my boys to a regular M.D. just a few weeks ago (one I have personally gone to before and been happy with) and she said we should pull the foreskin back at least during bathing. She did so while examining my younger, now 29 months, and he kept saying, “Hurt, Mommy, hurt!”, after the incident. He wasn’t crying, but he said the same thing after bath time. So, I’m thinking it’s not a good idea. My older, who is 4, was fine and didn’t complain of discomfort. He did it himself though. We’ve only done this once. Now, I’m worried and hope no harm was done!
    Through your research on the topic, you’ve found that it definitely shouldn’t be done until they initiate it on their own? That’s what I had thought of it, but I wasn’t sure when recently told otherwise. The current doctor said it could be too tight to pull back if you don’t start doing it now, which could cause future problems. Have you ever heard of that? Any input would be great!

  46. I’m not a parent, but this was a very informative article, I learned alot. I think this is a very important topic and I wish more people would really think long and hard about this subject. My thought on it is that God doesn’t make mistakes. If He didn’t want men to have a foreskin, then He wouldn’t have made them with one.

  47. My husband is one of those men who gets very angry at his parents for circumcising him. He frequently experiences pain after sex and sometimes gets dermatitis on the penis. Needless to say, any boys we have will not be subjected to it.

  48. Good for you Mama for not circumcising your boys! I don’t have any children (I’m a little young for that!) but if I do ever have any sons, I’m not circumcising them, and I come from a religion that practices circumcision.

  49. I know this is an older post but I wanted to share what my son experienced and how it has affected him. He is not circumcised. My partner and I disagreed on this, and in the end I told him that if he thought it was worth the $400 we would have to come up with that I would consent so long as anesthesia was used. Thankfully times were tight and he couldn’t.

    Fast forward 9 months and my son ends up with a spot of blood in his diaper after having “nakey time” crawling around on the bed. Concerned because I know the risk of UTI is increased with an intact foreskin, we visited the pediatrician. They gave us the bag to put in the diaper to collect a urine specimen. It (of course) was not a clean catch so the specimen came back indicating infection. The doctor recommended catheterization and despite my gut feeling that it was unnecessary I let them. It was horrible to watch them pin down my 9 month old and force a tube into the most intensely sensitive part of him. The culture came back negative.

    During the exam the doctor noted that his foreskin retracted easily and that it was a little early, but not unheard of. I knew the instant he said that (which was after the procedure of course) that what had happened that day on the bed to cause the spot of blood in his diaper was the point his foreskin tore free.

    My son, who was easily diapered before, started crying at every diaper change and at nearly two years later he still has trouble. Once he could verbalize it (around 2 years old, and over a year after what happened) he told me “the doctor hurt my peepee.”

    For anyone who thinks babies don’t know, or don’t remember I can assure you they do. I was scared by the possibility that something was wrong with my baby (I was just barely recovering from post-partum pre-eclampsia that nearly cost my life) but I will never second guess my gut feeling again!

    • Wow… my heart goes out to you! Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  50. That’s odd. I’ve never had any kids, but of all three of my boyfriends, the one that wasn’t circumcised smelled all the time down there and had to shower twice a day because of it. It was a shame and a hassle. He also overcompensated with cologne everywhere, and that constant smell might also be why he didn’t get into sports and why he had self-esteem issues. You may say that that wasn’t why he smelled (which would be up for debate), but it certainly didn’t help. Also, I think abortion is a far more important topic to be concerned with, the hurt of infants, the pain that they might feel, than circumcision.

    There may be some guys that wish they had that flap (for reasons I don’t know), but what if they wish their parents had circumcised? They can go and get it, but I bet they’ll remember the pain now. If you do or don’t do it, you risk disappointing the kid. I won’t feel bad when I circumcise my son(s). It just makes sense to do so for me. I’ve never had problems thinking outside of the box either, but I think people in the health realm make this into a bigger issue than it should be. Also, as for the Bible being just a little nip, I don’t know if I’d agree with that since there is a story where a city was deceived and under siege on the third (if I remember correctly) day after all the men in the city were circumcised, and they couldn’t even fight. It doesn’t sound like just a little clipping.

    • Amber sounds like that boyfriend had a chronic yeast problem. Women get that too. Hence the smell.

