May 5, 2005

RE: Your Son's Penis

Got your attention now? Not being the father of a boy, I've never had to decide the fate of another man's penis. And so whatever perspective or advice I might've come up about circumcision with didn't seem worth that much to a new dad who DOES have to make the choice. But DT reader and dad-to-be-of-a-boy Gregg asked anyway, so I thought I'd throw it out there. I hope we can get some reasoned, non-confrontational advice here; this is one of those topics where sure, it's funny, until somebody gets an eye poked out.

Obviously, Circumcision's not too tough of a choice for whole swaths of the population: observant Jews (duh, yes), unobservant Americans (duh, sure) or unobservant Rest-of-the-worlders (duh, no, are you kidding?). But for some people, the shifts in culture, norms, and medical rationales are big enough to make you stop and think. Which is probably a good thing, considering that we're talking about cutting off part of your brand new child's penis.

Frankly, everything I've ever heard about the medical benefits or risks for circumcision sounds to me like rationalization for a decision that's already been made.

It seems that once you pull it back the cover of a rare medical condition or strongly held cultural/religious beliefs, the real sensitive tip of this issue, so to speak, is either aesthetics or, or...some deepset sense of a dad's self/identity/some mumbo jumbo I can't figure out.

If it's an aesthetic choice, for Pete's sake, don't cut. Dress the kid however you want, cut his hair funny, decorate his nursery as if it were your personal fantasyland, but let the kid decide for himself when he's older if he wants a foreskin or not. It's not your penis, and after he's out of diapers and stopped wetting the bed, it's not really your business anymore.

As for this deeper, more complicated explanation, you'll recognize it immediately: "a boy should look like his dad." If this is your reasoning, please take a minute and ask yourself, honestly, as a son, when and how was it EVER important to you that your penis is the same cut as your father's? In what situations was this an issue? My father's given me my hairline and my nose. How is this not enough?

This is why I think the "should look like his dad" thing is something entirely about the dad, and not about the son. On that basis alone, I'd be skeptical about deciding one way or the other about circumcision. I'd want to figure out the reasons behind the "should." Of course, if you can answer that question to your own satisfaction, then you're ready to either schedule the mohel, or get the kid the hell outta there before someone starts snipping.

[Feel free to share, but be respectful; please don't make me cut this off prematurely.]

56 Comments

(duck and cover)

I left my son's alone but there is one good reason to cut: women prefer the cut penis. Like you said, he can allways do it later. What's weird is how the grandparents will pressure people to do it.

I do indeed remember one friend high school, Chip, who was not circumcised. And although this did lead to many late night parties where girls took a keen interest in seeing what his penis looked like - touching it was another matter.

I want women to not be afraid to touch my son's penis.. Nope, nothing wierd about that at all..

Really.

As a father with only a daughter, I want her to be afraid to touch your son's penis...

Hmm, good topic, thanks for starting.

Hadn't considered the "let him decide, its his penis" argument, good point.

Though the comment above, about grandparent pressure, leads to a thought. Fabulous way to continue my teenage rebellion.....

once I read up about it, I was (ahem) pissed that my parents didnt leave me alone. what did my little weewee do to deserve such treatment? therefore, I left my kid alone.

I think the "women prefer" argument is rather foolish. first of all, says who? secondly, it assumes your kid will be sleeping around, or at least that his potential future mate will make that a deciding factor on a relationship. yikes.

one factor that really weirds me out is that some intact men in their 70s and 80s apparently need to get it trimmed, as it impedes their bodily functions. and I'm sure that hurts. a lot.

I am the mother of a 2 yo son. I knew right away that I wouldn't cut my son. My hubby wasn't far behind me (he was cut, but he has one of those penises that folds away for travel, so it kinda looks uncut when flaccid) when I asked him to visualize his own circumcision -- OUCH! My dad asked about the circ issue and was happy to find out we were firmly on the "NO thank you" end of things and kindly offered to be the future boys mentor in all things foreskin.

Then, when my son was born, and turned out to be a he, it was discovered that he had a common malformation called hypospadius that meant not only was his urethral opening not in the right place (we were lucky in that it was only a few mms off) but that his foreskin only grew on the top of his glans and not the bottom - apparently where my son's DNA was not smart enough to place his urethral opening in the right spot, it had the foresight to at least keep the foreskin out of the way so the pee wouldn't get caught up inside of it.

The surgeon's pronouncement: "At 1 year of age, the foreskin will have to go."

