A few weeks ago while I was at my in-laws house, I brought up the topic of circumcision. Everyone seemed pretty set on how they felt about it (other than Steve’s 15 year old brother who begged us to stop talking about it while he was eating). I still have very mixed feelings about it and want to get feed back from people out there on what they did, or planned to do, with their boys and why.
Here are some of the facts that I found while researching the topic in hopes for some guidance on a scary decision I will have to make someday (crossing my fingers that I will have a baby boy at some point). There are also a lot of myths about both sides of the debate so it is hard to know what is credible and good information.
Arguments FOR circumcision:
- Uncircumcised boys are more likely to get serious kidney infections in the first year of life.
- Circumcision eliminates the chance that the boy will have phimosis (a condition where the foreskin won’t retract fully).
- Decreased risk of urinary tract infections (1% of boys with normal urinary tracts get UTI’s).
- It is more sanitary and easier to clean a circumcised penis ( However, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 1999 that there not sufficient evidence to claim that this is true).
- A study showed that circumcision offers a 60-70% protection against acquiring HIV along with protection from other STDS (this argument doesn’t sway me much, I would hope my child would not be in a category where there is a risk of contracting HIV/AIDS or STDS).
- Circumcised men almost never get invasive penile cancer (1400 men diagnosed in the US every year).
- If the dad is circumcised, it is better for little boys self esteem for them to look the same “down there” as their dads. (You don’t want your kid to think “one of these things is not like the other…”).
- It is better to do it while the boy is a baby so he can’t remember the pain of it (assuming that the boy may want to be circumcised when he grows up and it is much harder to do it later.)
- Many people I talked to said that the main reason they would circumcise is so the kid wouldn’t get made fun of by their friends for being different. While efforts from the American Pediatric Association and the American Medical Association are influencing more and more parents to not circumcise their boys, the circumcision rate in the U.S. is still around 75%.
Arguments AGAINST circumcision:
- The skin isn’t there on accident- it serves a purpose so leave it alone ( I once saw a bumper sticker that said “A foreskin is not a birth defect” weird to put on a car, but true).
- It is a human rights violation because the child can not give consent for the optional procedure.
- It actually IS very painful for the little guy. The American Academy of Pediatrics‘ says “There is considerable evidence that newborns who are circumcised without analgesia experience pain and psychologic stress.”
- The removal of the foreskin contains thousands of nerve endings and when removed men have less sexual satisfaction (some sources claim this as fact, while others say there is not enough evidence). The removal may also contribute in impotence for adult men (normally after age 40).
- Complications can happen, the most common being hemmorage and infection (between 2-10% of all circumcisions).
- To contradict the hygienic claims for circumcision, there are reports that say the foreskin protects the glans from irritation and from fecal matter.
Some people point out that female circumcision is considered genital mutilation and is not tolerated in our country, so why should male circumcision be tolerated?
So, that is the basics of everything I have read on the topic. Pretty interesting and pretty compelling arguments on both sides. What do you think?