  51. Well done, but the facts about penile cancer are still wrong. The increased risk of penile cancer belongs entirely to the small percentage of men with phimosis. In last year’s AAP statement the AAP acknowledges that cut men are twice as likely to have invasive penile cancer once phimosis is treated. Today phimosis is easily treated and most of the time surgery is no longer needed. We need to stop saying that intact has a higher cancer risk -it is not true.

  52. Thank you so much. This article is crucial and needs to be more publicized. I really appreciate the work you are doing -it is contributing to a better world. Thank you!

  53. I deeply regret having our son circumcised. It breaks my heart that it was done and I wish more than anything I could take it back. Though I did basic research, I just let the doctors kind of make the push for it because it was sort of expected that we would. Now whenever friends and family ask me what we did, I am always very honest that while we had our son circumcised, given the chance, I would never have done it and if we ever had any more boys, I’d never get it done to them. Thank you for sharing this and spreading the word on it.

  54. I am one of the mothers who deeply regret circumsizing my 2 sons. I wish so badly I could undo the decision I made. Both my sons (age 4 and 5 mos) had awful complications. My youngest had a horrifying reaction to the lidocaine swelling, blistering..thank god it healed! My first born had to have stitches to control bleeding. It still breaks my heart when I think about their pain. I work in the medical field and infact assist in circumcisions regularly, and therefore thought its “just what you do with boys” 🙁

  55. Usually I just go by without commenting. This has actually influenced me so much that I just cannot keep it to myself.
    I’m European. Circumcision isn’t a standard practice in Europe. It is actually very rare. Mostly practiced by Muslim immigrants and Jewish minority. Therefore when anyone brings it up here people don’t always understand the question. If you would ask even my MIL if she had her four sons circumcised she would give you a funny look and just say “Wablieft?”. A friend of mine who spent most of her life in US had a son 7 months ago. He’s not circumcised and haven’t had one health problem because of that. If you have a hospital birth and wish to have your son circumcised in Belgium you have to make special arrangements and even then it’s not possible to do it right at birth. When we were pregnant with our daughter, way before we knew her sex someone asked us in a joke if we are going to circumcise a baby if it’s a boy. We all had a good laugh. This is just to show how different traditions influence those earliest choices one makes for their babies.
    (On a side note, it could also be because of the province we live in. The hospitals are supporting natural birth here, the whole country is encouraging and supporting breastfeeding. Therefore standard medical practices aren’t such a standard here.)
    If there is no health benefit, would you like to start your little one’s life with an unnecessary dose of pain, shock and distrust in people being harmless? I know I wouldn’t. The procedure itself can be done later in life if there is such a need. To get back what is lost can be risky, even life threatening and in the end is just another medical procedure that could have been avoided.

    • This is really helpful to hear your perspective outside the US. I live in the US and just yesterday had a prenatal appointment. I had checked off on the sheet a few weeks ago all the things I wanted more info about – anesthesia, circumcision, traveling while pregnant, etc. The nurse practitioner told me if we wanted the circumcision it would be done 10 days past birth. I mentioned this article, and while she would not say if she agreed or disagreed, she mentioned that most of the world’s men are uncircumcised. I could tell she hoped I would not do it. It left an impression on me. So much of our routine medical intervention has a bad side to it. Ultrasounds are another. I only recently found out they do not know the long-term effect of ultrasound effects (cavitation) on cell division, and I was really nervous to bring this up to my doctor and try to refuse all unnecessary ultrasounds. He said, “Amy, if you have the patience and fortitude to wait it out, I would say it’s definitely the best thing for your baby.” That shocked me! They never reveal any risk when you’re undergoing ultrasounds. Like all of our medical best practices, including circumcision, they wait for you to find out on your own and then agree with you that you should decline these things. It’s very surprising.

      • That is correct, 70-75 % of the world’s males are intact. 🙂 More and more boys in the US are intact too as more and more parents educate themselves.

  56. This was very informative but heart breaking. It just seems obvious to me that the human body would evolve fine on its own without the need for such invasive surgery. I also felt very strongly about the subject my whole life, just hearing that its more hygienic seems definitely not good enough of a reason to me. Glad you wrote this article, and thank you.

  57. I worked in a hospital in the UK (where circumcision is not done in hospitals unless medically necessary) and every day boys between the ages of 5-8 would come in to have circumcisions doneto correct problems with foreskin. I had my son circumcised at 10 days old and dont regret it.

