To Circumcise or Not To Circumcise…

I’m going to have a baby boy in about three months, and my husband and I are trying to figure out what to do about the circumcision question. When our first son was born five years ago, we went ahead and had it done. I had ambivalent feelings and didn’t feel very good about it, but my husband had stronger feelings that we should do it, so I washed my hands of it and let it happen.

But in the last few years, my ambivalent feelings have become less ambivalent. I understand that there are medical experts who find that there are hygiene/health benefits for the procedure, and I wouldn’t judge parents who decide to go that route (after all, I am one of those parents), but I also am convinced by medical experts that talk about circumcision primarily being a cultural phenomenon and a cosmetic choice, and that the hygiene/health aspect isn’t a big enough factor to recommend the practice. And when I think of it like that, it’s harder for me to justify cutting this skin off my baby and subjecting him to unnecessary pain.

I’d love to hear your stories of circumcision. How did you decide to do it or not do it? Do you think it was the right choice?And if you haven’t had a son, would you do it and why? I know this can be a loaded issue, so please be sensitive towards others and their various decisions.

 

 

Caroline

Caroline is a PhD student in Women’s Studies in Religion and mother of three.

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49 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    Male circumcision is a safe, popular, healthy & beneficial procedure for individuals & parents to choose. It provides benefits such as 12x less likely for UTI, +22x less likely for cancer, decreases HIV acquisition by 53% to 60%, herpes acquisition by 28% to 34%, and HPV prevalence by 32% to 35 % in men. The risks are about 0.2% and are typically minor & easily corrected.

    Parents should research circumcision and make an informed decision for the health & well-being of their son.

    • Judith says:

      Ok, circinfo aka thecircdecision aka aparentschoice, I see you couldn’t resist spreading your propaganda here. Don’t listen to anything this guy says. He supports websites run by circumcision fetishists and could very well be one himself!

      • Caroline says:

        Judith, please note our comment policy about attacking others. If you have personal perspectives to share, please do so.

  2. jks says:

    I had my boys 8 years apart. First one yes, no real question. Second one yes, but funny how the internet had let me read countless articles on the subject and be let decided about which way was the right decision. So I did it, but felt like I wouldn’t expect my grandsons to have it done because that was the way the tide is going.
    However, who knows? 10 years between my oldest and youngest child showed parenting trends are always changing, so sometimes the new methods and preferences pass and it is back to the old ways again for a while (i noticed a potty training age change from 2000 to 2010).

  3. HIlary says:

    This is so timely for me . . . I’m pregnant with my second son and debating this myself. I went back and forth with my first, finally deciding to do it (after my friend’s little boy had to have it done at 22 months the week before my baby was born). Everything went fine, except they kept my son in the nursery, alone and screaming for far too long, and I had to hobble down there after an hour to find him screaming alone in his bassinet. I don’t know why they hadn’t brought him back to me (especially since he was really hungry, as they’d taken him right when he was ready to eat for the morning, and that had been well over an hour before). It was horrible, and I was really upset. They had taken him before my husband had gotten tehre for the morning, and I hate that he was alone for so long after going through it. Now I’m due in 6 weeks with another boy, I’m even less sure about circumcision that I was last time, and add to that my experience last time, and I’m really torn on what to do. I get that the whole ‘just to be like his brother’ reasoning isn’t necessarily reason enough to do it, but it factors in.
    I think some of the anti-circ/pro-circ rhetoric on the internet is scary intense though. I’ve avoided it this time around . . .

  4. April says:

    I have two boys. I did not want to circumcise, but my husband did. I yielded to his preference, since this was regarding a body part he happened to have one of on his own body and I didn’t.

    With my first son, the doctor arrived at the hospital crazy early in the morning to do the procedure. My husband was still home asleep and I had to be the one to give consent. As he gave me the papers, he gave me the obligatory speech about how this was an unnecessary cosmetic surgery. I signed and then felt so guilty I sobbed.

    With my second son, I told my husband that I would not be the one to sign the papers. If he wanted it done, he would have to give consent himself. My husband arranged for the doctor to be there at a time when he could sign the papers and witness the procedure. He told me that he almost changed his mind and stopped the doctor, but he didn’t, and both sons are circumcised.

