September 16, 2009

Today's Uncomfortable Subject: Circumcision!

(Photo: s0crates82)

It seemed impossible. But at last I've discovered a health issue that has recently appeared in the news, is hotly debated, and is extremely controversial--and yet I have formed absolutely no opinion about it!

Yep, it's male circumcision. The whole cutting-off-the-foreskin thing. Wait, guys? Guys? Where'd y'all go?

So according to the New York Times, U.S. public health officials are thinking of changing current guidelines and starting to encourage routine circumcision for all baby boys. This is in order to reduce H.I.V. risk.

However, there are many out there who feel the procedure is not only medically unnecessary, but that it's painful and unethical and should be not be performed on unconsenting infants.

I'm hoping smart readers may have some thoughts, arguments, statistics or observations about the whole circumcision question, because I'm spectacularly ignorant on the whole subject. Penises? What do I know about penises? This, unfortunately, leaves me bereft of an opinion on a controversial issue. Please, dear readers, help me form one, so I can get all irate when people don't agree with me!

At the moment, all I can do is round up a few random circumcision-related items. Just in case you had a strong opinion about the issue but can't remember what it was.

HIV Risk:

Reading the New York Times piece, it appears the whole HIV risk-reduction issue is pretty complicated.

In African countries, circumcision dramatically reduces risk of HIV; studies suggest that circumcised men reduced their risk of infection by half. But these studies were of heterosexual men who were at risk from female partners. In the U.S., the men who are at greatest risk are those having sex with other men. And in the U.S., most adult males (almost 80 percent) are already circumcised. Worldwide, it's much lower; more like a third.

But... circumcision has been growing less popular in the U.S. since World War II. By 1999, rates were down to about 65 percent of newborns; then rates fell further when many states started dropping medicaid coverage for the surgery. Now once source has rates down to 56%. An additional concern is that black and Hispanic males, who are at higher risk for HIV, are less likely to be circumcised than whites.

Other Medical Issues:

Two fairly mainstream sources, Mayo Clinic and Web-MD have compiled some pro's and cons to the surgery. Uncircumcised males are more likely to get urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases and penile cancer (which is still very rare). However, circumcision can lead to some complications, like bleeding, infection, irritation, and damage to the opening of the urethra.


I'm guessing that even with anesthesia, it probably hurts.

Photo: Topdog1

Do any parents, medical professionals, or males with extraordinary memories (or who had adult circumcisions) have any idea how bad it is? How brutal are we talking here? That might impact my opinion quite a bit.

Psychological Issues

Seems like this is a tricky issue as well. To be "different" always sucks, and if most guys around you are circumcised I can imagine it would be unpleasant to feel like your privates were not standard issue. Hell, when you're a teenager, you can freak out if your toenails aren't exactly the right shape. But with declining rates of circumcision, what's "normal" for guys these days?

Not having been in any male locker rooms, I have no idea what the average male appendage looks like. My only information comes from the occasional X rated movie I've seen. That's where I learned that most men are "cut," not "uncut." Oh, and that's also where I learned that most guys shave off all their hair down there, and their penises are usually about ten or eleven inches long! That's, um, "normal," right?

I also hear that some guys feel very resentful that they had no choice in such a personal sort of surgery. There are apparently a growing number of "intactivists" calling for an end to circumcision. And many doctors are starting to question the ethics of the procedure, like the sensible-sounding radio guy, Dr. Dean Edell.

But then a whole lot of other dudes seem to scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Religious Issues

I know even less about religion than I do about penises. I have heard, however, that most Jews and Muslims tend to circumcise their sons. As a general principle, I don't buy the notion that "because my religion says I should" is a legitimate reason to do something that is abusive or violent. But then we're back to: is circumcision abuse? Or is it just a minor, incidentally painful childhood nuisance, done "for your own good," like vaccinations or piano lessons?

Aesthetic Issues

Do men, or their sexual partners, have strong feelings about which "look" they like better? I wonder if there's any kind of strong majority opinion. Even if there was, should that matter?

I know some of you readers are males, or are the mothers of sons, or are partnered with guys who have opinions about foreskins. What do you all think: is it good or evil for parents to circumcise their sons? And should public health officials be promoting it?


  1. Being Jewish I knew if I ever had a boy he would be circumcised.
    I never knew how THANKFUL I was for that non-decision until I watched friends labor (rimshot?) over whether or not to circumcise their sons.

    I got with the superficial thought when asked for my opinion. I cant help but think it would be important for a son to "match" his father.

    to look the same.

    but Ive no other insight as I have a daughter and would be compelled to have a bris :)

  2. Would you have an opinion if they started to encourage routine circumcision for all baby girls? I think it's a great idea. If they aren't going to enjoy sex, they will have less of it, and reduce H.I.V. risk.

