My thoughts on Circumcision

I was recently asked my thoughts on circumcision. This is what I have to say about it.

My thoughts on circumcision are in line with my thoughts on pretty much all topics related to the human body.

The human body is an amazing thing. It is fully equipped to function normally in our environment as long as nothing interferes with it. We are not born with any extra parts; all parts of our anatomy, including the foreskin, serve important functions. The head of the penis is supposed to be a mucous membrane just like the inner parts of the vulva, the inside of you mouth, the inside of your nose, and your eyes. These parts are all designed to be protected from the outside world by a layer of skin. Labia, lips, eyelids, nose, and foreskin are all protective coverings for mucous membranes that allow these parts to maintain their optimal function.

There are no good reasons to circumcise an infant unless there is something medically wrong with their penis.

Furthermore, even if there was a medical issue, I would seek multiple opinions before altering such an important part of the body. You can always choose to circumcise at a later time if it is medically necessary, but you cannot undo the procedure once it’s done. Waiting to see if it is absolutely necessary gives you options whereas acting prematurely does not. There are arguments that say circumcision decreases the chance of STIs and other infections. Removing the entire penis also eliminates the chance of infection. Removing the gallbladder prevents gall stones, and removing the appendix prevents appendicitis; these are not good reasons to start taking apart the human body at birth.

Circumcision IS painful for the child and the pain is imprinted forever

This is based on understanding cellular memory and subconscious programming in childhood and http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/myths-about-circumcision-you-likely-believe.

There are also potential life threatening effects and lifelong consequences.

Babies do die from infection as a result of circumcision. Why take the unnecessary risk for no benefit? Some men have erectile problems because too much skin has been removed. This can lead to painful bleeding of the penis during sex or masturbation. The foreskin is also the MOST sensitive part of the penis; a lack of foreskin reduces sexual sensation.

I think that circumcising babies in order for them to look like Daddy is absurd.

Would you do cosmetic surgery on your infant’s nose so that he can look like Dad? Of course not. Everyone looks different in their own unique ways. Children do not benefit from having their penises look like their father’s. Fewer and fewer circumcisions are being done. Your child may look like Dad, but he will look different than the majority of boys in the locker room. Would you surgically change your daughter’s vulva to match yours? Personally I don’t agree with cosmetic surgery for kids unless it is either medically warranted or targeting a disfigurement that is affecting their self-esteem. Additionally, I believe it is important that children be old enough to choose the surgery for themselves.

If you do choose to circumcise your son, I believe you should be there to hold his hand throughout the process so that you know exactly what he had to go through.

It is your job as a parent to be there to protect your child and support them when they are hurting.  This is likely the most painful experience they will have in their life and they deserve to have loving support throughout the process.  I do not agree with parents burying their heads in the sand in order to avoid knowing what their child is going through.  You are the one deciding to subject your child to this procedure and you should be there to experience the pain with them.  It is their penis; if you are not giving them the choice of what to do with it you should at least be there with them for emotional support.


 

About Dr. Nancy

Dr. Nancy is a childbirth educator and has coached numerous women through their pregnancies, births, and in caring for their young children since 2001. She has been practicing family, wellness chiropractic since with a focus on prenatal and pediatric chiropractic and caring for the whole family.
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18 Responses to My thoughts on Circumcision

  1. roger desmoulins says:

    I am an intact American male, over 60 and married for more than 20 years. I can assure you of two things:

    1. Last century, about 100 million routine infant circumcisions were performed in the USA and Canada, always without anesthesia. Growing up intact in the USA 30-50 years ago, a time when:
    * parents were too embarrassed to say anything about circumcision to their kids;
    * sex ed was likewise silent about circ;
    * all penises on view in locker rooms were bald;
    * drawings in medical and sex ed texts did not depict the foreskin;
    * it was almost impossible to have a polite conversation about any aspect of the penis, was emotionally daunting and an ordeal of self-consciousness. Male nudes in fine art have natural penises, but nobody talked about that. But the problem was not the pointed penis but the prudish silence about its alteration. To this day, the only internet porn that highlights the natural penis is aimed at gay men. There are millions of American women who have seen intact only thanks to explicit internet images (e.g., Wikipedia). You people cannot imagine how what I describe in this paragraph strikes Europeans as utterly bizarre.

    2. Circumcision cuts off the most pleasurable parts of the penis, especially the parts that will be most lively after age 40 or 50. The foreskin and its motility do much to facilitate foreplay and lubrication. American women who have experienced both kinds of men without a condom (a practice that is as risky as it is morally questionable) and who blog their sex lives, have explained in detail how the foreskin makes penetrative sex more enjoyable for them. There are women who have written, black on white, that they are orgasmic only with intact partners. American medical and sexual research has yet to do an honest investigation of the consequences of infant circumcision for the adult penis and sexual performance. This fact alone is ample grounds for abandoning the practice forthwith. Many adverse effects of circumcision on older men and couples are shrugged off as natural consequences of aging alone.

