To Cut or Not to Cut

When I was pregnant with Stella, we didn’t find of if she was a boy or a girl, and though the topic of circumcision was brought up briefly, I pretty much let it slide because I always felt like she was a girl, and I was banking on Charlie bending to my wishes if she came out a boy instead. That’s very mature of me, right? :\

With this pregnancy, we found out about half way through that our baby has a penis, and WHOA did that open a can of worms. I immediately said something about not circumcising him, Charlie immediately said that’s ridiculous and of course we were, and thus began an epic fight. I ended up getting out of bed that night because I couldn’t sleep after the way things went down, and I spent a few hours diving into research, compiling a bunch of information and a couple of great video presentations, and emailing everything to Charlie to read before I went back to bed that night.

Hey hon,

I’m sorry the conversation tonight turned into an instant fight when you broached the subject of circumcision. I know you feel like I never compromise on things (but I do! we had a hospital birth last time, remember?)… but this is honestly something I feel SO strongly on now that I’ve researched it, and I really hope you agree with me once you’ve read the research and seen some videos.

Before having kids, I honestly didn’t care one way or the other about circumcision. It was a non-issue in my head. BUT, I don’t feel like that anymore. Please bear with me and read through some of this research before we talk about it again, okay? I just cannot imagine doing this to our baby.

Here are some common reasons people give for doing circumcision:

1) It’s cleaner

2) I want my son to look like his dad

3) I want my son to look like everyone else

In response:

1) Being circumcised lowers the risk of UTIs in boys under the age of 2 by 1%. That is a ridiculously low number, and not a reason to perform a cosmetic surgery on an infant. Also, the foreskin does not retract until around puberty, so there is nothing additional to do/clean. As the boy gets older and it does retract, he will clean it just like your daughter will clean her vagina. It’s not hard. The foreskin actually helps protect the glands and keep it moist and clean.

2) Beyond the age of toddlerhood & potty training, when in the world do sons & fathers ever stand around comparing each other’s penises? Ya, it doesn’t happen. :)

3) When we were born 30 years ago, nearly 90% of American boys were circumcised. That number has now dropped to somewhere between 33%-50% (depending on what study you read). This number is actually about 25% here in Colorado. Worldwide, only 30% of men are circumcised in total, and 70% of those people are Muslim (they do it for religious reasons).

Other thoughts:

1) Cost – Since this has been determined to be a purely cosmetic procedure with no health benefits, insurance companies no longer cover the cost. Hospitals & clinics charge between $200-500 to do it.

2) Pain – Babies feel pain, just like adults do. This is an incredibly painful procedure, and no way do I feel like we have the right to force our infant to have it done!

3) Sexual pleasure – cutting off the foreskin eliminates a ton of the nerve endings (it’s like cutting off a woman’s labia – her clit). So sad! [ETA - it has been brought to my attention that I misspoke in this line of the email to my husband. It is actually the Clitoral Hood that is analogous to the foreskin of males. It IS erogenous tissue. I apologize for not catching this mistake sooner.]

4) Informed consent – by performing infant circumcision, you’re making a decision for the child that can never be changed. It should be the person’s right to choose if they want to permanently alter their body. The kid can always choose to have it done later if he so chooses. My brother isn’t circumcised, and it’s never bothered him!

Please watch this video. Yes, it’s 30 minutes long, but this is an important decision, so totally worth the time:

http://vimeo.com/26130057

And here’s a short video of an actual circumcision so you can see how it’s done. The doc talks throughout the entire procedure to explain what’s he’s doing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2PKdDOjooA

Thoughts?

Love you, Jos

Honestly, we’ve talked about this email ONCE since October, and he still hasn’t taken the time to watch the videos I sent him, so I pretty much told him that he doesn’t get a vote in this decision if he can’t dedicate an hour of his life to learning more about it.

That being said, I do think it’s important for people to understand the research behind this and to understand why they’re making the decision they are when it comes to circumcision instead of saying “well, my husband has a penis so I’m going to let him decide.” If your husband is anything like mine, he isn’t doing any research to help him make an evidence based decision!

I should add that I have plenty of friends who have chosen to circumcise their sons, and plenty of friends who have chosen not to, and their kids are all happy, healthy children. I’m not passing judgement on anyone, but I do hope that some of you will find my research helpful if this is a decision you are on the fence about! With that said, here’s a breakdown of the most helpful articles I found during my search for quality information on an emotionally charged subject!

*****

The incidence of male non-therapeutic infant circumcision varies widely by region. The Western Region reported an incidence of 24.6% in 2009, while the North Central Region reported an incidence of 76.2%, while the overall incidence of circumcision in the United States stood at 54.5%, the lowest figure reported over the previous two decades.[40] The Northeast Region reported an incidence of 67% and the Southern Region reported 55.7%.[40]  - http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb126.pdf