  3. I did not have a strong opinion either way. I still don't.

    I once heard an interview of a person who compares medical studies and used the comparisons to draw conclusions about these things. He had compared several hundred medical studies of circumcision, and concluded that the procedure does have a positive medical benefit. He admitted that on a scale of 1 to 10, the benefit was a one, so a very small benefit, but there nonetheless.

    When my sons were born I would have been content to leave well enough alone. I left it to my husband, however, who has very strong feelings on the matter.

    It seems when he was born, the doctors were more concerned with saving his and his twins' premature little lives, and did not perform the surgery. He was teased as a child because of it. They finally had it done when they were 8 years old and having their tonsils out, since they would be anesthetized anyway.

    When our sons were born, he insisted it be done, and signed the papers. I did not argue with him one bit, knowing how strongly he felt and that there is a small but positive medical benefit.

    If he had decided against it, that would not have bothered me either.

    As for the pain, of course it hurts. I'm a mom, and would have preferred that they not have the pain, but I would also prefer that they not have the pain of vaccines, falling out of trees, skinning their knees, having their hearts broken...

    Sooner or later we have to decide, do the parents get to decide this and other factors in raising the kids, or not? Too big an issue to tackle before my morning coffee, and probably not what you were looking for, sorry to stray off topic.

  4. Messymimi, what a thoughtful, balanced comment and not off topic at all!!!

    And anon, I do think that it hurts the cause of anti-circumcision folks to try to insist it's the same thing as the genital mutilation referred to as "female circumcision." It's not. Different anatomy entirely. Which doesn't make male circumcision right, or painless, or ethical. But I think to say it's the "same" is divisive and a distraction to your cause.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. My son is circumcised. We did a lot of reading and I actually asked men of my acquaintance what their opinions on the topic were. They all spoke of the health benefits and how it's much easier to have it done when you're a wee baby than suffering the embarrassment of having anything about Little Joe "corrected" at a later age when a man wants to do nothing but take pride in his lower self.

    I've met men and boys who have had to get it done due to, not only infection, but recurrent infection. Who knows how hygienic these guys are generally speaking but given how men are loathe to admit to the procedure in mixed company I would have to say (in a most unscientific manner) that circumcisions are like cockroaches: you see/hear of one, more must be lurking behind the walls. And they certainly scatter once you turn the lights on.

  7. Oh, that's right, pain. My son was given injections of lidocain for the procedure and we administered copious (but still appropriate) amounts of infant pain reliever in anticipation of pain. He looked sore for a couple of days. We liberally applied vaseline to the incision. The whole ordeal was over surprisingly soon.

  8. I have one son circumcised and one intact. My older son was circ'ed because we wanted him to look like Daddy (surprisingly, I don't think the two have ever actually COMPARED penises). We had lots of problems with his circumcision. Years of problems. Infections, pain, problems with breastfeeding....the skin trying to readhere to the glans.

    So when son #2 came along, we were much more informed and chose to not have it done. It is incredibly painful. Most doctors use NO ANESTHESIA. A lot of baby boys actually pass out during the procedure which you can view here

    Also, the foreskin has a function, kind of like your eyelids have a function to lubricate and keep your eyeballs clean.

    As for HIV risk, the studies seem a little skewed to me. It's a lifestyle risk. Little babies aren't at risk of contracting it sexually. Let them make the decision to cut off a part of their own bodies when they are older.

    Sorry for such a long comment, but it's just not a quick and easy answer. :)

  9. [I have a whole rant in my pocket about Anon's illogical premise that cutting down on female orgasms would cut down on the number of people who got STDs, but I won't hijack the commentary for it. Just sayin'... most of the time, female enjoyment is incidental and NICE, but NOT the driving force behind a sexual encounter.]

    However, be that as it may, I have absolutely no opinion about circumcision, and like Miz, was just as happy not to make that decision at all. When I was pregnant, my husband and I discussed it (he was especially mad because despite being the father, ABSOLUTELY ANY decision he made had to be authorized BY ME or they wouldn't do it... which I personally felt was Just About Right, since my MOTHER had to have PERMISSION from my dad in order to get a tubal ligation, even after having 5 miscarriages, one of which was life-threatening because as a woman, it wasn't her RIGHT to deprive my dad of the option of more children!!!) anyway, there's a long aside for you. Sorry, looks like I'm hijacking the comments anyway.

    Um... personally, as a lover, I've been with both cut and uncut and I prefer cut. It "looks" normal to me. Also, smells better, and I'm sorry, call me whatever you want, but I am NOT going down on a man who's got smegma. Just not. Ew.