    • April says:

      P.S. I did not vote, because I agree with this statement, “I don’t find the cultural and hygiene reasons persuasive enough to permanently alter my child’s body” and yet I can’t say, “No I wouldn’t” because I did, twice.

  5. HokieKate says:

    I’m ambivalent but my husband doesn’t want our boys circumcised, so they won’t be (he is). I am in charge of if and when my daughters get their ears pierced. I’m thinking 8-10 years old if they want it.

  6. Beatrice says:

    I am not an expert on the cultural and religious reasons for circumcision. However, I can’t help thinking that one of the reasons why religious groups circumcise is to discourage or decrease sexual activity (either through self-stimulation or involvement with another person). Through circumcision you are removing nerve endings that are sensitive to sexual stimulation. For me, I have a problem wtih limiting someone’s ability to feel sexual pleasure. Thus, we did not circumcise our son, and I am really happy with our decision. When he is older, if he wants to be circumcised then that is fine, but I want it to be his choice.

  7. childless says:

    One thing to consider is how he might feel years down the road in the locker room with all the other guys. Most American men are circumcised, so if you live in the States, he might feel “different” at a time when most teenage boys just want to fit in. I also read a book (“He Comes Next” if you’re interested) where the sex therapist who authored it said that the clients he has who haven’t been circumcised are often more uncomfortable with themselves because of the common practice it is in the U.S. One man felt especially self-conscious after he had sex for the first time with his girlfriend because when he undressed she exclaimed, “What the hell do I do with that?!” In Europe, he would never have gotten that reaction, but it’s so common here. Granted, being LDS, your son has a better probability of marrying someone who hasn’t had lots and lots of sexual partners to compare him to. And even if that’s the case I definitely don’t advocate having him circumcised just so you don’t freak his future wife out, because everyone else does it, or so he’ll fit in with the boys in the locker room. Those aren’t super compelling reasons. But they are something to at least consider. It also might be interesting to know if “fitting in” is part of the reason your husband wants the circumcision to occur.

    • It’s important to note that circumcisions are becoming less and less popular. I think it’s less than 50% now (though higher in Utah). So by that reasoning, you could say that you should not circumcise to fit in. But fitting in really shouldn’t come into the equation. Dicks come in many shapes, sizes, and intactedness.

    • cchrissyy says:

      Circumcision rates vary widely by location and ethnicity – my boys are white, upper income, San Fransisco area residents where their non-circumcision puts them in the overwhelming majority with their peers.

    • LRC says:

      In our county, fewer than half of the boys born in hospitals are circumcised. Our insurance company is getting ready to label circumcision an elective surgery, which means that they won’t cover it as part of regular after-birth care.

      But I wouldn’t have them cut/not cut for purely social reasons (i.e., to look like Dad or siblings or friends).

      If you do decide to circumcise, make sure they use anesthetic.

  8. childless says:

    That said, the same book did say that men who aren’t circumcised do often experience more sexual pleasure because like Beatrice said, you’re cutting off nerve endings. You will, however, have to be careful to teach him a little differently how to keep it clean down there. It does take more work.

    • Judith says:

      more work? Believing the hype I see. Such a pity. It is not harder to clean an intact penis, and it requires no cleaning until the boy is an adolescent. Then it merely consists of sliding the foreskin back (sort of like masturbating) and rinsing. Can you imagine trying to convince your son to play with himself in the shower/bath? I don’t think so!

  9. Whoa-man says:

    We didn’t find out the sex of my first baby, and although she was a girl, we researched and debated this question at length. As an anthropologist, I teach about female genital mutilation (FGM) in my classes regularly. I teach that there are enormous cultural differences in FGM both in the anatomy and cultural/religious reasons behind the practice. There are some horrible forms of it: cutting off the clitoris, outer labia, inner labia, sewing up the vagina, etc. but that there are also some less invasive, damaging, versions much more equivalent (and some could argue less traumatic) as male circumcision. In each of these cultures the reasons for circumcision vary: religious reasons, interpretations of open and closed orifices in the body, patriarchal control of virginity, matriarchal control of cultural obedience, tradition, etc.etc.etc. When viewed in this more complex way, I cannot help but wonder how we can so immediately decry female circumcision in all its forms and despise those who practice it as vile, evil, and ignorant when so many men are getting pieces of their body removed for religious reasons and the practitioners thereof are considered holy, health-conscious, educated, etc.