  • Presentations (videos) by Ryan McAlister, PHD Assistant Research Professor, Physics and Oncology
    • Child Circumcision: an Elephant in the Hospital
      • What is infant circumcision? Why is the practice common in U.S. hospitals and not in other countries? What does it remove and how does that affect the child? Does scientific data suggest that circumcision has benefits? What are the potential complications? How does it affect sexuality? Is it a medical procedure or a social surgery? If it’s unnecessary surgery, what about contemporary bioethics principles? Through both a review of scientific literature and a discussion of the human cost of the procedure, this presentation explores these questions from the perspectives of the child, the adult survivor, the parent, and the practitioner.
    • Unrepresented Voices in Circumcision: Parental Regret, Survivor Distress, and Practitioner Ambivalence Toward Neonatal Circumcision
      • The bioethics discourse around neonatal circumcision rarely includes the perspectives of the infant, parents with regret, adults who dissent, or conscientious objectors. Yet, these narratives are among the most telling and important to consider.
      • Presented in October 2012 at the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Conference. At that conference I was stunned by the number of obstetricians who came up to me and said that they don’t like circumcisions, but would keep on doing them because their departments have to offer as many services as possible to be competitive. I’m deeply saddened to hear so clearly from professionals that ethics cannot rise to be their top concern.
  • pathways to family wellness: Circumcision: Medically Unnecessary – Fact vs. Fiction (written by the executive director of Intact America)
    • In July 2010, a CDC researcher presented a report at an AIDS conference in Vienna, based on a survey of more than 6.5 million boys born in American hospitals over three years. It showed the rate of neonatal male circumcision had dropped precipitously— from 56 percent in 2006 to under 33 percent in 2009.
  • Mothering: Case Against Circumcision
    • In one of our most-requested articles, Mothering explores why circumcision is hardly ever necessary, and how parents can empower themselves to avoid ceding to the “claims” of the billion-dollar-a-year circumcision industry.
  • Motherwise: Routine Infant Circumcision: Know the Whole Story
    • …a ton of helpful links that speak directly about the risks, dangers and long-term effects of this surgery in one convenient spot, for anyone looking to become FULLY INFORMED on this issue.
  • Circumcision Resource Center: Response to the AAP Circumcision Policy Statement
    • The United States is the only country in the world that circumcises many of its male infants for non-religious reasons.
  • Birth Without Fear Blog Post – Circumcision Doesn’t Beget Circumcision {One of These Things is not Like the Other}
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72 comments

  1. What a lot of awesome information for people who aren’t sure about this decision. Luckily for me (because I would have fought like you!), it is an absolute non-issue in our house as in the UK (where Anthony is from), it is only done in few cases and always for religious reasons so he would never even think of doing it. It is still odd to me how the USA is this one country who does it so much for non-religious reasons. And your stats from a while ago.. wow, A LOT of people.. yet other countries still didn’t. Crazy ol’ USA ;)

  2. Whoa! Weighty topic!

    What do you think we did with our boys?

    We agonized over this like nothing else before. B is not circumcised, so I put the decision on him, thinking he’d choose not to do it. He decided to do it! He had a time in high school that he wished he had been cut and actually talked to docs then about doing it. That drove his decision for our first son.

    The morning that it was scheduled, we dove into research. We were both feeling terrible about it but silently. I finally sobbed out, “I can’t do this to him.”. He agreed and we cancelled, 30 minutes before the procedure. When the attending OB came in to check on me, she mentioned Matthews’ scheduled procedure and we said, “No! We just cancelled it!”. She just hadn’t been updated yet. Her response? “Every time I do one, I wonder when we’re going to stop doing this to our boys in this country.”. Her son is cut, but because her husband wanted it done. She just shook her head while we discussed and told us we’d made the right decision. And we kept Matthew in our room until we knew the circs were done for the day.

    We told the nursing staff thousands of times that Bryson was not to be cut, and kept him with us all day as well to be sure.

    When the discussion comes up with expectant moms of boys, my response is, “well, is either of you going to go be with him during the procedure? No? Why not? It’s elective, it’s not necessary. You’re not going to be there to comfort him?”. When they say they can’t handle watching it, I ask, “and you think it’s ok to put him through something elective that you can’t even WATCH?!”. Yes, it’s judgy of me. I admit that, but I do not care. It is not necessary. It is cosmetic. It is ridiculous.

    Stand strong. You will regret it if you let it happen.

    1. “When the discussion comes up with expectant moms of boys, my response is, “well, is either of you going to go be with him during the procedure? No? Why not? It’s elective, it’s not necessary. You’re not going to be there to comfort him?”. When they say they can’t handle watching it, I ask, “and you think it’s ok to put him through something elective that you can’t even WATCH?!”.”

      I like this. A lot. Because it makes a lot of sense, judgy or not. When I worked on mother-baby in the hospital, I spent a lot of time in the well baby nursery, which meant that I was often around when the nurse was prepping the table for the baby’s procedure, that overheard babies undergoing the procedure, and saw babies dealing with the aftereffects. I never observed an actual circumcision (and I don’t think that my particular hospital would have allowed/recommended a parent’s presence, even if they requested. I never ever saw a parent in there, but perhaps they never asked?), but just the set up of the before and after was enough to make me question the necessity of this procedure. And this was before I was ever pregnant, long before I learned on his birth day that my baby was a boy.

  3. We had a hard time agreeing as well – this sounds like exactly like what went down in our house! We have 2 boys and I’m happy we did not circumcise.