    My husband was of the opinion that a little boy's bits should look like the dad's bits... given that my girl-bits didn't really look anything like my mom's girl bits (my mom's 1/8th Native American, and she looks it. I... don't. So, color-wise, we didn't match AT ALL) and it never particularly bothered me.

    And again, IMO, we do things to our kids like make them wear braces and pierce their ears (well, I haven't... but some people do!) and whatnot in the name of beauty, normality, and "everyone else does it." that cause pain. I don't really see that it's all that much different.

    Again, I don't have a son. I will point my friend who DOES have a son in this direction, tho. She has more first hand experience.

  10. Honestly when I think about circumcision, I think of the movie 28 days (Sandra Bullock goes to rehab), and one of the men is asked if he could have anything what would it be, and he replies "I'd want my foreskin back. No one asked me when they took it."

    I'm neutral about the whole thing.

  11. I got nothing... but to say if a person has a religious belief for it OR they have done their homework & make an informed decision for them, that is what matters. It is not up to us but to the person making the decision.

    Now, on that whole Bobbitt thing... ;-) KIdding.... maybe!

  12. I don't have a major opinion on it really but I guess that's because I never had to think about it much. I do know two of my guy friends have had to be circumcised (recommended by their doctor) later in life because sex was becoming very painful for them. I think the foreskin becomes very tight but I'm not sure of the exact details/cause. It was a day procedure I think and was sore for them to get done but by all accounts WELL worth it and the soreness didn't last for too long either. I'm sure there can be complications but that's the same with most medical procedures surely.

  13. As the mother of two sons, this was a difficult decision because I didn't want to cause my newborn baby to have PAIN on the second day of being alive. But in the end, we had it done. Tough decision at the time, but everything went well. Glad I won't have to ever make it again!

  14. I let my husband make that call. Our son was circ'd while we were at the "dinner for two" provided by the hospital. (I'm sorry, no. 1 son!) Daughters after that, so no sticky decisions. My dad actually recommended leaving it undone and let the boy decide later. Not sure what I'd do now although luckily I will not be facing that decision again :)

  15. From an advice article written by a friend (

    Male infant circumcision is a proven beneficial procedure that parents may choose for their infant sons to provide life-long preventative health.

    My advice, and the advice of millions of men world-wide, is to choose circumcision for your new baby. Male infant circumcision has been proven to provide a 12 fold reduction in urinary tract infections, 22 fold reduction in invasive penile cancer, elimination of medical issues localized to the foreskin, provide a much less favorable environment for pathogens to create infections, greatly increases penile hygiene and greatly decreases chances of infection by various STDs including HIV.

    Circumcision offers a lifetime of health, medical and sexual benefits. At least one third of uncircumcised males will develop a condition requiring medical intervention. This means degrees of suffering and possibly death. In contrast, circumcision can prevent or greatly reduce the risk of these medical conditions. The surgical risk with a modern circumcision is extremely low, while the life-long appearance & functional outcomes are excellent. Male circumcision also offer considerable medical and sexual benefits to a female partner by reducing her risk of suffering, disease, medical treatment and premature death.

    Here are some links to sites with more useful & researched information on male circumcision:


  16. One thing I know for sure: people have VERY strong opinions on this topic - which is why I usually keep mine to myself. Although since you asked so nicely...!

    We have 3 boys and all are circumcised. When we got married I had no opinion one way or the other but my husband had VERY strong opinions. It was not a religious issue for us nor was it a "look like daddy" issue (side note: all 3 boys' penises look really different from each other! Even in the foreskin area - different docs took off different amounts...). For us it came down to the fact that there is a certain health benefit ascribed to it and we wanted to give our kids every advantage to be healthy.

    Some people say that it reduces sexual sensation later on but (TMI?) my husband is circ'd and he seems to enjoy sex quite a bit. Although I know that doesn't speak to the issue of if it feels different.

    Seriously, you should be a fly on the wall during playgroup discussions on this topic - I don't think I've ever seen other mommies get so upset over an issue... (except maybe the cry-it-out or not issue)

  17. So I take it the op. is no longer done routinely?
    I don't have much to say on the subject. I've heard from many men over the years who were told by their moms that they didn't need it because they were born without foreskin. I wondered to myself about that.
    Unless there's an immediate health concern, I think it should be a decision between a man and his penis.

  18. As long as we're at it, I think we should chop off the breast tissue of all newborn girls, because it would cut way down on breast cancer rates.

    In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic.

    My son is uncircumcised. If he's not happy with that, he can make that decision himself.