    It’s true. Having the foreskin does increase one’s chances of greater infection. But we don’t surgically remove things that increase infection. UTI’s are one of the most common infection in women and we don’t think its okay to do surgery on little female babies to move or rearrange the parts down there. I would have less infection on my pinky finger if I cut off my pinky finger, but we wouldn’t condone that. I know I’m going a bit far here, but I get so frustrated with people who claim that the reason is increased infection (a pretty LOW statistical significance especially for LDS, chastity abiding Mormons) when it is really following after one’s tradition. Following tradition is fine, I just think we should be respectful of others doing the same and honest about its sway over our major decisions.

    Another thing that troubles me is that FGM and early 1970’s experiments on transgendered women (even in the United States) often led to the inability to feel sexual stimulation. Remove the clitoris completely and it is more difficult (and often unlikely) to ever orgasm. Similarly, the foreskin is very sensitive and its removal changes the sensitivity in males (maybe that’s why religious people value circumcision so much) but I can’t help but be saddened that I am choosing to permanently remove a natural piece of my son’s body so that he does not experience increased sexual sensitivity.

    Most of my friends worry more about their sons not looking like their father or their friends. This is becoming less of a horizontal problem with around 50% of baby boys being uncircumcised in the new generation (and gym class not requiring full nude showering in middle school). Vertically, parents will have to address that problem. One of my favorite stories from a father who was circumcised and who chose not to circumcise his son and feared his whole life having to explain that difference, culminated in a peeing competition (oh, men) and the then 10 yr old son asking “Dad, why does my penis look different than yours?” The dad fretted and worried and then said “Well, back in the day when I was born the doctors would cut off a piece of the penis for religious reasons and we decided not to do that to you.” The dad waited and wondered what his son would think and the son thought for a second and replied, “Thanks Dad. Thanks for not cutting part of me off.”

    Likewise, I feel very strongly about accepting one’s body. Enjoying our diversity in body shape and size. Rocking what God gave you, etc. But is this perspective only for women? I feel uncomfortable with the idea that we we immediately feel the need to alter our baby boy’s bodies for them to be or look “normal.” Not to mention the trauma and stress of circumcision on a little newborn’s life (don’t assume it is stress/trauma free like drs say until you have witnessed one. It is one of the hardest things to watch in the world.) especially at a time when stress is very harmful in so many ways to early development. Plus, I have personally known many friends whose blase attitude about circumcision changes greatly after there were complications (sometimes MANY and serious) to “the simple procedure.”

    Lastly, (and I’ll get off my rant soon- sorry:) I have lived outside the US long enough to see how circumcision takes place in developing countries. It is so awful. I’ve seen botched circumcisions, ones done with out anesthesia, ones done by religious, not health, professionals, ones taking off too much, ones taking off too little, infections from the open wound, and most traumatic for me circumcisions that lead to constant, terrifying, painful, and heart wrenching screams from a 6 month old whose pain lasted for months. We have to realize that the costs of everything we promote as a culture and a religion, especially in regard to elective surgery, often fall on the backs (and penises) of the developing world. Is this what we want to be promoting?

    Phew. Now I think this comment is officially longer than Caroline’s post. I’m so so sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.

    • Amanda L says:

      Wow, that was great. I agree with everything you said.

      My husband is not circumcised (his father is), and it was a complete non-issue for him. His parents really liked the idea of doing away with a religious practice that was no longer necessary, as a symbolic gesture. I really think people make much too big a deal in the circumcision discussion about looking the same as everyone else. Just like in your story, it seems more likely that boys/men would appreciate the fact that they are intact, as the boy in the story does, and as my husband does.

      Now we have a son who is not circumcised. So far so good.

    • Miriam says:

      Thank you. So much.