  4. Mihaela · · Reply

    I love the info you posted and all the details. To be honest I didn’t do any. Our decision was easy. My hubby is not and said no and most kids are not where I was born (European country) and so I hadn’t planned to. So we didn’t. He is as he was born. I didn’t realize how controversial this was until later talking to other moms and how shocked they were we chose not to circ him. We live in the south where apparently “everyone” is. I enjoyed reading the research you did and felt even more validated by our choice.

  5. What a great compilation of information! We just decided over the weekend not to circumcise our son. Our reasoning is that we just can’t find a good enough reason to do it and since neither of us are passionate about it, why do it?

  6. lparsons15 · · Reply

    I think its super awesome that you take no decision with your kids lightly. My husband is very much the same way, always researches everything. That is a lot of great info for anyone needing to make that choice and you make a good argument for your side. Interested to see how Charlie feels after he watches..

  7. In college in a human sexuality psych course the professor said it severely decreased sexual pleasure. Circumcised men tend to thrust hard longer to get the same effect that a simple rocking motion In Uncircumcised men will take care of all the sensation they need. The professor said their wives will thank you! In that instant I had my mind made up. :)

    You and Charlie sound a lot like mark and I.

    1. Being married to an uncircumcised man, and having been with circumcised men (please don’t call me a whore – I’m not!), this is 100% true! It is remarkable how different and gentler he is… And it is because of how sensitive he is.

      1. LOL, yep. I’ve been with one intact male, and it was definitely a gentler experience (in a good way!). :)

      2. This is so interesting!

      3. This is interesting to think about. Was only ever with one guy besides R but he was intact. I don’t compare so much, but am now wondering if it’s why first time/guy was never painful… Hmmm (also file this under things I don’t really want to know about my sons or their future partners)

  8. You did a lot of research I’m impressed! I don’t know what I’m having for baby #2 but my hubby and I decided way before the first baby that any boys we might have would not be circumcised, my hubby isn’t and none of our relatives are, so wasn’t really an issue. I hate seeing people comment on certain forums how disgusting it is to not be circumcised and how so many people need it done later in life because of medical reasons, of course most of these people commenting seem to know tons of people in real life that needed it done later in life, which I personally don’t buy it. For me just doesn’t seem necessary, people didn’t do it thousands of years ago, except for certain religions, so why do it now. As long as its kept clean there are no issues, plus if by chance it does need to be done for medical reasons later on, then it can be done. I personally prefer to give my child the option to do it on their own later if they so choose, because you can’t undo it once its done. I know people say it would be more painful later in life, but really its the same amount of pain, I think people just like to brush off the amount of pain it causes babies when they have it done because they can’t speak to you about the pain level. To each their own though. But luckily my hubby and I always agreed on this issue.

  9. J. Marshall · · Reply

    You say you’re not passing judgement – when clearly you are. You are pointing out all the ways you think what we did was wrong. I’m so sick of parenting being such a competitive sport.

    The argument about “extreme pain” is a total crock of shit. My sons are circumcised. They barely cried and stopped crying within minutes of the procedure with nothing more than a few drops of tylenol. Clearly that is not “incredibly painful”.

    And to correct your assertions comparing circumcision to female anatomy, the labia and clitoris are NOT the same thing. Cutting off the foreskin is not like cutting off a woman’s clit. I find it shocking you said that, considering (1) that you’re a woman and (2) how much you claim to research everything.

    1. Oh boy!

      of course she’s judging, that’s HOW we decide how to parent our children. We JUDGE the options and then choose. What she is NOT doing is judging you for choosing what you chose for your son.

      You need to take a step back and breathe a little. You took offense because what she CHOOSES and explains why, is not what YOU chose. Talk about judgmental!

    2. This is a very, very difficult matter to discuss, and every time I’ve had this discussion–no matter how civilly it is conducted–someone always leaves feeling defensive and attacked. I’m sorry that you feel this way, J. :(

      The pain matter…crock of shit…yikes! It’s hard to know how your baby–this new, tiny creature you’ve just met–is going to manage pain. What a relief it must have been that your boys managed their circumcision with Tylenol. My experience, as a social worker on the postpartum unit in a hospital, demonstrated otherwise, though–that Tylenol, nor nursing, nor supplemental SweetEase was enough to manage their pain. Some babies shut down, slept slept slept,, and didn’t nurse (which then affected mom’s milk supply, which spurred all kind of other issues afterwards). Of course, yes, this did not happen to every baby. Some boys, like yours, were able to have comfortable circumcisions. But not all. And some parents simply aren’t open to chancing that unknown.

    3. Whoa. As this is the first time I’ve ever seen you comment on my blog, I have to wonder if you are actually a reader who knows anything about me or if you were just searching for “hot button” topics to rant about. I try really hard to be open and inclusive of all parenting styles on my blog, and I’d appreciate you being respectful in your commenting as I try to do in my writing.

      In regards to this post, I am simply sharing my opinion & research on a procedure that many parents are struggling to make a choice about. Of course I think my choice is right or I wouldn’t be making it – just like you made the choice that was right for you and for your children. That’s what parenting is about – making the choices that are best for us and our families. This isn’t a competitive sport by any means, and I don’t care if you circumcise your child or not. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be free to share what I’ve learned about the procedure through my research.