  19. Oops, I didn't mean to be anonymous. That was me.

  20. We went against the usual arguments for circumcision and decided to keep both of our sons intact.

    I'm Jewish, so that went over real well with my family but I believe that nature/god generally knows what it's doing by building our bodies a certain way, and who are we to say "you made a mistake here.. let me fix that"?

    Their father was circumcised, but we ignored the "look just like Dad" theory. As Lady in Weighting said.. who actually compares? It's not like their adult father is going to look identical to their young, immature body anyway. Hopefully. ;)

    The risk of cancer is really small and I wouldn't advocate mastectomy for an infant girl because of a risk for breast cancer, so why circumcise?

    I was also reading a great deal on circumcisions gone wrong. I felt confidant that proper hygiene and allowing the body to cleanse itself (ie not pulling the foreskin back farther than its ready to do on its own in order to clean places that are not truly "dirty", causing possible tears and infection) was the right way to go.

    I still believe that.

  21. I just wanted to pop in to say I'm learning so much from you folks today!

  22. Not a subject I'm qualified to speak on. Just seems odd that the body evolved to have one of these, and so many people think it's healthier not to have it. Can't think of another part of the body that's automatically removed as a matter of course.

  23. Hmmm...I always wondered why we still did so...modern sanitation doesn't really make it necessary so much now. I know my Mum felt it wasn't necessary for her kids....I haven't had any yet so I've never had to decide.
    I lean towards thinking it's better to do younger ...because my brother didn't have it done as a baby (Mum didn't want to), and then he developed a very painful thing when he was 13 or so and ended up in him having to have it done then. I remember it being awful for him and I think THAT was way worse than having it done as a baby and not remembering it. But having said that, I imagine a lot of people never have problems like that.

    And anonymous - female circumcision is totally different. Stop flaming and be constructive...

  24. From an aesthetic point of view, the circumcised penis does look a lot better. I'm aware that could be a bias because that was my normal before I saw an uncircumcised one and had the very mature reaction of "what's wrong with it?". heh.

    All that aside, though, it's a personal decision. Parents have to make decisions on behalf of their minor children every single day. They make the choice that they feel is best for the child based on the information that they have. I think before a decision like this is made, they should be well informed on the advantages and disadvantages to both options.

    Fear should not be the deciding factor for or against it. The truth is, that an uncircumcised penis can be kept just as clean if the parent takes the time to get educated on it and then passes that knowledge onto their son. Much like parents much teach our daughters how to take care of themselves properly. If that's a subject you're afraid of, then you should probably rethink the whole parenting thing.

  25. I am half-Jewish, though not religious, and if I ever have a son, I will circumcise, for the slight health benefits and because it is cleaner, and because, vaguely, I think G-d wants it done. The G-d argument, though, won't matter to those whose religious beliefs do NOT comment on the penises of babies. But it has been done for thousands of years. Who knows, maybe it does mean something or offer a real benefit? If it worked out alright in ancient times, it will be fine for my hypothetical son now, since it will be done by a doctor with pain relief administered.

  26. I have no opinion either way, I suppose if I had a boy I'd do more research but since I have none right now, I say it's up to the parents to make that informed choice.

  27. I used to be a nurse. Having spent a bit of time in the labor and delivery unit, I witnessed many, many, many unfortunate little boys endure this horrible procedure. There really is a reason they take him away from the parents while the procedure is done. Never in my life have I seen baby after baby make the same, horrendous, twisted, grimace while trying so hard to scream, that they turn purplish-blue before the belting wail comes flooding from their lungs.

    It is truly torturous.
    Even the physician who performed these procedures, I can remember saying "I'd never do this to my kid!"

    After having seen them, and the baby's reactions...I'd never, ever, ever put a child of mine through it. But that's just me.

    Teaching a little boy to properly clean and care for himself is all that is necessary to prevent the risks of UTIs, and more education about the use of condoms would go a lot further in the prevention of HIV.

  28. I did have my son circumcised at the hospital and I don't regret it. He never even cried and it seems better to have it done before they become so body conscious. People do have strong opinions about this but I don't consider it mutilation, just a health choice I made for my son. As an aside, I never knew I would be a single mom, so now I feel even more confident in this choice. My son won't let me anywhere near him when he's not fully dressed and always wants privacy, so the care could have become an issue.

  29. My husband is circumcised, but we have already discussed this and decided not to mutilate our son, should we have one. If he wants to do it when he grows up, he's welcome, but we feel quite strongly that we won't allow such a painful procedure performed on a little baby.

  30. Well, all four of our boys are circumcised. and similar to Charlotte, I didn't really have strong opinions about it before I got married, but my husband sure did.

