Twelve Common Misconceptions About Circumcision and the Intact Male.
Circumcision protects boys from developing harmful medical problems.
NO medical society in the entire world, including the USA, recommends routine infant circumcision. Circumcision does NOT:
-prevent or reduce the occurrence of urinary tract infections
-prevent penile cancer
-prevent transmission of the AIDs virus
-prevent the transmission of STDs
There are absolutely no proven medical benefits to circumcising infant boys routinely. EVERY medical association in the entire world, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Medical Association (AMA), has made statements that routine infant circumcision provides no
proven medical benefits and is a non-therapeutic operation with known risks and guaranteed consequences. These risks and guaranteed consequences do not outweigh any potential benefits. Infant circumcision is purely cosmetic and has been falsely justified as having “medical benefits” thanks to a history of flawed studies performed by doctors who have tried to justify the tradition for over a century. In fact, circumcision has been fabled to protect against more illnesses than any other single surgical procedure; epilepsy, seizure, paralysis, polio, mental illness, cancer, you name it. View the last link, a video about the “medicalization” of circumcision, for more information about this. More recent studies have now proven that foreskin actually protects against UTI and other infections.
Having an intact boy means more work and extra cleaning to prevent infection.
It is actually easier to care for an intact boy. Only clean the exterior of an intact boy, a swish in the bath is sufficient. People are severely misinformed about the anatomy of foreskin. During the infant/childhood years the foreskin is fused to the head of the penis (glans) and the opening is only wide enough to allow for urine to pass through. This protects the developing penis from urine, feces, and other harmful pathogens. An intact boy should NEVER be retracted for cleaning or for any other reason. Premature retraction causes tearing, pain, and can result in many complications, including infection. The proper care for the intact penis is to LEAVE IT ALONE, only the exterior gets cleaned. Should poop get on the penis, all you do is wipe it like a finger. Throughout childhood the skin will slowly separate from the glans and the foreskin opening will widen. Self-cleaning excretions prevent the need for cleaning during that time. Through self-discovery a boy will learn to retract his own foreskin. After retraction is possible a boy can easily clean himself with a quick rinse in the same way that girl cleans her privates. It is a good rule of thumb to never let anyone touch your intact son’s penis. Many people, including care providers, will ignorantly try to retract the foreskin. Fact is, the US medical profession cut off so many foreskins in the past that the doctors rarely if ever saw an intact boy and have lost the base of knowledge of diagnosis and treatment. Now, they are operating in a vacuum of information or even worse, in an environment of false information. The only tool you need to care for an intact boy is a ruler to smack the hands of those curious people who attempt to retract his foreskin. :) Retraction happens at a different times for each boy. Some boys do not retract until puberty, this is perfectly normal.
(video of intact care)
If I don’t circumcise my son he will be ridiculed in the locker room.
85% of the world is intact. In the US the circumcision rate is 56% and falling, so almost half his peers will have foreskin. In general boys make it a point to not look at other boys’ penises. They are not interested in whether someone is intact or not and it is safe to say that most people will never even see your son’s penis. When intact boys learn that some baby boys have their foreskins cut from them at birth and that you protected them from being circumcised, they are thankful and find it shocking that anyone would do that to a baby. Their reaction is one of pity for circumcised boys. A friend’s intact son learned about circumcision when he was about 5 years old. His response was, “OUCH, why would anyone want to do that?!?” Lastly, children will always find something to poke fun at. With positive reinforcement from his parents that his body is normal, whole, and healthy, an intact boy will be able to keep a healthy perspective should he ever encounter a problem with his peers.
If a father is circumcised then he must circumcise his son to “match”.
If this were the case then all amputees would have the limbs of their children removed at birth. Children are not carbon copies of their parents. A father should teach his son to appreciate and feel good about his own body. If a boy questions his father as to why his penis looks different, parents can respond with a simple, truthful, and age-appropriate explanation. Here is a good example for a young child:
“Long ago people used to think it was good for babies to cut part off. When I was a baby Grandma had it done to me because she did not know any better. Now we know it hurts babies a whole lot, so Mommy and I decided not to ever let anyone do that to you”.
