The Effects of Circumcision on Newborn Boys

June 10th, 2010 by Dionna | 108 Comments
Posted in Circumcision/Intactivism, Compassionate Advocacy, Feed with Love and Respect, Healthy Living, natural parenting, Pregnancy and Birth

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If you are planning a hospital birth for your son, you should expect hospital staff to approach you at some point in the first day or two after your son is born to ask about circumcision. There are many long-term reasons to leave your son intact,1 but you may not have considered the more immediate benefits to you and your new baby.

No American medical association recommends infant circumcision as a routine procedure. The reason that American medical associations (and the vast majority of medical associations worldwide) do not recommend routine infant circumcision is because it is not medically necessary.2  And as Lamaze’s Healthy Birth Practice Paper #6 details, “experts agree that unless a medical reason exists, healthy mothers and babies shouldn’t be separated after birth or during the early days following birth.”3 Consequently, unless there is a medical reason to circumcise your newborn son, it is inadvisable to agree to this unnecessary medical procedure.

circumcision restraint
Immediate Consequences of Routine (Medically Unnecessary) Infant Circumcision

1. Circumcision Causes Pain and Stress: An infant’s foreskin has more than 240 feet of nerves, 20,000 nerve endings, and 3 feet of veins, arteries, and capillaries – circumcision removes all of them, causing the infant tremendous pain.4 Research has conclusively demonstrated “that circumcision has significant physiologic impact on newborns, mainly due [to] pain.”5 Serum cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) concentrations increase during and after circumcision,6 and “[h]eart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure increase, and oxygen saturation decreases, during and shortly after circumcision.7

After circumcision, the penis has a raw, open wound. The newborn’s surgically exposed glans is re-injured by abrasion and contaminants because it is encased in diapers (including the baby’s own feces and urine, which breaks down into ammonia). Disposable diapers themselves are also often irritants, because they are laden with chemicals, dyes, and fragrances that cause further pain.

2. Circumcision Interferes with Breastfeeding: Circumcision negatively affects breastfeeding, regardless of whether infants are given Acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help manage pain immediately after circumcision. Some circumcised males are unable to suckle at all after the procedure. Mothers who leave their sons intact have a better chance at establishing a healthy breastfeeding relationship.8

3. Circumcision Disrupts Sleep: After circumcision, babies’ normal sleep patterns are disrupted. Researchers believe this may be a mechanism to cope with the stress of the procedure.9 Infants who do not get enough sleep or enough quality sleep are at risk for additional significant stress.10

4. Circumcision Can Interrupt Normal Bonding and Causes Emotional Trauma: Lamaze recognizes that “[i]nterrupting, delaying, or limiting the time that a mother and her baby spend together may have a harmful effect on their relationship and on breastfeeding success.”11 The significant stress, disrupted sleep patterns, and breastfeeding problems experienced by circumcised babies all have the potential to interrupt the normal, healthy bonding with their caregivers. Bonding is interrupted because “the circumcision procedure frequently causes the newborn to withdraw from his environment[,]” including his mother.12

Moreover, circumcision causes emotional trauma to parents. Over 80% of parents regret their circumcision  decision in the first six months of their sons’ lives. 13

Protect Your Newborn: Leave Him Intact

Unless there is a medical reason to circumcise, you and your son can only benefit by deciding to keep him safe and close to your side after birth. The newborn period is so beautiful and fleeting. There is no reason to traumatize your baby or jeopardize your breastfeeding relationship by exposing your son to needless pain and stress.

If, after thoroughly researching, you feel that the decision to circumcise is one that you must make, please wait until after those fragile newborn days. Remember, you can always decide to circumcise, you can never decide to take it back.14

This post is part of the Lamaze Healthy Birth Blog Carnival. The topic of this month’s carnival is “keeping moms and babies together after birth.”

Photo credit: peaceful parenting (site) (Facebook fan page)

  1. Please see What is Circumcision and Common Concerns, as well as the articles and research cited therein, for an explanation of the many reasons to leave your newborn son intact.
  2. For official statements of many leading medical associations worldwide, please see this list compiled by NOCIRC.
  3. Jeannette Crenshaw, “Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together,” (citing Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Protocol Committee, 2007; American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007; American Academy of Pediatrics Expert Workgroup on Breastfeeding, 2005; International Lactation Consultant Association, 1999; UNICEF/WHO, 2004; WHO, 1998)
  4. Paul Fleiss, MD, “The Case Against Circumcision
  5. Arie Alkalay, MD, “Analgesia for Non-Ritual Circumcision in Healthy Newborns
  6. Megan R. Gunner et al., “The Effects of Circumcision on Serum Cortisol and Behavior
  7. Analgesia for Non-Ritual Circumcision in Healthy Newborns; see also K.J.S. Anand et al., “Pain and Its Effects in the Human Neonate and Fetus
  8. Cynthia R. Howard, MD, “Acetaminophen Analgesia in Neonatal Circumcision: The Effect on Pain.” “Immediately” being 2 hours after the procedure. Acetaminophen is shown to have a positive effect on pain starting around 6 hours after the procedure.
  9. Thomas F. Anders, MD and Robert J. Chalemian, MD, The Effects of Circumcision on Sleep-Wake States in Human Neonates; Robert N. Emde, MD, et al., “Stress and Neonatal Sleep
  10. Avi Sedah, “Stress, Trauma, and Sleep in Children
  11. Healthy Birth Practice #6: Keep Mother and Baby Together (citing (Enkin et al., 2000)
  12. “Position Statement: The Effects of Circumcision on Breastfeeding” (citing Stress and Neonatal Sleep and Richard E. Marshall et al., “Circumcision: II. Effects Upon Mother-Infant Interaction“)
  13. Paul Fleiss, MD, “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision” at xi
  14. Of course, allowing your son to make his own informed decisions about his genitals is ideal. Every person should have the right to decide whether to keep his or her genitals whole. Wouldn’t you want to have the option? For more, see “Circumcision FAQ,” What if we want to have our son circumcised?

108 Responses to:
"The Effects of Circumcision on Newborn Boys"

  1. Thank you for posting this. I hope that it affects someone’s decision.

  2. Parsnip Milkdud

    You make some excellent points, but you gotta admit a circumcised penis is pretty awesome looking.

    Also, am I the only one out there that thinks wrinkled baby feet are gross looking? I can’t be the only one. I’m a mom and I love kids, but wrinkled red baby feet = gross. IMO.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      No, I really don’t agree. In fact now that I have an intact son, the sight of a circ’d penis/glans is rather shocking – it just seems so . . . private. It would be like seeing a female clitoris just out and exposed – completely abnormal and, frankly, unhealthy.

      • Parsnip Milkdud

        Even if it’s not true, a circumcised penis just looks like it would do a better job of getting me pregnant. Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t circumcise a baby boy. I guess this is just what society has done to me. An uncircumcised penis looks like an alien torture device to me. Guess I’m lucky to have girls and a cut husband ;)

      • Julie from Simple Life   homemakerjulie

        I totally agree Dionna. It makes me so sad, and it looks painful.

      • Jami

        After learning the facts and having an intact son, a circ’d penis really upsets me. Go to http://www.circumstitions.com and read about intact penises and all the damage circ causes. My husband is also circ’d, as you said, and I don’t consider either of us lucky. He was mutilated against his will as an infant and has scars and damage and had a very important body part amuptated for no reason. I am not lucky.. it has robbed us of a fully functional sex life. Sure most people don’t consider this, but sex with a circ’d penis is not normal and not all that it could be. I never knew this before doing research, and neither did my husband. Now we both feel cheated. Oh, and one last thing about appearance… when an intact penis is erect, in an adult male, the foreskin can retract behind the glans, and it looks similar to a circ’d penis.. only the glans is moist as it should be, not dried out and hard, and the skin isn’t stretched too tight and scarred. When all the parts are there everything can function as it is meant to. After learning the truth, a circ’d penis is such a sad thing to me. My husband is currently considering foreskin restoration. But we both wish he would have never had his taken in the first place.