    And messymimi, "As for the pain, of course it hurts. I'm a mom, and would have preferred that they not have the pain, but I would also prefer that they not have the pain of vaccines, falling out of trees, skinning their knees, having their hearts broken..."


  31. Bah! That article is just propaganda orchestrated by a bunch of sea cucumber hatahs.

    Joking aside, this is a complex issue. My partner, who's Jewish, attended several brit milahs for his grandsons. The only anesthetic they give the infant boys is some plum brandy dropped on the mouth. One justification I've heard is that, while painful, the infant does not remember the pain, which is why it's better to do it while the child is so young. Of course, this raises an interesting ethical question: Is it ok to inflict pain if that person won't remember it later?

  32. Well, lets start with this, I'm uncircumcised and so is my son. I was born 10 weeks early and stayed in the NICU for 2 months before I was allowed to go home. By that point my parents decided to leave it alone.

    I can't say that I have strong opinions one way or another religiously or ethically. I did the research before my son was born and there was several conflicting things. I'm sure it hurts, but I've never met a person who remembers it later in life. In the end my wife and I decided to keep him uncircumcised. I think there are minimal possible benefits to circumcision and it is an easy outpatient procedure if the person decides they want it done later.

  33. I'm not circumcised, and I have two sons from a first marriage that are, and one from a second that isn't. I wish I never put the first two through it.

    I guess I was a bit self conscious about it when I was younger, because I was one of few that weren't cut. Now, I'm really glad I'm not. Today, this is much less of an issue, since the rate of circumcision is lower.

    BTW, takes little effort to keep clean down there. That whole hygiene thing is a lot of bunk, unless you are the type of individual that doesn't take care of yourself.

    Nature intended us to be like this. Why screw around with it?

  34. *sigh* Such a hot topic. You know what I hate? When people have such strong opinions they can't respect others' decisions. Kids seem to bring that out in a lot of folks. Circumcision, breast feeding, stay at home moms, etc. etc. So I'll just tell our side, and relate that my approach is to each their own. I understand both sides of the argument.

    We had our son circumcised. It was a long debated decision. At first we both leaned towards not having it done. We knew there was a risk something might go wrong. We also had heard the reduced sensation argument. My husband wasn't concerned with matching. we talked to folks, we heard of many more horror stories of infections and trouble and having to have it done later in life than we did of botched jobs. And how will the kid know he's missing out on any sensation? As someone else said...most men seem to enjoy sex just fine without their foreskin.

    And these doctors that aren't using anesthetic? Where the hell are they? Because I'm not going anywhere near them. Our pediatrician did the procedure for us. Went through it in detail. *Including the use of an anesthetic* We were invited to be present if we wanted. (I passed, hubby went.) The boy pretty much slept through the whole thing.

    With newborns who can't speak and communicate clearly, you never know exactly what they are feeling. But he sure screamed more about being hungry than anything that resembled pain from the procedure. (As in, if I fed him/changed his diaper/usual infant suspects the crying stopped.)

    The procedure is totally up to the parents and no one I've talked to has ever been pressured into having it done by medical staff. I say leave the decision up to the parents. We take out our tonsils and our appendix and our gall bladder and all sorts of other pieces of our anatomy when they give us trouble. We looked at it as a preventative procedure done when the kid would have absolutely no memory of it.

    Having another kid due in a short month, it's come up again and we'd make the same decision. (No we don't know what we're having...)

  35. Anon: "Nature intended us to be like this. Why screw around with it?"

    That's pretty much what it's for. ;)

  36. Despite the slightly higher incidence of medical concerns this is not enough to warrant circumcision.
    This is a matter of body rights. No one but the individual themselves should be allowed to make the decision to permanently remove a healthy part of the body, until they reach the age of majority. It is a personal choice to be made by only the person whose body is in question.
    No son of mine shall ever be circumcised unless they choose to as adults.

  37. Like you, I don't really have a strong opinion on this.

    I'm leaning more towards leaving any child I have uncut because my theory is to leave ourselves as nature intends unless there's a substantial reason not to (and the medical benefits seem kind of dubious to me...circumcision for health benefits seems kind of like having everyone's appendices removed as infants because they MAY get inflammed one day and have to come out, so why not do it when you can't remember?)

    But I'm going to let my husband make that call when/if the time comes since I really know nothing about having a penis.

    What I'm really going to is just hope for a girl when I'm ready to have kids so I don't have to worry about it.

  38. I don't have a strong opinion about circumcision. I lean towards not, but would probably defer to my husband should the issue ever come up.

    This COULD be a bad analogy, but it could be KIND OF compared to ear piercing in baby girls. Some cultures do this automatically, just like circumcision for boys. The pain issue is the same. The big differences, I think, are that ear piercing is lower risk, and has nothing to do with hygiene or (most likely, not 100% sure here) religion.

