Saturday, March 21, 2009

What keeps me up at night...

Lately I haven't been able to sleep. I wake up around one and my brain just starts going. Last night I was up thinking about circumcision. Crazy right? We are not even finding out the sex of the baby but here I am up at night thinking about circumcision. So I figure I will write about it and try to get it out of my system.

You probably won't be surprised to hear that I am against circumcision. I am known for having strong opinions. I was a gender studies minor and studied genital mutilation in many cultures. I believe circumcision is GM and that just because it is done in a hospital by a doctor does not make it OK. I think we are all born beautiful and should be left as is unless something is medically wrong. I think little Robin should keep his Hood.

Now that you know I am against this practice please do not ask things like, "So your not going to circumcise if you have a boy?" My answer is No and it is not going to change.

I have given this issue a lot of thought. It is not a decision I made lightly. I have nothing against people who circumcise. I think it is a very personal decision. Here are some of my recent readings on circumcision for anyone who is interested. I am sure there are people who are on the fence or want to learn more about what the practice entails.

Marcy over at Life is Good discusses her decision to not circumcise her son.

Excellent article and video over at Natural Papa- Will You make the Cut?

Pen and Teller on Circumcision

11 Reasons Not to Circumcise

Caring for the Intact Penis

Hopefully I will be able to sleep better now...unless of course my anger towards that horrid super nanny keeps me awake.


half pint pixie said...

We're very lucky in Ireland that circumcision is not an issue, it is not common here at all, some religious groups will get it done but it is not a routine procedure.

A friend of mine who moved to the US got quite a fright when they were expecting their son and he discovered that it is common (almost routine in some places) to circumcise there, I don't think he let his newborn son out of his sight until they left the hospital!

And even then there are so many associated issues, in nations where intact penises are rare, you read a lot about doctors who haven't a clue how to treat them properly, forcibly retracting them in babies (ouch!) which in my mind borders on professional incompetence.

It is a very personal decision, but like all cultural issues it is something that parents should get informed about before going along with the status quo. After all female GM is a standard cultural practice in some nations, and that doesn't make it ok, so why is it ok for our sons?

I feel strongly about too this as you may guess :)

half pint pixie said...

oh sorry, that was a very long comment :)

Christy said...

Izzy is not circumcised. The doctor asked me whether I wanted to have him circumcised THREE different times while we were in the hospital. NO, YOU ASSHOLE.

And now, at every check-up, the pediatrician will ask me why I decided not to have him circumscribed. BECAUSE THERE IS NO NEED. Why are people always hassling me about this? I bet no one ever asks the mother of a circumcised boy, why she made the decision to have him circumcised.

Marcy said...

Great post, and feel honored to have my blog included. =) Luckily we haven't had any issues-- no doctors have asked me why we didn't circumcise, or try to bug us about it. I have a few friends currently pregnant with boys, and part of me wants to bring this up with them, but then I'm pretty sure they read my post on it so think I'll leave it at that.

PletcherFamily said...

I definitely think it is a personal decision and one you shouldn't make lightly. There ARE benefits to it - risk of disease is a big one. If you think just talking to your child will keep him out of trouble with infection, think again. Kids are gross (ha - I mean that in a light hearted way!)
I have a few friends whose babies were preemies, and they weren't circumcised at birth, and they had trouble around age 2 with their uncirc. penis.
We DID decide to have Cainan circumcised for numerous reasons, and did so when we was around 20 months old (remember, he was adopted late). The procedure took 5 minutes and he was bouncing around and happy right after and never had a problem.

Gloria J. Lemay said...

When little girls have a rash or "problems" in the vulva area, no one thinks of amputation. The foreskin is highly sensitive and highly protective of the moist glans. The function of the foreskin is similar to the function of the eyelid.

Ending the ignorance about male genital mutilation will end the practise. Thanks for your blog post.

Joe said...

