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To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise?

To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise? http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2011/10/cutting-it-off.html
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My wife and I have just had our first child. With his arrival, the biggest question besides "is he ok?" was, "are you getting him circumcised?" Yes, but was it medical relevance or just our preference behind the choice?

  Pros Along With the Cons

Does being circumcised have any medical relevancy over being uncircumcised? I believe after reading and looking over a few different articles and information, that there is good medical evidence to the positive effects of being circumcised.

Some of the deciding factors that helped us to choose were: circumcision can reduce the chance of problems like phimosis and posthitis, these problems are where the foreskin becomes stuck over the penis and doesn't retract. Another reason that helped us to choose circumcision was the reduced rate in Urinary Tract Infections(UTI) and some Sexually Transmitted Infections(STIs). The reason that these diseases are less susceptible, is something called keratin. Keratin, is a cell type found on the outermost layer of the skin. It is a protective barrier, that protects against pathogens(bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses), heat, UV radiation, and water loss. This protective barrier in studies is shown to protect against diseases such as HIV, genital herpes, genital warts, penile cancer, and cervical cancer in women. Even though I hope that my son doesn't ever have to worry about getting STIs or cancer, I do believe in preventive measures.

Other good reasons as to why circumcision is beneficial is because the foreskin also heightens the risk of getting infections. Some infections that you can get are phimosis, paraphimosis, balanoposthitis, and meatitis. What can happen is the foreskin can obtain abrasions that can promote inflammation, which allows the virus to come in contact with immune cells. The foreskin also contains cells called Langerhans, which can aid the transportation of the HIV virus. The cells can also transport the HIV virus, to the lymph nodes.

All of these reasons, helped us to make our decision on whether we should circumcise our newborn baby boy. Many different studies have been done showing plenty of relevancy to having this procedure done. Whether you are a newborn and your parents have made the decision or you are an adult who has weighed the pros/cons yourself.

  Our View and Choice

After continuing to do more research, I noticed that some of the precaution against becoming circumcised was that circumcision has been looked at as mutilation. Many people also believe that circumcision is the choice of the child and shouldn't be done until the child has come of age. These thoughts are completely relevant and can be taken into consideration if this is something you have had thoughts about.

My wife and I actually took the time to weigh the options. I must say the only reason that we did look more into it wasn't because we thought that it shouldn't be done, but because they had to wait a week before being able to circumcise our son. On that note though, I am glad we were able to read more about circumcision and make our own decision. Not just saying, "Oh well I am circumcised, so he must be" this isn't necessarily the way to go about it. I think you should do your own research and search yourself to make that decision.

As for the topic of mutilation, I don't believe whether you make the decision for your child or you get circumcised as an adult it is mutilation. Honestly, even after all this research my wife and I still see it as a medical procedure that isn't misconstruing any part of the anatomy. It is one of the oldest known procedures today and some of the ancient civilizations utilized the procedure. One of the oldest known civilizations, the Egyptians, saw circumcision as a purification for the body and associated it with those committed to spiritual and intellectual development.

In conclusion with all the information that we had learned, my wife and I didn't see circumcision as mutilation or a decision that has to wait. Although, if that is your choice on allowing your child to make that decision when older. We have just chosen to make this decision for him and in our opinion a very good decision. I just leave you with this in closing, do your research. Decide what you believe is right for you and who you might be making decisions for. Unfortunately, still in this day and time there is only a minimal amount of evidence that shows circumcision is a positive.

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Comments

NGO  

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I would be interested in where all you researched. I actually wrote my master's thesis on circumcision and if you'd like to read about the history of it I'd be happy to share. (I also have a ton of relevant, medical resources that look at a variety of aspects of the surgery.)

A few points just for consideration:

People are trying to push for circumcision to be equated with mutilation just as female genital circumcision is, to make the procedures viewed in the same light. Some people dis/agree with that sentiment.

One important reason against circumcision is that it can significantly reduce the sexual pleasure the male can experience, as the foreskin is the home of many nerve endings (the foreskin is more sensitive than the glans, and when the foreskin is removed the glans becomes harder and drier). One example in support of this loss-of-pleasure idea is that when males masturbate, circumcised males really tend to focus on the rim right below their glans because it feels the most sensitive to touch. This is actually the scar tissue remaining from the foreskin removal. Males with foreskins masturbate using their whole foreskin as part of the movement. (Men can either confirm /dis-confirm these ideas, as I am a woman, after all and this is what I've read. :p )

What I didn't realize until I studied this was that most other countries do not practice male circumcision. The only countries where it still is relatively popular is in the US, Australia and New Zealand. Do European countries have higher rates of UTIs/other preventable diseases in males? I do not know, but it must not be a high enough number for them to bring back circumcision as a routinely recommended thing. What doctors do there is perform it on patients who need it on a case-by-case basis.

The historical aspect of circumcision is not always a positive one, and just because traditions stick around doesn't make them good/beneficial. When circumcision became routine and medical (rather than only religious) in the United States, it had a large push of support because it was thought to prevent masturbation in boys. To put it briefly, masturbation was thought to be harmful in the same time period that circumcision began to be promoted by doctors. Obviously regarding attitudes about masturbation, change can be good.

Phimosis grows out of almost all boys, it is a natural part of penis development. Having a baby with a foreskin merely requires the parents make sure the baby is bathed regularly, and once the child is old enough, to teach him how to clean underneath his own foreskin once it can be fully retracted. General cleanliness will prevent UTIs as well.

The debate about it's effectiveness with HIV continues, the experts are unsure. Sometimes researchers try to use African population evidence in support of circumcision in the US. Males in both areas have different environments completely and cannot be compared in any significant ways.

One risk that gets overlooked is that circumcision is a surgical procedure, and with any operation there are risks of infection, complications and death, however small those risks are.

At the end of the day, the medical debate is on-going, and even the American Academy of Pediatrics leaves the decision to the parents to make. While they list possible benefits they do not think it needs to be as common as it is at present.

I do want to thank you for doing your research and hopefully this article will encourage other parents-to-be to research too. If interested do let me know if you would like some reference materials.

12/04/2012

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