  39. You might also want to check out the following:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    "Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."
    "Circumcision is a 'non-therapeutic' procedure, which means it is not medically necessary."
    "After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

    RACP Policy Statement on Circumcision
    "After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision."
    (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. "Routine" circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association: The law and ethics of male circumcision - guidance for doctors
    "to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate."

    Drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 9.2%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% ("routine" circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

    It's worth remembering that no-one except for Muslim and Jewish people would even be having this discussion if it weren't for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
    a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
    b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

    Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don't believe me, then check out this link:
    A Short History of Circumcision in North America In the Physicians' Own Words

    That was the way they thought back then, and over a hundred years later, circumcised men keep looking for new ways to defend the practice.

  40. When I had my son 15 years ago, circumcision was just something you did. And I did. Really without thinking or researching it at all.
    A few years later I looked more into the subject after being posed this question: Would you circumcise your daughter? Now that sounds crazy, not only because female genital mutilation removes damn near everything, but also because it's not something we practice here in the U.S. It's all what you're used to.
    The practice to circumcise in order to prevent such a small percentage of health problems makes no more sense to me, than giving every female a mastectomy in order to prevent breast cancer.
    As females, we have quite the package to maintain and keep clean. Boys should be taught to do the same thing. There is no reason why boys should not be taught proper hygeine...just like girls. I also think that it's something a parent needs to research. Read some material for and against it, and come to your own conclusion. I know of 3 boys who had "botched" circumcisions, all of them had less than "normal" looking penises after their procedures.
    I think that in the coming years it will be more mainstream to see "uncut" guys, and as such, it will be easier to forgo the practice. I wouldn't do it again though.

  41. Wow, I did not know I could start blogging over here in the comments section.

    Let's see...I have twin boys and I got them circumcised. This was 31 years ago and I regret a lot of things I did as a mother and that's probably right up there on the top of that list though the only reason I'd say I regret it is how useless the ritual is. Right after their circumcision, there was this groundswell of bias against or at least as soon as it was too late for them, I noticed the movement against circumcision . One of my sons is HIV+ now so being circumcised did not prevent him from getting HIV.

    Female circumcision from what I have read is brutal, slicing off the entire front of the pubic area including the clitoris. It's a very bloody procedure and if done in some countries, after the circumcision ritual takes place, you get buried in the dirt up to your waist to heal and get to spend several days in the dirt and blood. Often you end up with a life time of problems urinating and with menstruation. With urination, the pee dribbles out all day long, the woman smells awful, and of course is scorned by family and friends and enemies.

    I've had penis both ways (which sounds like an excellent name for a restaurant) and have enjoyed both kinds, and don't care which I am offered as long as the guy on the end of the penis is not a DICK -- though the uncircumcised penis is sort of, kind of unusual, and therefore a bit more exciting, imho. Lynn mentioned the issue of smegma (you can post about that tomorrow!) and although I love that word, I have not dated an uncircumcised guy who was smegi-like. Or that I smelled.

  42. If you want to learn a lot more about circumcision and about the anatomy and functions of the foreskin, please visit

    which has a lot of information- articles, pamphlets, and videos.

  43. Read Royal Australiasian College of Physicians (RACP) 2009 paper on Circumcision which recommends against the procedure. RACP is of the highest Regard!!

  44. Whew! I don't remember this being such a hot topic when our son was born, and that was only 8 years ago. I didn't have an opinion at the time, except that of, perhaps, the feeling that it was a "guy thing" and that my husband was better informed about the pros/cons. My husband felt it should be done, so we had decided to have it done. It turns out that our son's foreskin was an unusual shape for the standard procedure, so we were referred to a pediatric urologist who performed the surgery under anethesia. Of course, reading now about the newborn procedures without (ouch!!!), I'm glad it turned out this way. And I'm supposing that there may have been problems with it later on, since it required a different surgery to remove.

    I think if I were faced with the same decision now, I would argue against it, or at least get a doctor's opinion (given the irregular foreskin issue) about whether there would be problems/possibility of needing surgery later on. If the doctor felt it would be necessary later on, I'd have it done as an infant. Definitely with anethesia and appropriate pain medication for afterward, as we did.

  45. My husband is from France and uncut (circumcision is uncommon in Europe). He has no problems and says he's never heard of it being an issue.

    My American father and his brothers were also uncut and had no problems. One brother chose to do it as an adult for religious reasons and was in agony.

    Our two sons are uncut...not so they can "look like Daddy," but because we figured a penis knew how to be a penis, and we didn't hear any arguments to convince us otherwise.

