Before I go any further I need to make one very important statement. If you are every watching my boys, or any intact boy for that matter, do not, I repeat, DO NOT retract the foreskin! That can cause adhesions and damage and possibly future complications leading to a circumcision later in life. We will get into that a little more in a moment, just wanted to state it now, in case you don’t make it all the way through this post.
When we were pregnant with The Nacho we did not find out if the baby was a boy or a girl, but I had this gut feeling that it was a girl. I just knew it. I think that’s why it was so much easier coming up with a boy name since I had a deep down gut feeling that I wouldn’t have to use the name (which was Sawyer William, btw.) So anyway, one day my husband mentioned that if the baby was a boy he didn’t want to circumcise. My first reaction was “WHAT???? Why in the heck would we NOT circumcise? That’s just crazy talk!” But we never revisited the conversation after that. I never felt the need to do any research into the subject because again, I knew it was a girl.
Fast forward to the twins pregnancy; I had just found out the babies were boys and I knew the circ topic was going to come up again. I decided to do my research because I was going to prove Dave wrong. I wanted some good solid evidence to prove why circumcision was necessary. But instead I found my mind getting changed pretty quickly. The more I read, the more I was convinced that I did NOT want to circ the boys. I also became very relieved that my feelings about The Nacho being a girl were true; I hate to think what I would have done had I been wrong and never did any research.
I think that the decision to circumcise or not is a decision all future parents should make. Just because I decided not to circ my boys doesn’t mean I think people that do circ are wrong, it was their decision and it doesn’t matter to me at all. I do wish more people looked into WHY they are cutting off a part of their son instead of just doing it, but it is what it is. I am quite proud of Dave and I for doing our research and making an informed decision. A few people that I talked to, when they seemed so appalled that we were leaving our boys intact and asked us why we weren’t going to circ, I turned the question around on them and ask why we should circ. And every single time, the answer I got was “because, that’s what you do.” Well, sorry, that’s not a good enough reason for me. I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to convince my children to be their own person, to not follow the crowd, to not cave to peer pressure. Haven’t we all head the phrase “If all your friends jump off a cliff, are you going to jump too?” Well, let’s just say to me, circumcision is the cliff, and I am not jumping just because everyone else did. The second response I usually get after that is, well he’s going to be the only one in the locker room, he’s going to get made fun of. To that I say, no, he is not going to be the only one, see bullet point number 6 below. And I am going to tell the boys that if someone tries to make fun of them for being intact to turn the tables on that person and ask him why he was looking so closely at another man’s penis. That should stop any mocking in its tracks.
Ok, on to the information I found online. The first thing I came across when I starting my research was a list of bullet points called the top 10 reasons not to circumcise your son. I have made a few comments on some of these points.
1. The foreskin is healthy tissue which would be the size of a postcard in an adult man. There are nerves in the foreskin which are NOT in the head of the penis and which only exist in the lips and fingertips.
2. The foreskin rarely becomes diseased and only requires circumcision in cases of cancer, gangrene, etc., like any other body part. And if a man should get a yeast or bacterial infection, as women routinely do at much greater rates, they can be easily treated with creams or medicine, as women are.
•No major medical group recommends or endorses routine infant circumcision. Not the AAP, not the AMA, none of them
-- Circumcision is not recommended by any national medical association in the world. Fifteen national and international medical associations have extensively studied infant circumcision and its effects and found no significant evidence to support this practice. In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that infant circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure. The circumcision policy statements of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians have concurred with this position. The AMA calls infant circumcision “non-therapeutic.” (http://www.nocircpa.org/4642.html)
•More and more research is showing that circumcision does NOT prevent things such as prostate cancer, AIDS, STDs, etc… I mean think about it, how can a little flap of skin at the tip of the penis cause cancer of the prostate, an organ inside the body? Just doesn’t make sense.
3. A baby's foreskin is easy to care for as it is adhered to the head of the penis with the same tissue that adheres your fingernails to your fingertips. You do not have to pull it back to clean it, and to do so causes scarring and damage. You simply wipe it off like a finger. When the foreskin naturally retracts (anytime between age 3 and puberty), the boy only has to swish it in the water to clean it. I don't know about you, but every boy I know has no problem getting that penis EXTRA-clean in the shower or bath!
•One again, if they are intact DO NOT RETRACT! Wipe the penis the way you would a finger and that’s that. Cleaning my boys has been WAY easier than it was/is cleaning The Nacho.
•Penises are self-cleaning and have been for hundreds of thousands of years. Urine is sterile, and the interior of the penis is washed at each urination. The other secretions are are moisturizers and the body's first-line of protection against pathogens. Its appearance, just as it [is] in females, is no cause for alarm.
•Many cases of UTI and other irritations and infections can be traced directly to genital tampering, not to failure of hygiene.
•The notion that boys need aggressive cleaning is an invented one, which dates to the 1870's and was part of an advertising campaign for circumcision. The notion does not exist outside the influence of Anglo-American medicine.