      • Andrea

        @Jami, we are also doing foreskin restoration. We’re not very far into our journey at all, but are hopeful of eventual results.

      • Amber   unlikelymama

        Count my vote for preferring uncirc’d. My bf had too much foreskin removed. The skin is tight, red, and painful looking. He feels cheated. I would never cut my son if I had one.

        I have had partners that were left intact, and it was a much different experience. Most of them were born outside of the U.S. though.

    • Actually, women with circumcised partners report MORE dysparunia (painful intercourse) than women with intact partners (ESP after menopause!). The foreskin allows for a natural “gliding action” with no painful friction (only pleasure) and also keeps natural lubrication inside. And in an erect penis, it is impossible to tell the difference between intact versus cut (except the poor cut men have a scar). Circ’d men also have greater difficulty with erections and decreased sensitivity. I highly suggest to read up on the issue. I am thankful to be married to an intact man (We NEVER need lubrication), and I hope my daughter is able to marry an intact man someday also!

      http://www.drmomma.org/2009/07/how-male-circumcision-impacts-women.html

      http://www.drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html

  3. Elita @ Blacktating   blacktating

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this, but you’re really reaching with some of these. I’d really love to see your reference for the “fact” that 80% of parents regret their decision to circumcise. I hope that a poll on the Mothering forum is not your proof.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Where am I reaching? Everything I’ve noted here is the product of someone’s research.
      No, it’s not a Mothering poll, the source is cited in footnote 13, it’s a book by Dr. Fleiss called “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision.”

      • Lisa C   edenwild

        I’m part of that 80%!!! I regret circumcising my son and want to cry when I realize what I’ve done. I didn’t do any research about it, and my husband felt we should do it. Now I know better and I cannot fix it.

    • cosmopolite

      Personally, I doubt it’s 80%. That figure could well be true of Moms who are crunchy in other ways. And I do not for one second doubt that intact is growing in popularity among thinking and reading mothers. And that quite a few mothers have discovered intactivism AFTER having their first male child. So that there are quite a few mothers out there who are disappointed with themselves.

      But the mass of American mothers are not crunchy. Many mothers are still happy to circ their babies if their brothers and hubbies are cut. If the other boys at the day care she uses are cut, she’s comfortable with cut.

      Most people are not willing to do the hard work of thinking something threw from first principles. Especially when the male body is involved. I have been amazed for 25 years by the willingness of women to do so much hard work about the ground zero of the male body. But that’s a very good thing, because not a lot of men have been willing to come to the party.

  4. Jim   jimkettinger

    The “emotional trauma” that he might endure for a few weeks will subside. The emotional trauma that he endures in high school, when the first girl he’s with gets weirded out by the “alien torture device”, will take a lot longer. Do him a favor.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Jim – I don’t say this often, because parenting choices are so personal and there is a world of conflicting information on everything, but altering your child’s genitals for aesthetic reasons is disgusting and immoral. Circumcision rates are dropping in the U.S., so an intact penis will soon be as normal as a circumcised one. Heck, if an intact boy moves to Europe, he might be made fun of for missing his foreskin. We make parenting choices all the time that are designed to be in our child’s best interests – letting the words of other children shape our decisions is foolish at best. For more info on the ignorance of the “locker room argument,” see http://codenamemama.com/2010/01/22/locker-room-argument/

    • cosmopolite

      Most boys of high school and college age become fully erect when a woman talks about sex in their presence. If she starts taking off her clothes, that is even more true. By the time he slips out of his shorts, he is raging hard. And for most intact young men, “raging hard” means “no visible foreskin.” The only easy way to notice that an erect male is intact, is via manual foreplay.

      Boys born now cannot have responsible sex until 2028 or so. I decline to predict what the young women of that time will prefer sexually. I have noticed a steady wind blowing through the minds of younger women in recent years, gently nudging more and more of them in the intact direction.

      Over the past 50 years, more and more women have shed more and more of traditional feminine reticence about matters sexuals. Women nowadays read and think about their sex lives and gynecological health. A side effect of this growing female sexual awareness is a growing sophistication by women about male parts. Nowadays, a young American woman can easily discover that nature has equipped every male with a moving foreskin, and many women incline to defer to nature’s wishes.

      There indeed are American young women who, as you claim, cannot get over their initial reaction to the natural penis. There are other women who take it stride. There are yet others who become enthusiastic about it.

      A young woman who terminates her dealings with a man merely because he is intact is, frankly, a woman who needs to work on her capacity for tolerance and her openness to new experiences. I would fear that her attitudes about the female body left something to be desired as well.

    • Nicole

      Jim, Once he is in high school, he will be amongst intact and circumcised peers, as the rate is 56% and falling. He may want to know why his parents had 1/3 of his penis cut off (YES, 1/3…the foreskin equates to the size of a 3×5 index card), while his friends’ parents left their sons’ penises alone.

      Now for the women involved. These women will be just as familiar with intact penises as they will circumcised penises, as once again, it’s about half and half, and therefore will not be weirded out by such a familiar sight. The intact penis that you refer to as a “torture device” will ACTUALLY give them much more pleasure than the circumcised penises, due to the extra lubrication and rolling action of the foreskin. For more info:
      http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html

      http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/effects-of-male-circumcision-on-female.html

      Furthermore, even if it was 1970 with a 90% circ rate in America, I would STILL choose to keep my son safe, even if it meant that he may be embarrassed in high school (which, lets face it, NOBODY escapes high school without some level of embarrassment anyway). He’d move on and enjoy the rest of his life with a fully functioning penis, which his partner would appreciate as well.

    • Adam

      Jim,

      I’m intact and most girls are pretty excited to try it out. Actually never had any problems dating, my wife and I now enjoy a great sex life too!

      If you go outside the US, you’ll probably find women will actually not like your sawed off penis. Most of my friends never had it done, they are all married happily.

      I like the fact that I have a leg up on you guys, also, you’ll be impotent by 50 likely, as circ’ing increases impotence by 450% which compounds with age.

      Those European men are still chasing women in their 80’s.

    • Do him a favor and REMOVE the most sensitive part of his penis, including 20,000 nerve endings!?!??! NO THANK YOU!!! My husband is VERY thankful that he is intact- all of his pleasure is basically from the foreskin. Circ’d men are missing out big time!!!

      http://www.drmomma.org/2011/08/intact-or-circumcised-significant.html

      http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06685.x/abstract

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23374102/

  5. CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

    http://codenamemama.com/2010/04/27/circumcision-and-sids-only-one-of-them-is-preventable/

    Several quick points, starting with the link above. Kinda’ spells it out and would convince me if I were on the fence.

    @Parsnip – what a penis looks like really has nothing to do with its ability to impregnate someone. I see what you’re saying, though, here in the US we’re used to seeing them have a certain appearance – ours would look strange if viewed by most of the rest of the world.

    But the reason the US has been circ-happy the last several decades is quite awful – up until the 70’s they were teaching doctors that newborns felt no pain – that was their explanation for why they fell asleep during circumcision – when actually it was just the baby going into a state of shock – the pain was real.

    Plus, despite what people may say about “emotional stress” going away after a couple days (not true, but anyway) the physical pain of having an open wound inside a diaper has GOT to be unpleasant.

    When I’ve fallen down and scratched up my knee before, it sucks to wear jeans or pants – I couldn’t imagine having a wound in a more personal place and having to cover it with clothing and waste.

    • Jody

      This is so ridiculous. I have never once met a man who says at 20 or 30, “I am still emotionally scarred from being circumcised as a newborn baby.” Are YOU circumcised, “Papa”? Do YOU remember that pain? Are YOU emotionally scarred from it?