    My husband is the only uncut man I've been with...and the most sensitive there...highly sensitive. The cut men I've been with enjoyed sex just fine, but they weren't as sensitive. (I guess they don't miss what they never knew). I, in particular, do enjoy the foreskin and the movement of it.

    As far as hygiene goes, it's just like the female anatomy: if you bathe, you smell better. (I've heard that diets/health/drugs/etc can affect pH/smell/taste...that's probably a whole-other topic).

  46. stop calling it "un-circumcized" and START calling it "WHOLE".

    un-circumcized implies a negative connotation, it implies that every male in the WORLD has a natural birth defect, the foreskin.

    Let's face it, circumcision is a religious ritual and does not protect against anything.

  47. I was relieved when my first child was a girl, it meant I didn't have to think about it. Then I had my son and we spoke with lots of people and stressed. He was perfect as a baby and we had no real reason to change that, I guess. Tom is 'whole' as the previous comment suggested ( I like that!) and at 7 is not phased that his dads penis is different. I dont regret leaving him as is.

  48. I have no freaking idea what to say. When I was pregnant with my third child and thought it was a boy, I went with the "no" because then he would be like his dad (my ex). But it turned out to be a girl, so I don't know how that would have played out. I vastly prefer my husband now, who is circumcised, but that's maybe for a host of other reasons.

    Way TMI. ??

  49. My boys are not circumcised. They are 7 and 8. They have never asked about Daddy's style of privates, and seem totally unconcerned about the whole thing. No one's ever had an infection down there or any problem.

    If they want to get the procedure done later, it's kind of like my daughter and ear piercing. Fine, but only if you're old enough to endure the pain and then keep it clean yourself.

    It was a big deal decision when they were born, and now? Nobody thinks about it.

  50. this topic is so tough and as the mom of 2 (almost 3) boys, we went back and forth. a million times.

    We had very different opinions and in the end, my husband allowed me to choose.

    I agree with the other commenter who said that each person should be entitled to making their own informed decision without judgement.

    and I must add that this sentence from your post:

    "I know even less about religion than I do about penises."

    made me laugh for a good TEN minutes!

  51. I for one don't believe that parents have any right to modify their male childs genitalia. It's up to the individual to decide if he wants to alter his penis - it's no one elses business.
    "For thousands of years, Billions of men kept their foreskins without
    a problem. And now, in the last 75 years, it suddenly poses a risk?"
    In additon, while a circumcised penis is's no longer natural.

  52. I could leave a lengthy comment about what I know about circumcision, but it would probably be a lot less interesting and informative than just watching the procedure itself.

    This is an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit: Circumcision. It is by far, one of the best pieces on the topic.

    For the best viewing on the Jewish angle of this topic, I highly recommend these- one film, and one tv special

    "Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision"
    by Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

    "Cutting With Tradition"

    All of these films follow at least one couple who are expecting a child, and have to make a decision.

    For those of you who like links,

    Nurses against circumcision

    Fathers against circumcision

  53. Sorry... can't leave coherent response... too busy snickering at Penn & Teller's video clip...

  54. I have a foreskin, and I will be honest, I find this type of discussion really upsetting oftentimes.

    No one but ME owns my foreskin. It has always been MY body part, and I actually do find it offensive to hear people suggesting that its perfectly fine for a parent to cut it off, simply because they find it unusual looking.

    This is not a body part I'd never miss, I interact with it many times a day, and I have personally experienced its functionality - pleasure and protection.

    I feel like so many people go their whole lives trying to avoid figuring this out.. because they aren't "used" to it. Well, you know what, I hate the Female Genital Cutting comparison too, but you know what is similar.. the way our cultures TREAT the topic. The cultures which do that to their daughters... they use all the same excuses to perform something even more extreme and debilitating... I think that speaks for itself.

    What man does not love every single part of his own penis? Well, guess what, they would enjoy the whole thing if we'd just give them the right to get to even experience it.

    It is the easiest form of hygiene there is, to pull back a foreskin in the shower. If you can brush your teeth, you are WAY over qualified. Women's privates develop smegma at even higher rates than men's privates!

    Our medical organizations do NOT recommend it, and the HIV data will not change the fact it is unnecessary. In case you haven't noticed, you only get HIV from sleeping with an infected partner with NO CONDOM on - having a foreskin doesn't put me at any risk, because I'm not an idiot.

    Lets end this practice. If you've already done it to a son, or if you are cut, thats fine. Lets look to the future... because NOW WE KNOW BETTER.

    I realize the tone of this comment is a little fiery, but I can't help but feeling a little disrespected when people talk about a body part with SUCH value as though it has zero worth.

