I know this is a sensitive subject for some, but I feel it’s *most* sensitive to the ones that can’t speak for themselves. I will be their voice.
I want you to have just as much peace and confidence in God’s design and your son’s capabilities as I do.
“YAY, we’re having a boy! Should we have him circumcised?”
I am so glad someone shared this information with me. And now I share because I care about babies and their families. I also share because so many people felt it necessary to ask me if we would circumcise a boy during my pregnancies. When we said no, we were met with confusion, even disgust (at a baby!?), and a whole lot of misinformation.
I don’t judge anyone. I don’t do the “mommy war” thing. I share what I know out of genuine love. Here are just a few myths and concerns posed to myself and other moms I know. Debunked.
“But it’s healthier to cut.”
No. No medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision. Major medical groups have issued statements on circumcision explaining that it “is non-therapeutic and medically unnecessary,” “puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in local infections, serious injury, UTIs, all the way to hemorrhage leading to death,” and “is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity.” The American Academy of Pediatrics says any possible benefits of the procedure are “not great enough to recommend routine infant circumcision for all male newborns.” Rates and studies have shown that boys have a greater chance of dying from the circumcision procedure than ever actually needing to be circumcised. (bonus note! The American Cancer Society actually admonished the AAP for suggesting years ago that circumcision is potentially a method for attempting to prevent cancer. The ACS says it is “not a valid or effective measure to prevent such cancers.” They pretty much ripped them a new one. The risk of a man getting penile cancer is 1 in 100,000. The risk of a MAN getting BREAST cancer is 1 in 1,000. hmmm…)
- Circumcision: Medical Organization Official Policy Statements
- Shingleton H, Heath Jr CW. Letter to Peter Rappo, M.D., February 16, 1996.
“But I thought uncircumcised (intact) boys/men got more UTIs??”
According to a study in 2007, circumcised men have a 1.27% risk of getting a UTI, and intact men have a 1.29% risk. FEMALES have a 9.22% risk. Which part of your daughter are you willing to cut off for something that can be easily cured with antibiotics and diet changes?
“Well, it’s cleaner and easier. Intact men get smelly and have gross…stuff… Cleaning intact babies is so difficult.”
Nope. When a newborn is circumcised, they have an open wound that’s regularly surrounded by urine and feces within a humid, non-breathable diaper. An intact baby has no open wound, but in fact has anatomy that protects his internal glans and urethra. The foreskin doesn’t normally retract until the boy is several years old but may not retract until puberty. Until that time, the foreskin should NEVER be forcefully retracted and special cleaning should NEVER occur. (How to clean an intact baby boy. – When intact, don’t retract. Only clean what is seen. Wipe like a finger, base to tip. On the flip side, the medical protocol for circumcision care is to apply petroleum jelly for six months and pull the remaining foreskin away from the glans at each change to prevent skin bridges and adhesions. Basically, pull the scabs apart. Which is easier??) Genitals, male or female, are not the place for harsh soaps. Once the boy is retractable, HE can be taught to retract and rinse with water. That’s all there is to it. And the “gross stuff” is called smegma. All males and females have it, circumcised or not. (Circumcised males often don’t see it because it rubs off onto their undergarments… It’s still there!) Smegma is the bodies way of cleansing itself and is not an issue for either sex as long as you bathe on a semi-regular basis. (And there’s also a whole aisle at the drug store dedicated to feminine hygiene….So, who is really the “grosser” sex?)
- “The circumcised penis requires more care than the intact penis during the first 3 years of life. Parents should be instructed to retract and clean any skin covering the glans in circumcised boys, to prevent adhesions forming and debris from accumulating. Penile inflammation (balanitis) may be more common in circumcised boys; preputial stenosis (phimosis) affects circumcised and intact boys with equal frequency. The revision of circumcision for purely cosmetic reasons should be discouraged on both medical and ethical grounds.”