    • Rubbish! If you look at the statistics for Britain only 3,8 % were circumcised in 2000, mostly Jews and Muslims. That would have been more now as there are more muslim immigrants. Anyhow, the statement “every day” just have to be incorrect.
      1: Docs would have tried many other means before circumcision.
      2: Was the hospital in an area with a muslim majority.
      3: Were the docs muslim?

      Here in Norway circumcision is very rare among non Jews and muslims as the docs know how to treat a foreskin. I find your story not plausible. I’m sad for your son though, he is damaged for life.

  58. wow, this wasn’t a subject I even wondered about. My mind is completely changed after reading it. I hope my husband will feel the same, and read your article, when I bring it up. We are 10 weeks pregnant with our first. Kudos for such a thorough treatment of this subject. I am a technical writer by trade and it’s really important for me to look at everything about a topic before deciding, and this was EVERYTHING! You left no stone unturned and it was very gently written, thanks for that. I read through a lot of the comments too which were also really helpful. You are right… one of the men is very bitter about his circumcision and mentioned sexual sensation. I was prepared to circumcise my child for both “religious” and “medical” reasons, but I see how the procedure would have been VERY different and more as a gesture rather than hyper-invasive back in the ancient days when it was established. I kind of pride myself for questioning everything, and I really missed the boat here. Thank you for the courage to post about something difficult that most people accept at face value. It is pervasively accepted in our society; I think this will change as others are informed.

  59. My 3 year old son is intact and we never even considered circumcising him. He never had any problems and we never retracted it for him – He takes care of it himself.

    My husband, who’s circumcised, suffers from Erectile Dysfynction. He wished he would have had a intact penis. He doesn’t even have enough skin left for it while it’s erect.

    From a womans point of view. Having sex with a circumcised man hurts, I never had to use lubricants in my life until I had intercourse with a circumcised man.

    Furthermore, circumcision is banned in Denmark and Sweden.

    Don’t be cruel – Leave the penis alone!


  60. Great article! When our son was born 15 years ago, we decided not to put him through the surgury after months of researching. We had a great doctor that shared lots of ready material so we could make our own minds up. But there were plenty of people we knew that gave us lots of greif over our decision. Even the nurses at the hospital were horrible to me for not having it done to my son, they had me in tears but I would not back down. Well, he has never had any kind of problems with not being circumcised! He says he’s glad we didn’t do it to him!

  61. I had my first 2 boys circed without thinking, I did it because it’s what I was ‘supposed’ to do. When we found out our 4th was a boy, I really started thinking about it and hubby and I had a deep discussion about it. He was not circumsised and was very embarrassed as a kid and even contemplated taking scissors to it himself. He felt very strongly that our boy be circed. I feel very passionate that each family do as they feel is right for them and that if circing is chosen, make sure it is done by someone who is good at what they do.

  62. Thanks for a great article! My husband and I decided not to circumcise our son. I was against it from the moment we knew we’ll have a boy, and my husband became convinced after making his own research. We live in Israel and here not circumcising your child at least looks strange to everyone. Everyone stars to scare you that your child will have problems in the school just for being different, and that’s the reason that many parents circumcise even when they don’t want to. I wish more parents will research this topic before processing this barbaric practice.

  63. After reading your article I just wanted to bring up 2 points that I have to disagree with.

    Point 1. — 570 Mohammed born “already circumcised” supposedly giving rise to the rule of circumcision among Moslems, the largest group of circumcised men in the world today. Further information.

    I clicked on the “further information” link and it mentioned nothing about this “already circumcised” statement so I don’t know where this information is coming from. I have studied the life of Muhammad (as I am Muslim) and I have never heard of this. My knowledge is very limited but in that tiny knowledge I have of him this topic was never discussed. I know Muslims do circumcise boys at the 7th day of life following in the tradition of Abraham. It says that Muslims wait until age 6 to 10 years old. If that does happen, it is not Islamic it is their regional custom.

    Point 2. — 7th-11th century Islamic armies overrun much of Middle East, central Asia, northern Africa and Spain. Indigenous cultures swamped and rule of circumcision enforced on local populations by Moslem conquerors. Some Christians excused because they are “people of the Book”. Islam eventually reaches India, Malayan peninsular and Indonesian archipelago, bringing circumcision in its wake.

    There is no source listed for this comment. This seems highly unlikely since Muslims cannot impose their religion on non-Muslims even if they are the rulers of the country. Also if a person chooses to enter into Islam and circumcision is an obstacle for them and it will turn them away from Islam, then they do not have to do it.