  10. Rahel Ringger says:

    however parents weigh the “pros” and “cons” of circumcision, the parents’ judgement shouldn’t outweigh the child’s right to its own genitalia. to choose what is done to one’s genitalia should be a fundamental human right. foreskin doesn’t pose immediate health risks. therefore parents don’t need to make an immediate decision and could wait for the child to grow up and give consent. my husband, for example, feels very resentful about being circumcised. he feels the lack of foreskin handicaps him during intercourse.

  11. Rahel Ringger says:

    circumcision can’t be undone. once done they are facts. fears about future scenarios of not fitting in are assumptions. assumptions of where one might live, whom one might meet and how one might feel. sounds very speculative to me.

  12. mraynes says:

    I had a biology teacher in high school who said that circumcised men make better sexual partners for women. I don’t know if that’s really true but it was the only thing I knew about the issue when I was making the decision for my oldest son. Since I was ambivalent and Mr. Mraynes wanted our son to look like him I agreed to the procedure. Since that time we have both become more educated about circumcision and decided not to have our youngest son cut. I wish we hadn’t done it with our oldest but it’s not really something you can undue and I know that our intent was good so I cut myself some slack. But I do worry about what we are going to tell our boys when they notice the difference, I don’t want either one to feel bad but it may be inevitable.

    • Jessawhy says:

      Mraynes,
      That’s the same for us. Our first was, but not our younger two sons.
      I wish we hadn’t done it at all, but at least with the first he was diagnosed with hemophilia because of it.
      It may have been a lot scarier if we’d had his diagnosis another way.

  13. Emmaline says:

    I’m in the same place….we allowed our son to be circumcised, mostly because my husband felt strongly about it (in favor). He doesn’t often get passionate about things, and I thought that if it was that important to him we should go ahead.

    Since then, I’ve read more, thought more, and come down firmly in the “I am not comfortable changing my son’s body permanently in a way he has no say over” camp. If we have any more boys and my husband wants them circumcised, he’ll have to pry them from my hands or knock me unconscious. 🙂

    Which leads me to agree with the last part of mraynes’s comment….I think I’ll feel some pretty serious guilt when we have to explain the choice that we made to our son.

  14. The argument that circumcision leads to less infection needs to be addressed.

    Infection happens when the penis is not properly cleaned and is a worthwhile consideration if you’re living in poor sanitary conditions. That said, everyone who is by world standards wealthy enough to read this blog should have the funds to keep the penis clean enough to prevent infection.

    When you argue that there are less infections, you’re essentially arguing that your circumcised penis can be dirtier than an uncircumcised penis without getting infected. It’s pretty gross if you think about it.

    My husband is uncircumcised and because he was a filthy little boy, he got infected. He learned that keeping it clean means a happy penis. Also, later in life, he learned that a clean penis means more oral sex. And isn’t that the message we want our sons to remember?

    🙂

  15. Anonformyhusband says:

    Before we got married, my husband felt like he had to “warn” me that his circumcision had complications and so there cosmetic oddities, I suppose, with the look of his penis (function is still on par with other circumcised penises, although intact penises do function differently). But even after that, neither of us thought to question circumcision. Later when I was pregnant I came across more information and remembered that “discussion” I had with my husband. Obviously on some level, having a circumcised penis affected is view of himself if he felt like he had to “confess” this to his fiancee.

    I am glad we kept our son intact. While the number is small, it is still true that babies die from routine circumcisions. No babies die from staying intact. Just like I teach my daughter to wash herself, I teach my son to wash himself. As fare as penile cancer goes, well, my daughter’s chances of breast cancer are far higher and I didn’t remove her breast buds at birth for prevention. It just didn’t make sense to me to circumcise. I do consider it genital mutilation. I’m not sure what else you’d call the permanent removal of genitals.

  16. Susan says:

    I have 5 boys and all are circumcised. I was there when it was done and for each they were given a tiny shot & pacifier the boys didn’t make a peep or shed a tear. After they all nursed without any problem. No pain, no fuss, great health effects (no UTIs & less risk of disease when they get older) I don’t know why parents would not want the kindest cut.

  17. Macha says:

    My opinion is based on a few different things.