For a week after surgery, where he was fully sedated and they seperated the foreskin from the glans and then snipped it off the penis and further sewed the skin of the penis to the glans, on constant liquid codeine and dramamine to keep him numbed and less active, that boy screamed so loudly and desperately every time he peed that my heart broke into a milliono pieces a dozen times a day.

After receiving first hand confirmation on not only the insane pain of a healing circumcision but also the extreme sensitivity of the male member at any age, I can never think of circumcision as something other than barbaric.

I tried to talk our doc into a modified circ, but I think he was a little snip happy to be bothered taking the extra time.

Besides, by the time I was in my 20s and enjoying a healthily active sexual life, I enjoyed my time with uncirced guys FAR more than circed guys.

Unless a guy is a total slob, and who'd want to be intimate with a guy like that, most men are quite clean about their penises, and the uncirced ones are consciously clean about theirs, unlike their circed counterparts who really only have to worry about ball sweat. The foreskin becomes yet another element in the sexual equation and is quite fun to play with.

Instead of circing our sons so that they'll be more acceptable to fussy girls, perhaps we should be teaching our daughters to love the human body in all its glory.

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement says...

"Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision." (There are also risks detailed in the policy statement.)

"Circumcision is uncommon in Asia, South America, Central America, and most of Europe. In Canada, ~48% of males are circumcised. Some groups such as followers of the Jewish and Islamic faiths practice circumcision for religious and cultural reasons." (Reliable data for the USA doesn't exist.)

Any father forcing his son to have this genital surgery should first observe such a surgery on video tape, and then be in the room for his son's surgery. If you skip the video tape, you run the risk of living with deep regret at what you may later consider to be the mutilation of your child. As my mother told me, circumcision wasn't questioned 30 years ago. The surgery is questioned today. I believe its frequency is dropping and attitudes are changing.

Man, with the way the wife and I are with making difficult decisions, it makes me glad we had a girl! I don't know what we'll do if we have another and it is a boy!

These are some pretty good perspectives, though!

i for one would like to express my disappointment that there are not more double es in the comments.

religious or medical reasons aside, i've always been a little curious about the "look like dad" or "don't want to be different than the boys in the locker room" arguments. maybe i'm surpressing some memories, but i just don't remember spending that much time thinking about it.

regarding women preferring circumsized penises, i'd like to see the, er, rigorous, studies to support that claim. certainly there are plenty of anectodes to support both sides. clearly, more study is needed.

I dated an uncirced Belgian for a couple of years. I never knew he was uncirced because, well, most of the times that I saw it, it was dark and the thing was erect. I had quite a shock one day when I poked my head in on him having a pee. That being said, I didn't care. The penis was fine. It was the guy that was a dick.

Mamaloo, I'll tell my sons to love their bodies, and tell my daughter to love a rumpled foreskin, but can someone tell my daughter that she doesn't need a boob job at 17!!

My boys are circumcized, and I don't regret it at all. And I grew up in Sweden, with communal saunas and rumpled foreskins everywhere!! Frankly, uncut, they really aren't that attractive. Perhaps why I married one of the 48% of Canadians. Keeping the tradition alive I guess.

Not that I've had to make the decision being a daughter's dad, but I don't really buy the "look-alike" arguments. Frankly, I don't really want my penis looking like my dad's. I love him and all, but well, I guess it's my way of rebelling. (But it's too late.)

And in 7th grade, I remember trying to hide and not look at everyone else's when in the lockerroom. I don't think I even knew if my best friend was circ'ed or not.

Women have preferences? Sure. And size has its followers too. However, I think it would all boil down to the guy as a whole, and not just one piece (or lack thereof).

I think the Rumpledforeskin comments go in the "books that don't annoy me" section. [unless, as we're finding out, they do.]

My son is 2 years old now - and I wrestled with this decision when he was born, and have thought about it since when it's come up on discussion boards. We decided to have my son circumsized, and we don't regret it. When it was done, it was not terribly traumatic to him - if the amount of time he spent crying after it was done is any indication (not much crying at all). In fact, I was surprised by how little he cried. YMMV.

What decided it for me, is that I am circumsized, and I like my penis. It is the very best penis that I have had any personal experience with. I haven't read anything that convinced me that people who are uncircumsized enjoy their penises more - so I made sure he had the very best type of penis that I personally know.

I'm sure I would have made the opposite decision if I was uncircumsized.

If my son comes to me later in life, and asks why I performed 'genital mutilation' on him, I suppose I'll deal with it then. But since I have never had the same question for my parents, I'm going to assume it won't come up.

