There’s a 50% Chance Our Kid WIll Have a Penis and All Its Paraphernalia

i have compiled a list of all the things we need to address before the baby comes. things like: will and guardianship, life insurance, daycare, car seat and other safety research, diapers (cloth/disposable), and health care decisions (circumcision? cord blood banking? nutrition type if need breastfeeding supplement?) etc.

so we’re knee deep in research on all these things. we’re slowly checking off the list as we come to consensus on each topic. one we’re still up in the air on is circumcision. on a health care blog i used to regularly keep, i wrote the following post and got the following responses. people are VERY passionate about foreskin.

do you have any thoughts on it? please feel free to add a comment at the end of the post.

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To Cut or Not to Cut: A Discussion on Baby Woo-woo Trimming

so i was recently talking to a coworker about her soon-to-be-on-this-planet male child (or, you know, out of amniotic fluid and into fresh air? is that better?) and whether or not she plans to circumcise him upon his arrival. people seem to be considering this more often, instead of just doing it routinely. anecdotally, i’ve observed a trend away from circumcision over the past few years, when it’s been widely considered the norm in most cultures in the US for many years.

it is definitely a cultural thing. in the US, reports i found showed that between 55-90% of the population is circumcised. it varies by race and age and country of origin within the US population, also. but in the UK, it’s more like 15%. it seems that if it’s not a religious custom, than we generally do for our boys whatever the males of our community have had done to them. (or you know, theirs).

but just because dad and grandpa were or weren’t (eck), does that make it right? is there any true need to have it done? is there a right answer here?

here are the reasons i find AGAINST circumcising (mostly given by hippies, so if you smell a faint aroma of patchouli while you read this- that’s why):

1. he will lose all the best parts of his wang-doodle and all that sensitivity!
2. it is archaic. initiated back when Jews lived nomadic lives and wore sandals in dirt floor abodes and bathed rarely…we don’t have those hygiene issues anymore and it’s easier to keep the ‘bits and pieces’ clean.
3. it is unnecessary pain inflicted on a poor bebe
4. there is risk of things going amiss and leaving the child malformed for life or in danger with a major complication (on this note- there is a large amount of material out there and it isn’t very conclusive, but known complications are rare, according to most studies i found (cdc says 0.2- 2.0%), and mostly include infection, bleeding, and not removing enough foreskin).

and now the reasons FOR circumcising (and these are usually argued by the kill-joys, so if you smell the faint odor of fluoride and low fat butter substitute, that’s why):

1. don’t worry about losing a little sensitivity- some would argue this is a good thing!
2. even in our much cleaner society, a lot of grime can still develop under the foreskin. this is known as smegma (SO TOTALLY NOT MAKING THIS UP!)
3. if done in the baby’s first day of life, they have zero memory of the pain, and they rebound very quickly (anesthesia usually involved a sugar sucker and nothing more)
4. and most importantly in my book- there is increased risk of HIV and other STD’s with the warm and moist little winkie umbrella still in place for infections to brew in. (interestingly, today in the news there was an article about Africa pushing circumcision as an AIDS prevention method). there is also a significant increase in UTI’s and a small increased risk for penile cancer and, subsequently, cervical cancer (in female partners of the uncircumcised) from HPV transmission. and then, there’s always phimosis and paraphimosis where the foreskin either can’t retract back behind the glans or is stuck retracted and swells and can’t get back around…and then penis tissue dies painfully. not good.

