to cut or not to cut?

by humanmama on March 15, 2012

Well, since we’re having a baby boy, some things need to change around here. He may not prefer pink and purple, the colors that are prominent around here with his two big sisters, and therefore some things might need to be bought, or dyed, or simply called “violet” instead. He will possibly not want to play with the Barbies, a new horrible fascination that family members have recently purchased for the girls even knowing my dislike of the Barbies… Although I admit, I’m powerless to stop the Barbie fascination–they love the Barbies with or without my approval. (Get used to it, right?)

He will probably be fine with the majority of trains, cars, tools, doctors’ kits, dress up clothes, books, and other gender non-specific things that we do have around here. One thing I’m pretty proud of is the fact that we haven’t pushed the “princess” thing at all, and even though they do get interested in princess-y things from seeing them with their friends, we’re really more into going outside and digging for worms around here, which I’m pretty sure will sit fine with Baby Brother. Unless he’d rather sit inside and play with Barbies, which would be okay. “Actually, no, please, bring them outside, it’s a gorgeous day.”

But there’s one thing that really must be thought about, and soon, and that’s the Big Cut. Circumcision. What are your thoughts? I must tell you that when I first thought about it, when I was pregnant the first time, I thought well of COURSE we’ll get a son circumcised! I mean, who wouldn’t?! It isn’t just the “health benefits,” but also the fact that an uncircumcised “peanut” looks a little like something got caught in the garden hose.

But now that I’m pregnant with a boy, I think Why do I think that? I’ve been conditioned to think that circumcised penises are better, just like I’ve been conditioned to think that being thin is better, and being pretty, and having long hair, or being tan, is better… So I’ve begun looking into the whole thing, quite a bit, and was wondering what y’all think.

Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend routine circumcision? Hmm. More research is definitely needed on my part.

Sooo, what did you do? Why? Or, what are your beliefs?

Nothing like a good Circumcision Discussion before noon to get your blood boiling!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole March 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm

It’s not currently recommended, but the AAP has been working on new recommendations for a while and the rumor is that they are going to come out more strongly in favor – see http://www.publichealthreports.org/archives/issueopen.cfm?articleID=2352 – “Medical benefits outweigh risks for infant MC, and there are many practical advantages of doing it in the newborn period.” From my reading of the scientific literature there’s not much evidence for harm and a lot of evidence for benefits.

Anecdotally, in my job as a nurse, I’ve also seen way more boys/men with issues due to being uncircumcised than vice-versa, and the two men I know who are uncircumcised both said they have had issues with women because of it. If you decide to do it, the key is to find someone who has experience doing the procedure – some hospitals let residents and med students do them, which I think is a terrible idea.

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aj March 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Nicole–great advice. Personally I wouldn’t let a resident or med student touch any of my lady parts with a scalpel, either :)

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Vishnu April 10, 2012 at 6:01 am

Regardless if all the facts you have given here you fail to address the human rihgts issues that arrises when asking your self if you want to make a life long choice for another person.

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Jennifer April 12, 2012 at 1:32 am

My DH was adamant that we siicumcrce our son, while I wanted to leave him intact. I’d done a lot of reading on it and talked with my mom and grandmas, because in my family circumcision is not an everybody does it thing. DH, on the other hand, was very emotional in his demands that we have our son siicumcrced, insisting that it was just the right thing to do, and that everyone who speaks against circumcision is a quack or a hippie. Yeah, I know: lots of people aren’t going to like hearing that. Suck it up it’s just what he thinks. Bear in mind too that he was lumping ME in with those quacks and hippies, since I’d decided I wanted our son uncircumcised.In the end, after many long, angry arguments, we had our son siicumcrced. I made my DH watch everything while I hid in the recovery room and felt horrible for giving in. Our son didn’t even flinch at the needles for the local, didn’t mind the procedure at all. That little siicumcrced member was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen: it looked like it was dipped in blood. I hated changing his diapers until it healed. However, the foreskin was left a bit too long and we’ve had problems ever since with skin attaching where it shouldn’t, and doctors mercilessly yanking it back down while my little boy screams.My husband is really happy we had him siicumcrced, but I still don’t think we should have done it.