Sorry, but I could'nt resist.

[yow, watch out for the madman with the game shears; man or woman, he'll cutchya. -ed.]

My son was born in Rio de Janiero (we wanted him to have a second passport) in January of this year.

My wife left the decision as to whether to circumcise or not up to me. I decided in favor of it for two reasons: to have him 'look like dad'; and to spare him the taunts of 'dick cheese and toast' my roommate in college endured from otherwise reasonable guys.

Circumcision is not common in Brazil, so we (I) contacted the local Jewish community, got the name of a mohel (a urologist) and had him come over to our Copacabana digs. As I held his little hands, the mohel performed the circumcision right there on the kitchen table.

As a Catholic, I was astonished at not only how much participating in this ancient ritual made me reflect on the origins of my faith, but on how the rite bonded me to my son.

Hate to say it but I don't find penises that attractive, period. Uncut or cut, doesn't make a difference to me. It's just a penis. My first penis was uncut and it never bothered me or excited me either way (except for the excitement of seeing my boyfriend naked of course). My dad and brother are both uncut so maybe that's why it never seemed that important to me (not that they hung em out all the time). I just don't feel that it's necessary- my brother and dad never seemed to have any problems. My mom felt it was cruel and I guess my dad didn't care or thought his son should look like him. Teach them how to clean it, she said, and it's no big deal.

Now as a (secular) Jew, circumcision doesn't really mean that much to me, but since it means something to my husband, I'll let him make the decision. I wish he agreed with me because I really feel it's unncessary in this day and age and if it was female circumcision we were talking about, I would definitely be saying NO WAY. Just because it's commonly acceptable in the culture doesn't make it the right thing to do.

I would for sure circumcize a newborn boy, mainly due to the problems that friends of mine have had with uncircumcized boys. They are more prone to urinary tract infections and other bacteria. I know a woman who's son had 7 urinary tract infections before she finally had him circumcized at a few months old. He never had one again.

Plus when they get a little older, the cleaning of the foreskin is quite painful I have been told.

My son is 15 months old. I told my husband that he was in charge of the penis and he decided no circ, which means "not like daddy." It's not that he dislikes his own penis, he just did the reading and decided it was unnecessary and so why do it? Our son hasn't had a single urinary tract infection, and I can't imagine ANYTHING about his penis is painful -- it pains his father and I to see the way he s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s it when he grabs it by chance on the changing table.

Actually, none of the little boys I know here are circumcized other than the Jewish ones. It's that kind of granola town, though.

We're due to have our son in 3 weeks, and we're having him circumcised, our reasons being:
The spouse is going with the "look like dad" argument, which I can understand. Although I suspect it may equally have to do with sentimentality as well as an attempt to avoid any "why doesn't mine look like that" questions he would definitely get after our son snuck up behind him while he took a leak some day if we didn't have it snipped, in addition to the avoidance of any pubescent locker room harassment.
I support the circumcision because, honestly, I've never seen an uncircumcised penis. I suppose I would rather stick to something that I am familiar with. I also feel that to snip or not to snip should ultimately be my spouse's decision for our son because it is his general area of expertise, and he would know more about any social or personal ramifications than I could ever attempt to empathize with. If he says snip, I support it. As for our son later being disappointed with our decision, hopefully we are able to sustain a loving and healthy enough relationship with him that he retains a certain sense of pride and respect to be included in a male familial tradition, and does not hold the circumcision against us.

During our childbirth preparation classes, we were shown a video of several different methods of circumcision being performed. It definitely wasn't something I would want to view again, but after watching several videos following that of cesarians and episiotomies, I came away from it feeling that it could be worse. Besides, as I've recently discovered through discussing the topic with my mother, my father and brother are both circumcised as well, and my mother assured me the healing time and process really wasn't a big deal.

I'm Jewish, and we chose to circumcize our son (and to the person who wrote that the father should be in the room when this happens -- yes, his father was in the room. Also both his grandfathers. And me).

As far as parenting decisions go I feel like this should be an easy one: there are two choices, each shared by roughly 1/2 of the male population (if our good friends to the north are any indication). When I got this ball rolling I was fairly certain that I was in the snip camp, but I figured that since it's been 38 years since this came up for me things may have changed. While I have no traumatic recovered memories of the event and things have worked out well enough in that department I don't want my son to come to me in x years and ask, "How could you?!" So now I'm inclined to leave well enough alone, although from an evolutionary (or creationist if you must) standpoint that is one maladapted organ, cut or no. I guess I'm much less concerned about what it looks like than what he does with it later in life. Is there an owner's manual available for these things. btw, we just got our 4-D ultrasound pix and as far as I can tell the boy has a good looking penis.