    I have no comment on Circumcision itself except to say that I feel it is a personal choice that parents can come to make to, similar to breast feeding vs bottle feeding, Pro-Vaccine vs Anti-Vaccine. You should be free to choose what is best for you and your family. And everyone makes different choices.

  64. We chose to circumcise our son. I personally was not for the decision but given the research that I had done and shared with my husband. The jury was out. I’m not the one with the penis. I allowed him to make the call. Lucky for us, it was a small clip. Praise the Lord. My husband informed me he had no recollection of the “prccedure”. I really had no grounds to put my foot down on the issue. I’m not some push over wife either I have won many battles in the terms of health decisions for our children. I refused to be there when they performed the procedure and I told my husband that he had to stay and snuggle him before he came home. (I have twins and they were premature and spent quite some time in the hospital) I don’t regret our decision but I feel like I will always be on the fence for it.

    I saw a comment about long term effects of ultrasounds on children. This is a really sensitive issue for me personally. My twins’ lives were saved because of multiple ultrasounds. If they have long term effects I will take them. My son had a two vessel umbilical cord. He was growing well and it could have caused serious complications of pumping blood out of his body. We could have lost him. Granted, we made a medical decision and had them delivered at 29 weeks and went through grueling hell of not having them home for three months. I don’t believe that getting ultrasounds just because you want them is a great idea but when it comes down to medical intervention to make sure a child is safe. Absolutely, I am for them.

  65. I had my sons circumcised, and have never once regretted it. They are ages 21-27. It was purely cosmetic. My eldest has actually said he is extremely grateful that he was done.
    My second husband is uncircumcised and has had erectile problems from 40 years of age.

  66. This was the very best anti-circumcision article I’ve read. Actually I think it’s the only good one I’ve read! We circumcised our son, for the often-cited reasons you mentioned. I don’t regret it, but I will say that if I’d read your article back then, I might have reconsidered.

  67. I think you are brave for taking on this subject. You did a great job of presenting the information. I did not circumcise our two youngest sons and have often wondered if I made the right decision. I believe I did, Thanks for the information!

  68. I am SO glad to see this article.
    I absolutely love your site, and debated whether I wanted to know your views on circumcision. I was honestly expecting to be very disappointed. I’m pleasantly surprised.
    We did not “choose” circumcise our son because that is not our choice to make. The only person that should make such an intimate decision on cosmetic amputation is the person being mutilated.
    I love how you elaborated on so many points in such an informative and respectful manner. I’m sure that many parents who were once for MGM will change their minds after reading this.
    I am disheartened by the number of responses I see defending their “choice”. The only thing that I hate more than circumcision is the justification from parents after being exposed to the truth.

  69. I realise this is an older post, and that a lot of people wont read to the bottom of the comments so may not see this, but I wanted to post my opinion. I don’t have a son, and if I did, I would never circumcise.

    I used to be an escort (dark days)… and I met a lot of men, both cut and uncut. Whilst I met the occasional man with hygiene issues, I can assure you it was not limited to the uncut men. Poor hygiene is due to just that… poor hygiene. Which, by the way, can be the result of too much cleaning, the same as too little.

    Escorts aren’t used for sex as much as they are as therapists. People spill out their darkest secrets to us with no fear of judgement or word getting out. People often spend far more time talking than doing anything sexual and you would be surprised just how much gets discussed. Everything from family issues to money problems to arguments with the in-laws to health. Nothing is off topic or too taboo. In fact, escorts are some of the best therapists out there!

    In all my years escorting I only met one uncircumcised man who wished to be circumcised, and that was because he had a naturally tight foreskin and retraction was painful. I have, however, met many, many circumcised men who wished they had not been circumcised. Of course, I have also met plenty that were fine with the way their penis was, but many were not.

    Even if I had never done any research on the matter, the reactions from the men I used to see was more than enough to put me off.

    I live in England, where circumcision is relatively rarely practised, there was only one boy in my year at school (about 400 pupils) who was (I only know that because he was taunted mercilessly because of it unfortunately). If your only reason for circumcision is so that he looks like his peers… I would reconsider.