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Carly Berube-Arbello March 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I am firm believer in leaving their little bodies intact as they were meant to be. There have been many many studies about the health benefits and they all seem to point to minimal health benefits. In fact, I known men who have had scarring from circumcision that affects the sensation and affects their sexual life when grown men. Uncircumcised men rarely have these problems according to studies. Also, the effects of the pain response being triggered in the brain at such an early stage of their life has an effect on their brain function and behavior. I had a discussion with my midwife before we knew Cora was a girl and she said that they strongly recommend that they have a significant amount of time to bond with their mother prior to the procedure. Since then I have heard the same sentiment repeated by other health professionals, even OBs. Also, it helps to have their mother nearby while the procedure is done is also helpful, but it seems that most mothers i know with circumcised sons, including my sister cannot bear to be in the room while they cry from the pain. So, if the response by the baby is too painful to watch then why get it done in the first place and instead celebrate their perfect little bodies as they were meant to be.I mean, has anybody given any though to why it is there in the first place?

I will quote the CIRP (Cooperative Institutional Research Program) here:

“What is the value of the foreskin?
The foreskin has protective, sensory, biomechanical, and immunological functions. Throughout life, the outer part of the foreskin protects the sensitive inner part of the foreskin and the glans from injury, abrasion, chafing, and infection. The foreskin keeps its mucosal tissue and the glans soft and moist so that it maintains sensitivity. During sexual activity, the foreskin glides up and down over the glans, providing sensation from thousands of specialized nerve endings in the inner foreskin. Parts of the foreskin, including the frenulum (a narrow membrane on the underside of the foreskin) and the ridged band (the edge of the foreskin, between the inner and outer skin), are particularly important in sexual function.”

Can you tell I feel strongly about this?:)

http://www.cirp.org/library/birth/

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aj March 15, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Thanks Carly! I love your opinions.

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Omar April 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm

The sad fact is that those who have chosen to cmcucirise their sons will never accept the fact they harmed them because by doing so they will have to admit they choose to hurt their sons. I think women have no place in talking about circumcision because the fact is they are protected by law here in the US so usually don’t have to worry about it. I say usually because I know a woman that was cmcucirised at birth here in the US and have grown very close to her because our feeling about our mutilation are the same. It’s sad that people can’t accept the fact that they harm their sons by having a perfectly healthy part of their body removed before they are allowed to even grow up and make their own choice. The people that say a child doesn’t have a choice are just plain stupid. Guess what people bathing and running around in the streets and making home made food (which I to did for my sons) has no place in a discussion about removing healthy functioning tissue from a helpless child. I love when people try to bring in vaccines into the discussion too. Guess what vaccines have eradicated viruses from the fact of the planet. Circumcision has done nothing but make people money and mutilate our children. Circumcision is, and always will be, a cure in search of a disease. If circumcision really prevented any STDs don’t you think the US, with one of the highest circumcision rates in the world, would have the lowest STD rate? Nope we have the highest in the West so the augments are void here in the US and have been proven so.a0I feel mutilated and I’m not alone. People are always surprised how I feel about my circumcision because men don’t talk about it but I’m not alone in the way I feel. a0There is just no need for cutting up a child male or female. The fact is more children grow up intact in the world then do mutilated children. Less than 30% of the worlds male population are cmcucirised so NO ONE can say circumcision is needed to grow and live a healthy happy life. Why is it that more than half the world can see circumcision as barbaric and yet we in the US, supposedly the best country in the world, can’t? For all the Jews do your home work and you’ll find out that the Brits that are performed today are not the same as those performed on your ancestors. Your religious leaders changed that not so long ago because jewish men were able to still look intact and had to do so because in greece it was considered disgusting to allow someone to see the head if your penis so the Jews forced their foreskin over the head. And jewish people are not able to say they believe in freedom of religion if they expect a man to carry a religious scar around for the rest if his life. But again I have respect for all religions so I’m not bashing you but of course for the christians scroll up a little and read the passages from the New Testament and see that circumcision is not required and is perhaps even bad in the religious sense. I hear all the time that oh but Jesus was cmcucirised well let’s think about this (and for the Jewish readers please bare with me) Jesus was born a Jew and so it was required by not only the law of Abraham but the law of Moses as well. And read carefully Jesus heals a man in the New Testament and restores his whole body, which would include his foreskin. Trust me I was surprised to read this to.a0Regardless until male circumcision joins female circumcision under the genital manipulation act (currently the female genital manipulation act of 1996) I will continue to fight this barbarous violation of human rights.a0Oh and for all those men who think their penis is just grand being cmcucirised. Having a cmcucirised penis is like sight without color. You can still see but without ever having seen color you will never truly understand what sight is.a0