Now that I've gotten this decision out of the way I can obsess about strollers.

Here is a story for you: My husband (an Austrian) was not cut as a baby. Fast forward to age 17, the first time he had sex with his girlfriend, the skin was too tight and all it was for him was a bunch of pain (although I guess that made him more understanding of the things women can go through...)

So at age 17 he was taken by his mother to be curcumcised. Apparently it was so painful he couldn't move from the couch for more than a week after.

I don't know if its in the DNA but the look on his face when he told me the story is enough to convince me to circumicse any boy we have!

Because there's nothing traumatic for a 17-year old about being taken by his mother to get circumsized.

When I was in HS, I worked part-time as a waiter. One of the cooks, probably 18-20, told us he'd be off for a few days because he was getting circumsized, and everyone was like, "thanks for sharing, buddy." Then after our (female) mgr came up to me and was all, "Is that for real? I thought all guys just got it done when they were born." And I'm like, "why are you asking me this?" And she was all, ...

What, that's how people talked in high school.

My wife totally left the decision on circumcision for our son up to me.

"I don't have one," she said, "it's your department."

And I went with circumcision. Not because of the look-like-me, thing, though, or not exactly. See, I have no idea how to care for, feed, or clean an uncircumcised penis, having never met one and never really wanting to. It would have been pretty cruel to say to a one week-old: "okay, kid, I don't know how to take care of that. You're on your own."

As far as pain, the kid was gone for thirty minutes and the doctor used a local anesthetic. He was sleeping when he left and sleeping when he got back and he never made a peep when I would doctor it up with A&D during diaper changes. At ten days it was completely healed. Your mileage may vary, of course.

As it is, it's a deeply personal thing and one of the first momentous decision new parents of a boy have to face. I know lots of people who've gone both ways on the subject and all of the kids are doing great.

You know, I've had a lot of urinary tract infections and vaginal infections in my lifetime. A LOT. Not once did I think, "hmmmm, if I cut all that junk down there off, I'll never get another infection". The theoretical-proactive-protection-from-possible- urinary-tract-infections argument is another of those bogus pro-circ arguments.

Also, the foreskin-was-too-tight-and-had-to-be- removed-as-an-adult argument.

Firstly, most people, leibnitz above excepted, hear about these things second or third hand. "My neighbour's sister's son had to be circed at 4 because of chronic UTIs" "My brother-in-law's cousin was circed at 3..." Blah blah blah. It sounds an awful lot like an urban legend.

I found this page Circumcision and urinary tract infection to be very helpful. It discusses (amongst many many other studies) a Scandinavian study that found that through the age of 6, girls experience more UTIs than boys and yet there isn't a surgical movement aimed at correcting for this like there is with preventative circumcision.

This article also talk about the origin of UTIs in boy and girl babies. It turns out that the major source of UTIs for boys is malformations in the urethra and exposure to external bacteria, which is exacerbated by circumcision. Funny, but I don't think that a circumcision would correct a urethral deformity.

Interesting stats found here

2003 stats for Canada
Percent of total births in Canada reporting - 74.64%
Percentage of Boys Circumcised - 11.46%
Percentage of Boys Intact - 88.14%

So, it looks like, at least in Canada, circing is waaaaaaay down. Just not the done thing.

And expecting parents of boys should not fail to thoroughly read Complications of Circumcision , as well as Circumcision Deaths because this is surgery we are talking about.

To Expectant Parents: Please make an informed decision when you surrender your male children for surgery following birth. This isn't about you, this is someone else's body you are making decisions about. There is no medical basis for routine genital surgery on infant boys. No medical association in the world supports routine genital surgery for infant boys. Such non-medical genital alterations are tanatamount to mutilation. Please consider carefully whether you wish to make your newborn a candidate for circumcision.

Just because I'm feeling like a pitbull (and now that I've sunk my teeth in, I can't seem to let go)...

Harold, how absolutely ridiculous your argument is!

My husband never knew how to diaper our son until I showed him.

I didn't know how to breastfeed my son, so I went to a Lactation Consultant.

You know, I didn't know how to multiply 2 by 2 until I went to elementary school!

If you don't know how to care for an intact penis YOU FIND OUT! You don't cut the mystery skin off.