    I understand that for some people, circumcision isn’t really a choice, it is a social and/ or religious norm. For those people, if circumcision is a must for you, then I would urge you to do it on the 8th day when the clotting side of things is in your favour, with adequate use of anaesthetic, and use a suitable pain relief option for the following few days regardless of how ‘in pain’ the child may or may not look. As an adult who lives in continual pain… you would be surprised just how much the human body can tolerate, and just how much pain I need to be in before I physically cry out. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it is different for a baby.

    Just reading through the article, I was pleased by how unbiased it was. Whilst I hope I have made it clear that circumcision is something I am fundamentally against, in the interest of being completely unbiased there should be one or two websites ‘for’ circumcision in that list at the bottom there?

    Personally it boggles my mind that female circumcision is illegal when male circumcision isn’t.

  70. This says it all for me: “Death is a possible outcome. Every year more than 100 American babies die as a result of their circumcision.7”

    Having worked in the medical and pharmaceutical field for more than 15 years – I see it as another “item number on medicare”, that is the doctor gets paid for this procedure. Luckily in Australia it is more like Europe and England, not that common. Unfortunately the USA’s health care system is driven by private insurance and so many procedures are done which are not necessary. For example: The USA is finally catching up with Europe and also Australia in doing radial artery cardiac procedures which means patients stay in the hospital 1 to 2 days and can immediately walk, in the USA they are still doing it through the groin where a patient is more likely to bleed, has to be bed ridden for 6 hours and has a long hospital stay.

    Needless to say my son is not circumcised.

  71. Just found this post. I’m surprised I didn’t find this sooner (when researching circumcision for my son)! Great article. My favorite excerpt:

    “…the issue comes down to whether we (as parents) have the right to make a permanent medical decision (that some consider a human rights issue) for a child who is not even yet old enough to talk or verbalize pain when there is no clear medical need…”

  72. When you describe someone else as “uncircumcised” you are validating male genital mutilation as normal and acceptable. Please use the term “intact” instead.

  73. The one “debate” my husband and I had through all three pregnancies was over circumcision. I didn’t think it was medically necessary while he wanted his son to look like him. I recall reading articles on FGM over the years and asking myself if it was so detrimental to women, why was it allowed for men? And then, of course, there were the horror stories (shudder) …

    Anyway, my husband and I ended up having three daughters so circumcision was never an issue, thankfully, since we each still have the same opposing viewpoints. Thank you for this article. You’ve done a lot of good here. At least parents can make an informed decision rather than just going with the flow.

    • And now that you have daughters, do their genitals match yours? Their vaginas? Their labia? How often do you compare? Is that even a concern? It sounds crazy, right? Just as crazy as men who feel that their sons’ penises need to match their own, which of course is not the case, even with circumcised penises. Our genitals–just like other of our body parts–do not match the body parts of our parents or even our siblings, we are not clones of one another. When our children are born and their noses aren’t identical to ours, do we take them to the plastic surgeon to have them fixed? When men are asked how often they’ve actually compared their penises to their father’s genitals, if they’re truthful, they will say never and it actually sounds a bit creepy, to be comparing genitals. Cut or intact, an adult’s penis will NEVER look like the penis of a child and unless a newborn is born with a very large penis that has pubic hair, this whole notion of matching penises is ridiculous. A mature and loving father will be more concerned about protecting his children from harm, not whether their genitals match. Good thing that you had girls.

  74. Thank you!!! For doing the research you did and for sharing this information. We are expecting our first right now and this is a topic I have struggled with. I feel maybe my struggle has been not with what I feel our decision should be but with validating it amongst others. This article has definitely offered the support and facts that we needed. Again- THANK YOU!!

  75. We are Jewish so both of our sons were circumcised on their 8th day. If I was not Jewish I would find a Jewish Moyle which is basically an ordained pediatrician to perform the circumcision. These doctors perform hundreds of circumcisions a year and are great at what they do.

    • Or you could do what lots of us Jewish folks are doing these days and that’s having a Brit Shalom to welcome baby. Your baby boy is still Jewish even though he didn’t have his penis cut. There are tons of Jews against circumcision.

      • Exactly; my 25 year old Jewish son is intact. Circumcising a child is like telling the Creator that it made a mistake that we need to fix. Insanity.

    • They are great at genitally mutilating boys.

  76. That video was the most barbaric heartbreaking thing I’ve seen. I couldn’t even watch it all. Why on earth do they do that with nothing for pain?? I’m glad I didn’t have a son, without having known what the baby went through I might have had it done. Thank you for the information.