After explaining to you protected him from being cut down there, he will be thankful! Truthfully, a little boy is much more likely to question why Daddy has hair down there, it is a much more obvious difference. Besides, you already have to explain why Mommy is different, don’t you?
The foreskin has virtually no functions so it doesn’t matter if it is cut off or not.
The foreskin is extremely functional. The skin that becomes the foreskin on men is the same skin that becomes the clitoral hood and the inner labia on women. and shares many of the same functions. Like female circumcision, male circumcision impairs the sexual function of its victims by removing erogenous tissue that is designed to enhance sexual pleasure. The foreskin includes the frenulum, the ridged band of nerves, and thousands of specialized nerve receptors that are an essential part of male genital anatomy. The foreskin itself is composed of completely different tissue than any other portion of the penis. The cells in tissue has been proven to provide both sensory an protective function. The male foreskin is designed to protect the glans of the penis throughout a man’s life, ensuring that the internal mucosal tissue remains moist and sensitive (much the same way that a woman’s clitoral hood protects the clitoris). In addition, the foreskin acts as a natural gliding mechanism to reduce chafing and dryness during intercourse. During an erection, the shaft of the penis becomes fifty percent (50%) longer. Where does the skin come from to cover that longer shaft? From the foreskin of course. And there is still some left to move loosely over the body of the penis, reducing friction during sexual intercourse, as nature intended. The total amount of tissue removed is the equivalent of 15 square inches on an adult male and contains over 20,000 nerve endings.
Circumcision is a quick and relatively painless procedure with little to no risk.
Circumcision is a surgery that involves strapping a baby to a table straight limbed (this in itself is very traumatic), jamming a probe under the foreskin to tear it from the glans (remember it is fused during childhood), making a dorsal crush, cutting a slit down the foreskin, then slicing it away from the entire head of the penis, and then trimming the uneven surfaces. Male circumcision is actually longer and more involved than most forms of female circumcision. The entire head of the penis is left bloody and raw. There is a 20%-30% complication rate ranging from mild to severe. Complications of circumcision include: infection, excessive bleeding, removal of too much skin, need for corrective surgery, buried penis, adhesions, skin bridges, meatal stenosis (narrowing of urinary opening), meatal scarring or ulceration, damage or loss of other areas of penis, and even death. However, the risks of this surgery should not be confused with the guaranteed consequences. EVERY circumcision results in the loss of a healthy and functioning foreskin, causing detrimental changes to sexual function and reduced sexual sensations.
There IS pain even if the infant receives anesthetic, although, anesthetic is used LESS than 20% of the time in the US. Most infants only receive a sugary pacifier! During circumcision, an infant will experience such incredible pain that he will scream, become stiff and rigid, and then eventually go into neuro-genic shock causing him to pass into what appears as a deep sleep. This is the body’s coping mechanism to handle the intense pain he is experiencing. It is said that due to the immature nerve receptors that the pain an infant feels is actually more intense than what an adult would feel. If you have ever spoken to a victim of female circumcision they will tell you that the pain is indescribable. Six months after an infant is circumcised cortisol levels in the baby’s brain have still not returned to the base level. Nurses that work in the nursery are told to tell parents that the baby either didn’t fuss much or that the baby slept through the procedure. Nurses are not allowed to return an infant to his parents until he has calmed if he did not pass into sleep due to the shock during the procedure. After awaking the infant will experience throbbing pain for weeks following the operation and sharp stinging pains during urination. New studies are now reporting that circumcision also interferes with breast feeding due to the trauma and even prevents some babies from ever establishing a breast feeding relationship. You can find two videos of infant circumcisions in the ‘Additional Resources’ section.
If I don’t circumcise my son, it may need to be done later in life. I’ve heard of some 5-10 year old boys having to be circumcised.
