Before you circumcise your son…

…please understand the facts. I am compelled to blog about this controversial topic today. Bear with me as I step on my soapbox.

Here’s the truth about circumcision:

  • Circumcision (in the United States) began in the Victorian Era as a “cure” for masturbation.
  • It continued into the 20th century because of “health benefits” that have since been proven false. You can read more here.
  • It is NOT currently recommended as a routine procedure by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • According to the CDC, “the incidence of circumcision declined from 56 percent in 2006 to 32.5 percent in 2009. According to these statistics, non-circumcision or genital integrity has become the normal condition among newborn boys in the United States.”
  • It hurts – yes, even babies.
  • It is very similar to female circumcision, which most Americans would never consider.
  • Male circumcision reduces sexual pleasure for both men and women. Read more here.
  • Circumcision does NOT prevent HIV.
  • Circumcision is cosmetic surgery.
  • Babies die from circumcision – 117 babies annually!

Before you decide to circumcise, do your research. Circumcision is not a decision you can “take back.”

NOCIRC is a good place to start.

And now, I will get off my soapbox. Thanks for reading.

While you’re here, enter my Frito-Lay giveaway! :-)

 

Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for writing this Michelle! If you change just one person’s mind, if you save just one baby from circumcision, you’ve done something amazing.

  2. Julie Gosselin says

    Thank you! We did our research when were pregnant with my son. Circumcision is not the norm in our family. My pediatrician was a bit worried about our decision. He thought it might be hard for my son in the locker room later. I stood firm in my decision and have not regretted it.

  3. Robin H says

    Thank you for posting this!!!! The public is outraged when parents pay for their teenage daughters to get breast implants, but this cosmetic surgery is widely accepted as “normal” or even necessary. Would love to hear people asking WHY someone would have this done, instead of why they would not…

  4. Natalie says

    This was a great post Michelle. I wish I had read something like this years ago. My 1st is a boy and I didn’t know better. I didn’t take the time to know better. I have the guilt, but an innocent baby had to be hurt for my ignorance. I urge anyone to wait, let the child decide when they are grown. This is something that cannot be undone and it is the child’s body. Also I have heard of 2 parents who decided to circumcise an older child, they regretted it, because it was so hard on the child. I guess it is easier with a newborn, they can’t fight back and complain so much.

  5. Larae says

    100% with you! It is sad to me that this is still happening. Chantel, you are right as well, people do not understand what is going on. I have four intact boys and none of them have never had an issue. We need to get that statistic down to ZERO!

    My sons’ father is very religious and researched the “religious tradition” aspects – including speaking with priests and cannon lawyers – and found that this harmful practice no longer has a religious basis. My thought (being much less religious) is if you worship a God that is going to preclude you or your son from Heaven because your son is not circumcised, you need to find a different God.

    Great job, Michelle! Love, Love, LOVE your blog!

  6. Shirley says

    I understand your point of view but I wonder if you can provide any facts or statistics that aren’t published by anti circumcision advocates.

  7. says

    Shirley,
    Thank you for your comment. If you take another look at my sources, you will find sources from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization, CNN, and Men’s Studies Press, a peer reviewed, scholarly journal in addition to information from anti-circumcision advocates.
    Michelle

  8. Shirley says

    Michelle,
    Thank you for responding. Your citation of the World Health Organization is to the female genitalia mutilation page. The WHO stands behind male circumcision for prevention of HIV. http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/malecircumcision/en/
    The CNN page is not actually a source as much a news organization attempting to give a neutral report of a story. And the conclusion of the study was that circumcision should be preceded by injected anesthesia. Many pediatricians will use subcutaneous anesthesia if requested.
    The NY Times article you cited “found a very low rate of complications associated with newborn circumcisions; most were considered mild and no babies died.”
    I promise that I am not trying to be a pain in the butt but I strongly believe this quote from the AAP policy that you cited “To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided.” I think that in order to be truly effective at convincing people that do circumcise their children to see your side, your burden of proof would have to lie in a truly neutral study.

  9. says

    Shirley, I’m not sure why the burden of proof should lie with the parent defending a decision NOT to circumcise. If the AAP’s stated policy changed in 1997 to no longer recommend ROUTINE circumcision because the “potential” benefits were not essential to the child’s well being, and only 1 in 3 boys is circumcised in the US today, and 80% of the world’s men are uncircumcised, and according to credible sources babies do in fact die from circumcision, and not many Americans would ever even consider circumcising a girl, why on earth would any parent elect circumcision for their boys?

    The problem is, medical professionals are not adhering to their own stated practice of providing unbiased information for parents asking about it. Why should they? Circumcision is a multi-million dollar industry in the US and babies can’t object or run away. Well intentioned, yet uniformed parents trust their doctors when they need to do their own thinking and run a litmus test. Why is it ok to subject a newborn to the procedure, but makes people shudder to think of undergoing circumcision as an adult?

    If you want to read through a lot of medical studies on circumcision, this looks like a good place to start: http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/aap/#a1997

    Have a nice night! :-)

  10. says

    For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics proclaimed there was NO MEDICAL BENEFIT to circumcision. But recently, there has been some chatter about circumcised men in Sub Sahara Africa having lower rates of HIV. But your son is not a sexually promiscuous man in Africa is he? And hey, I am sure the AAP is scrambling for anything positive to say about circumcision. In 1999 American doctors made well over $21 million performing circumcisions. Many of them paid for by Medicaid. And since those numbers have been declining, it’s hurting the industry!