    First, the AAP does not recommend routine, non-therapeutic infant circumcision, and there is no credible medical or health organization in the world that actually does recommend it.

    Second, as current research shows that it is provides no significant health benefits (and if we’re talking about amputation of healthy tissue as preventative medicine, there really needs to be a very high chance of severe health problems to justify it, in my opinion), then there is simply no urgency to make this decision on behalf of someone who cannot give consent. Let him decide when he is capable of informed consent.

    Third, circumcision, when performed on a consenting adult, is:
    1. far less risky (just a couple ounces of blood loss is life-threatening to an infant, and performing surgery on such a tiny body part carries serious risk of “slips”),
    2. far less painful (infants cannot be fully anesthetized safely because of their size), and
    3. far less traumatic (many infants go into shock following the procedure, and recent studies show significant increase in pain sensitivity for infants after circumcision).

    • Whoa-man says:

      I agree completely Macha. As a compromise, I’ve always promised that I’d pay for everything for my son to get a circumcision later in life if he made that decision. I just don’t feel comfortable permanently altering his body without consent.

  18. Macha says:

    In addition, studies have demonstrated significant increases in sexual dysfunction in men who underwent circumcision, regardless of the age at which they were circumcised.

    Psychology Today did a multi-part report on circumcision myths: one about falsely downplaying the immediate pain and risk to the infant, one about the supposed “health benefits”, one about the “Social, Sexual, Psychological Realities”, and one about the ethical and economical aspects.

    • amelia says:

      I’m not disagreeing with the substance of Macha’s point here, but I would caution against taking anything _Psychology Today_ publishes as being authoritative. It’s published some incredibly sexist content based on really terrible pop psychology.

  19. alex w. says:

    Haven’t had kids yet, but if we have any sons, they will not be circumcised. It’s not necessary, and my husband is 100% against it and more than a little bitter that he was.

  20. EBrown says:

    It’s primarily an aesthetic choice: I find a circumcised penis more attractive. There does seem to be evidence that circumcised males are less likely to transmit certain viruses to their partners. If, indeed, circumcision reduces sensitivity in males it also probably improves sex for women because it delays male orgasm, and that delay improves the chances for female orgasm.

    • Beatrice says:

      Hmm….it is possible that circumcision could improve sex for women. But with all the individual differences in sexuality it is really hard to say. You just have no idea who your son will marry and how both of them will respond to sexuality.

    • nat kelly says:

      Plus, I would never in a million years alter my daughter’s genitalia so that it would increase the sexual pleasure of future male partners (at the expense of her own pleasure!). I think it’s just as wrong to use that line of reasoning for our sons.

      • anonforthisone says:

        It occurs to me that I’ve had all kinds of very random conversations with people…

        I have a male friend who was very open about being circumcised at the age of 16. He is not LDS, and had sex before (and after) his circumcision. He insisted that he preferred sex afterward, that differences in his sensation were minimal, and that his own experience was better when circumcised. This is all anecdotal, of course, and he was old enough to be in a position to choose his circumcision. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study of men’s experience of sex before and after circumcision to find out how significant the differences are?

  21. makakona says:

    we had four daughters before having a son. my husband was not circumcised as a baby, but was presented the option as a 12-year-old and chose to have it done after some heavy pressure from mom (“all of the boys in the locker room will stare at you and you’ll be the only different one!”). he was pro-circ when we started having babies, but became less so with each one.

    our son was not circumcised. it was a non-negotiable thing for me. once upon a time, i professed, “no uterus, no opinion,” but realized how wrong that was when it came to making decisions about my son’s body.

    i LOVE that our baby was not circumcised. it’s kind of spiritual, to me, even though that sounds bizarre. he was made so perfectly by things so much bigger than me or my husband and i love that he’s still as perfect as the day he was born. we haven’t had any issues with it at all.

    my parents were the biggest proponents of circ’ing the baby. minutes after he was born (on my bed at home, i should add), my mom piped up with a loud and awkward, “well, now we just have to find somewhere to get him circumcised!” my midwives (one of whom is lds!) were kind enough to ignore her. 🙂 none of our medical professionals (including our pediatrician, dr. sears) recommend it anyway.

    i guess i’m fairly inexperienced, because it only looks “different” to my husband. to me, it just looks like a baby’s penis. my husband maintains in all of his time in sports, school, the military, and now law enforcement, he’s never heard any negative locker room penis talk. the plan is to tell our son to tell people to quit checking out his junk if anyone ever mentions it (which i doubt they will, especially given current low circ rates).

