Oh, I’ve heard many reasons why we should circumcise a baby boy. Some of the popular ones are:
I want him to look like me.
He’ll be a freak in the locker room.
You have to. Boys who aren’t circumcised are dirty.
Jennifer’s post last week, WTF? Baby Boys’ Circumcised Foreskins Used for Wrinkle Treatment made me laugh out loud. Mostly it was her shock at upcycling foreskins.
As I commented on that blog, I’d already known they “reused” foreskins. My sister had been involved with a skin grafting on a foot that used those circumcised scraps. If feet and penises combined for life aren’t your idea of fun, perhaps you’ve already hopped on the no-circumcise bandwagon.
Still not sure? Here are 11 Reasons to Avoid Circumcising Your Son…
1. It is not your body. This is a huge reason to leave your son intact. It is his body, and he should be allowed to choose whether to have surgery on his most private parts. If you choose now not to circumcise, he can always make a different choice later in life. Not so if you snip.
2. For the dads: Your son will never “look like you” in every way. Boys rarely see their fathers’ penises past a young age, and no matter what, grown men’s penises look very different in size and hair content from their baby boys’. Daddy, that “because I am” argument is a pretty poor one. Your mother made the decision to circumcise you in a culture very different from ours. Would you also have your wife not breastfeed if your mother did not?
3. Trauma. I’d say being born was a pretty hardcore experience, wouldn’t you? At least from the mama’s end, it’s hard work. I can only imagine how rough it is for that little guy to work to get out! And how do we give him the big “congratulations”? By cutting off a part of his body! Good job, young chap…Now, you won’t be needing this anymore.
4. It’s cosmetic surgery. Would we get him rhinoplasty, too? Actually, lets have the circ doc toss that one in for free, shall we?
5. Locker room fears: if 40% of boys are now left intact (and more in some places), your son won’t look much different than others in the locker room. And anyhow, why would boys be checking each other out in the first place?! I should think that the one poking fun would be the guy with the real problem!
6. On the supposed increased risk for urinary tract infections: UTIs are rare in boys, much less common than for girls. Recent studies suggest there is no difference in the amount for circumcised boys than for intact boys.
7. On the supposed increased risk for STDs: Some of the studies suggesting that the risk for HIV is lessened by circumcision are flawed, in that they concentrate on populations in Africa, where HIV rates are much higher than Western countries. A 2007 study offers that it is the percentage of female sex workers in the female population, not the incidence of male circumcision, that determines the level of HIV infection. As an alternative to cosmetic surgery, I suggest you teach your son to respect his body, choose partner(s) wisely, and always use protection.
8. And another medical “reason to circumcise”: phimosis, or a foreskin that won’t retract. The foreskin gradually becomes retractable between infancy and 18 years of age. For most kids it’s in the first few years. It’s nothing we should either rush or worry about. In fact, only 1 percent of males over 18 still have an unretracted foreskin, and then it can be easily treated with a topical steroid cream. The risks of this happening, however, are small, because stimulation of the foreskin during adolescence helps this happen naturally. (And that’s something that no adolescent boy minds doing!)
9. Have you heard it decreases the risk of penile cancer? Yeah, I got that one a bunch, too. My argument was this: breast cancer in females is much more prevalent than the risk of penile cancer for males. So tell me, when your daughter begins to develop breasts, will you cut those breast buds off…just in case? And according to the medical dictionary from the National Institutes of Health (which I was delighted to see use the word “smegma”),
Uncircumcised men who do not keep the area under the foreskin clean and men with a history of genital warts or human papillomavirus (HPV) are at higher risk for this rare disorder.
10. The cleanliness thing. A boy is not dirty who bathes regularly. Given a little soap and water, he should stay clean. Incidentally, this “dirty” thing is the same argument used by proponents for female genital mutilation.
1l. And, finally: Would you circumcise your daughter?
Actually, you’re lucky I’m not going all hardcore on you, and posting a video of the process. It’s quite horrific. If you can stomach it, look and pics and videos before you finalize a decision that your son will have to live with for the rest of his life.
As one pro-intact group says:
Circumcision is a solution in search of a problem.
I mean, we all believe in recycling, but how ’bout if they use that soft foreskin on a middle-aged woman’s wrinkles? What fun!
This wasn’t an easy decision in my house when I found out I was having another boy. I went a little bit more into our “debate” over the matter in my original post discussing circumcision at Nature’s Child blog.
Image: Wikimedia Commons