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aj April 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Thank you so much for your comments! Great to have many opinions on this…

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Jessica March 16, 2012 at 2:06 am

We struggled with this the first time (fortunately we just kept the same decision the second time around)! It felt to us like there were good reasons on both sides, and your friends above have mentioned a lot of them. One thing we considered that no one has yet mentioned is whether they would look different from their peers, because we felt like middle and high school are hard enough without locker room issues. Turns out that here the slight majority of boys born when ours were are uncircumcised, and since it wasn’t recommended, etc. etc., we ended up deciding not to. Yet despite the statistics being that more are not, I think all my local friends’ boys actually are. So who knows if they will someday be upset with us about it or not! The main thing our pediatrician always says is that they need to know how to keep themselves clean. I figure that’s one of my main jobs as a mom anyway – teaching them how to clean up! Anyway, that’s one small something you might want to consider in addition to all the research pro and con: whether he’ll look like his daddy and/or friends or not.

However, I make it sound like it was my decision, and it was not. I told my husband that I would read the info and we would talk about it, but the decision was his. As well as the responsibility for taking any boys to the public restrooms when we’re out as a family, and teaching him to pee standing up. All that fun stuff. So he was the one who made the ultimate decision. From one mom to another? It’s kind of nice to pass the buck once in a while! ; )
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Radhika April 10, 2012 at 6:30 am

The male foreskin doesn’t retract until around 4-6 years of age and more often then not can even remain fused to the glands (head) of the penis until sexual maturity. My son is 5 and has yet to have his foreskin retract and my educated (went to medical school in the UK so knows much more about foreskin than most US doctors) doctor has no concerns what so ever.

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bea bea March 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

the origins of this practice are religious to generally diminish sensation and make folks more chaste. females and males were routinely circumsized for this reason. neither my hubs nor I feel comfortable making a decision that would affect our son’s sexual life! he can make that decision when he has the capacity to do so.

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Gabriela April 12, 2012 at 3:20 am

I wanted to have my son iuccrmsized but didn’t because his father didn’t want me to. Of course, because he wasn’t. I should’ve gone with my first instict. My son suffered from a condition called phismosis, basically the foreskin would not pull back. I was given a steriod cream to try to stretch the skin but this didn’t work. I had to have him iuccrmsized at the age of 4 and this was the most horrible procedure for him to have to go thru. His foreskin had adhered to the head and had to be scraped off. The pain and discomfort he felt was so severe that I had to stay home with him for over a month. When we got home from his surgery the gauze was supposed to come off easily the next day. It had stuck to the wound. I will never forget the pain and look in his eye when I pulled that gauze off, can someone say traumatizing ..to both him and me I think all little boys should be iuccrmsized just to avoid to have to do this when they are older. It was so painful for him, he is now 5 1/2 and still remembers the pain that he felt and often cries when he remembers.Circumsize your boys as soon as you have them..and only listen to what your maternal heart tells you.

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