Circumcision: To Cut, Or Not To Cut

circumcisionThere are a few aspects of parenting that are guaranteed to polarize parents just by their very mention.

Vaccinations. Crying it out. And circumcision.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.

Until recently, it was common practice to perform circumcisions on newborn baby boys before they left the hospital. Now, however, more parents and medical experts are questioning the usefulness of this procedure.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that circumcision is unnecessary, and should not be performed except for those families for whom it is a religious right. Circumcision is a religious requirement for some, such as those of the Jewish faith.

Some of the arguments that parents used to use to support circumcision are no longer valid. For example, He won’t look like everyone else. These days, less than half of all newborn baby boys are circumcised, and with our culture becoming more international, it is more likely that a boy will be exposed to both circumcised and uncircumcised peers than before.

Being circumcised helps him stay clean.The answer to cleanliness is better instruction about personal hygiene. When circumcision was more routine, talking to young boys about proper hygiene was also routine.

There are other reasons that parents are choosing to forgo circumcising their newborn sons. Many parents feel that the decision to remove such a sensitive amount of tissue should be left to the boy himself when he is of an appropriate age; the foreskin does play a role in sexual responsiveness.

It was once thought that newborn babies did not feel pain; we now know this is not the case and that circumcision is painful, particularly if performed without anesthesia. There is no indication that a circumcision is less painful for a newborn than for an adult.

Others parents find no reason to risk scarring, infection or other complications from what they deem unnecessary surgery. There are also some indications that penile sensitivity is lessened when the foreskin is removed.

Are there any good reasons to circumcise a newborn boy? There are some indications that men who are circumcised are slightly less likely to transmit HIV to their sexual partners. There are also some indications that circumcised boys are slightly less likely to suffer from urinary tract infections.

Ultimately it is up to each family to make the decision about circumcision for themselves, whether they decide to say yes, no, or wait, leaving the decision in their son’s hands.

Posted in: Newborn

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  1. Betsy says:

    Thank you for your post! I just had to mention one thing.

    Contrary to what you seem to be saying, the studies claiming to show a reduced incidence of HIV in circumcised men did not say anything about a reduced transmission rate to HIV positive men’s partners. The study that was recently done about transmission rate actually found an *increased* HIV transmission rate to female partners when the male partner was circumcised as opposed to intact. The study was ended early, but it’s unclear why they ended it early. A great blog post (from an anti-circumcision view, but his conclusions are quite valid, IMO) that talks about the possible implications of that study and the fact that it was ended early can be found here:

    http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/2009/07/africa-why-did-they-stop-the-study-to-examine-hiv-infection-among-partners-of-circumcised-men.html

  2. Linda says:

    I chose to circumcise so my son will never have to be bothered with cleaning the end of his penis and for the disease prevention value circumcision has for males.

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