    Continental Europe and Japan have never circumcised routinely. The United Kingdom and New Zealand have ceased doing routine circumcisions. Most Canadian and Australian hospitals will no longer circumcise, and most circumcisions in those countries are done in the offices of pediatricians who specialise in the surgery. The only system of socialised medicine that reimburses routine infant circumcision is Medicaid in about 30 American states. Routine circumcision will disappear in the USA when health insurance ceases to cover it.

  2. Teree says:

    I am a mother of two boys, 18 months and 3 years, both who are circumcised. I worked with the pediatricians who performed the circ, and had even attended them during circumcisions of their patients at the hospital. Thank you for sharing this information. It opened my eyes and was very informative. I wish I had this information 4 yrs ago. Thank you!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Very well written opinion. Aside from “having a medical degree” or not, it is clear the information you have given us is not pulled out of thin air, you have clearly researched, as any one of us could do in order to form the same or different opinion. I do not yet have children but you have truly inspired my future. It may seem like a silly comparison, but when searching for a breeder to adopt my puppy from, I searched for a breeder that does not practice docking tails (my breed traditionally has docked tails). To me it just seems like an utterly useless thing to do to take off a piece of body that a living being (human or other) was born with. Aside from religious reasons, who ever started thinking “hey this looks useless, let’s cut it off!” anyway?

  4. Kristin Wood says:

    Nancy,
    So perfectly written! Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Mel says:

    Fortunately in the U.S. circumcision is also illegal under the 14th and FGM amendments even fore religious reasons. It is sad that anyone would think a baby has a religion because to be honest they do not. Muslims and Christian texts say NOT to circumcise and Jewish families often participate in a non-violent baby naming ceremony as now many realize that circumcision is sexist, painful, unethical, and causes lifelong trauma.
    http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html#MI
    http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/07/brit-shalom-alternative-naming-ceremony.html
    http://www.drmomma.org/2010/12/ready-to-talk-jewish-mothers-change-of.html

  6. Sam says:

    Angeline, I am not a doctor. I live in the UK where genital cutting is not generally done and the normal, uncut penis is the norm. I read what some American doctors say about circumcision, the foreskin and the uncut penis and I am HORRIFIED at the ignorance of some of the medical professionals! It is shocking to me that little old me knows more about these things than a doctor. :-( That’s not to say I know “a lot” – it’s to say that they really know very, very little :-(

    Get some Amercian medical textbooks and look up pictures and diagrams of the penis. Chances are you will be looking at a modified penis (a circumcised one). As a result, there are a scary number of doctors who just do NOT know what to do with the male prepuce other than cut it off.

    The circumcision issue is an embarrassment to America. It is not (as many folks in the US think) a “decision”. Parents don’t get to choose if their baby can keep all his fingers and toes, or both his arms and legs. The foreskin is a body part like any other, just as valid and necessary as every other. Subject the penis and the foreskin to the same ethics and rationale as any other body part – or subject another body part to the same rationale and ethics as the male genitals – and you see circumcision for what it really is.

    Here is the bottom line – you don’t cut body parts off babies unless there is a medical condition that won’t respond to less dramatic treatment. Not even male nipples, and they aren’t very “useful” – unlike the foreskin which has many important sexual, protective and immunological functions. Not even if you WANT TO. That is NOT enough reason to do surgery and a person does not need a medical degree to know that. The only argument left for circumcision is “parental choice” and that is really no argument at all. Use it for the amputation of a child’s nose or earlobes and I expect you would be locked up. Where is the consistency? Where is the logic?

    There are negative repercussions every time a child is cut. The best you can hope for is that he will never really understand what was taken and therefore be content with what is left.

  7. mary lanser says:

    I don’t appreciate the attacks on Dr. Nancy. Chiropractors also “earn” their degrees by hard work and commitment to their field. In this case, Dr. Nancy is right on…… a chiropractor has a different perspective on the human body by focusing on it’s functions, by contrast many (but,not all) medical doctors only “treat” conditions or diseases and unfortunately do not subscribe to the wholistic approach to health. In my opinion, Dr. Nancy was extremely delicate in her expression of her opinions and did not attempt to address the religious aspect of circumcision. The only part of her opinions I do not agree with is a parent holding their child’s hand while someone is cutting off part of his sexual anatomy. In my opinion, there is nothing in the world that makes consenting to this acceptable! As for the religious comment… I am sorry but outside of “religion”, giving a baby an alcoholic beverage to numb him up for a body modification would be considered child abuse and most likely the child would be taken away from the parent. Think about it, what does this say about religion? This should be food for thought for anyone subjecting their precious newborn to such a barbaric act, no matter who you are and no matter what religion you follow.