  77. I really get both sides of this issue. I try not to judge either way. I understand wanting to leave the choice up to your child, because it is their body. I understand not wanting to do something permanent, and potentially painful to your sweet innocent baby! I understand the appeal of leaving your child the way he was naturally born! I don’t understand cutting your child for purely cosmetic reasons.
    All that being said, my boys ARE circumcised. Maybe you will think my reasons are selfish. I can’t help that, and I can’t undo what I’ve done, but I am satisfied with our choice, even though I can see the other side. These are the reasons my boys are circumcised:
    1) My husband worked in an ER for several years and uncut children, and especially grown men came in frequently for penile pain and treatment due to really unpleasant infections beyond just run of the mill UTIs. You can teach your sons proper hygiene, but there is no guarantee that good hygiene will be enough, or that they will implement what you have taught them throughout life.
    2) I was molested by a teenaged boy (not a relative!) when I was a very young child, and forced to perform oral sex. This went on for nearly 3 years. He was uncut. I literally have a phobia of uncut penises. When I see one in a photograph or whatever, fear rises up in my throat to the extent that I have to hold back a scream. Just the thought of the smell of smegma, turns my stomach. I just couldn’t face the thought of it. I couldn’t face the thought of associating my sweet baby boys with that horrible experience. Maybe that makes me a selfish coward, I don’t know, but I see it as a much more valid argument than many in favor of circumcision.
    As a side note, one of my children actually slept through his circumcision.

    • I’m sorry for your experience with that boy, it shouldn’t have happened. However, I feel that you were tkainf your revenge on your sons’ foreskins?

      Did you see your son sleep during his genital mutilation or were you told? What kind of anesthetic did he get?
      Do you know that you have more bacteria and grit (for instance smegma) in the nooks and crannies between you labia and under your foreskin than a man will ever get? Which means that you are more “smelly” than a man. 😉

      I really don’t know why Americans have all these “nasty infections” while the rest of the intact world doesn’t have them? Why do American foreskins turn against their owners. Is America a magical place or something? Do you know that the difference in UTI rates between a cut an intact male is about 0,02 %, which is no significant at all? Do you know that the UTI rates for females is four to nine times higher than for a male? How do you treat females? not with a genital mutlilation.

  78. God would not have commanded a barbaric practice and the 8th day is important as well. It means cutting away not just drawing blood, so.not buying that it is a different procedure. The men who were circumcised in the Bible (as adults) took a long time to heal, hence this was a good time to attack. I have never met a male who was uncircumcised that did.not wish he had been, not saying they don’t exist! But I find its usually women or circumcised men who are against circumcision. Again, not always the case, but just my experience. Glad I had my boys circumcised. I left the decision to my husband since he has first hand experience and he said “definitely.” I have a lot of regrets but this is.not one of them. If.others don’t want to, fine, but don’t be so critical of those who, especially for religious reasons.

    • “God” also commanded for adulterers to be stoned to death.

      When your sons come of age they will have a great deal of access to information about normal, human sexual anatomy. Will they be glad that you acted out an old testament barbarity on their penises?

      Every man and every woman is born with a foreskin. Did you have any idea what the foreskin was for before handing your sons over to have this beneficial part of their “private parts” cut off?

  79. Thanks for sharing all of your research, Katie. I’m curious to know if you and your husband have thought about how you will work with your boys to handle any questions or teasing they receive for their penises looking different than their peers. Perhaps it won’t be an issue as more and more families are choosing to not have their sons circumcised. Future blog topic. 🙂

    • Hi Rachel. Good questions 🙂 This is definitely something we considered but after thinking about it, it wasn’t a big concern for me for a few reasons… For my sons, at least half of the boys in their generation will more than likely be intact as well, so hopefully they won’t be teased (and my husband has said he has no recollection of himself or others being teased as a child about whether or not one was intact or not). I will definitely talk about the topic openly with them so they will hopefully be well equipped to gently but firmly handle any questions they get.

    • More and more boys in the US is staying intact as more and more parents choose to educate themselves regarding this matter. As a result genitally mutilated (aka circumcised) boys will be the minority. Today a bit over 50 % of US boys are being mutilated. In the world 70-75 % of all parents does not mutilate their sons. I don’t think her son will be teased.