      I supposed you all are going to try to stop teething next? I would think that that pain would be pretty emotionally damaging as well.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        As unfathomable as it might be to you, yes, there are men who are still scarred from having their sexual organ cut without their consent. See the article “Babies Remember Circumcision Pain,” the and the resources and studies cited therein for more.
        You can read some firsthand account of men who are displeased (to put it mildly) that they had the circumcision choice taken away from them here: http://www.sueeasy.com/class_action_detail.php?case_id=258

        Again, comparing circumcision to a normal, natural process (like childbirth or teething) is silly. If you want a comparable analogy to teeth, think of it this way:
        “By the age of 39, 86.7% of the United States population has had at least one tooth affected by decay.” To really keep your child safe, you might consider having all their teeth pulled and dentures fitted. It might save you a lot of time, money, and pain at the dentist/orthodontist later, yes?
        That’s the same “logic” people use for circumcision.

        (Edited to add one more, in case anyone missed my reply that I mistakenly posted at the bottom of the comment thread: Here’s one more link (with links to more scientific studies/research) on the subject: http://www.circumcision.org/psych.htm )

      • Jody

        Prove it. Since I have read your stupid, falsified arguments, I have asked several males between 20 and 40 if they are emotionally scarred from being circumcised. Not ONE of them said, “Yes, I am still emotionally traumatized from being circumcised as a newborn infant male.” NOT ONE. I would like to see more basis behind your research. More proof that men are scarred by this. Because right now it seems like a farce to push your agenda on other people who appear to be incredibly gullible towards every word you say (almost cult-like!), and I would suggest to them that they do more research themselves, on BOTH sides of the argument, before they make a credible decision. But no, you only enourage YOUR side. Huh. How convenient.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Here’s one more link (with links to more scientific studies/research) on the subject: http://www.circumcision.org/psych.htm

      • Jody

        Oh and just for the record, the only man I have ever met that regretted his parents’ decision regarding circumcision was a man who was NOT circumcised. So stuff that in your self-righteous pipe and smoke it.

      • Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

        First of all, I’ve done considerable research and reached the same conclusions as Dionna did before I ever met her. How shocking that I would read and comment on the blog of someone I agree with! (That last bit was sarcasm, by the way.)

        Secondly, you seem to be missing the whole point with regard to your very unscientific, let-me-ask-my-husband-and-a-couple-other-people-standing-around study of lifelong damage from circ, that CIRCUMCISION IS CUTTING OFF HEALTHY MALE GENITALIA. That is seriously messed up, plain and simple.

      • cosmopolite

        If a man is unhappy about having the all standard issue equipment, resenting his Mom is completely irrational. Rather, he should pick up the phone and make an appointment to see a urologist.

        As a teenager, I was in the same boat as your friend, but I am damn glad I never acted on those feelings. When I got to college, I simply did not have the nerve to raise the issue of circ with a doctor. I was just too embarrassed. Near the end of my sophomore year, I read for the first time a doctor write that being uncut in the USA was fine. I do not recall if the article mentioned the AAP’s 1971 ruling that routine neonatal circ was unnecessary. When I was in grad school, I read a newspaper article laying out the AAP’s 1975 ruling, endorsed by the AMA. Shortly after I began my career, I chanced on a copy of Wallerstein (1980) and became an intactivist.

        A lot of circed North American men live out their lives without being in the least bothered about their missing foreskins. But some are. And their numbers are rising, given that no convincing rationale has been found for routine circumcision, especially for the routine circ of men who are very cautious in their choice of sex partners, or who always use condoms outside of a long term committed relationship. There is also growing clinical and anecdotal evidence that the complete equipment makes for better sex, and some circed men are sad and angry when they discover that evidence.

        Assume that 50 out of 1000 circumcised American men prefer that the decision had been left to them, and that 1 out of the 1000 feels sexually mutilated and very angry. To say that these men can be ignored because they make up a small minority is neither humane nor ethical. Instead, this scenario is an added good reason to stop routine circ.

        American medical and sexual research have not been honest about the long term adverse consequences of routine infant circ. There are circed men who have little or no feeling in the penis. Some of these men conclude that they cannot marry. There are circed men who marry and have children, but whose ability to enjoy marital intercouse slowly fades in their 40s and 50s. Their marriages turn celibate. Some men had too much cut off when they were babies, so that their erections are crooked and uncomfortable. Circumcision is suspected of contributing to the high rates of ED and PE in the USA.

    • Parsnip Milkdud

      With all due respect, you’re not a woman. This is a feeling i get inside of me when I view a penis. When it’s circumcised I feel like “oh yeah that could get me pregnant” whereas an uncircumcised penis makes me feel like “eh I guess that could do the job”. I’m sure you will all call me immature or whatever but that is just the honest biological feeling I get inside of me.

      P.S. I swear I’m not a pervert that looks at penises all day!!

      • CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

        I gotta be honest, I don’t look at penises all day either… and I’m not a woman… So… uh, now that we have that established…

        When it comes to “getting the job done” I think the circ’d penis will be the loser between the two options – the uncirc’d one has a foreskin which protects the glans from chafing on clothing the guy’s whole life? And that chafing action eventually makes the glans numb and calloused? And the extra foreskin (and more-sensitive glans) makes sex better in several ways for both the man and the woman?

        Sorry to be frank… you can still be Parsnip – ha.

      • Annie @ PhD in Parenting   phdinparenting

        Parsnip Milkdud:

        You don’t know what you’re missing out on ;)

        http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/male-circumcision-hurts-women.html

        With regards to getting pregnant, my husband’s uncircumcised penis did the job the first month we tried. How’s that for ineffective?

      • Parsnip- I’m a woman (pregnant at that)and a mom… but mostly for this post I’d like to identify as a human being. The normal genitals of the male of my species do not offend me. It’s interesting when you think about animal sexual response… each species has a way of signaling sexual readiness to the opposite sex. The bright red swollen butt of a chimp is not appealing to me one bit… but to another chimp I’m sure it’s delightful.

        So what does this have to do with circumcision? The human penis has two distinct faces, a relaxed private face, covered with dry skin… and the sexually aroused face- when the skin pulls away from the swollen internal part, the veins bulge and the moist glans is revealed. The emotion you describe- identifying when you see a circumcised penis, “Now that can get me pregnant!” on a primal level is really quite normal… but I have to ask you- Why do you feel so offended by a penis which is not sending out that signal when it is not sexually “deployed”? Do men owe it to women to walk around 24/7 looking sexually aroused? Should they have to wear that other face in the company of other men, before they are sexually mature or when they are working, resting or grieving? Aren’t there many times in life when sexual readiness is not appropriate? Should their sexual organ be diminished in order to produce this artificial expression of receptiveness? As an adult- do you think it’s proper for a mother to be repulsed by a two day old child who is not signaling sexual arousal to her? Why the compulsion to see a little cherry red glans poking out? Do you find it flattering? Isn’t it enough that our mate signals sexual readiness when he’s actually sexually ready?

      • Nessa

        @ Sarah, you took the words out of my mouth. PS, love your blog!

        @ Annie, I agree. Me and my hubby had crazy schedules and we only got to see one another once a month and boy was he effective in getting me pregnant. Not to mention Ive dated guys before, never been on contraception and never have gotten pregnant before, except with my uncircumsized hubby :) Thats not very inefective.

        @ Code Name Papa- I couldnt agree with you more.

        @ Parsnip – Im sorry but crinkled baby feet are SO cute. I cant stop kissing my sons.

      • cosmopolite

        @Sara: your post above is an example of what I had in mind when I wrote elsewhere:

        “Over the past 50 years, more and more women have shed more and more of the traditional feminine reticence about matters sexual. Women nowadays read and think about their sex lives and gynecological health. A side effect of this growing female sexual awareness is a growing sophistication by women about male parts.”

        A young mother who educates herself about routine circ can end up knowing more about the penis and its anatomical detail than the father of her children does. I have learned most of what I know about my own intact organ by reading the writings of intactivist women: Rosemary Romberg, Marilyn Milos, Danelle Frisbie, Rachelle Bee, Laura Davidson (a Scottish woman who has never set foot in the USA), etc.