Great call Danielle, great post too. What a lucky boy! :)

Actually, it is sometimes the case that boys in the 2 - 5 year range have some intermittent tenderness or soreness/redness. This is a common sign that the foreskin is separating from the glans it's a developmental stage and one of those things that US docs seem to not know about. Certainly, not a reason to circumcise.

Also the disease reduction is vastly overstated, if it is even true at all. The actual risk reduction, especially in first world countries, is quite trivial certainly not a reason to circumcise.

If you're not already a member, join this forum full of parents with intact boys:

Especially if you have any questions, they've seen it all.

NotStyro said...

While I respect your opinion and choice, other people that find this blog post might appreciate the following information...

Circumcision offers a lifetime of health, medical and sexual benefits. At least one third of uncircumcised males will develop a condition requiring medical intervention. This means degrees of suffering and possibly death. In contrast, circumcision can prevent or greatly reduce the risk of these medical conditions. The surgical risk with a modern circumcision is extremely low, while the life-long appearance & functional outcomes are excellent. Male circumcision also offer considerable medical and sexual benefits to a female partner by reducing her risk of suffering, disease, medical treatment and premature death.

Summary of Benefits

A Lifetime of Benefits

Debunking Myths

Male Circumcision Clearinghouse

Joe said...

For those of you that are interested, Tony @ the RollingDoughnut is posting/hosting what will be a very well thought out and rational discussion of circumcision titled, Clarifying Circumcision Facts. Read the first installment here.

We started off kind broad but discussed some of the medical issues recently brought up along with a strong focus on ethical issues. The next parts of this multipart series will discuss some of the issues brought up by another contributor.

Hopefully, Tony will be able to cover most of the issue. Participation is encouraged, as you can see all opinions gets posted. Join if you're interested

MoziEsmé said...

Glad you got that out and can relax now! Fortunately we never had to deal with the issue. I agree it's personal and people shouldn't feel pressured one way or the other.

Micheline said...

I just wanted to comment that here where I live (Manitoba, Canada) circumcision used to be common practice, but they changes this a few years ago citing there is not enough scientific evidence indicating that circumcision is better than not being circumcised. Now it is routine not to circumcise and it is the parents choice whether they choose to do this. The practice no longer happens in the hospital, it is done at the 2 week check up appointment at the doctor's office.
We chose not to circumcise our son and our happy with our decision.

TLC Tugger said...

I adore you for posting this, and I would just add that user NotStyro is a disgusting child abuser who is shunning the advice of every national medical association on earth (even Israels') - they ALL say the risks and drawbacks of routine circumcision outweigh any potential benefits.

But you can sleep easy. You never had a decision to make anyway. It's HIS body and HIS decision. Foreskin feels REALLY good, and it's HIS.

Dana said...

I believe that every one has their own opinion about things like this. And I do believe that there are benefits and risks for both because there clearly are!! For TLC Tugger to say NotStyro is a disgusting child abuser is ignorant!! That someone who pushes their beliefs on others and it is unacceptable! Millions of people circumcise their child and honestly it's the parents choice. No one has the right to state someone is an abuser because they want to do something FOR their child.. Just like it's your choice not too... That comment just bothered me, sorry!!

Van Lewis said...

It is a fact and has been since the adoption in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that all human beings have the human right to bodily integrity. Cutting off other people's healthy body parts without their fully informed adult written permission violates their human right to their own normal human body as given to them by God/MotherNature/Evolution. Warn the youth, warn the world: Circumcising Abnormalizes. NO ONE has ANY right to chop up anyone else's healthy body. Period.

Anonymous said...

CONGRATULATIONS on a very wise decision! You will forever be proud of your decision to leave your son intact and protect his genital integrity. Here are a few tips to keep your intact boy safe. You want to be sure that no one ever tries to retract or manipulate his foreskin. Make sure to remind your doctor not to touch his penis BEFORE the diaper comes off during his exams.

Print these off and keep them around. You might want to also take a couple copies with you to the doctor visits in case he tries to challenge you in any way.


WackyMummy said...