      Also, I apologize for misspeaking about the labia/clitoris. That was an email I wrote at 3am to my husband, and you are right that I used the incorrect terms. The clitoral hood is actually analogous to the foreskin in men: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clitoral_hood Thank you for bringing that error to my attention.

    4. I am not saying this in a “let’s get some arguments going” sort of way, but J.Marshall, I would love to hear your reasons for choosing to go with circumcision, as like I mentioned in my comment above, I am surprised that there is just one country (the USA) that does so many circumcisions for non-religious reasons or non-medical emergencies. It intrigues me, as a non-American, who has very very few circumcised friends, ex-boyfriends, family, etc. The ‘looks like Daddy’ argument just seems silly to me (sorry, but it does. Like Josey said, the rest of our bodies (ears, eyes, hair, etc) are all so different AND they would rarely see the two together). Anyway, would love to hear some reasons why circumcision is so popular in the USA and reasons why people choose it over not doing it, just out of interest.

  10. Incredibly well written, I’m going to be bookmarking this post!!!

  11. The last time I participated in a blog conversation about circumcision it wasn’t pretty. It started well, but ended pretty far from that. I fear for your comment section, Josey!

    We didn’t circumcise. When we first broached the topic, my husband (who is circ’d) was quick to dismiss circumcising our baby, if it were a boy. (We didn’t find out our baby’s sex during pregnancy.) It was, thankfully, a pretty brief discussion for us.

    I will say this, my intact son, who is now 3 and potty trained, has seen my husband pee and has showered with him time and again, and he has NEVER questioned that their penises look different. I mean, my genitalia looks nothing like my 3yos (he showers with me and has seen me go to the bathroom at least once, usually more, a day. He just doesn’t notice and he doesn’t care. I don’t know, this could change when he is a teenager and social pressure weighs more heavily. We’ll see.

  12. This was a big argument in our house when we found out we were having a boy, too! My Charlie is not, so I wrongly assumed that he’d be cool with not circumcising Max either… boy was I wrong. He can’t really tell me why he wants to, won’t watch the videos (the same ones you found) that I sent him, and just kind of sits on the fence about it. For me, one of the reasons you said people do circumcise is the biggest reason I don’t want to… I want baby to look like daddy! We’re already in an inter-racial marriage where our son will have questions about why he looks different than mom or dad at some point, I really don’t want to add that “why am I different” confusion to something as delicate as his private parts! We’re only 2 months away and we still haven’t come to a conclusion, though I’m going to keep fighting hard for un-snipped!

    1. I will say that looking the same has become a non-issue in our house. Stella often showers with either Charlie or myself, and ONCE has she ever even pointed to Charlie’s penis and said “what’s that?” She’s also said the same to me (because I have pubic hair and she doesn’t). That’s the extent of the interest she’s shown. I guess I figure we all have differently shaped ears and noses and that doesn’t cause confusion for kids – and those are features they see 24/7 on people!

      Good luck deciding together what to do!

      1. josamarie · · Reply

        Great point, I worry too much about everything, I think you are absolutely right that it probably doesn’t matter. I still wish Chuck would talk about it and read the research I’ve given him on the other reasons I don’t want to, but I will probably drop that particular argument when we talk about it!

  13. Elizabeth · · Reply

    Jay was fairly adamant that he wanted our son circumcised. I was on the fence for a long time. I too did a ton of research but I ultimately left the decision up to Jay because he’s a guy. I felt like since he has a penis he should be the one making this decision. Like many pregnancy/newborn decisions(type of birth, immunizing, breastfeeding), this can be a touchy subject for people. I also make “most” (we discuss everything but I do most of the research). This was definitely one thing I felt like I could compromise on especially since I was on the fence myself (but leaning more towards no). Also, when I was in the hospital I had a little meeting with the make Doctor who was going to be doing the procedure. I explained how I felt badly to be doing this to my son. He told me a story about his grandson who wasn’t circumcised. He ended up having issues and needing to have it done at the age of 3 & guess it was WAY more painful & complicated at that age. The little boy ended up regressing with his toilet usage during early recovery. It literally took a few minutes and Shane was perfectly happy when he was returned to me. I was told he never even cried-not sure how it’s possible but I believe it. Either way-your baby makes it your decision. Hopefully you and Charlie will be able to come to a decision that you are both ok with.

    1. Elizabeth · · Reply

      I just wanted to add that our health insurance did cover the procedure. I know all companies are different with what they cover. But I don’t think that would have changed the decision one way or the other.

    2. My husband feels the same way, as do the rest of our family members. I voiced concerns about the procedure and did some research, coming up with the same info you did. I’m still not sure which way we are going to go with this.

      1. …if we even have a boy. I have to admit that reading this has me wishing for two more girls. Such a difficult subject.

  14. I read this post this morning and I was scared for your comment section as well :) I think it’s awesome that you researched so thoroughly and decided what you wanted for your son. I was on the fence about this topic but my husband was not. He made the decision and I support him.

  15. This conversation never even got mentioned when we had our little boy. We live in NZ and I don’t know anyone (all ages)that has had it done for any reason. The only person I have ever heardof that does is my Dad (born in Ireland). He was adamant my brother was not having it done as he found it uncomfortable and lessened feeling. Having grown up seeing my Dad’s I didn’t think anything of the ones I saw later, they’re all a bit weird. Good luck I am sure glad we didn’t have to deal with it.