It's like the men-and-maps stereotype, only, there is a a reason it's become a stereotype: some men just don't bother to ask.

We decided to cut only if we could prove there was proven medical benefits. My wife is a nurse and a midwife so real research was needed. The recent information showing that circumcized boys were far less likely to contract Aids was all that we needed. We felt bad for our son, but this research was well done and might save his life in the future.

Hey, think of the children. And their penises.

The only thing I know needs cutting back on is the waving around of game shears and pitbulls and phrases like "tantamount to mutilation."

For people making medically based claims, a link would be helpful. Not that we don't trust you, of course.

Just that I'd want to have more to go on than "Well, son, before you were born, I read in an anonymous comment on some blog that Europe's rapidly declining birthrate was due to the women over there not liking foreskins, and so I thought it'd help you get some mad play during your junior year abroad."

I never waved that pitbull around! That's tantamount to libel!

I did feel the overwhelming compulsion to point out that schooling one's son in the use of condoms will dramatically reduce the possibility of becoming infected with HIV and developing AIDS. I'm pretty sure I don't need a link to back me up when I say that condoms are far more effective than circumcision in protecting one from HIV and AIDS.

I would DEFINITELY like to see those circumcized boys with less AIDS stats -- is that in the US and Europe, or are we talking about the correlation effect of countries with high AIDS and low circumcision rates?

You know, not that I had the most active social life before I got married, but by the time it got to the point of getting to see a guy's penis, I was already liking him enough that cicumcision or not wouldn't be a deal killer.

The Aids-circumcision study was based on data gathered in India, wasn't it? No offense, but hygiene, sexual practives and availablility of condoms are WAY different there than in the good old USA

Oh, I was wrong, a simple google search shows that the study was in Africa. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/background_briefings/aids/434880.stm

Ah, but the next link shows that a study was done in India too. My memory never fails me.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3570223.stm

We have a girl--not circumcised. Had she been a boy, I was adamant that no circumcision would occur. I grew up in a European country where circumcision is not common. I see no reason to do it, other than maybe religion.

OMG...would someone burn that soapbox please.

Drivel. There is nothing wrong with the argument...."just like dad." My husband didn't have to make an argument, when I asked, he took a second, scanned the memory bank of his life, looked for unpleasant memories associated with making his penis look like a rocket vs. a sea cucumber and decided....YES. So, my boys, and most of the kids at the pool too, are all circumcized.

PS - mmloo. My father, at 55, had to be circumcized. So, it isn't just heresay. Just cuz it happened to a brother's sister's cousin, doesn't make it any less valid.

But a VERY interesting conundrum that my best friend finds herself/husband/son in currently...do they circumcize their three year old adopted son!!??? She says yes, Daddy says maybe. What do YOU say???

You raise an interesting point with the adoptive son question. In a divorce-happy, blended-family, adoption-friendly culture like ours, any baby boy may have a succession of "dads", not all of whom are cut.

So *which* dad should the boy look like? It's not a reversible procedure, so I move that we leave boys uncut, and let them decide for themselves :-)

The "all the boys at the pool are cut" defense isn't very compelling. Although, writ large, in some places it's a societal / national heritage thing. Hence my comment that I wouldn't do it *because* I wasn't raised in that tradition--and it's not a tradition that I can bring myself to embrace. I also don't like [north] american football or hockey.

Actually, I thought I heard recently about someone getting the procedure reversed??

What would compel a man to reverse the procedure? I don;t really want to know, but I wonder....

An episiotomy can be sewn up, as we learned recently, so it's "reversible". But the after-effects of the original procedure can linger for a lifetime. Now, watch, Uma will jump in with the story of how she got cut with every birth and is damn happy about her scars ;-). All the moms at the pool have them....

It's not just about a hunk of skin to be worn or discarded depending on your partner's preference, is it? We're talking scalpels and babies here. Freaks me out. Although, I did let the midwife cut the cord, rather than insisting that I gnaw it myself, so I'm not completely blade-averse

But, lest I attract the vitriole that often emerges on this board, let me say that I applaud any parent who acts in the best interests of their child.

Most of the arguments (besides the obvious religious ones) have to do with cosmetics.

Anyone considering circumcizing a child should ask if they would have any other cosmetic surgery performed on the child. Would you have a nose job performed if the nose wasn't cute enough? Would you even pierce a daughter's ears right after birth so she could start wearing jewellery? If your answer is no to either of these questions, you should probably seriously question any inclination towards circumcision.