I'm frankly shocked about this issue... had no idea it WAS even an issue! (Where have I been?) I don't know what to think now...

Tracy said...

I guess I never thought too much about this topic because of only having daughters. Like Dana I think that it is totally the parents' decision and that it is sad to see some people feeling the need to stoop to name calling because he/she disagrees with someone else's views.
I was interested to hear how the men in my family felt about this topic and they were all for circumcision. I was wondering if you would care to share Pete's take on the topic?

Nanda said...

You're a smart momma. Hopefully one day boys will have the same protection against genital mutilation in the U.S. that girls currently have. There is a petition you can send to your politicians at
Best wishes for your little guy!

Anonymous said...

For those who claim that circumcising infants is a parent's question is WHY should it be. There isn't a single proven benefit, yet many proven risks and harms.

Where in the equation is there a choice for the infant?

Would those who claim it is a parents' choice believe for a minute that it should be a parents choice to circumcise their daughter...yet there is no less PROVEN evidence that it is less beneficial>

Shanilie said...

SOO glad to see a blogger NOT wanting to do that. I come from a family of medical professionals all who have had to assist in those procedures. All who are adamantly against it. Jacob isn't and I also openly speak about the fact that there is absolutely NO reason to have it done. If there ever was a possibility of infection why don't we get our tonsils or appendix removed too just in case? Doesn't make sense.

All these B's and Me! said...

Your comment on Cakerwakers last post was HILARIOUS! Just had to let you know that!

Hope your having a good day!

proctor said...

I met a man who had 1/2" body tunnels through his nose. I could see the inside of his nose! (See for graphic images.) Putting holes in his body was a personal decision: it was HIS decision. His parents did not do that to him.

Needless amputations or modifications of healthy body parts is NOT a parental choice.

If a physician recommends circumcision, you need to tell them to learn about the penis and get a new doctor.

Robert said...

A quick look at alleged benefits and reality..

This paper gives a full comparison of rates between 16 developed countries. The USA isn't coming out of it too well...

"Although U.S. gonorrhea and syphilis rates have decreased overall since the 1970s, the incidence of these two STDs is still significantly higher in the United States than in western Europe."

"Even with declines, the incidence of gonorrhea continues to be especially high among adolescents in some countries. The United States and the Russian Federation have the highest adolescent rates, with a large proportion of all reported cases occurring among adolescents."

"The United States, which has high-quality reporting, had a syphilis rate among adolescent females of about nine per 100,000, substantially higher than in most other developed countries."

"in the United States, annual gonorrhea rates among female and male adolescents are 3-6 times as great as in the total population (125 per 100,000). However, since reporting on gonorrhea is estimated to be only about 50% complete in the United States, actual rates of diagnosed cases would be about twice as high. By comparison, even the countries with the next most serious problem—Canada, England and Wales, and Romania—have much lower incidence rates among adolescents and in the total population."

"In the six countries with high reporting rates,‡‡ chlamydia incidence among adolescents ranges from 563 cases per 100,000 in Canada to 1,132 per 100,000 in the United States (Table 2)."
"More sexual partners, a higher prevalence of infection, and, probably, less condom use contribute to higher teenage STD rates in the United States."
"The young people in the countries we visited commence sexual intercourse a year or two later than do U.S. teenagers. Further, the Netherlands, Germany, and France boast better public health outcomes—the teenage birth rate in the Netherlands, for example, is nearly eight times less than in the United States. Germany's gonorrhea rate is nearly 25 times less than the U.S. rate."
"Among first-world nations, the U.S. continues to have the highest rates of STDs, 50-100 times higher than other first-world nations such as Sweden and France."

Perhaps the high rate of circumcision in the States is causing people to catch stds more easily? Perhaps it's because circumcision is preventing men from wearing condoms through sensitivity issues or being able to keep them on.
"Factors associated with condoms slipping off were (1) young age, (2) being circumcised, (3) having less life-time condom experience, (4) rolling the condom on conventionally, and (5) having trouble with condoms partially slipping."