    (btw, caroline, i met you at the laguna beach fmh snacker a few years back… maybe in 2007 or 2008? i was the one who brought the baby girl in a sling! i’m also an “irl” friend of lee loveridge.)

  22. lanwenyi says:

    My son is intact. DH and I read the arguments on both sides. We decided that it was a cosmetic procedure and that in areas of the world where circumcision is rare, there is no appreciable increase in any of the things that circumcision is said to help medically prevent. DH is circumcised. He has had no obvious problems, but also didn’t feel there was any reason to cut our newborn son. He had no idea if his dad was cut or not and no idea if his brother was cut or not, so the argument that the son needed to look like his father/brothers held no weight with him. I am happy that my son is intact. The more I read about infant circumcision, the more opposed to it I become. If my son later decides to get circumcised, we will support him in that choice. It is his body and his choice. Without a compelling medical necessity, we will not make that choice for him. It can always be done later, but can never be undone.

  23. Rixa says:

    I have 3 kids (1 boy) and we left him intact. My husband came from a mixed family: his dad was intact, he and his next younger brother were circ’d, while the 2 youngest brothers were intact (his mom did whatever was the norm at the time in Canada). It was totally a non-issue in his family that some were intact and others weren’t. Except the intact ones express their great thankfulness for being intact!

    I wasn’t convinced that there is any clear medical reason to circumcise routinely. I also thought about it from a spiritual perspective; circumcision was done away with after Christ’s atonement, so there hasn’t been a religious mandate to circumcise for over 2,000 years. I also thought about it from an ethical perspective and concluded that it was not ethical to subject an infant to cosmetic surgery without their consent.

    I wasn’t persuaded by the “locker room argument.” Even in the US (where we currently live), the circ rate has fallen to under 50%, although some states are higher and some are lower. In Canada the circ rate is 20% and still falling. But even IF the majority of boys were still circumcised, I wouldn’t do it. I’m going to teach my kids to do the right thing, even if people make fun of them for being different. So why would I subject one of my children to surgery just to keep them from looking different and possibly being made fun of?

    Now that I have a son, I love his little body and feel really protective of his beautiful, intact penis. It’s perfect how it is.

  24. Kirsten says:

    We didn’t circumcise our son. There really isn’t any strong medical reason to do so. The argument that he will “look like his daddy” didn’t make any sense– as they won’t stand around naked comparing each other’s bodies. I didn’t see the need to put my infant son through any pain for a cosmetic reason. He’s a teen now and has never had any problems. If I had another boy, I wouldn’t circumcise him either…

  25. Jake L says:

    The part of experiencing decreased sexuality after being circumcised is all hogwash. Trust me, circumcised guys have no problems experiencing sexual satisfaction. Do you know how ticked I’d be today if my parents didn’t circumcise me? I’m very grateful my parents did it as an infant where I have no memory.

    Also the procedure is not painful. The only painful part is the initial numbing of the area. After that, the baby doesn’t feel a thing. Most likely the baby is crying at being held down. I draw blood from babies daily and I can attest that the number one thing babies cry at is being held down. They don’t like strangers holding them down.

    • makakona says:

      so, if your parents circumcised you as an infant, where you have no memory, how is it that you know it’s not a painful procedure, jake? my husband was circ’ed later on and will testify that it is indeed an incredibly painful surgery AND recovery. just because a baby cannot articulate pain does not mean it’s not painful.

      • Jake L says:

        Ever been to the dentist? They numb you, they pull the tooth, you don’t feel it. If you husband felt pain, you went to the wrong doctor. Just because babies cry doesn’t mean they are in pain.