  16. I have a 5 year old boy that we had circumcised. For us, there was never a discussion. To each there own, and I respect your decision. I’m not judging at all but I wanted to share just one piece of info with you. These are strictly my opinion and I’m not trying to stir a debate with anyone!
    -I had a friend when I was a sophomore in high school get circumcised and he said it wasn’t near as painful as one would think! He said he wasn’t able to masturbate for a few days because of it (which a baby wouldn’t be doing anyways) but that pain was never an issue except right after surgery!
    -I have been with both cut and not cut and the noncut ones always smelled fishy!! I’m not saying everyone is like that but it was my experience. There were 3 of them. I also slept with 4 cut guys and they never smelled fishy! (I’m not a whore, just went through a rough time after my long time boyfriend and I broke up)

    Like I said I am not judging, I just wanted to give my opinion too! I respect everyone’s parenting choices as long as they respect mine! :)

  17. I appreciate the effort that you have gone through to compile this list of resources, not only to help your family make an informed decision both parents are comfortable with, but posting it so that others may do the same.

    I have some strong feelings on the subject, but they are applicable only to my family. (I suppose in a way it is similar to me be a vegetarian for reasons that are very important to me, but I will happily sit across from you while you eat a steak. We each choose how to nourish our bodies, but what I enjoy the most is your company while I do so.) At any rate, Brad and I ultimately decided that it wasn’t necessary but it was irreversible. If either son chooses to have this done when he is of age, then we fully support his decision even if we wouldn’t make the same one. (See also: eating meat) :)

    1. kaseypowers · · Reply

      Yes. This. Exactly. I don’t care what you do. I think there are valid arguments for both sides, but for us not necessary.

  18. So, Baby X was not circumcised by the time we met him (2weeks) and we ultimately decided not to do it. Then I found out that he has a much higher chance of contracting STDs.

    I would have done things differently if I knew.

    Also, it is not the same as female circumcision. Female circumcision if a life long debilitating condition. Male circumcision is not.

    1. I never tried to say it was the same as female circumcision – just that those body parts (foreskin & the clitoral hood) are analogous and in both cases you’d be cutting off those nerve endings. I’m not someone who thinks that male circumcising is forever maiming a child – I just don’t see the need for it for my own son. Like I’ve said above though, that doesn’t mean I care if other people choose the opposite of me!

      Also, FWIW, the best way to reduce your chance of contracting STDs is to practice safe sex with condoms. Much easier and less physically invasive in my opinion. :-)

      1. Right. It’s just that I was unaware of that statistic and it probably would have pushed me to just get it done. We aren’t going to change the decision though. It’ll be up to him down the road. We circumcised Baby A at D’s request and I watched it. It wasn’t a big deal and he didn’t have any indications of problems immediately following, or in the subsequent days that we had him at home.

        Anytime people use female circumcision and male circumcision in the same sentence it irritates me.

  19. Thank you for such a interesting post. I admire your researching skills. I definitely learn a lot from you. More importantly, I learn to question things. You do not have to go with the ‘norm.’

    I would have automatically assumed circumcision just like you listed. But now, if we ever have a boy, I would definitely have to have a heart to heart with Ben about what is best for our little man.

    Thanks! Charlie definitely doesn’t have chance with your mad research skills!

  20. Good info. I find it funny that people thought this would get ugly in the comments. The research you did is all I’ve ever heard on the topic.mi still know mostly people who’ve had it done in real life, but this type of information/post seems to be the norm online. I’ve counted myself lucky a couple times (and soon to be 3 times) that I haven’t had to deal with this decision. I mostly just don’t want to answer the questions of everyone we know about it and discuss the part of McMister’s body that should be reserved for him and me ;) I have a funny story about it, but I’ll email it to you instead of posting it here in case he ever somehow figures out who this “Blog Friend Josey” person is and discovers I’ve written something like that on the internet for all to see :)

  21. HOLY CRAP! I’m so SO SO happy you posted this and the discussion is nothing less than I expected. As you know I am a NICU nurse. I have assisted in multiple circs and the pain I see the kids suffer with or without analgesic is horrifying. I always said I would force my husband to make the decision and if he wanted it done he had to sign the consent. Ultimately, I shared my thoughts as a medical professional as well as those items you posted as research for him to read and view. After viewing the materials, he agreed it was unnecessary and would have done it had I not presented him with the research. My son is intact and I’m grateful for that fact. My sister made the decision to circ her boys 15 years ago because there wasn’t as much research available to state otherwise. She doesn’t regret it, but agrees she may have made a different choice today.
    I used to compare circumcision to docking tails of dogs or removing dew claws. Both procedures are done at a few days of life and the pain is not necessarily remembered. However, both procedures are simply cosmetic when done so early. There are times when both procedures can become medically necessary. I chose to keep my son intact, but both my dogs had their tails docked and their dew claws removed. So call me a hypocrite.
    Circumcision is a fine choice for you. I have no qualms about what you do for your children. I chose differently. Just as I chose to exclusively pump breast milk for my daughter and worked my ass off to figure out breastfeeding for my son, someone else may have chosen to formula feed or use donor milk. To each his own. Josey has merely provided a bunch of research for families who might be wondering what decision to make regarding this particular procedure. She is choosing to keep her son intact for her own personal reasons after doing the research. What each of us chooses after doing the research is what is right for each individual family.
    Thanks Josey for putting this all out there! Love you lady!