A lot of other concerns have to do with learning simple hygiene techniques, including how to wash oneself and how to put on a condom. These are basic life skills, and really shouldn't be the reason for a (major life) decision made at birth.

My husband and I chose not to circumcize our son. Before he was born, I didn't have an opinion and my husband was adamantly against it. Now I am probably even more against it than even my husband. If you feel strongly about circumcizing the child, I suggest waiting a few weeks to a month -- there's no rush -- and once you are used to the way your son looks, you might not ever want to unnecessarily change him.

My understanding was that if the circ is done soon after birth - it is less traumatic than otherwise. My son didn't seem to undergo any trauma at all (YMMV) and by keeping his diaper loaded up with A&D - he didn't seem to experience any afterwards. I don't know that it wouldn't be just as easy after waiting a week or so - and I definately know that we would rather have it done while we were still at the hospital, rather than come back a week later. It wasn't a snap decision we made, but one made after careful consideration.

I believe circumcision is a personal decision made by the parents - one of many many decisons that you will be making for them until they turn 18. My prediction is that my son will be a lot more pissed off about the fact that his mom won't let him get an earing, or a facial tattoo, or whatever the kids will be doing 15 years from now, than about his circumcision.

i don't intend to enter the fray, and am content with my decision to circumcise my son. i am surprised, though, to not see first-hand account of witnessing an actual hospital-performed procedure, so i'll share mine. i'm not advocating or criticizing, just adding my first-hand experience.

our ob-gyn and i took my son and placed him on the sterile table. she (the doctor) placed the clamp on his foreskin - some fussing at this point, it took about 60 seconds to get it on just right. she placed some topical pain relief which settled him down. in a quick action, the razor did most of it's work, to a pretty good squeal (but not anything like a couple that we've heard since). wanting to make sure it "was a nice clean job," the doctor touched things up a bit before taking the clamp off. my son was fussing but not screeching through this.

off came the clamp, on went the dressing. my baby was calm by the time he was back in my arms.

all of the circumcisions i've seen before, at the bris's of friends and famliy, were vastly more traumatic for everyone involved.

My newborn son is six weeks old will remain intact unless he decides differently. He is healthy, happy and free from urinary tract infections. When we interviewed pediatricians everyone of them opined that circumcision was, if not harmful (some sensitivity is lost), at least unnecessary. Everyone of them!

When I was nine years old it was determined that the circumcision performed on me as an infant was "inadequate" and decided, without any input from me, that I should have it done again. The embarassment, humiliation, lack of control of my own body, and substantial pain that I felt postsurgically left me with a unique perspective on the issue.

A parent has no right to make this determination for their child unless there are health issues at stake and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, circumcision is NOT medically necessary.

There are Ethiopians who find it aesthetically pleasing and more attractive to have the newborn girl's clitoris removed. That's medically unecessary. Anyone support it? At least your daughter is asking for the boob job, Uma.

It's always nice that people are willing cut away part of their son's penis because they think it's icky and unattractive. Thank goodness there wasn't something horribly wrong with their child.

Here is what the AAP says:

A note from the AAP - [CIRP note: A potential benefit is one that has been suggested, but has not been realized. On the other hand, the risks, complications, disadvantages and certain injury of circumcision are real and proven.]

"Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child. 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."

Here is yet another statement by the AAP

"Below are news briefs on studies published in the January issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

For Release: Janaury 10, 2000, 5 p.m. (ET)

A Trade-off Analysis of Routine Newborn Circumcision looks at the risks and benefits associated with circumcision, and concludes that while circumcision remains a relatively safe procedure, for some parents, the risks reported may outweigh the potential benefits. Based on their study of 354,297 newborn male infants, researchers determined that a complication could be expected in 1 out of every 476 circumcisions.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This study was published in the supplement to the January issue of Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), but does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the Academy.
The AAP's policy on circumcision states that the benefits are not significant enough for the AAP to recommend circumcision as a routine procedure."

There's more if anyone has interest.

I hadn't made a totally solid decision on this, as we are only about to begin the ttc journey, but I think I've decided now. I think NOT.

I think the idea of making such a decision for the kid so that they will not be laughed at in the locker room is just silly - there will ALWAYS be something to be laughed at in the locker room. My hips developed earlier and I was called fat from the age of 11, even though I was tiny and petite. Would I give me daughter some magical pill to make her not develop to avoid such teasing? Hell, no - because it would just be something else! Adolescence just sucks and there are too many variables to think that an unnecessary surgery done to an infant is going to make it easier.