    Please. Lets stop doing this to infants.

  55. sometimes, circumcision IS medically neccessay, like in cases of hypospadias where they use the foreskin to make the urethra extend to where it's supposed to. my son had this.

  56. DID YOU KNOW... professional medical association in the United States – or anywhere else in the world – recommends routine circumcision as a medically necessary procedure?

    The American Medical Association calls it "non-therapeutic," and at no time in its 75-year history has the American Academy of Pediatrics ever recommended infant circumcision.

  57. "I agree with the other commenter who said that each person should be entitled to making their own informed decision without judgement."

    I agree, but with this with the proviso that the PERSON making this decision is the owner of the penis

  58. whoa hey, so that's why my pic got such a spike in hits. cheers, i'm flattered!

    my opinion? the topic is often used for trolling in forums, because the ego of many a man hinges on how happy he is with his dick. the easy troll is to criticize something about someone that they can't change.

    i know a couple that broke up because the girl told the guy that the internal rolling and unrolling of a foreskin felt wonderful. the bummer is, her current boyfriend was circumsized. he got a complex about it and they split up. it didn't matter that before that she'd told him and others that she preferred the look and mouth-feel of cut guys.

  59. I really dont think removing any natural part of a body is right. There are millions of 'whole' men that lead normal, healthy, unsmelly, sexual lives for circumcision to never be seen as a necessity.

    Saying it's unhygienic is just a mothers vindication of mutilating her own child or not giving head to her partner! I dont know any decent man that would let you do that without being clean.

    Aesthetically, I prefer with :)

  60. My son is two and a half months old and was circumcised in the hospital at birth. At the time, and throughout pregnancy I was pretty set on circumcision. Now I'm sorry about it. I feel really sad about losing a little part of him that was so pretty... and I can't give myself a satisfactory answer of why we did it. I keep obsessing about it, and I've been really depressed. Is there someone else out there struggling with the same issue, and how did you reconcile if you did? He's a beautiful boy, and I want to get over with it, so please help.

  61. There's not much you can do about it after the fact, except don't beat yourself up about it, leave any future sons intact, and maybe tell other mothers-to-be about how you feel.

    You're not alone though. One of the leading intactivists (Marilyn Milos) has three circumcised sons, but went on to advise parents against circumcising, then founded an anti-circumcision organization, and has appeared on the Penn & Teller show speaking out against circumcision.

  62. There is way too much emotion over circumcision. I had the surgery in my mid thirties because of developing phimosis after my wife and I traded yeast infections back and forth for six years. It had nothing to do with not being clean. Sensation did not change. The infections stopped. Circumcision is an outpatient surgery, but it is not easy. Healing takes longer for an older person. Parents need to decide which way they believe is best and go with it. People who have their sons circumcised do it because they believe it is best. Circumcised or not, sons will be fine. Help them be proud of themselves. Don't transfer guilt either way to your son.

  63. Perhaps you didn't know that phimosis can be easily cured by a simple application of a steroid cream, and that most likely you had phimosis due to mistreating your foreskin by premature retraction..

    And that you are not aware that yeast infection have the same prevalence in intact men as circumcised men--it is only that the more sensitive intact man feel it, and are more likely to get it cured and not pass it to their partner

  64. HOW can removing the majority of the penile nerves NOT result in a loss of sensation and sensitivity?

  65. I gotta ask those of you who think it is important for your son to "match" his father...

    Are you going around showing each other your penis'? How in the world is your son going to know whether you are in tact or not?

    Sorry, but I'm a bit disturbed.

    I have NO IDEA if my father is...

    Just a thought.

  66. Why SHOULD a son match his father with a disfigured penis?

    The son obviously does not care--perhaps it is the poor father who is concerned--a constant reminder of what HE is missing?

    Like the abused become abusers, the circumcised become circumcisers perpetuating the abuse?

  67. Circumcision has really become a controversial subject. I have three sons and I have chosen to circumcise all three due to the doctors suggestion. However, my grandfather was plagued with frequent infections due to not being circumcised and I didn't want to risk that for my sons. Whichever way people decide, I think both sides should be respected.

  68. I am sorry, but no I did NOT have my son circumcised. His father wasn't until he was in his middle 2o's. I was not about to cause my son to go through that experience without some sort of pain medication. My ex husband agreed and said it should be his decision later.
    Now, as for how my preference went, let's just say after my ex husband was healed enough to have sex, I wanted him to go back and have it re-attached. What once was a great sexual partner, turned into Mr 2 seconds.(no joke). I remained sexually disappointed the rest of our marriage. I still prefer uncircumcised, thankfully we have the right to have a choice.


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