  22. I think it’s great you did your research on the topic. I think it’s very important to make informed decisions about your health. We are our and kids best advocates! It is a life lesson I learned from my journey of infertility. We ultimately decided to circumcise our son after we did the research. I never looked at it from the view point of wanting him to look like his dad. We did it for health and cleaning reasons. Also, our insurance covered the procedure. My husband attended and they applied a numbing cream to him. He did not cry at all. He healed nicely and had no issues. But, I will say once we decided to have him circumcised we then researched the 2 methods. Some doctors use the cutting method and some use the plastibell. I highly recommend you research the methods and consult the physician doing the procedure. I discussed them both with our peds and my OB/GYN (who is male) on both of them after I had done my research. I wanted to make sure my research was on point for facts. We are happy with our decision. I think in the end, whatever you choose you just want to make sure you and Charlie are both happy with the decision. I do agree he needs to at least view the research you have sent him before making his decision. He may still feel the same way as before, but at least he’s more informed. I feel confident y’all will come to an agreement you can both feel good about with your son. BTW-I never felt offended by your post even though we have disagreeing view points. I certainly understand/respect why you feel the way you do. We actually have very different parenting styles, but that is the reason I continue to read your blog. It’s not so I can judge or feel judged by your choices, but so I can experience another style of parenting. For example, I would haver never heard of BLW if it wasn’t for your blog. I am 27wks with baby #2 and it’s definitely something I want to try with her. Hope your little guy makes his arrival soon for you!!!!

  23. Hear hear!!! Count me FIRMLY in your corner!! Even though I’m having a girl, I have researched circumcision simply because I’m a birth geek and not being able to get through the video of it being done was the last straw for me. I’m probably not having any more kids, but if I ever had a boy I would never ever ever circumcise him. EVER. I have read so many articles regarding the pain they ABSOLUTELY DO feel, the regret from those who have been cut and wish they hadn’t been, moms who cut their boys and wish they hadn’t – it is a cosmetic/cultural procedure that is on the way out, thank GOD. The AAP doesn’t even endorse it for crying out loud! All my girlfriends in my mom’s group have boys and they are all cut, and while I definitely don’t spout off at playdates, I have stated that I would never make that choice for my hypothetical son and I always say “If you ever saw one done, you’d change your tune.”

    It’s body modification on a body that’s not your own. Same reason why I haven’t pierced my daughter’s ears, except you’re messing with someone’s future sex life and that shit ain’t cool. Because yeah, in my younger non-married days? There’s a difference. And it’s good. Not to say circumcised men can’t be good in bed because that’s not true either, but there *is* a difference. And hygiene has nothing to do with whether or not you’re intact. Cut men can stink too, don’t kid yourself (to those who claim ‘it’s cleaner.’)

    I hope Charlie reads the research and comes around to your way of thinking. I’m all for including the dads and their voice matters too, etc etc but in this case, I hope he ends up on your side because your side is the right one. Baby boys are born just as perfectly as girls and we should leave them as they are.

    You go girl!!!!!

  24. Good job compiling this list of information for parents on the fence. We need to make sure we are informed about the decisions we make for our kids, especially the decisions that are irreversible. Unfortunately for us we didn’t have to go far from our own family history to get informed on why we needed to circumcise our boys.

    Both my husband and my grandfather had to be circumcised later in life due to health problems. My husband was two and it was longer recovery and more painful for a toddler to go through than an infant. My grandfather was twenty-one and his experience was not a good one either. So my husband was quite insistent that our boys were done.

    Both boys reacted well will the procedure, they both didn’t cry (yes I wasn’t in the room with them, but I was on the other side of the door, as close as you can get without being in there :-)), and looking back we wouldn’t change anything.

    Good luck with informing Charlie, I’m sure you will make the right decision for your son.

    1. This makes me very curious – what kind of health problems would necessitate circumcision?

      I’m glad your boys handled the procedure well!

      1. They were both due to infections. From what I could gather from my grandmother (my grandfather passed a few years before James was born) he had an infection while serving in the navy.

        For BJ it was also an infection but from what he can remember it was more or so due to the type of water they were using to clean with. He lived the majority of his younger years in a remote town in the middle of Australia where the water wasn’t suitable for drinking and had to be brought in. But they still used the water to clean with and that may have been a major factor in the type of infection he got.

        Again it goes down to researching and making an informed decision on what is best for your own family.

  25. Hi Josey, we didn’t circumcise because we just could not think of a medical reason to do so. There is no reason other than religious tradition and perceived cleanliness/aesthetics. My husband’s response to the “he’ll be confused if his penis does not look like his dad’s” reasoning?: he says, “I was terrified of my dad’s penis because it looked huge and was covered in hair. A little boy’s penis will never look like a grown man’s penis!” I also love Courtney’s response as I do not understand parents who cannot be in the room but allow it to be done anyway! We need to start acknowledging why exactly we are still doing this procedure.

    On another note, I’m super excited for you!