  11. says

    Shirley, I know I haven’t really addressed your question, but it’s very frustrating to me that CNN isn’t a enough good source (since they’re just trying to do unbiased reporting), and AAP’s admitted stance that there are no compelling medical benefits isn’t enough, and the anti-circ sources aren’t good enough either (even though they base their information on many peer-reviewed journals).

    To me, it’s like saying La Leche League is too biased to give reliable information on breastfeeding.

    I want people who do circumcise to tell me WHY. What are their reasons for circumcising? I doubt most people think about it, beyond “it’s what everyone does” (which is not true based on the CDC’s own data) or “my kid needs to look like Daddy” (when no two penises are alike, circumcised or uncircumcised – just as no two people are alike).

    So I hear you on your question, but I need to know what type of sources would be compelling enough for parents who do circumcise, as I still think there are some pretty good sources in my list. :-)

  12. Shirley says

    Hello Michelle,
    I was not saying that the burden of proof lies with a parent choosing not to circumcise their boys. But you aren’t a parent defending your decision to not circumcise your son. You are someone trying to convince other parents not to circumcise their boys. I guess I genuinely feel that your sources are bias.

    To me, it is more like saying the La Leche League would be a good source to ask about the benefits of formula feeding.

    If you would post the peer reviewed sources I would be happy to take a look at them.

    Respectfully,
    Shirley

  13. Kaeoh says

    As a RN I have seen hundreds of newborns circumcised. A numbing medication is applied and often the newborn doesn’t even wake from sleep because the procedure is so quick and painless. In all of my years of practice I have never seen a patien die from a circumcision. I would love to see the true cause of death for the annual 113 infants listed. The main reason why people have done circumcision in the past is to keep the penis clean. I have never treated a circumcised male child for a yeast infection . I have treated hundreds of un-circumcised males for severe yeast infections. Parents who choose to not circumcise their sons MUST be responsible to make sure the penis properly cared for. Everyone can make their own choice but I dislike when people think that parents circumcise their sons “just to make him comfortable in the locker room”. i choose to have my sons circumcised to prevent health issues.

  14. says

    Kaeoh,

    I’m not sure which health issues you mean. The AAP has declared since 1971 that there are no compelling health issues to warrant circumcision.
    In 1971, the AAP said: “There are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period.”

    In 1977, the AAP said: “there are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period. The present committee has undertaken a review of data to support arguments “pro” and “con” circumcision of the newborn, and finds no basis for changing this statement.”

    In 1989, the AAP said: “The 1971 edition of Standards and Recommendations of Hospital Care of Newborn Infants by the Committee on the Fetus and Newborn of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that “there are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period.”1(p110) In 1975, an Ad Hoc Task Force of the same committee reviewed this statement and concluded that “there is no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision of the newborn.”2 The 1975 recommendation was reiterated in 1983 by both the AAP and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the jointly published Guidelines to Perinatal Care.”

    You can read for yourself here: http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/aap/#a1971

    Also, girls routinely have yeast infections yet we do not cut off part of their genitalia to help keep them clean. Instead, girls are taught to wear cotton underpants and to wipe themselves correctly.

    The intact penis is neither dirty nor hard to keep clean. Unfortunately, many people do not understand this. As a mother of an intact boy, we have had zero problems with penis cleanliness. I have many friends with intact sons as well and I have heard of no problems. It sounds to me like a scare tactic used to promote circumcision. I also have 3 daughers and we have had zero yeast infections with them, too.

  15. says

    I firmly believe that if you are born with it, you are meant to have it. This is a cruel procedure that should be banned. My boyfriend was angry with his parents decision when he realized what the procedure actually did, and I’m sure there are plenty of males in the country who have felt the same. Doing it for health reasons is a load of crap. Teach some personal hygiene.

  16. Andrea says

    When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I just assumed he would be circumcised like his father. That’s just what we do with penises, right? Do men really “need” a foreskin? I am so glad I did my research and decided against circumcision. The foreskin IS there for a reason. (Who knew?!) Most of the world doesn’t circumcise. Circumcision is declining rapidly in the US. (Regionally we fell into one of the highest areas, the midwest, but were planning on settling in the west where rates are very low.) My husband and I had long discussions about “the locker room” issue and the “I don’t look like you Dad” issue, and could not justify amputating a perfectly functioning piece of my newborn son’s body because we wanted him to look like his maybe someday peers. It was to date (besides extended nursing) my proudest moment as a parent. My son is whole as God (and/or evolution) made him. I just didn’t see any reason to change his perfect penis. And let me tell you…he has LOVED that foreskin for 5 and a half years now with not a single problem! LOL!

    For anyone looking for more discussion on the topic Mothering.com has a great forum promoting “intactivism.” Thanks again for bring up the subject. We need to talk more about what for so long was just part of giving birth to a boy in America.

  17. Elizabeth says

    Kaeoh

    If the foreskin isn’t forced back (which it shouldn’t be), the risk of infection is extremely low. It it the retraction of the foreskin, not the lack of surgery on it, that makes an uncircumsized penis “unclean.”

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