Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Circumcision Decision

It wasn't until recently that I became fully aware of exactly what circumcision entailed. I had every intention of circumcising my son in the event that we would have one some day. Now that I am involved with childbirth, I understand what all is involved.

I am a big believer of being educated and informed before making decisions. I hope this post on circumcision will help you make an informed decision.

The Origin
Circumcision has been around for thousands of years. It originated in Africa and the Middle East. It was brought to the United States in the mid 1800's. Circumcision was believed to help curb masturbation which was thought to cause insanity and physical ailments. It was also once believed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, but that theory has since been discredited.

What is circumcision?
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin that covers and protects the glans (or head) of the penis. It is performed by placing the baby securely on a table and injecting a local anesthetic into the penis. The foreskin is then separated from the glans with a medical instrument and held in place with a clamp while a vertical incision is made in the foreskin about one third of its length. To protect the glans, a metal or plastic bell is placed over the tip of the penis. The foreskin is placed back over the bell while the foreskin is removed. A protective lubricant is put on the area to promote the healing of the incision that takes approximately one week.

It should be known that there are no medical benefits to circumcision according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association. In fact, the AAP states "1) circumcision is not essential to a child's well-being, 2) it is an elective procedure, 3) doctors should not coerce parents into choosing circumcision, and 4) parents should make a fully informed decision."

Does it hurt the baby?
Yes, it does hurt. The foreskin is made of thousands of tiny nerve endings. Even with anesthetic, circumcision is very painful for the baby.

Proper Hygiene
It was once believed that circumcision improved male hygiene. Circumcision does not make the penis any cleaner or healthier. With proper care and cleaning, it is perfectly safe to leave the foreskin intact. Proper hygiene should be taught to young boys whether they are circumcised or not. By age 18, the foreskin will usually be retractable from the glans on its own. It is important to not force the skin away from the glans. Hygiene for an intact foreskin is easy using these steps:
  1. Without force, gently slip the foreskin back.
  2. With warm water, carefully clean the glans and the inside for the foreskin.
  3. Slip the foreskin back over the glans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should my son look like his father?
Should brothers look the same?
Will my son be teased for not being circumcised?
What are the risks of being circumcised?
What are the risks of not being circumcised?
Does circumcision prevent disease?

I believe these are all good and important questions to ask before making the decision. Make yourself informed not matter what decision you make. If you have any questions, please feel free to let me know.

Additional Information


Anonymous said...

"Hygiene for an intact foreskin is easy using these steps:

Without force, gently slip the foreskin back.
With warm water, carefully clean the glans and the inside for the foreskin.
Slip the foreskin back over the glans."

You really should specify that this step-by-step cleaning info is ONLY for retractable males. Parents should never do this to their infants or children if the foreskin isn't retractible yet!

The foreskin is fused to the glans in a baby and can stay fused until puberty - forcing it back to expose the glans can cause damage.

The AAP advises against it as well.

That's it!

Michael said...

This is a great start on circumcision education. I have one suggestion to add: Circumcision hurts a boy long after the cut is done.

There's a healing period lasting days or weeks after the anesthetic wears off, with the wound exposed inside the diaper. The damage to the penis lasts a lifetime, with the glans exposed to the elements (keratinization, like chapped lips), and the loss of 1/3 of the penile nerve endings.

For reference, imagine how the pleasure of eating would be diminished after losing 1/3 of your taste buds and half the lining of your cheeks. That's what circumcision does to a male's enjoyment of sex, and it doesn't begin to address how circumcision affects female enjoyment.