        For the record, there is an awesome intactivist website created and maintained by an intact man:

        http://www.circumstitions.com/

      • Nicole

        Ummm…people were procreating for thousands of years before circumcision was ever introduced. I don’t understand why you don’t think an intact penis could “do the job” of impregnating you. The removal of foreskin does not increase fertility in men; if anything, it could make it more DIFFICULT for a circumcised man to have sex, as impotence in middle age can be caused by the lack of sensation in a circumcised penis.

        As far as your comment regarding the appearance of intact versus circumcised penises, when I look at circumcised penises,I can’t help but only see the scar. To me, a mutilated penis looks, well, mutilated.

    • Julie from Simple Life   homemakerjulie

      Right on CodeNamePapa! My husband feels the same way. I think your analogy explains it well.

      I think for a long, long time people did not view babies as people, they were these little blobs that had no feeling and no thoughts.

  6. CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

    Plus, I think anyone who says “circ the kid now to save him from ‘ridicule’ in the locker room 13 years later” is full of horsesh*t.

    Why anyone would choose to harm their days-old child is beyond me.

    As parents it’s our job to protect our kids, and I get it, they’re trying to protect their kid from getting made fun of… but if your kid is overweight are you going to come up with some extreme plan to starve them so they don’t get made fun of?

    We need to do what we can to raise strong, confident kids, and having them get elective surgery at 3 days old is a poor way of achieving that goal.

    • Parsnip Milkdud

      Are you circumcised? If so, do you feel cheated? My DH sometimes wonders if he may be missing out on better orgasms. OMG, i was sooo embarrassed when he jokingly got mad at my mother-in-law for circumcising him as a baby. Luckily she has a good sense of humor ;)

      • Restoring Tally   RestoringTally

        @Parsnip, I was circumcised at birth and I feel cheated. I am restoring my foreskin. As I regain some of what was taken from me at birth, I feel even more cheated. Having a foreskin, even a restored one, is so much better for me and my wife than being circumcised. We don’t need lube like we used to and she does not get sore after sex.

        From your story about your husband, I would not be surprised if your husband, deep down, resents his circumcision. Men have trouble expressing their innermost feelings and we often resort to joking about things that bother us. He should check out foreskin restoration. He may want to improve his orgasms.

  7. CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

    I can’t believe so many people would argue for their right to mutilate their son.

    When the foreskin is removed, it’s first RIPPED from the glans (they are connected for several years the way your fingernail is attached to your finger) – doesn’t sound very humane.

    • 2sons

      I have been present for many circs and the picture you paint of the process is all WRONG. They do not “rip” anything. It is a quick cut and is over within seconds. I am not a heartless person in any way. You people are so one-sided. It seems as though you have the wool pulled over your eyes and are unable to see both sides of things. I understand feeling strongly about this subject, but misrepresenting information is not the way to sway others to feel the same. You can cite all of the sources you want to, but until you are MEDICALLY trained you should leave some of this stuff to the professionals. Talking about personal experiences is one thing, but giving onesided “facts” is extremely dangerous.

      Hmmm…..Maybe we shouldn’t let our children go through the extremely stressful birth process then? I’m pretty sure getting squeezed through a small hole can’t feel all too good. But, oh wait, you are against c-sections? I can’t believe you would allow your child to be traumatized by going through the birth canal! Shame on you.

      I’m sorry, but MOST women who have c-sections do because they are medically necessary. Your information is insulting at best. It’s up to you if you want to put your baby’s life in danger by not taking the help of modern medicine, but you shouldn’t try to “educate” others with garbage you read online or in books. I worked as a labor and delivery nurse for over 13 years and I am appalled by your blog. It is obvious that you are NOT medically trained, so you should really leave this to the professionals. The information you give on this blog is very false and misleading. I hope people do not take your nonsense seriously, because it is VERY dangerous. Just because an MD writes a book doesn’t mean they are experts. Tell me this – are the studies they perform quantitave or qualitative? How do perform their research? I have been present for hundreds, if not thousands, of births. I have 2 of my own children, whom I had epidurals and they are both circumsized – and guess what? They both breastfed great and have had no ill effects. In fact, they are both thriving and ahead of their peers. They are loving and caring. We all want to do what’s best for our children, and I believe you are doing what’s best for you – but don’t try to educate others when you are not educated in this field. (This comment is in response to http://codenamemama.com/2009/11/18/pregnancy-birth-interventions-part-3/)

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        2sons – I am going to condense most of your comments into one and respond as respectfully as I can. This is a chore for me, since your comments are snarky, misinformed, and have even sunk so low as to insult my 2.5 yr old toddler (that comment was trashed). I’m not sure how it would make an adult feel better to take pot shots at a child, but that is for you to work out with yourself. I will also point you to my comment policy. It is my goal to provide an environment that encourages respectful discussion – portions of your comments are far from respectful. I am happy to engage in conversation with you if you tone it down; otherwise, your vitriolic name-calling (yes, I edited that part out too) and misinformation will be disposed of without further thought.

        That being said: please, take a moment to educate yourself about the normal, intact penis and the actual procedure of circumcision. A newborn’s intact penis has a foreskin that is attached to the glans by a connective membrane. That connective membrane must be ripped off in order to separate the foreskin from the glans. Here it is in simple language/pictures: http://www.circumcisionquotes.com/description.html

        Comparing birth to circumcision is silly. As an L&D nurse, I’m sure you learned that moving through the birth canal naturally is actually healthy for newborns. It’s what happens *naturally* when women are allowed to trust their bodies during labor. Similarly, an intact (natural) penis has many beneficial functions – it’s all part of the beautiful design of the human body. And shame on you for suggesting that having a natural childbirth is putting a woman’s life in danger.

        And it is scary to think of a world in which parents leave every decision about their child’s body to medical professionals without researching or questioning. If I had done that, my child would not have breastfed past 3 months, because my ignorant pediatrician advised me to stop and put Kieran on formula. Thankfully, I did my own research, discovered that my pediatrician was wrong, found a new doctor that was educated about breastfeeding, and continued to give my son the ideal nutrition.

        It is ignorant to think that “medical professionals” are the only people qualified to discuss the human body. Doctors aren’t gods. They are not all-knowing. They have a tremendous amount of knowledge, yes, but that does not mean we should blindly follow everything they have to say. Furthermore, there are plenty of medical professionals who have determined that circumcision is an unnecessary, painful procedure that should not be done on individuals without informed consent. Heck, there are entire countries (with trained medical professionals!) who call routine infant circumcision wrong – even illegal! The information in this post was gleaned from some of those same medical professionals. I don’t understand how you justify trashing the large body of research that goes against circumcision, while glorifying the conclusions that you happen to agree with. That just doesn’t make sense.

      • Jody

        I find it funny that you did not post my initial post. What are you afraid of? You have so many “articles” to cite, buy I can tell you one thing. I can see you being a person who expects everyone else to accept everything you do. I am medically trained – in many ways. You are so wrong. I have read your blog, and I feel bad for your child. He will walk into the real world not knowing what the word “no” means. I do agree that it is over used, but it is a word that need to be used in certain situations. How can you watch your child take a toy away from another child and think it’s ok to not make them give it back to them? How can you not tell your child “good job”? I am being honest and truthful when I say you are making your child someone who I (and most people I know) would never want to be around. I want my children to be open, informed, and socially acceptable. You are entitled to your opinion, but me in the real world, knows what happens in real life. I am not in a self obsessed world. Also, I don’t think you’ve been anything but rude to people who do not agree with you. I don’t care if you want to breastfeed your child until he’s 10 years old. My problem is that you only post information that backs your cause. You don’t look at both sides of the spectrum. Yes, some studies may back your beliefs, but many do not. Please inform people of both sides if you want to have a true, informative, blog. I should not have brought your child into this, but I was just being honest. I had to really read into your blog before figuring it out. I will never agree with what is posted on your blog. A person should never feel ashamed for what they have done (whether it be circ’d or whatever), but you have to know that not all people can breastfeed and not all people can go natural. I have a bloodclotting disorder, so I rely on my doctor more than most. For you to allow any posts that may make a person feel bad about their decisions is just as bad as me saying something about your child. I don’t need to “tone it down” because I am extremely put off by the people who say “who would do that to their child?” because the truth is that most people do. Does that make it right? NO. But to have a onesided blog is also not right. You are not a medical professional, so you should not be giving medical advice. Just because you read something in a book or online doesn’t make it right. You need to stop. So much of this info is wrong. I hope people are not taking your posts seriously, because they are not objective at all.