  26. Good research Josey, very informative. It has been interesting to read both sides as we have 2 boys and a girl and about to have another boy.

    I will say about the medical issue…our oldest was born with a penile torsion (totally random) and extra skin around the penis being turned had a high chance of painful erections and a chance he would have to have it corrected and circumcised later when they removed the extra skin, so we chose to do it while they did the correction at 7-8 months old, at the recommendation of the pediatric urologist. And I trusted his opinion as he sees these kinda of things every day. The surgery and general anesthesia is horribly scary with your first baby, but that was the recommended age as he said he would be much more aware f recovery when he was older. He is almost 5 now and has had absolutely no issues.

    My husband was not circumcised and was always super self conscious about it so he actually chose to have it done in his 30′s when he had his varicocele repaired and said to him the sensation isn’t that huge of a difference.

    Just a different perspective! :)

  27. I want to say I think you did a great job at conveying your opinions respectfully- I always joke that if you want to liven up a conversation with a group of women, just bring up circumcision! My son is circumcized- my husband felt very strongly about it and did the reading, chose the doctor and was the one to be there with him so I respected his decision. That being said, we are both aware it was primarily a cosmetic procedure and not medically required. My mother in law was a geriatric nurse and had lots of stories of men needing it done later in life due to health issues (I think recurring UTIs etc) so that probably influenced the decision as well, although we are aware those cases are not the norm.

  28. Hmmm… I had so many strong feelings about immunizations that I focused on that and now I’ve asked PC why we really never even discussed this. There’s a lot of good research and resources compiled here and, as you said, it ultimately comes down to making the choices you feel are best for your family and situation.

  29. We did not circumcise either, for the reasons you describe. Thanks for compiling such a great information resource.

  30. Just wanted to chime in as a family who circumcised for religious reasons. My husband is a Jew, I am not. He is more of a high-holidays Jew (similar to Christians who go to church for Easter and Christmas), but since our son was our first and the first grandson, it was important to him and/because it was important to his family. Once I was able to hear how important this was to him, the challenge was then to find a situation I was comfortable with. In the hospital or in my home? By an MD or by a mohel? We live in a big city so were lucky to have access to many options, and I was able to find a female OB/GYN/mohel whom I loved. We had a bris in our apartment where I was too worried about my kid to notice that the entire thing was Skyped to half of the Jewish population of Kansas City, Missouri. We’ll just put that on the top of the future therapy list for my poor child- who came through the procedure fairly well and cried less than I did.

    1. LOL, your comment totally cracked me up, A. :) I totally respect that religion plays an important role in this decision for some people. That’s a whole different animal!

  31. When we found out we were having a boy I was immediately thankful that MV wasn’t circumcised and that we agreed on the topic. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find a common ground on such a charged issue. I hope you two figure out a plan of action that works for both of you. Good luck!

  32. Yer a great writer lady! Interesting. I was reading your post to Ang and he chimed in with “but it just looks nicer” to which I replied “so you are checking out men’s dicks when I’m not around?”

    That was the end of that train of thought. Then he agreed that he’d never be able to be in the room and said screw it ;)

    1. Hahaha. Touche. Love it.

  33. Does your husband know you put this on your blog?!

    I am so glad this wasn’t an issue for us, we both decided not to do it. I agree – babies feel pain.
    However we have other issues – I won’t spank and he will. So we all have our problems. Good luck.

    1. I don’t know if he’s read this specific post, but he has the address of my blog and reads from time to time, yes. And obviously he knows my feelings on all of this since I copy/pasted the email I had sent to him directly! :-)

  34. Our health care system here in Ontario no longer covers circumcisions citing no medical reason for the procedure.

    However, we chose to circumcise our son. I was one of those mums that left the decision up to my hubby and would be at peace with his decision. He is uncircumcised and has been uncomfortable for much of his adult life. He didn’t want that for his son and was willing to take that chance.

    We had the procedure done a few weeks after his birth. Upon the recommendation of the doctor, we had to apply a liberal amount of numbing cream to his penis and give Tylenol 30 minutes before the procedure.

    The procedure was brutal looking…a bit of a bloodbath. Well, maybe not that bad, but he didn’t fuss once. And even a few hours after the procedure when the numbing cream should have worn off, he wasn’t fussy. I expected to be up with him all night because of the pain. However, I realize that not all babies are the same and would react differently to the procedure.

    While at the doc’s my husband inquired about having the procedure done as an adult. Apparently it’s far worse to have it done later in life. I guess partially because you can remember it. I only know of one other adult male who chose to have the procedure done at the age of 40. He did it for medical and religious reasons, and remembers EVERYTHING!

    But the doc also professed that there is no medical reason to circumcise boys, so I suspect that he has a similar position as the nurse that a previous poster mentioned and how she wondered when parents would stop circumcising their boys.

    I respect all you mamas who made the decision to not to circumcise, or changed your mind at the last minute when in your heart-of-hearts you knew it wasn’t the right choice for your son.

  35. I too was not 100% on board with circumcision but my husband was adamantly for it. Mainly because everyone in his family (and mine) are circumcised. Eventually I did let him decide as he has more experience having a penis than I do. I reconciled it in my mind that it is a tradition in our families and society (at least where I live) and made my peace with it. I don’t feel that making this decision based on tradition is any more asinine than making it based on religious reasons. After all most religious practices are based on tradition and ritual as well.