“But so many men end up having to have circumcisions later in life. I would rather go ahead and do it while he’s young.”
False. In countries where infant circumcision is not done at all, the adult circumcision rate is about 1 in 16,667. That’s less than 0.006%. (Again, the procedure itself carries more risk than living as an intact male.) Another important thing to recognize is that many, many people *still* believe you should forcibly retract an infant’s foreskin and thoroughly soap it up. Not only does this severely throw off the body’s natural PH, it repeatedly, over years, tears open the tissues leaving them unable to develop normally. These stories you hear about your Great Uncle’s neighbor’s nephew needing to be circumcised because he had “a horrible time” is very likely traceable to damage that was done before he could even walk. (When intact, don’t retract! Only clean what is seen.)
- “Circumcision fails to meet the commonly accepted criteria for the justification of preventive medical procedures in children.”
“Well, I like how it looks better, and his future wife probably will too. I want him to look like his dad. Dad has the same parts, so he gets to make the decision anyways.”
How often have you compared genitals with your same sex parent? Do they look identical? Which part of your daughter’s body are you going to customize to her mother’s or to the preferences of another person? If mom is not circumcised, SHE has a foreskin. (YES, all mammals, male and female, have a prepuce aka a foreskin.) Being the one that still has a foreskin, the mother has just as much right to advocate for her child’s body as dad. A male’s lack of foreskin leaves his glans exposed to the outside world. It becomes rough, desensitized, and dry; the opposite of its intended function and appearance. (And did you know the ring of discoloration around a man’s penis is actually a scar from his circumcision??) You child will have some features that are similar to their parents and some that differ. We don’t get to choose. If “matching” is really a concern, let the dad look into foreskin restoration.
- What is the Prepuce?
- Female Genital Anatomy
- Sex As Nature Intended It
- Male Circumcision Leads to Bad Sex Life
“But he’ll get picked on at school!”
The circumcision/intact rates in the US are hovering around 50%/50%. A 2015 study appearing in the Journal or Urology showed that 90% of boys were never teased about their genitals in middle or high school. The 10% that did experience teasing were equal numbers of both circumcised and intact. 83% of the teasing that occurred was due to size. 97% of those surveyed were happy with their bodies. To give another perspective… Young girls (and adult women) can be teased ruthlessly about breast size, body shape, facial structure, fashion, etc. We teach our girls that they are beautiful and perfect and to never change to suit anyone else. We permanently and surgically alter our boys. We teach our daughters to overcome ignorance, bullies, and body shaming, and we put our newborn boys under a knife because of it.
- “It appears that parental concerns regarding teasing related to penile appearance are valid, although most causes of teasing may not be alleviated by surgical therapy.”
- “Having a healthy and positive body image means liking your body, appreciating it, and being grateful for its qualities and capabilities.”
“I’m going to do it because it’s in the Bible.”
As a Christian, I can tell you that the blood of Jesus was enough and there is no need to sacrifice your child’s body. Galations 5:2-3 “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.” Phillipians 3:1-3 “Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith. Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort.”
“They have anesthesia, he won’t remember it anyways.”
The nerve that registers pain in this area, the dorsal nerve, cannot be adequately blocked in newborns because their bodies are too small and fragile for such heavy medicating. Because of their inability to safely process anesthetics, many newborns are not given anything at all, instead they are offered sugar coated pacifiers which trigger their innate sucking reflex. Severe side effects such as fainting, stroke, heart attack, lung collapse (from exhaustive screaming/crying), involuntary defecation, high cortisol levels resulting in the infant’s body shutting down completely and “playing dead” (aka “he slept right through it”) have all occurred during circumcision. A study began on the effects of pain management options during circumcisions but the group organizing it suspended the study for ethical reasons. (think about that for a second) Still, babies undergo surgery without adequate pain management (because there is none) daily all across the US. There are also several studies coming out showing that intense pain and trauma in the newborn stage have lasting effects on the brain. Regardless, “they won’t remember it” is never, EVER a valid reason to allow or inflict pain on anyone, especially a child.