        You people are really obsessed with this. It is kind of disturbing that you are so concerned with what other people do with their childrens’ genitals. Why don’t you let people raise their children their way, and stop making people fear if they raise their kids a different way. Your scare tactics do not work, I am pregnant with my second child, and I recently found out that he is a boy, and I fully plan on circumcising him and I have no regrets about my decision, and I am proud of it. You need to present both sides of the argument; articles from both sides of the fence, for your side to be remotely credible.

    • cosmopolite

      @2sons:

      It is done without anesthesia to a child held still by a device called the Circumstraint.

      Neary all boys are born with the foreskin attached to the glans except at the meatus. This attachment has to be broken before cutting the foreskin off. This is done with a blunt probe, or by inserting forceps and rotating them 180 degrees in both directions. This adds to the pain. This forcible separation of foreskin from glans sometimes damages the surface of the glans for life

      The Jewish bris depicted in the documentary film “Cut” was indeed quick. The hospital circs that YouTube allows are anything but.

      @Jodi:

      If you do not like the opinions expressed in this forum, I suggest that you participate in other forums you find more congenial.

      The debate about circ is one sided because the reality is one sided. The USA is the only nation that still routinely circumcises large numbers of infants. The rest of the world has either given up the practice, or never adopted it. There is no ample body of medical literature supporting the practice. Claims made in recent years that circumcision lowers the rate of this or that miss a basic point. It is not intact penises that are prone to disease, but misused penises. Men who come down with AIDS and HPV have behaved badly.

      I have read a statement by a pediatric authority, saying that routine neonatal circumcision has become the most controversial surgery in all of USA pediatric medicine. It is still often performed without any anesthesia. Every year, a few hundred women have their breasts removed because of a family history of breast cancer. That said, routine neonatal circ is the only prophylactic surgery practiced in the western world. In all other respects, the watchword in our medical culture is “treat problems, otherwise leave alone.”

      I have been reading web forums since 1997. I have seen many instances when grown women discussing circ has led to a major breakdown in civility. When talking about how the tip of the penis should look and function, some grown women can post like frat boys. There are maternity and health care web sites (e.g., Dr Mercola) where all posts talking about circ are removed by the site owner.

      This situation is deplorable. But let me explain why it is also understandable, despite the fact that routine circ died out in the UK and New Zealand, and is dying out in Canada, with very little controversy.

      Circumcision is an important rite of passage for two of the four great monotheistic religions to emerge from the Middle East.

      Circumcision materially alters the most sexual part of the male body, the part that directly interacts with a woman’s body during sexual activity.

      Circumcision detracts from a common sexual act: masturbation. An unspoken item of popular sexual culture is that fellatio is a required part of intimacy, and that fellatio with a natural penis is too disgusting for words.

      Millions of everyday adult Americans, of both sexes, have never seen a natural penis in the flesh. They do not know how the appearance of the intact penis changes depending on the state of arousal. For quite a few Americans, the natural penis looks disturbing and sexually unappealing.

      Changing this perception would require viewing and discussing graphic images of a kind that press hard against propriety, even legality. More than one intactivist FaceBook Group or WordPress blog in which I have participated has been suddenly pulled down in recent years, because Management believed that the Group/Blog had stepped over the line.

      For the record, I send no images, and delete those I received. I do not refer people to graphic YouTube videos. The only image links I share are to Wikimedia Commons, where some male genitals are shown, but never the attached face.

  8. Pshouseblog   Rainbowsouffle

    Such an excellent post. I’m always proud and nervous when you post so brazenly about such controversial topics but then I think-why? Why is circumcision considered “controversial?”
    Personally I find all your points valuable and appreciate that you provide references. I however, do not think a circumsized penis looks healthier/ more potent/ cleaner/ more sexually pleasing than a non circ’d one. I find it disappointing however that mothers would make such a painful and traumatic and irreversible decision for their son because *they* think a circ’d penis looks more sexually pleasing. Hopefully *they* won’t be having sex with their son and perhaps that’s a decision he would like to make for himself. Perhaps even with the consideration of *his* sexual partner?

  9. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Thanks for pointing out the unnecessary trauma circumcision has on newborn infants. I can’t imagine intentionally causing my just-born son so much pain. I know when Mikko was born, he was already overwhelmed and bewildered by the new experience of being out in the world, cold, hungry, tired — to add a surgery on top of it all that’s not necessary…insult to injury.

    I’m so glad my husband is intact and educated me about the proper function of the foreskin before we got pregnant. And, yes, Parsnip, it did work. ;) I totally understand what you’re saying, though, too, because I used to think circ’ed penises were “normal” looking. Now I’ve completely changed my perspective. Really, all it will take to change everyone‘s perspective is a generation or two of non-routine circ!

  10. Darcel   mahoganywaymama

    I am so glad that we decided to leave our son intact. I’ve had several people ask me if we were having him circumcised. I have been proud every time to answer “no, there is no medical reason for it”
    He is beautiful exactly the way he is.

    This is another great post on circumcision. Thanks for all of the articles you’ve posted on the topic.

  11. Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes   sheryljesin

    I am finding your circumcision posts very interesting. The topic causes an inner conflict for me because we are Jewish and circumcision is a Jewish custom that has been passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years. Part of me sees it as barbaric and part of me sees it as an integral component of my religion. We did circumcise our son and would do it again if we had more boys. I hope the next one is a girl so it is a non-issue!!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I appreciate your viewpoint, Sheryl. I have honestly been wrestling with spiritual issues as a result of learning about circumcision (why would God want us to inflict pain on our kids – wouldn’t a true sign of a believer come from having to do it on oneself? etc.). I’ve never had a pastor preach on circumcision – at least the reasons for it in the OT. It would be an interesting study.
      One thing that might be helpful for you to know is that circ. was completely different when God commanded it – it was NOT taking such a large portion of foreskin, it was literally a cut – not a cutting off. If adhering to that particular law is important to your family, many Jewish families are opting for a Brit Shalom, a ceremony in which the boy’s penis is not touched at all. Here is a link with more info: http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/circumcision-jewish-fathers-making.html

    • Annie @ PhD in Parenting   phdinparenting

      Sheryl:

      There are a lot of religious traditions that have been passed down over thousands of years and a great number of them our modern society has determined are inappropriately cruel. Religion does evolve all of the time and I think this is one area where change is necessary.

  12. Melodie   bfmom

    @Sheryl – I don’t have any boys and I’m not Jewish so I’m not really in a good position to reply to you, but for whatever reason feel compelled to tell you that I have two very good women friends who are Jewish who would no way no how circumcise their sons. It’s one part of their religion they just outright don’t approve of and I have been starting to hear of other Jewish moms who feel the same way. Something to google if you are interested in case you have any more boys in the future. All the best. Melodie

    • Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes   sheryljesin

      It is interesting because there are lots of Jewish traditions that aren’t followed by many Jews but it seems that even among non religious Jews that I know, circumcision is a must! It doesn’t make it right just because “everyone is doing it” but does make it harder not to do because in my family and my community it is viewed as an essential aspect of being Jewish. It’s not logical or rational in any shape or form.
      I hope that more and more Jewish moms start to follow the lead of your friends!

      • cosmopolite

        If you plan to send a son to Jewish Sunday school and summer camp, leaving him intact will require careful thought, planning, and support from like minded Jews.

        But if you do not plan to join a temple as a family, and do not plan on your children having an organised Jewish social life, than leaving your sons intact could be quite easy. All that’s left then is awkwardness should he fall in love with a Jewish woman who is considerably more religious than he is. That might lead to his needing a bris as part of his engagement. I don’t see that as terrible, but some might be of another view.