    1. Oh totally! I just wish more people would look at the reasons behind WHY we do a lot of the things we do in life (I’m not just talking about circ). If you examine why something is a tradition in your family / your society and you still think it’s a good idea, then by all means do it! I just think a lot of ppl go with the flow without questioning WHY (be it about religious/political views, newborn procedures, family traditions, or whatever!).

      For me, circ ISN’T a tradition in my family, and where I live the circ rate is 25%, and once I read more about it, I didn’t feel it was the right choice for us. I’m coming from a totally different perspective than you though!

  36. I’m grateful my husband and I were firmly on the same page, and chose to not circumcise our son, for many reasons. But the one that I always laugh at in my head is the one that says “so he’ll look like his daddy.” 1) when was the last time you compared genitals with your parents? 2) whether or not he is circumcised, his will look nothing like his dad’s. Reasons include: dad’s is bigger, dad’s is saggier, dad’s is hairy. By the time his penis will look anything like his dad’s (ie, well after puberty starts), he will very likely be mortified at the thought of comparing genitals!

    1. Best comment! So true.

  37. If Charlie is still adamant that he wants it done what are you going to do?

    1. Not doing it. I brought it up again today and he still hasn’t gone through the research or watched either of the videos. If he can’t take that hour out of his life to learn more about it so we can have an education discussion about it all, he doesn’t get a vote, end of story!

      1. Amen sister! This is too big an issue not to research. This isn’t one of those gut decisions.

      2. Ha ha. I’m neither for or against (possibly away towards uncut) but if Ryan was vehemently for then I would find it hard to say no only because he wants to make a decision re the babies life. I think of I go with the you organise it then it won’t happen 👍

  38. I was just thinking about this and thought I’d mention that my grandpa was circumcised at age 98…seriously. The fact that a doctor would even do an elective procedure on a man of that age is ridiculous, but that’s besides the point. My grandpa said that he always hated being uncircumcised and wished he would have had it done much earlier in life (my grandma agrees). If you’re wondering why I even know this, it’s because…well, old age hasn’t stolen much from my grandparents but it has definitely taken their filters. (-: Anyways…for what it’s worth. And no, I haven’t asked him to elaborate about why he hated being uncircumcised for those 98 years. I’m curious but not curious enough to put myself through that conversation.

    1. Your grandpa sounds awesome, even if he does share too many details. Good for him for doing what he wants! This story makes me smile!

      1. LOL, ditto Courtney!!

  39. Hmmm, I must admit to feeling a little heated and angry while reading this, as the mom of a boy who is circumcised. I was on the fence about it and my husband was adamantly insistent that we do so– while we didn’t have a bris, my husband is Jewish and having that cultural connection to his son was vitally important, which I respected. I guess I’m not so interested in the reasons for or against–ultimately, I don’t think the choice to circumcise has so many drawbacks (yes, LG was in the room with Smudgie sucking sugar water off his finger while it happened and he said it was not a traumatic experience) or benefits or the choice NOT to circumcise has so many drawbacks or benefits to really make this such a major issue (as opposed to, say, breastfeeding or birth choices).

    BUT what is interesting to me is that I felt angry when I never have about your posts on your homebirth, despite choosing a different way to birth myself. And I think that is because I don’t have ownership of this decision in the same way I do with my decisions to have a hospital birth or to have my children in part-time childcare or to exclusively breastfeed, all of which can be contentious issues and none of which I’ve ever felt the slightest bit of hesitance about. Which just furthers the idea that no one else–not even people who disagree or even insult you!*–can *make* you feel guilt or shame, only you and your relationship to your choices can do that.

    * (not saying you were insulting me– you weren’t–just offering that as an example)

    1. “no one else–not even people who disagree or even insult you!*–can *make* you feel guilt or shame, only you and your relationship to your choices can do that” <– yep, this exactly! It's been eye opening to me over the last couple of years as a parent to identify my triggers for feeling offended/upset about choices — and to realize that's on ME. We all do what we feel is best for our kids, and that's the important thing.

  40. Sounds like you have researches this decision well, and i commend your excellent decision! Circumcision can always be done, but it can’t be undone. The rates just keep on dropping as people learn more about it. And of course, the rates are very low in most other western nations. I would rather explain to an unhappy intact son that just wanted to leave the decision to him, than to try to explain to an unhappy circumcised son why I made the decision I did. And kudos to you for for being determined to leave your little guy intact even if your husband disagrees. This issue can be so emotional for men and cloud their judgment even if they look at the research.

  41. Not sure if you are still checking this post, but I was 100 percent against the circ; however, in the end, for both boys, I let this decision be up to my husband. He is circumcised, and I felt that he was the true expert, not me.
    He chose to do it and he had his reasons, all which I respect. I made his attend the circ ( I did not) and it is his job to maintain it now, too (still need to pull back and A&D it every so often). I am happy with my decision to walk away from this choice. I mean, how many of the decisions that I say “we” make are actually 1000 percent MY decisions? I thought about that and I let go.

  42. […] – when it came down to it, apparently Charlie had read my email, agreed with my thoughts on the subject, and just not bothered to talk to me about it. […]

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