Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Why I chose NOT to circumcise

Let me first start out by apologizing if I come off as too strong or opinionated. I am very passionate about this subject and did a great deal of research on it before the Winston’s birth. At first my husband and I disagreed; he was adamant that we should circumcise our son and I was adamant that we shouldn’t. That started the search for evidence to support what I felt in my heart wasn’t right for us or necessary.

I would like to preface what I write with a couple facts. The first is that 80% of the world’s male populations are intact (meaning uncircumcised). The second is that we, as Americans are the only country in the world that practices routine circumcision of our infants for non-regions reasons. We are however changing our ways; our national rate of circumsicon is around 60% (meaning 40% of our population is intact), down from around 80% some 20 years ago. In fact, the AAP found that there was not sufficient evidence of medical advantage to continue recommending routine infant circumcision.

The UTI defense is probably the most widely recognized reason people chose to circumcise. Rates of infant UTI’s in males are around 1/100. I have read numerous different studies that put the increased risk at varying levels. But what the bottom line is as I see it is if there is a small (we are talking 1/10 of 1%) increase in risk, studies have found that breastfeeding and rooming in and other measure negate that risk. On a personal note, I have a cousin, who I am very close with who has a son 2 days after Winston was born. All along she felt strongly that circumsicion was necessary and I felt the complete opposite. When our boys were 6 months old, my cousin’s son developed a UTI infection, not Winston.

I would also like to point out that girls are much more prone to UTIs, but no one suggest female circumcision. In fact whenever I hear things about femal circumcision, they call it genital mutation, and a crime against humanity. Is there really any difference? I believe we as a culture are so numb to what we are doing to our sons. The very thought of female infant cirumscion would make most of use cringe, why is it any different for our sons?

There is also an argument that there is an increased risk of penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of penile cancer in the U.S. is 1/100,000. It is a rare disease that mainly strikes the elderly. The rate of penile cancers in other developed countries where circumcision is rare, such as Denmark, is actually lower. This disputes that medical reason. Studies have found that the increased risk of STDs is mainly a behavioral issue not a circumcision issue.

This is probably the most heartbreaking argument I have. This is what I couldn’t sleep over when thinking about having Winston circumcised. The pain and the experience he would have. Image who have just come from the most comfortable wonderful environment there is. You have brought into this cold, loud, unfamiliar world with only your parents’ comfort to rely on. Less than 24 hours after you are born, you are taken from your mother and tied down by your hands and legs; the only thing you can move is your head. You scream but it doesn’t matter. The doctor then proceeds to cut off a fully functioning, healthy part of your body with little or no anesthetic. Image how that would feel. People argue that infants don’t feel pain like we do. That is completely incorrect. The AAP recognized the extreme pain of circumsicion. It has been documented that and infant has a large increase in blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones during a circumsicion, comfirming they are in intense pain. Some infant do not cry because the go into shock from the intense pain. The procedure also has lasting effects. The AAP found the circumscied infants have a greater response to vaccine pain at 6 months compared to uncircumscied infants.

There is also an argument that some males will need to be circumscied later in life. Adreinne quoted a rate of 5-10%. There are some studies that quote a rate as low as 6/100,000. It all depends where you get your information. Males who have been circumscied as adults describe a callously feeling left over for the circumscion. Being uncircumscied leaves many sensitive nerve endings intact, leading to greater sexual sensation. One man described sex after circumsicion as being color blind, after being able to see color. There are many reports of the vast difference in sexual satisfaction after circumsicion.

I just wish we, as mother can be the most informed about our decisions. My mother and mother-in-law told me how they were just given something to sign (not a choice) about circumsicion. When Winston was born my OB did not even bring it up. The nurses told me he is against it and will only do the procedure if it is asked for. What a difference in the times. One study found that up to 33% or physccians are against circumsicion.

I think my son is perfect the way he was born; he didn’t need any altering to have a “pretty penis” or keep him clean. In fact he is very easy to keep cleaning, we don’t really have to do much of anything now. I also felt that it shouldn’t really be my decision to permanently alter his body. He can make that decision when is an adult, if HE wants to.

I am curious to hear from our international contributors (Julie, Minerva, Lore, Olga) about your worldly views on circumscion.


Katie S. said...

All I can say is, thank God I have girls and don't have to worry about this topic!!!

Minerva said...

If it has to be said it was me who asked for this topic because I also started to have mixed thoughts and feelings about the procedure.
In Mexico City and other big cities it is standard procedure and most of our boys go thought it a day after they are born. I have no idea about the percentages but I'd say is very common.
I started to read information recently and found out it is merely a cosmetic procedure rather than one involving health concerns and it just didn't sound right to me.
My husband didn't agree with me at first, he is circumcised and wanted his son to be as well. He told me he didn't remember to be in pain -like he has a perfect memory from the second day he was born- and that he didn't have any complaints about pleasure, but I told him his argument is not applicable since he didn't know how it feels when the penis stays intact and I also told him "How come you're willing to mutilate your son when you didn't even want Isabelle to have her ears pierced?" Needless to say, looks like my words had some effect and now he's changed his mind.
I feel like I can sleep now without having nightmares of my son strapped to a circ board. He will have the choice to do it in the future if for some reason he decides to. But it's not in my hands to decide that.
I respect other opinions, it's just that I think it's not something I can decide for my son. Thanks to the moms who posted. I really appreciated.

Julie said...

We only had girls so we never discussed the topic at length. My husband is not circumcised (European) and we are definitely against unecessary medical procedures, so I think we would have opted against circumcision.