  80. My son was circumcised as a newborn 22 years ago and I immediately regretted it. I was young and didn’t know what to do so I left it to his father to decide (I had also spoken to the nurses who were all for it – they referred to it as dirty and gross to be intact). They took him away down the hall to perform the procedure. I could hear him scream. They brought him back to me and he had those deep shuddering breaths that you get when you’ve been crying way too hard. I was devastated. I let them hurt my brand new baby infant and it killed me.
    I wish I had known better.

  81. Tampering with the developing genitals of children is NOT “a medical procedure.” It’s genital mutilation and medical fraud!

  82. One of the worst days of my life was when I watched my family doctor physically retract a portion of my 5 year old son’s foreskin (no pain meds). I though he knew what was best for my son and I just stood there like a zombie while my son cried. I will never forget that day as long as a live and am still traumatized by it. I have discussed this with my son who is now 22, and he swears that he had no lasting emotional or physical effects from this but I felt like the worst mother on the planet for years. The just adds to a long list of reasons why I don’t trust doctors anymore.

  83. I found your site a long time ago and I refer to it often although I’ve never commented. This comment is coming from someone who is not a mother and won’t be a mother and by choice (which ironically can come with similar stigma). I just wanted to give you kudos for putting it out there. It was well written, well documented and at the very least hopefully provides thought provoking conversation & research for new parents. You have your choice, others have there’s. Right, wrong or indifferent, choice, and an educated one, in all realms is the significance here.

  84. Lol it’d be nice if everyone felt this way about abortion..”baby’s body, baby’s choice”….idk..I’m a Christian, and I don’t feel that it is a requirement. In the Old Law, it was, but Jesus was the New Law and circumcised or uncircumcised, we are all only saved by God’s grace and forgiveness of our sins, and Jesus’ sacrifice. That being said, I have No idea what I’m going to do with my boys…I’ve always just assumed I would get them circumcised, but this definitely made me stop and think about it. I have a while until I will need to make that decision though, so I have time to consider it 🙂

  85. I have two sons (one from 1st marriage, other from 2nd marriage). The first one is circumsized, the other is not. Frankly, I feel concern and guilt regarding both of them. I think there is no win on this issue. While I could not read most of the article and stuck to the main pro/con facts, I truly appreciate the detail and level of research included.

    I feel fortunate that my circumcised son did not have any complications. I hope that boy number two is not harrassed because he is intact.

    The worries of mother’s never stop! Thanks for posting this!

  86. When I gave birth 25 years ago, if I had delivered a female child, there is no way on earth that I would have allowed anyone to cut her foreskin–we all have one–and so when I birthed a male child, I made sure that he was protected in the same manner. I didn’t even know then, what I know now about the trauma and brutality that the infant endures during genital cutting. Twenty five years ago, there was no Internet, Google, but I stuck to my decision of saying no to genital cutting, even though everyone questioned my decision. Except for the midwives at the birthing center where my son was born, they supported me and said that there is no reason for circumcision and it is considered to be only cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery on a newborn? Without anesthesia? No. And now, all these years later, as the truth is being increasingly revealed about genital cutting and the purposes of the foreskin, I am thankful every day of my life that I said no this sexual assault. And my son has never had problems with his healthy, normal, functioning and multi-purposeful foreskin. With so much information available to today’s mothers, including the numerous gruesome circumcision videos that are available online, it is outrageous that in the year 2016, we are still chopping off body parts from our precious boys. It’s not surprising that some insurance companies and Medicaid in 17 states are no longer paying for this unnecessary cosmetic surgery. With the exception of Jews and Muslims–and I’m Jewish–the rest of the world does not practice this outdated ritual and their males do very well with their foreskins. Is there something inherently wrong with American penises, that our boys require surgical correction at birth? No. Circumcision continues because it is big business in this county, money that is generated from the surgery itself, follow up corrective surgeries that are needed to repair the large number of botched circumcisions and also from the sale of foreskins, which are sold and used in many products. Genital cutting? Follow the money. $$$$$

  87. Wow, so much to think about. My 2 sons are circumcised, anesthesia was used (my first was born @ a midwife center so I had an OBGYN do the circ a few days after birth. He may have only used topical numbing gel and I heard baby screaming clear down the hall, as I was in the waiting room because I couldn’t stand to watch. With the 2nd boy the Dr. said they injected anesthetic before the procedure) they both are fine, thriving little boys. I thought at the time that I was making an informed decision and I deeply love my children. I’m a Christian, and do not feel that circumcision is required by my faith, yet I thought that since God required it of the Jews, He must know what He’s doing and that it couldn’t be harmful to my sons. I did not realize that circumcision nowadays may be different than what was practiced in the Bible. My other reasons where so they would be the same as Daddy, and concern that if they wanted/needed to be circumcised later in life it would be a lot more traumatic and harder to heal. I was trying to do what I thought best for them, but I might make a different choice if I ever have another son. It does seem that the choice should be left up to the child and I hope my sons will not regret the choice I made for them.