  26. Erin says:

    So, here are my anecdotes. We have not/will not circumcise our sons. I did do quite a bit of reading up on the internet with my first pregnancy, trying to avoid sites that were obviously biased one way or the other. And I came down on the not circumcise side, but have no problem with those who choose to do so. My husband had no problem with this as his parents had had a horrible experience with circumcision at some point. As I’ve talked to other moms I’ve been surprised at the number of moms who have had bad experiences with it (and by the fact that they would still do it again despite said experiences). Usually these are infections of some sort or another and, in one case, her sons foreskin re-fused or something? Not sure exactly how that works, but basically they had to take the kid in and have it yanked/torn back. A couple years later he was still complaining every time he urinated that it hurt. Personally, I also agree with those that would rather not make such a big decision about someone else’s body without their consent. If, for some reason, our kid has to be circumcised or chooses to be later – sure it’ll hurt a lot, but at least he will be capable of understanding why it has to happen or knowing that it’s a choice he made.

  27. Michelle says:

    I’m completely conflicted about this. I think parents are making decisions all the time for their kids, so I’m not persuaded by the ‘it’s his decision, I’ll let him make it’ kind of argument. I have heard doctors talk about how awful it is when infections do come and surgery has to be done later, so I’m not convinced that medical prevention theories are completely irrelevant. But were we to have a boy again, I am not sure I would want to do it again (we circ’d our son…hubby felt strongly about it. Still does. What he’s read persuades him it’s still a good medically-sound decision.)

    But you know, conflicted as I am, I’m also not sure it’s one of those things that should be made a moral, One Right Way issue either way. I think there is enough different opinion and perspective that I think we should be more supportive of each other with whatever decision is made than we often are. As jks said, things continue to change in terms of parenting strategies and studies and I think part of making informed decisions is recognizing that and simply doing our best with all that we usually have to factor in when making decisions.

    Good luck with making your decision.

    As for the possibility that sons may have had different choices made in this regard, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to discuss the fact that we do our best with what we know, and what we know is often limited. Our kids should know that we don’t know everything, and I think if they see that, they can be given permission to think through things for themselves — and maybe sometimes to even change their minds.

  28. TopHat says:

    From a very pro-sex source, the online magazine Sex Is by Eden Fantasys (warning: they sell sex toys and such so it might not be safe for everyone’s work, though I really think their message and information is really good and healthy) there was a recent post about how circumcision affects sex.

  29. I was circumcised at birth. I never thought anything of it until I noticed that I was losing sensitivity and sex was less pleasurable. I have since restored my foreskin and I am amazed at the difference. It saddens me to think that my parents let a doctor cut off part of my penis, my most favorite body part, for no real reason. Not only did the circumcision hurt me, it also hurt my wife. She always had dryness problems and was sore after sex. At least, until I restored my foreskin. We no longer use lube and she does not get sore after sex. For all the men who are not yet born, please let them grow up with all their body parts.

  30. Aly S says:

    When I was choosing a pediatrician during my first pregnancy, the doctor we ended up choosing advised that if we had no reason other than a social one (that is, to look like Dad) we should not circumcise. For the most part, I am perfectly happy with having followed his advice, although I do wonder a bit each time a new study about HIV rates and circumcision hits the news. I also recently learned from my mother-in-law who is the administrator of a nursing home that it is not uncommon for their uncircumcised male residents to be hospitalized because of increased difficulty of keeping the area under the foreskin clean at an advanced age. That would have certainly factored into my decision-making back when I was discussing it with the pediatrician, but it doesn’t worry me enough to reconsider circumcision for my now 5-year-old.

  31. Paul Bohman says:

    This comment comes very late after the original post, but I have to add my opinion about circumcision:

    Just say no. Don’t do it. It’s utterly ridiculous that people still debate whether or not to cut off part of a person’s body. I’ll never forget when I first learned what circumcision really is. I was angry. Really angry. I couldn’t get mad at my parents exactly, because they were just doing what they were taught and what “everyone else” was doing. I was angry at society for perpetuating this practice. It still makes me upset to think about it.

    To me, it’s like asking if women should have their nipples cut off at birth. Should they? Should they not? Hmm, I don’t know, let’s see, cutting them off will reduce the chance of certain kinds of irritations…

    No. Just let the boy keep his body intact.

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