      • HFH

        I am of Jewish heritage and all men in my family are circumcized. I chose not to circumcize my son after researching the topic. Also, my child is attending daycare at a JCC…and bringing his foreskin!

        It is not a required part of being Jewish. It is a tradition. There are large groups of Jews against the practice.

  13. Jami

    As far as the Jewish aspect of circumcision.. I just wanted to post that I read in a forum about circ a few days ago a man who was born to Jewish parents and circ’d as an infant who is now very angry about it.. he has cchanged religions and said that he was cut for a religion he doesn’t believe in, for his parents beliefs and now he has to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. HE suggested that parents do not circ, even Jewish parents, that they leave it up to the boy when he is old enough to decide if it is what HE wants. If he grows up and it is important to him, as a part of his faith, fine, he can make the decision.. but if he decides not to, no harm done to his penis in the mean time. Like the blog above says, you can always decide to circ later, but you can never go back and undo it. And doing it without permission of the person whose body it is really is a violation of their rights and bodily integrity. No one would cut off a baby’s eyelids or suggest routine circ of baby girls.. why is it acceptable to cut a fully functional organ off of a baby boy?? Answer: Its not. For any reason.

  14. Debbie

    This is obviously a very heated topic. I am very pleased that we chose not to circumcise my son.

    I find it interesting that we look in horror when we see images of genital mutilation in other cultures. Yet it happens every day in our own country and no-one seems to notice.

    God made man and woman the way he made them. I don’t believe that their design needs any improvement – despite what someone wrote in a book once about what they say God said.

    When a man is uncircumcised, he has significantly more feeling sensors, and therefore much more sensation and enjoyment. Someone wrote above about how attractive a circumcised penis is. When an uncircumcised penis is aroused, the skin pulls back naturally and it looks very much like a circumcised penis.

  15. Samantha

    For all of those all weirded out by an intact penis – have you ever seen one up close and personal? An erect intact penis looks remarkably like an erect cut penis. There’s no ‘alien torture device’ involved.

    My husband is cut, but our son will not be. We have no medical or religious reason to do it, so we’ll just teach him to stand up for himself instead. Probably a better trait to have in the long run, anyway.

  16. cosmopolite

    There are Jewish intactivists. There are Jewish women very angry about bris. There are Jewish men who are very angry about how being Jewish requires surrendering part of your capacity to experience and give marital pleasure. I have even read read a comment by a woman purporting to be an observant Jew of sorts, but who limited her sex life to intact men.

    For a man past his 21st birthday to have himself circumcised out of deference to faith and tradition, and out of loyalty to his people and ancestry, is a very eloquent gesture. To go through the same thing when one is only a week old carries no such meaning. We intactivists have coalesced around the notion that it is immoral to circ a minor. I no longer believe that Judaism and Islam should be excused from the full force of this value judgement.

    Many Jewish families no longer circumcise but, understandably, do not put that fact in the public domain. Hence American Jews think think that circumcision is a defining Jewish ritual. The truth is that many continental European Jewish families no longer circumise, if only to spare their son embarrassment when he does PE and should he do military service. The same is true in Latin America.

    We should never forget that the winds of secularism blow in the corridors of the Chosen People. If Jewish parents no longer believe in God or the Covenant, and do not belong to a synagogue, Jewish circumcision becomes no more than a cruel cattle brand done to humans.

    Educated Jews have, with me, the reputation for being the most sexually sophisticated human community. It is no accident that Dr Ruth is of Jewish ancestry. Modern secular circumcision derives in good part from the Victorian detestation of masturbation, a sexually reactionary attitude. We now know that the moving foreskin adds to his pleasure, and probably to hers as well. Hence circumcision is radically at variance with Jewish sexual sophistication, and I think that over time, more and more thoughtful Jewish parents are going to think this way.

    Circucmision is also at variance with eloquent Jewish themes of nonviolence, kindness to animals, and the defense of the weak. The writings of Alice Miller helped me see this.

  17. Daisy   TooTooDaisy

    This is SUCH a touchy subject. We chose not to circ our son, after a reasonable amount of research and discussion with various pediatricians. My dad, brothers, male cousins are all circ’d though, and none of them are anguished about it. I think the world is trending toward circumcising less, but I don’t think a parent who chooses to circumcise is a bad parent. I’ve also come to reaaaaallllly dislike the “intact” jargon for the following reason: it sends the message to every boy who is circumcised that he is not intact, is less male, etc. That’s a pretty mean thing to suggest to a boy about an irreversible state of affairs. So while my son is not circumcised I don’t consider him any more or less “intact” as a male than any other boy.

    • CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

      I see what you’re trying to say, and it’s good to think about a boy’s or young man’s feelings on the matter…

      but to me, someone who is circumcised is not “less male” – they’ve simply had their foreskin removed… and someone who is “intact” isn’t MORE male, they have an intact foreskin, is all.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      On the opposite side of that coin, calling an intact boy “uncircumcised” says that he is somehow less than the “norm” of circumcision. I do understand the tendency to give so much credence/weight to nomenclature though – breastfeeding moms have the same issue with nursing beyond infancy (aka “extended breastfeeding” or “full-term breastfeeding”). :)

    • CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

      I don’t think anyone uses the term “intact” to cause duress to those who are circumcised.

      I really enjoyed Cosmopolite’s comment on a related post, and the comment offers some insight on this question:

      http://codenamemama.com/2010/01/22/locker-room-argument/#comment-9563

  18. cosmopolite

    @Sara: your post above is an example of what I had in mind when I wrote:

    “Over the past 50 years, more and more women have shed more and more of traditional feminine reticence about matters sexuals. Women nowadays read and think about their sex lives and gynecological health. A side effect of this growing female sexual awareness is a growing sophistication by women about male parts.”

  19. Julie from Simple Life   homemakerjulie

    People care because it’s unnecessary. It’s mutilation of something that is perfectly fine the way it is. Wouldn’t you care it people where doing something you deem completely unnecessary? Say, changing their kids eye color because they think blue eyes are prettier or better (according to society) in some way than brown. I’m sure you would be appalled by such a painful surgery on a baby to ‘fix’ something that is completely unnecessary and only for cosmetic reason.

    • cosmopolite

      To circumcise a blue baby, or a premie, or any baby who is recovering from surgery or is otherwise unwell, is blatantly unconscionable. Here in New Zealand, almost nobody is cut any more. But if a doctor agrees to do it, he has to do it between the ages of 4 weeks and 6 months and must inject lidocaine. The only reason to circumcise a boy in infancy is if urination is compromised. There is no reason not to use local anesthesia.

      The USA circumcises newborns because American doctors last century disdained anesthesia. If done after the first few weeks of life, there is a chance the patient will remember the pain and have lifelong psychosexual difficulties. There are also many American parents who are daunted by the prospect of changing and bathing of a baby with a pointed penis. That puts in the parents’ minds sexual thoughts they would rather not have. Hence their eagerness to get it over and done with very early in life.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Doctors worldwide once thought that babies couldn’t feel pain. Consequently, doctors used to perform all kinds of surgery on babies without anesthesia from this tragic mistaken belief. (see, for example, http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-05-08-babies-pain_x.htm)
        For some reason, many people persist to adhere to the ridiculous belief that circumcision does not hurt. Most circumcisions in the US are performed without anesthesia. And I’m fairly certain that at least one of the studies I cited that demonstrate circ’d boys remember the pain was based on babies who were circ’d at only days old, not weeks after birth.

  20. BethanyBob   bethanybob

    Some of these comments scare me.

    I chose not to circumcise my son. My sister-in-law chose to circumcise her son. And that’s all that’s been said and done since they were both born. It hasn’t been this big huge issue, and we don’t fight and argue with each other about it.

    I try to educate my friends and let them come to their own decisions. You have a lot more patience than I do for random Internet people who feel the need to rabidly defend routine infant circumcision.