- Are There Long-Term Consequences of Pain in Newborn or Very Young Infants?
- “None of the studied interventions completely eliminated the pain response to circumcision.”
- Circumcision Permanently Alters the Brain
- Early stress may lead to a reduced immune system response, resulting in consequences such as delayed wound healing and potentially an increased susceptibility to infection. Increased pain sensitivity, decreased immune system functioning, increased avoidance behavior, and social hypervigilance are all possible outcomes of untreated pain in early infancy.
“The method my doctor uses doesn’t cut or anything, so it’s different.”
This is a lie. Yes, even for the Plastibell method. This method is touted as the “no scalpel” method that attaches a plastic ring which falls off later on. To attach this ring, the opening of the baby’s closed foreskin is pulled open and apart, a blunt probe is inserted, forced through closed tissues, and ran around between the foreskin and the glans which are completely fused together much like a fingernail is to the nail bed. The ring is then placed over the exposed, bleeding glans, an extremely tight exterior band is placed over the foreskin, and the foreskin is literally pinched and squeezed for days until the flesh dies and falls off. There is NO gentle or pain free method of circumcision in existence.
“I’m a circumcised man, and I’m totally fine.”
That’s great! However, let’s not discount the nearly quarter of a million men in the US alone who are undergoing the process of foreskin restoration after being circumcised as infants. Let’s not forget the men that are unable to engage in sexual activity or reproduce as a direct result of their circumcision. Remember that nearly 10% of all circumcised boys will need a repeat surgery to fix errors from their first surgery. Remember that one of the possible risks of the procedure is “loss of the penis.” Keep in mind that over 20,000 nerve endings and enough skin to cover your palm is lost. As a circumcised man, did you know that infant foreskins are sold and used in cosmetics, anti-aging creams, and acne treatments among other things? (Go ahead and Google it.) And also think about all the women in the US that experience dryness, irritation, infection, and pain during intercourse with a circumcised man. This is not how God and nature intended sex to be.
“We did our research. We’re doing it.”
Can you name the functions of the foreskin? Can you name the various circumcision methods and their side effects? Do you know what method of pain management your child will receive, if any? Do you know if your child will be circumcised “high and tight” “low and tight” “low and loose” etc etc etc??? You know that over 100 boys in the US alone die each year from circumcision and that a foreskin has yet to go rogue and kill anyone? Research more. The more you know, the more you’re against it.
And just because I feel you can never be too educated on the safety and integrity of children…
Did you know that *female* circumcision was legal in the US until 1996? Seriously. It was even covered by some insurance companies in the 70s and possibly 80s. Why on earth would anyone circumcise a baby girl?? For reasons like this :
“It’s cleaner. ”
“It looks better.”
“She should look like her mother. ”
“She won’t remember it. ”
“It’s part of our culture.”
“Because her parents just want to.”
And this is not always some radical group performing rituals on their daughters. Many everyday, middle class, “normal” women go to their first GYN appointment to find out they were surgically altered as children. As a woman, were YOU born before 1996? Are you glad YOU’RE not circumcised and have your whole body as God designed? Will you give your son that same benefit? The way we as Americans view female genital mutilation is the way the rest of the world looks at Americans for circumcising boys.
- “FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and modesty, which include the notion that girls are clean and beautiful after removal of body parts that are considered unclean, unfeminine or male.”
- “I want my daughter to experience fulfilled life at its whole. I want it not only for my daughter but for all girls to have that opportunity,” says Crowley. “For millions of girls that’s been taken away from them, often by their own family.”
“It’s a personal decision. Mind your business, crazy lady.”
It is a personal decision. Let the person with the penis make the decision. If you believe babies have rights inside the womb, you should believe they have rights outside the womb too. If you believe no one should have power over what happens to another person’s body, you should believe the same for infant boys.