As a girl who... ahem... got around quite a bit, I was always fascinated and turned on by the few intact penises I saw. And I concur with those who say that I wouldn't want my son's potential sex-mates to be the kind of people who judge based on such matters.

And also I think all penises are sort of horrid cut or uncut. That will be enough of a hurdle for me to get over if I have a boy.

I think that boys much choose if they want or not. The penis belongs to them and not to their parents!!! Besides,a surgery isn't a good thing. Why should we operate our kid just because of that. It's "pretty", i don't think so. I think that penis must be as natural as possible.
And the excuse "people will laugh of him" is stupid, 'cause if you're a bit fat, very tall, very short or very thin, kids will laugh at you you in the same way. It's always like that when you're a teen.
DOn't do it to your kids, would you like if your parents didi the same?
let your baby boy choose, its his penis not yours.

Listen - there are so many choices we are going to have to make regarding the future health and well-being of our children. My wife and I have been struggling over the issue of which immunizations to give him (some being linked to Autism, etc). Clearly, there are no absolutes on the circumcision decision - such as - if he is cut his arms will fall off, or if he isn't cut, he will be socially stigimatized and become a serial-killer. So, frankly, cutting off a part of my child without some very clear consistent evidence was a bit of a no-brainer. Granted, I am not circumcized and that taints my view. But I'll have you know that I was more traumatized by the receding hair-line I got from my grandfather than being uncut.

After 30 years, and before the gender of my unborn baby was known, my mother out-of-the-blue apologized for having me circumcised. That's all I need to know.

Oh, and for some perspective, I was the last of four boys. Mom must have accepted circumcision blindly as a societal norm. I don't know what transpired over three decades to change her mind, but it's not a decision she can take back. I suspect she drew a parallel between it and the routine female genital mutilation that occurs in some other countries. I suppose they don't call it mutilation there, either. We have such nice clinical terms for slicing up our reproductive parts.

Genital mutilation is never ok, unless it is self-directed.

For those who claim religion as a reason, what makes you think your child will share your faith? I'm guessing my catholic family wasn't planning on an atheist kid, but wow, here I am!

I think this issue is really about people wanting soo very badly to project as much of themselves upon their offspring.

for those who claim that circ. is the mainstream look, get thee to Europe, or at least rent a few porn DVD's. Plenty of uncut members abound in both realms.

Luckily, for my boy, the genital mutilation in the Peters clan stops with me.

There are some strange arguments here in the pro-circumcision camp. One father notes that he didn't know how to care for an uncircumcised penis, so that's why he had his son snipped. Let's be grateful the bloke didn't have a daughter, or he might have taken a scalpel to her clitoris.

Others want the son's genitalia to look like his father's. Why? Guess what: dad's cock and balls are a lot bigger and hairier than your offspring's are going to be before he reaches puberty, but that's no reason to glue on a testicular wig or implant some silicone.

Is it really so hard to answer the question, "Mum, Dad, why does my dick look different to Dad's?". How about, "Well son, back in my day, people were arrogant enough to think that they could improve on millions of years of evolution, so they would routinely cut off their baby's foreskin. Instead, we decided to learn how to keep your penis clean rather than cut it off, but if you are deeply traumatised by this, we can always arrange an operation for you."

"Will my son ever be able to get a girlfriend?" ask others. Somehow, my American wife manages to cope with the fearsome look of my uncircumcised member. Women who don't like the look have simply become accustomed to the barbaric practice of amputating part of a child's genitals. That's hardly a justification for perpetuating the act.

In Europe, this is a non-issue for most people. Circumcision in The Netherlands is performed only for religious reasons, and even most Jews are now electing not to have it done. All of the claims of improved hygiene and resistance to disease have long since been debunked and ridiculed.

Let's be clear, calling it genital multilation is not hyperbolic language, because multilation is defined as "an injury that deprives you of a limb or other important body part". Many circumcised men cannot even achieve a climax after their forties, as the glans of the member is desensitised from decades of trouser rubbing. I'd say that makes it a pretty important body part.

Your child can always decide to have this or any other part of his body removed when he's old enough to understand exactly what he'll be losing. Strangely enough, few do.

Few people in the West still view female circumcision as anything less than barbaric. It destroys sexual sensation and mutilates the girl. For those reasons, it's illegal and carries stiff penalties. A large segment of the American population does not seem to realise that male circumcision is also a form of mutilation, albeit to a lesser degree. Nature designed little boys and girls quite well; they don't need human intervention to enhance them.