Comments:

-“nocirc” said…Circumcision is not harmless and babies do remember the pain, as noted by Taddio, et al., in their study that determined circumcised babies undergoing vaccination respond much more dramatically to the pain than intact boys and girls, a response indicative of PTSD. Circumcision is a primal wound that interferes with the maternal/infant bond, disrupts breastfeeding and normal sleep patterns, and undermines the baby’s first developmental task of establishing trust. It leaves both physical and psychological scars and denies a male’s right to the wholeness of his body, the fullness of his sexual experience, and self-determination. In the early years, the loss of the 20,000-70,000 specialized, erogenous nerve endings, which encircle the opening of the foreskin and give the male feedback about what his penis is feeling, cause the No. 1 complaint of circumcised males–premature ejaculation. Then, without the protective covering and the callousing of the glans (head of the penis) that follows and increases with age cause erectile dysfunction and even impotence later in life. As Dr. C.J. Falliers wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1970, “…the fundamental biological sexual act becomes, for the circumcised male, simply a satisfaction of an urge and not the refined sensory experience it was meant to be.” Form cannot be altered without altering function. Circumcision affects the male and his partner, too, and the mechanics of sex must be altered to compensate for the loss of normal genitals. All mammals, males and females alike, have a foreskin. If males were supposed to have foreskins, they would be born with them!

-“Hugh7″ said…”between 55-90% of the population is circumcised.” That’s a pretty wide range. Something like 70% of US males are now circumcised, but only about 55% of US babies are being circumcised today (varies by region – lower in the south and west). “in the UK, it’s more like 15%.” Again, that’s prevalence, including older men cut when it was common. The incidence (rate it’s done today) is very low, something like 1%. A boy should look like his father? Complications can include death (from bleeding, infection, blocked urethra and kidney failure or other), or how about this? The true complication rate is unknown, because an unknown number are not detected until adulthood (when they affect sexual functioning) – and perhaps not then – and go uncounted. Circumcision is supposed to make a penis “maintenance-free”, so mothers are less likely to look, and not to know what to look for. Smegma is not “grime” (it is Greek for soap) but a natural mix of secretions, and is only a problem if it is neglected. Keeping clean is easy and (shhh!) fun. “don’t worry about losing a little sensitivity- some would argue this is a good thing!”
They are confusing sensitivity with sensation. It isn’t just quantity that’s lost but quality. The foreskin has been described as conferring “a symphony of sensation” and getting circumcised in adulthood compared with going colourblind. Fewer nerves means less feedback and hence less control. That could be why women describe (circumcised) men as being too goal-directed in sex. With so few nerves to stimulate, they have to give it all they’ve got, leaving no attention over to enjoy the journey. We wouldn’t consider that deliberately inflicting pain on an adult was acceptable if they didn’t remember it – why is it considered okay to do it to a baby? There is a strong suggestion that babies don’t cry because they go into shock. With HIV you are confusing risk with danger. Yes, HIV can be deadly, but the difference circumcision makes to your risk in the US (mainly through receptive anal sex or sharing IV drug needles) is negligible. A study of 26,400 men in Baltimore showed no significant difference in the vast majority, only a little subset of 385 “at known risk”, of whom only 50 were not circumcised, and of those only 11 were infected, six more than expected. That’s not a statistical landslide, individual circumstances could easily account for it. STDs can only reach the “warm and moist little winkie umbrella” if you’re not wearing a condom, which is a much greater risk. UTIs are four times commoner in girls. It would take about 190 circumcisions to prevent one UTI, hundreds more to prevent one penile cancer (rarer than male breast cancer). With all of these dread diseases you have to do the numbers, not just say “reduces the risk”. Circumcision is not justified on balance, and the bottom line is, it’s a human rights issue: whose penis is it?

-“joel” said…I don’t agree with circumcision. The foreskin is healthy, sensitive, functional, erogenous genital tissue. to remove it is painful and permanent. There is no reason why this decision should be made without the consent of the individual involved. A foreskin belongs only to the person born with it (unless a decision must be made because of some medical emergency of course). the vast majority of the world gets by totally fine without having a significant, valuable part of their genitals removed.. so my opinion is that we should leave penis-chopping surgery up to individuals to make for themselves when they grow up.

Comments

  1. stephanie

    smegma is naturally anti-bacterial, it contains anti-bacterial enzymes such as lysozyme and hormones such as androsterone. Bonus! 😉
    Extra attention and cleaning beyond your normal bathing of your wee one's wee one isn't neccesary, unless they've been sliding into home base with no pants on.

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