    • So, are your sons’ penises now identical to their father’s penis? How often do they compare penises? Do our vaginas need to match our mothers’ vaginas? What other body parts of our children need to look identical to their parents? Even cut penises do not look the same, just as intact penises do not match. And an older person who is choosing to get circumcised will be making that decision as an informed, consenting adult who is of legal age and who is choosing for himself; an infant is clearly unable to make that choice which is why genital cutting is a violation of his basic rights to genital and bodily autonomy. And an adult will understand and know what is happening to him during the circumcision surgery and will–humanely–be given adequate anesthesia, unlike the numbing gel that is given to newborns, which is why babies scream with agony. A newborn is unable to process this trauma. I find it disturbing when mothers say that they couldn’t bear to watch the circumcision, meaning, it’s too disturbing for you to only watch, but yet your baby has to actually endure it. Yes, please, if you ever have another son, spare him this trauma, just as you would if you birth a girl, who will also have a foreskin by the way and which you would NEVER consider amputating.

  88. At the time, I didn’t stay in the room to watch because my postpartum emotions couldn’t handle it, NOT because I knew that it would be extremely painful and still willfully subjected him to that. Doctors tell you that it only hurts a little bit, that they numb it, and that it’s no big deal.(the same Dr. also told me not to worry about the possible side effects of The Pill) If I had this information than, I would have made a different decision. I feel guilty about it but there’s nothing I can do now to change the past. In the past I was one to trust doctors and conventional medicine. I never thought I would be “one of those health-freak natural people” but I’ve slowly changed. It’s a steep learning curve with mistakes along the way. I’m sure every mom has mistakes she would change if she could and doesn’t need anyone yelling at her or treating her like a bad mom.

    • When my second child was born, there were a few problems and as a result, she had to undergo a few painful medical procedures. The neonatologist told me at the time that babies don’t feel pain. I was quite skeptical upon hearing this and wondered if he REALLY believed what he was saying or if he was trying to quell my concerns. In the US, we’ve been taught to trust our doctors — to almost not question them — so it’s quite understandable to me why so many of us readily follow our doctors’ advice.

  89. Katie, I just want to say thank you for this article. I’m in a demographic group that is highly circumcised, and when asking my mom for advice on the subject since I’m due to deliver my first boy in a couple months, she just said there was no debate – you get them circumcised so they won’t be made fun of and because an intact one looks gross. I had made up my mind to have him circumcised but I googled “Wellness Mama circumcision” in hopes that you had written something about it. I always love the fair and reasonable take you have on things. After reading your article and thinking about it with an open mind, I’ve decided to not have our baby circumcised. I know I’ll catch criticism from my extended family, but I’m so sure I’m making the right decision now. Thanks so much for sharing this. I feel like you kept me from making a big mistake because I was so misinformed about the subject.

  90. I just wanted to thank you for such a well researched article! Saving! We are lucky to live in an era with all this information at our fingertips. I live in the south and I am the only person I know of that has an intact boy. I have brought it up to friends, to just research it & they laugh. Our boys deserve better. I especially liked the part about circumcision and Christianity because so many people believe it’s biblical! I am thankful for all the eyes you will open with this post. God bless you!

  91. I am completely gutted that I came across this post less than a year too late. I too had a nagging feeling that circumcision just did no feel right. But I allowed my husband to make the decision as I thought it’s “guy business.” I’m near tears reading what you shared and pray these makes the rounds to help other parents make educated decisions for themselves.

  92. We also owe it to our kids to stop male genital mutilation (MGM, aka circumcision). Unfortunately, US parents are brainwashed to accept this cruel and barbaric procedure. As MGM is a billion dollar business in the US, most of the doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies(!) are not willing to let those bucks go and therefore still spread old, debunked myths. Remember that 70-75 % of the world’s parents don’t mutilate their boys, and fewer and fewer American boys are being mutilated as more and more parents educate themselves regarding this matter.