•I read somewhere that the myth of retracting the foreskin to clean was based on the masturbation paranoia: “Especially widely publicized was the notion that a build-up of smegma, a protective secretion both boys' and girls' genitalia naturally produce, might cause unwanted stimulation, then termed 'irritation'. This stimulation might draw a child's attention to his penis (or her clitoris)—so goes the theory—which he or she might then touch. Even casual genital exploration by the child was thought to cause tuberculosis, insanity, blindness, idiocy, hip malformation, unusual hair growth, and dozens of other conditions.2 As late as the 1930s, some doctors advised parents to tie scratchy muslin bags, especially made for the purpose, on the hands of boys and girls, to prevent even inadvertent genital contact during sleep. Parents were also advised to retract their boy's foreskin and scrub out any 'dangerous' secretions regularly, or have the boy circumcised so these could not possibly accumulate. Throughout the 20th century in all English-speaking countries, forced retraction for genital cleaning became standard medical practice. Millions of living, intact Anglo men, it is safe to say, were forcibly—and painfully—retracted as children.”
4. Routine infant circumcision was started in this country in victorian times as a way to prevent masturbation. Dr. Kellogg, the main proponent, knew and said that circumcision removed the most sensitive part of the penis.
•The more I researched this point the more disturbed I became.
5. An intact penis provides more pleasure for a woman b/c of the gentle gliding motion which both keeps the woman's natural lubrication in the vagina and prevents chafing.
•Although I don’t really want to think of my infants as sexual beings, it is a fact of life. One day they will grow up, and one day they will be sexually active. I’m only thinking about this point a little bit, and then I’m moving on. My boys, and their future wives can thank me later.
6. Only half of boys born today in the US are circumcised. This has dropped from a high of 85% one generation ago, and continues to drop. Worldwide, only 15% of men are circumcised, and those are all Jewish and Muslim. A boy is as likely to be made fun of for being circumcised as for being intact. Your husband's experience in the locker room is inapplicable 30 years later. In addition, with all of this information readily available on the internet, as your son grows, he will definitely know the difference and it won't be just rumor as it was for our generation.
•Here is a great map that shows the circ rates in the US: http://mgmbill.org/statistics.htm You will notice in Texas only 26-50% of the male population is circumcised.
•Here is a map that shows the circ rate across the globe. http://fullmoonsdaughter.com/blog/2010/05/who-still-cuts-penises You will notice that the only country that circs more than us is Nigeria. Wow!
7. Most circumcisions are performed without adequate anesthesia (even a nerve block doesn't get the vagus nerve.) Sugar water definitely doesn't dull the pain. Newborns are proven to feel pain more acutely than adults b/c of their nervous system immaturity.
•I saw a really funny blunt card once about this. But of course now that I am looking for it, I can’t find it. If I ever come across it again, I will post it.
8. The selling of foreskins from circumcision is big business. They are made into face creams. Is that where you want your son's body part to go?
•* Cosmetics: Foreskins are used to make high-end skin creams. The skin products contain fibroblasts grown on the foreskin and harvested from it. One foreskin can be used for decades to produce fancy face cream like the SkinMedica products hawked on Oprah.
* Skin grafts: In addition to making products for skin, a baby’s foreskin can be turned into a skin graft for a burn victim. Because the cells are extremely flexible, they’re less likely to be rejected. Currently, this technology can be lifesaving in providing a real skin “band aid” to cover an open wound while a burn victim heals. Researchers at Harvard and Tufts are working on advanced skin replacements that use human foreskins.
* Cosmetic testing: All those cruelty-free cosmetics you buy? Some of them are tested on foreskins. This yields better results, since they’re human skin. And it saves the lives of the rodents your shampoo would otherwise be tested on.
9. The New Testament specifically says that Christians are not supposed to be circumcised. See Galatians 5:6. In short, circumcision was the old covenant and Jesus the new covenant. There are even Jews who reject circumcision.
•Here is a great site that goes into good detail about being a Christian and circumcising: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/information-on-circumcision-for.html This is actually a really good website period. Lots of good circ info on here. It was probably one of my main go to sites when doing my research.
10. There are no other cosmetic surgeries that parents are permitted to perform on their children without the child's consent. If the child grows to maturity and still wants to be circumcised, he can then have it done, and b/c his penis is fully grown, the doctor will be able to tell how much to remove and the man will have adequate pain relief during and after. Though the parents may have aesthetic preferences, the child may not share them. (Do you listen to your parents' music or wear your hair like theirs?)
Here are a few more resources I relied on when trying to make my decision. First, here is a really good video called Circumcision: An Elephant in the Hospital. When I say it’s a really good video, I mean it is a REALLY GOOD VIDEO. Go watch it.
Here are a few more websites that I found really helpful.
* I know I already posted this one in a comment on bullet number 9, but it a really good site called peaceful parenting: http://www.drmomma.org/
* Intact America: http://www.intactamerica.org/
* The Whole Network: http://www.thewholenetwork.org/
* Some random blog I came across: http://www.jobdescriptionmommy.com/job-description-mommy/2012/04/invaluable-circumcision-resources.html
And one last time, for good measure. IF INTACT, DON'T RETRACT! If I find out you chose to disregard that piece of information and forcibly retract one of my son’s foreskin, you can be guarantee you will not be allowed to touch any of my children ever again. (Sorry, a little tense about this because I have already had one person say to me, “I don’t know about that, I just don’t see how that’s sanitary.” So I am very on edge about this person hurting my child because they apparently know everything there is to know about caring for an intact male and the rest of us are wrong so they are going to go ahead an retract the foreskin against my wishes.)