  21. AFWifey

    We chose to circumcise our son. My mother chose not to with my brother. We both made our own (very informed) decisions. It is not a big deal. I agree with BethanyBob, there’s no reason people can’t be informed (NICELY) but it doesn’t have to be a huge issue.

    My biggest complaint is the hospital did not have ANY material in the new parent pack about the benefits or disadvantages of circumcision. NOT A WORD. New parents are freaked out anyway, they could help us out a little. All the information I had was found on my own.

    • cosmopolite

      40-60 years ago,if the mother had health insurance or otherwise looked like she could afford it, urban maternity wards often circumcised baby boys without asking the mother. If they asked, they often did not take NO for an answer. The problem nowadays is that doctors and hospitals overstate the benefits of doing it, and understate the possible harm.

      Mother after mother has posted in recent years about being asked by a doctor or nurse whether she wanted her boy cut. When she says No, the doctor or nurse becomes all smiles, says it’s unnecessary, and even that (s)he did not circ his or her own sons. Very curiously, health care professionionals act as if though they have been forbidden to speak their own minds about this tender subject. As if they have been strictly forbidden to change a parent’s mind. I know of no other aspect of modern medicine where the personal preference of lay patients (or their guardians) is allowed to rule the roost.

      • Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

        I agree. The pediatrician who came into our room after the birth asked something neutral, like, “Do you want to circumcise your son?” After we said no, he smiled and said, “Whew, what a relief. I hate circumcision” or something to that effect. It does make me wonder if he would have fully informed us if we had said “yes” instead.

        It reminds me of (lack of) breastfeeding advocacy in the hospital. If a woman doesn’t specifically express a desire to breastfeed, it seems like the default is to try not to influence her decision. But why? If it’s a medical issue, why wouldn’t pediatricians state their medical opinion?

        This is why I don’t blame women for not breastfeeding due to inadequate information and support, and why I don’t blame parents who circ without fully informed consent. This comment is to @sara, too. No one thinks you’re a bad parent for not knowing; at hospitals where circ is routine, it’s more likely to happen than not, unless you specifically request that it not be. There’s no true informed consent there.

      • cosmopolite

        @Hobo Mama:

        You can’t imagine how often I have read mothers post as you just have! Doctor is elated not to circumcise, but keeps mum about that until Mom opens her mouth! Why do health professionals act as if they were under some sort of gag order?? Marilyn Milos was terminated for advising parents not to circ, but that was in 1984.

        One of the reasons I decided not to become a doctor was that I feared I would be ordered to perform circumcisions, at least while a resident. I simply could not face cutting off a piece of anatomy that stood at the center stage of my sexuality.

        I’ve visited your blog, BTW. The image on the first page is iconic, babe, iconic. I grew up and lived in such cities. Urban industrial landscapes like that gave us the blues and hard rock (Allman Brothers, Paul Butterfield, Muddy Waters, Stevy Ray Vaughn). American cities are among the very ugliest in the western world.

  22. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Jody/2sons – I am going to condense some more of your comments (and I trashed another one that was nothing but hateful) and respond to you, again, as respectfully as I can (even though the same courtesy is not being extended by you). I see that you are posting under two different names (you admit – under the Jody email address – that you “brought my child into this”), kind of the pot calling the kettle obsessive, eh?

    And let me remind you – again – the reason I deleted 2 of your comments was because they are full of name-calling ignorance that added absolutely nothing to the conversation here. I am not afraid of discussing the subject with anyone, but I will not host a string of comments from someone who not only chooses to keep his/her own blinders on, but lashes out at anyone who holds a different opinion. So if that is all that is on your agenda, please find someone else’s site to pester.

    Anyway, I will point you once more to the links I provided in response to your last comment about the potential long-term effects of circumcision on men. There are many firsthand experiences/accounts contained in those links. You continually criticize every study I’ve posted, but you offer nothing but rhetoric in return. I know that there are studies on both sides of the fence, what I choose to talk about is the research I feel most strongly represents the needs of newborn boys. There is a plethora of information available on the pro-circ side, and you can be assured that they’re not publishing much about the negative consequences of circ. Are you prepared to spout your hate on pro-circ websites for not presenting both sides of the issue? Regardless, I pay for this little chunk of the Internet, I can really post whatever I’d like. If it offends you I have a very simple answer – don’t read it. Go start your own blog. You can use it to bash people’s children and parenting choices all day, because that is your right under the glory of free speech. Free speech does not, however, force me to publish the crap that you spew on my website. So I can and will delete whatever hateful comments you leave here.

    It is ironic that you are admonishing me for supposedly judging other people’s parenting choices. If you will look carefully at the things I’ve posted, I’m just spreading information. I’m not judging anyone. What you do is up to you – I’m just talking about what works for us (and much of what happens to be healthy for children). And in your comments, you are judging and “predicting” – without knowing us or our wonderful toddler – that he will be ostracized and outcast because of how we raise him. How hypocritical.

    All I hope is that parents make informed choices/decisions. I am trying to present information that is often not shared with expecting parents. If you choose to circumcise your son, that is currently your right under our laws. I simply hope that you have researched and feel comfortable enough with your decisions that you can tell your son with peace in your heart someday why you made the choice to alter his genitals.

    And why do I concern myself with this issue? Because social change must start with us. We can’t leave it to the medical professionals, who have used circumcision as a “cure” or “prevention” for everything from tuberculosis to bed wetting.

  23. sara

    okay… i’m going to chime in here after debating whether or not to since reading this yesterday.
    the rapid-fire commenting may be coming to a close so this may go pretty un-read but i want to put it out there anyways.

    i am the mommy to an almost-one-year old baby boy… he is the absolute love of my life and i have devoted so much of myself to give him the best start to life that i possibly can… and he is circumcised.
    to my embarrassment (and recently: shame) i will admit that it’s something i didn’t really think much about one way or the other before having him…

    i was/am all for attachment parenting but not because i read about it in some book but because that’s just what felt/feels right… i had a natural birth, i exclusively breast feed, co-sleep, baby wear, plan to practice gentle discipline, eat organic, respect the environment, etc etc etc…

    it wasn’t until my baby was about 5 months old that i stumbled across the natural parenting blogosphere and got tuned in to this *wonderful* group of like-minded women and mothers and i am so thankful that i found code name mama and lots of other great blogs… they’ve all given me such amazing confidence, food for thought, inspiration and feeling of solidarity – even though i’m pretty much anonymous in this blog-world because i don’t have a blog and rarely comment, i feel a sense of connection with many of you because i read your blogs and their comments daily.

    i can honestly say, if i had been exposed to the information on “intactivism” during my pregnancy things may very well have been different for me, for my baby.

    but truthfully, and it is with great sadness that i admit to this, i really didn’t give it much thought at all… we didn’t know what we were having so maybe if i knew we were having a *boy* i would have looked into it more… my husband is circumcised and he wanted to circumcise our baby if we had a boy… i was fine with that… at that point, i didn’t really know many baby boys that were uncircumcised… like i said, i’d never really given it much thought.

    the reason why i want to write today is because, while i totally appreciate everyone’s point of view and respect the fact that when we’re all passionate about something we can really give it our all, every time i see a blog post about circumcision show up in my reader list i get a pit in my stomach… i get this wave of tremendous guilt and it feels HORRIBLE.

    i own my feelings, though – it is *me* that makes me feel the way i do…

    but when i read words like “mutilate” and “intact” it makes me feel like i’m the worst mother… like i should have some sort of guilt and regret attached to the most wonderful day of my life: my baby’s birth day because i had him circumcised.

    he was away from me in the hospital for a very short period of time for the procedure and my husband was with him the whole time – it was quick and the baby didn’t cry once – and was back in my arms immediately following and has basically stayed there since! :)

    i am so thankful that you are as well read, informed and passionate as you are (about this topic and many others) and i am not writing to criticize or blame or be the least bit negative but i wanted to write more for myself in hopes that getting it “out there” may help lift my feeling of shame and guilt.