The only reasons to amputate the foreskin, or any other body part for that matter, would be in the case of frostbite, gangrene, malignancy, or serious trauma. This misconception is another that stems from an epidemic of US doctors that are not educated about the normal development of the intact penis. Doctors that do not know about the anatomy and development of the foreskin often prescribe circumcision for a multitude of incorrect “reasons”. For example if a 10 year old boy is not retractable a doctor might tell a parent that he needs to be circumcised. This is not true. In fact, only 50% of boys are retractable by age 10. Many boys do not become retractable until puberty. This is normal. In the rare event that a man is not retractable by adulthood, there is steroidal cream that can be applied which will allow the skin to stretch. Amputation is not necessary for this rare condition. Infection is another “reason” that doctors ignorantly prescribe circumcision. The foreskin is NO more likely to become infected than any other part of the body. Bacterial infections are caused by trauma to the penis such as forcible retraction. In the rare chance that there is a bacterial infection, antibiotic ointments are sufficient. Parents that complain of repeated infection are almost always parents that are trying to retract their child’s foreskin for “cleaning”. As stated before, there is not reason to try to clean under a boy’s foreskin. Trying to “clean” under the foreskin is the equivalent to trying to wash out a girls vagina. It will ultimately cause a flora imbalance and result in infections. Only warm water should be used around a child’s genitalia; soaps and bubble baths can cause irritations. Also, doctors must do a culture by swabbing the exterior if infection is suspected to determine whether it is yeast or bacterial. If you use an antibiotic ointment on a yeast infection you will undoubtedly make the yeast infection worse. During the diaper-wearing years or after a round of oral antibiotics yeast infections (also known as thrush) can occur in both boys and girls. Yeast infection has nothing to do with the foreskin itself and is easily treated with an OTC monistate cream. Use of probiotic supplements during and after the use of oral antibiotics will help prevent children from developing yeast infections.
The medical industry has no interest in continuing circumcision.
Circumcision is a 400 billion dollar (per-year) business. Not only do hospitals and doctors profit from the 3,000 circumcisions that are performed each day, but that precious, nerve-rich foreskin actually being sold for use in skin grafts, medical testing and cosmetics. Talk about robbing Peter to pay Paul! In light of the fact that circumcision is classified as an unnecessary (non-therapeutic) surgery, insurance companies and medicaid in some states are now refusing to pay for it. Finally, a step in the right direction!
If you are Jewish then you must be circumcised.
The only requirement to being Jewish is that one’s mother must be Jewish. There is a growing community of Jewish citizens who strongly oppose infant circumcision and reject it as a practice of Judaism. These Jews offer a “Brit Shalom” naming ceremony in place of the “Brit Milah”. The second link below discusses how modern day circumcision is not representative to the original circumcision practiced by Abraham. The final link is a film by a Jewish filmmaker called Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision. This film specifically addresses circumcision from a Jewish perspective.
Christianity does not address circumcision.
Christianity directly protests infant circumcision. Here are a few passages: ~Phil. 3:2 "Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilation! For WE are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put NO confidence in the flesh!" ~Gal. 5:3 "And I testify again to every male who receives circumcision, that he is in debt to keep the whole Law. You who do so have been severed from Christ. . . you have fallen from grace." ~Gal. 5:2 "Behold, I Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing!" ~Gal. 6: 12-16 "Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. . . They desire to have you circumcised so they may boast in your flesh. . . " ~Lev.19:28 "You shall not make any cuts in your flesh." ~Deut. 23: 1 "No one who...has his male genitalia cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord." "I desire mercy and not sacrifice."-Jesus (Matt. 9:13)
If I unknowingly circumcised my son so I must support circumcision.
