When I was thinking about how to start out this article, the mental image of a wheat field came to mind. I was standing in the middle of it….with a massive flame thrower. That’s what this topic “should you circumcise” feels like.
It feels like I’m about to ignite a 40-mile-radius wheat field with liquid petrol. And yet…I’m still bravely standing in the middle of what’s about to happen. Unafraid.
The thing is, I have a fireproof suit. It’s called daughters. Three of them. I can safely stand in the middle of this firestorm because I have never had to actually make the circumcision decision.
I’m 100% neutral. I can blandly state the arguments because I will never have to commit to a side. In other words, I’ve got no skin in the game. (Ha! Pun totally intended.)
I’m going to state the sides, and then sit back and let you ponder out your own convictions. But before I flip the “on” switch, we need to get a few things firmly in mind.
#1) Decide where you are on the medical spectrum.
- Do you tend to agree with and rely on traditional medicine?
- Or prefer to look at homeopathic paths instead?
Why is this important? Knowing your own personal natural bent will help you sort through the (possibly overwhelming) information ahead.
Like most medical topics, it often comes down to “whom do you trust.” Knowing ahead of time which direction you lean can help you wade through the arguments.
#2) Decide what role emotions are going to play.
- Do you want to make this decision solely based on research and data from both side’s arguments?
- Or is this more of an emotional decision?
#3) Decide who’s deciding.
- Is Mom going to step aside and let Dad make the decision (or vice versa)?
- Or are you going to decide together?
Circumcision should not be something that breaks a marriage apart. Does one parent feel more strongly about this than the other? Allow that parent to guide the decision.
If you’re both passionate about it (on different sides), commit to working through the decision together, laying aside emotional trigger words and accusations until you can reach consensus.
Should You Circumcise:
Which Medical Experts Lean Yes:
- American Academy of Pediatrics ~ They encourage hospitals to provide it and for insurance companies to cover it, but think the decision should be up to the parents.
- Center for Disease Control
- American College of Obstetricians & Gynocologists
Why Parents Choose Circumcision:
- “There is a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent,” ~ Dr. Susan Blank, AAP
- “It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It also reduces the chances that men will spread HPV to their wives and girlfriends, protecting them from getting cervical cancer.”” ~ Dr. Susan Blank, AAP
- For religious reasons. (Muslims and Jews both have circumcision requirements.)
- Fear of the child being mocked later in life, for looking different than the rest of the locker room. (This could also be a reason against circumcision, based on where you live.)
- Desire for baby to grow up looking like Dad. (Also a reason against, if Dad is uncircumcised.)
Three Families Who Said Yes:
If you do decide to circumcise your son, this article on Medic 8 can help. It suggests different questions you can ask your clinic and doctor to make sure they are qualified. (After all, a botched circumcision is not something you want to deal with!)
Should You Circumcise:
Which Medical Experts Say No:
Main Arguments Against Circumcision:
- “The penis — like the vagina — is self-cleaning. The penis is bathed daily with sterile urine, which often balloons around the intact foreskin. The foreskin retracts when it’s time,” ~ Dr. Christiane Northrup (on why she believes removing the foreskin isn’t necessary for good hygiene)
- Fear of risk involved with surgery.
- Parents are concerned about the pain baby will feel. (Many doctors now use local anesthetics, but it’s worth asking about.)
- Fear that circumcision will make the tip of the penis less sensitive, causing a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life.
Three Families Who Said No:
What Did You Decide?
Like I said above, I don’t have a son. My helpfulness in the “should you circumcise” question can only go so far.
That’s where my awesome readers come in. Those of you with sons, I’m counting on you to fill in the gaps. Add your comment below and share how you came to your circumcision decision! Let’s keep this dialog going, helping other parents who are trying to wade through this firestorm without triggering an inferno!
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I ♥ Citations
Besides the citations already linked in the article above, here are a few other resources I used in writing this article. You may find them helpful!
- NPR: “Pediatricians Decide Boys are Better Off Circumcised Than Not“
- Healthy Children: “Circumcision”
- Babble: “4 Reasons the Circumcision Rate Has Dropped Over 30 Years”
- Kid’s Health: “Circumcision”
- American Academy of Pediatrics: “Newborn Male Circumcision”
- The Huffington Post: “The Circumcision Controversy: The Risks and Benefits of Circumcision for Babies”
- WebMD: “CDC Endorses Circumcision for Health Reasons”