    i often feel like i cannot belong to the natural-mother’s club… even though i feel like every bit the natural mother you are…. i feel like i failed my baby and failed at motherhood on my first day… like i have a dirty little secret that, if exposed, would make everyone look at me sideways…

    so i’m exposing myself!
    maybe another mommy who feels the way i feel will read this and feel better that she’s not alone…

    know better, do better…
    i’m just want to be able to forgive myself.
    so here it is, world!
    and it’s not anonymous to-boot.

    xo sara

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Sara, whenever I write, I do it with mamas like you in mind. I always try to be as respectful as possible when talking about difficult situations like this, because one can never assume that everyone had the same information – even the same access to information – as someone else. If I hadn’t been with a midwife who didn’t mind sharing her views on circumcision, who knows what we would have done. It wasn’t until Tom and I had both read and researched a LOT before we became as informed and passionate about this subject as we are today.
      In the Midwest especially, it is almost assumed that parents will circumcise. Many doctors *don’t* hand out information on the procedure, and they *aren’t* fully informed of the risks/consequences.
      Please, don’t feel guilty. You did the best you could with the information you had. I don’t want to villainize parents who made the choice in the past – circumcision was the standard! I just want that to change, and the only way to do that is to try to spread more complete information in the best way I know how – which is by writing on this site.
      And while I do think it is ok to regret the decision, guilt does no one any good. You can take that knowledge and share it with others. You can make sure your son is fully informed when he has babies of his own. You can speak up and say “I would do it differently.” If you want to. :) And if you want to silently support those of us who do, we appreciate that too – even if all you are supporting is a parent’s right to make an informed choice.

      And just so you know, I’ve also edited/deleted comments in the past that have bashed parents who circumcised. I don’t want to hear the hatefulness from either side of the fence. Like I said, I try to write without judgment, without accusations. If you have any suggestions to make these posts more gentle (while not taking away from the information aspect), I am incredibly receptive. Especially from you, friend :)

    • cosmopolite

      For the record, I never use “mutilate” and “mutilation.” That seeing the adjective “intact” makes you feel guilty is a sobering thought I need to think about privately.

      You are being too hard on yourself. I blame the American medical profession, with its weird fence-sitting posture re infant circ.

      “There is not compelling reason to do it, but parents who want it for any reason, including reasons they decline to articulate, should be allowed to have it done to their infant boys. Doctors and hospitals are nor required to tell the truth about routine circ to parents of newborns.”

      This puts an excessive information gathering burden, and a difficult moral choice, on the shoulders of parents, where it does not belong.

      There are a handful of American maternity wards that do not circ or strongly discourage it. That is possible in the USA. But the vast majority have not been proactive in this fashion.

      Most American mothers who share thoughts via the internet are aware of the routine circumcision controversy and of the intactivist position. I very much doubt the fathers of their children are. For all too many American men, their thoughts on this tender subject are limited to: “A penis that looks that different from mine is dirty, weird, and sexually undesirable. I insist that my son be spared that.”

      • cosmopolite

        Also, opinions about how the penis should look and work very much vary by locale. West of the Rockies, intact is now the norm. Intact is not rare in Texas, Florida, and Illinois, especially where there is a substantial Latino presence. It is never rare in the 16 states where Medicaid has stopped paying for it. More and more boys born to highly educated parents (e.g., college professors, clergy) are now intact. In New England and New York state, at least 25% of boys are now intact. But in the vast American heartland, the America of corn, soybeans, and machinery manufaturing, from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma, the bald penis still rules, with circ rates as high as 85%, the situation that prevailed in the 1950s and 60s.

        If you come from what I call the “real America,” don’t be too hard on yourself. I grew up in the real America and can attest to its many virtues. But common sense about how the tip of the penis looks and works is, sadly, not among those virtues. Every culture has its tragic flaws. The obsession to circumcise is an American tragic flaw.

        If only Warren Buffett were to endorse intactivism. If only Dean Edell would broadcast from Des Moines or Indianpolis.

    • Lisa C   edenwild

      Sara…I’m in the same boat as you. I didn’t know there were so many uncircumcised boys, either, but all my mama friends have left their sons intact, and I only hope they don’t judge me for doing it to my son. It’s actually pretty embarrassing to me, though I try not to let it get to me. My biggest regret is that he might grow up and be unhappy about it. My second biggest regret is not educating myself. I’ve put so much thought in other parts of parenting, but not this. How could I have allowed a medical procedure done to my son without reading up on it? I just didn’t realize it was so important.

      Those words get to me, too, and make me want to cry. I can’t go back and fix it. But I am determined not to do it again. I hope talking about it helps you feel better. I think it helps me.

      • Joe

        I think it’s very encouraging to hear that about all your friends sons. Although it’s a shame that you didn’t learn about this until it was too late, don’t dwell on it. What’s done is done but never pass up the opportunity to educate others and remember that should the opportunity come up again, when you know better you do better.

      • cosmopolite

        Don’t dwell on the past. When it’s age appropriate, explain to your son how you feel and beg him to leave your grandsons whole. When the time comes, repeat the same message to your future daughters-in-law. And you can be very emphatic with any grown daughter you may have.

  24. Jami

    Jody.. I have no words. I hope someday you come to terms with your anger. And perhaps denial? I can’t even comment on those posts.. just too much hostility. I think you need to calm down, back away from the computer, and really look within to see why you are so fired up and defensive. JMO

    Cosmopolite- I agree with all your posts. And I also live in the “real America” you posted about and it is very very common to circ here, and to bottlefeed, and to have medicated births… all the mainstream American things that are so unnecessary. I am sad to say I had two bad births (one a forced csection and one a vbac, though still a traumatic in-hospital one), but happy to say I have done pretty much everything else opposite of mainstream America. lol I have been nursing for over 6 years straight, cosleep, babywear, leave my kids intact, homeschool/unschool, etc. I think so much of the problem is the American mentality of you do what your parents did and don’t question things. Most Americans do not do research and do not question the way they were brought up. How often do we all hear “Well I was __fill in the blank with unnecessary practice___ and I’m just fine!” excuse. sigh. America needs to change its thinking.. namely by starting to DO some thinking, rather than just going with the mainstream. I get a lot of flak for trying to inform others… but its one person at a time that change is going to happen. If one baby is saved from being circumcised, if one mom feels empowered enough to have a natural birth at home, if one mom becomes educated about breastfeeding full term and does it, etc it will ripple. I already see a huge difference just since I had my first child 6.5 years ago. The tides are turning. Maybe (a LOT) more slowly in middle America, but they are turning. :)

    • cosmopolite

      My mother had her 3 children in a hospital, but without any anesthesia. She breastfed each of us, even though in two cases, she had to face the smirking disdain of nurses when she asked that her children be brought to her from the nursery so she could execise her maternal privilege. To shut my father and his mother up when they badgered her re circ, she threatened divorce. This in 1949. When she gave birth to my brother several years later in the USA, he was snipped without her being asked about it. She and I never talked candidly about circ until after my cut father died. She does not approve of my intactivism, saying that because I have no issues with body, my wife has no issues with me, I am raising no sons, I need not concern myself with whether my fellow Americans are circumcised or not.

      My mother was at least 30 years ahead of her time. But she would have no time for you crunchy moms. She is a blunt and gruff sort who refuses to make a career out of most interesting choices she’s made. Her attitude about many things is simply that “a mom’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. Let’s get on with it, shall we?”

  25. Thanks for sharing all this information, especially regarding the stress reactions. Where this issue hit me the hardest was when I was working at a pediatric hospital, taking care of blue little heart babies. These babies were still working to heal from major heart surgery, usually received shortly after birth, and shortly before discharge would get sent to the NICU by parental request to get circ’ed. They’d go alone, without their parents and come back in so much pain on top of . I’m not a doctor and I’m not a nurse YET but I just don’t understand how it can be okay to get an elective surgery shortly after a major life-saving surgery.

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