  8. Twanette K says:

    I am in agreement with your thoughts on the subject and I am so very grateful to have 2 intact boys, with a 3rd due in December. I was incorrectly advised (by a trusted nurse and family member) regarding the care of an intact baby boy (retraction) but it didn’t feel right to be messing around with my son’s genitals and I decided to leave it alone. I often come across questions regarding intact care and specifically retraction on facebook forums, and I try to educate wherever I can. Thank you for making your voice heard, I do believe it will change minds!

  9. Lonnie Drury says:

    This is a topic that does not require an education or a medical degree to know it is inhumane to mutilate another human being – it only requires common sense. Anyone can access the anatomical information about the penis, foreskin and its purpose or function. Sadly, not everyone can access common sense.

  10. Dana K says:

    Thank you for a thoughtful & respectful critique of circumcision. Hopefully, people will continue to recognize the fact that the foreskin is a functioning part of the male anatomy.

  11. Owen R Cormier says:

    I’m 83 years old and my wife & I had five beautiful daughters, four are mrried
    with children. I was not circumcised , and I thank my parent for it. I don’t
    believe in circumcison. I don’t care about religon or what the bible said
    because they are both crap. If you push the skin back when you take a
    shower and wash youself good you will have no problem.

  12. Dr. Nancy says:

    I know that I did omit talking about circumcision for religious reasons. That is a very personal choice to go ahead with following a set of religious customs or choosing not to. I have read that the historical origins of religious circumcision did not actually involve full amputation of the foreskin but just a cut to draw blood. I still believe that you should explore the risks associated with full circumcision and any possible modifications of cultural/religious customs before making a final decision. The good thing about circumcision done as religious practice is that at least the child is being fully supported by their loving family and not abandoned with strangers.

  13. bonnie says:

    Dr. Nancy,
    In your thoughts you failed to mention circumcision being performed for religious reasons. My son was circumcised by a Mohel, who was an M.D. It was a beautiful ceremony with family and friends. I did extensive research beforehand, spoke with the Mohel who informed me of the procedure step by step, then made my decision. Normally the procedure is done on the 8th day after birth, however , since my son was born 3 weeks premature the procedure was performed when he attained 6 pounds. The penis was initially treated with a numbing gel, the room was softly lit, quiet, his father assisted the Mohel, and I was able to drop wine in his mouth via a pacifier. When the procedure was over he was not crying and I was able to breastfeed him immediately.

    I went into labor while riding on a motorcycle. To far from my hospital and doctor so the paramedics took me to the local regional hospital. My son’s father and I had taken the Bradley Method childbirth classes so I was able to have the birth I wanted, drug free and squatting, totally oppposite what the hospital normally did. My son was perfect, 4lbs, 13 oz; we went home the next day.

    Wish your site was around when I was educating myself…I know you will/have made an impact…yet just speaking to a young educated pregnant girl this week she decided to entrust herself completely to the doctors and nurses at the hospital.

  14. Dr. Nancy says:

    I am a Doctor of Chiropractic, as will see see on the About Your Birth Coach page. Chiropractors are experts in the normal function of the human body and help people to achieve and maintain optimal physiology. Medical doctors are experts in treating the body when it is not functioning normally (disease) or when it is injured or in crisis. I am not telling you how to do a medical procedure, I am not discussing the medical procedure of circumcision. I am discussing the normal and important function of the foreskin as part of optimal physiology. As the article is titled these are my thoughts on circumcision, no suggestion of a medical opinion.

  15. Angeline Mair says:

    First, are you a medical doctor and speaking about circumcision from that perspective? From what I’m reading, don’t believe you have a medical degree. Thus, please state what you have a doctorate in – or don’t use the Dr. in front of your name when talking about medical information. A medical doctor has earned their medical degree.

  16. Brandon says:

    WORD! Thank you! Its nice to see a mom and a doctor putting circ in its place.

  17. Thank you for writing this. I was circumcised shortly after I was born. I really wish my parents had let me keep all my body parts. It is my body. It is my choice what happens to it.

    I like your advice that parents must watch their son be circumcised. Although, if they have a change of heart because they realize the pain the boy is suffering, it is too late for him. Perhaps if parents were to watch a circumcision video on YouTube they would rethink letting their son have a circumcision.

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