This is just another area where America is trailing the rest of the western world. Leave your little boys alone and let them make up their own mind. It's not your penis, after all.

I chose to have my son's penis cut. I've heard good arguments that it may not have been the right idea, but some soapbox/mutilation comments here go too far.

One comment includes: "Anyone considering circumcizing a child should ask if they would have any other cosmetic surgery performed on the child."

Of course I would. Any reasonable parent should!

Let's imagine this planet was devoid of the kind of people who are into boob jobs, circumcisions and, for that matter, pierced ears. We would still have a great need for cosmetic surgeons (burns, cuts, defects, some dental work, ear piercing, broken facail bones, etc.).

Even stitches are often cosmetic, and occasionally more traumatic than circumcision.

I hope cosmetic-argument/mutilation folks don't have pierced ears and, more to the point, would encourage others not to get pierced ears. At least one *can* make health arguments having to do with circumcision. The ears thing is just pure cosmetics.

Female circumsicion needs to end right now and is very different case. Male circumcision can fade away more slowly without keeping me up at night (I strongly disagree with Ian, Nicole, and MN Guy on their characterization).

I know plenty of women who would opt to go thru a procedure as not-so-painful as infant circumcision if it meant they never had to wax/shave their legs again. Having witnessed several circumcisions and a few wax jobs, I think the leg waxing appears (over time, of course) to add up to a far, far worse deal. Don't get me started on strict bikini line maintenance -- and that one is on the rise.

From my limited experience and educated guesses, I think many U.S. women are a bit uncomfortable with (and even turned off by) uncut penises. Not all of them are shallow, worthless people.

Let me end my blather by leading into a question: There are many arguments for leaving your kid uncut that are just silly. I used to think the whole sensitivity argument was one of them -- the idea that I could have been running around at 17 years old with a penis that was even more sensitive scared me. The LAST thing I needed then was more sensitivity and I don't need it now -- sex has always been more than great. But... the one thing that turned my head on this argument was someone telling me that many, many men lose sensitivity when they get older and would really be "saved" by being uncut. Ian backs this one up anectodally, but do any of you have more specific info that being uncut could "be the difference" in terms of sex for many men in their 40s, 60s, or older (ability to achieve orgasm, etc.)?

P.S. A guy I work every day (and have been friends with for 15 years) almost died during his circumcision. He still has the scars from the blood transfusion (at 8 days old) required to save him. Now *he* has a good argument. Of course, his son is circumcised.

This is turning out to be quite a locker roomful of different perspectives, and while I frankly never thought I'd say this about penises, thanks for sharing.

But now that the number of comments is out of its forties, I think we're becoming desensitized, and despite vigorous efforts on the one hand and the other, I don't think we're gonna come together on this point. So I'm gonna cut this off right here.

For tha ladies. After all, that's the way they like it, I hear, and it IS Mother's Day in the US.

Now if you feel really strongly about adding to the length here, there is a process--involves a lot of stretching and small, dangling weights, and there's no guarantee it'll work--so email me.

Seriously, thanks again, both for insights without flamewars, and for helping me to use up every one of the circumcision innuendos on my checklist here.

In Poland circumcision isn't popular, it's hmm socially unwanted.
Percentage of circumcised males was in 2006, some about 0,2%, the rest (99,8%) are uncut...
Our medical scientists, doctors - proved that we shouldn't change the nature. Removing of some parts of someone else - (even if it is our own child), cutting nerves in penis which are able to give more pleasure - is contradicting with ethics, morality, biology and human rights. I would never bring pain on my little son. Only aborigines, backward people or yokels can decide about someone else's individual, private parts... Let him paddle his own canoe. It should be individual decision. We respect ECHR, human rights and liberty. It's a part of humanity.
I can't believe that in US such values are disrespected.

I'm so disappointed.

Your not in any position to tell him he cant once you have physically proved to him with his own body that mutilation is ok. You teach by example whether you want to or not. You have no say now concerning any type of cosmetic mutilation, and that is all circumcision is until medical intervention is required. You would have to be able to accurately tell the future to justify prevention. Nobody has the right to enforced their thoughts or beliefs physically and permanently on someone else of any age. We are talking aboit human rights and individualitys, your believes now matter where you stand may not even be your sons. Do what you want with your own body and let nature run its course with your sons, at least that leaves you out of the guilt loop if something goes wrong naturally. Then you can jump on and offer help. Dont fix what aint broken.

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