It is never too late to save babies. When people know better, they do better. Parents who learn the truth about circumcision after already having circumcised their children can still educate their own children and others as to the harms of circumcision. As parents, we do the best we can with the knowledge we have. Sadly, many of our care providers have failed to provide us with the information necessary to make informed decisions with regards to circumcision. It is important to remember that admitting to having made a mistake does not make anyone a bad parent. Saving other babies from harm can be a source of healing for parents in this situation. In fact, these Intactivist can provide powerful testimony to expecting parents and they and are vital to the fight for genital integrity for both men and women in our country. There are also support groups to help parents who regret circumcising. It takes a strong and wise person to admit their errors, we need these people in our fight to save babies.
Male circumcision (MC) is not as harmful as female genital mutilation (FGM)/female circumcision (FC).
Many people think that FC involves severely disfiguring a woman’s genitals in attempt to make sex not enjoyable. In reality both MC and FC began as a way to reduce the sensitivity of the genitals. In the late 1800s it was thought that if the foreskin was removed then a boy would not masturbate. After this was discovered to be untrue, men still found a way to masturbate, the claims of “medical benefit” arose. In current times both MC and FC are perpetuated in the name of religion, tradition and “medical benefit”. While there are no doubt severe cases of both MC and FC where the genitals are so severely damage or amputated that the individual can not enjoy sex, this is not the goal for the cultures that practice circumcision today. Severely amputated genitals would be considered a botched circumcision for in any culture where circumcision is practiced. In technical terms there are varying degrees of both FC and MC. First degree FC involves the removal of the clitoral hood. This is the same part that becomes the foreskin on a male at 10 weeks gestation. Second degree FC involves the removal of the clitoral hood and some of the labia. Finally, the third degree involves the removal of the clitoral hood, the labia, and the vagina is sewn up to make the opening more narrow. The third degree would have the most severe impact on sexual enjoyment. Similarly there are degrees of MC. There is a partial circumcision, which preserves most of the foreskin and the frenulum. There is the average circumcision where the entire length of the foreskin is removed; this is what you see most commonly in the US. And there is what is called a “tight circumcision” where the foreskin and all the frenulum are removed leaving the man with very little skin to grow with erection. With both FC and MC there will be more scar tissue and a greater reduction in sensitivity to the sex organs when more tissue is removed. The circumcision that we practice in the US actually removes more nerve dense, vascular tissue than all forms of female circumcision in other countries. While the entire clitoris contains 8,000 nerve receptors, a man’s foreskin alone contains over 20,000 nerve receptors. Bottom line is that BOTH male and female circumcision are completely unnecessary, are harmful mutilation of the sex organs, are performed on non-consenting minors, and exist in varying degrees of severity throughout the world. Genital reduction surgery of any kind is a decision only for the owner of the body to make at a time when he or she has reached a consenting age, as it permanently alters the function of the sex organs. Take a browse through the articles and links below here to take a compelling journey through both FC and MC. It is interesting to see some of the articles in support of FC and how they mirror the same “reasons” that our culture uses to perpetuate circumcision of boys. The hypocrisy of our nation is both astonishing and sad. EVERY child has the right to a normal genitalia!
Do not circumcise your baby boy. If at the age of 18 he would like to be circumcised, he has that option, but it is highly unlikely that he would choose circumcision. Less than 1 in 500 intact, adult males choose to lose their precious foreskin because they KNOW what they would be missing. Bottom Line: HIS BODY, HIS CHOICE!
Circumcision Decision, a Nationally Televised Public Service Announcement: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5395565256830319025&hl=en
Video of a Plastibell Circumcision:
Video of a Gomco Clamp Circumcision:
Intact America: www.intactamerica.org
Circumcision Information and Resources Pages: www.cirp.org
National Organization for Circumcision Information and Recourses Center (NOCIRC): www.nocirc.org
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC): www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males: www.noharm.org
Genital Integrity: www.genitalintegrity.org
Circ Info Site: www.circinfosite.com
Stop the Cut: www.stopthecut.org
Penn and Teller Video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2577091532653693892
Cutting Kids (excellent article): http://www.mothering.com/cutting-kids
Top 12 Reasons to Say “No” to Circumcision: http://www.naturalfamilyonline.com/5-bc/64-no-to-circumcision.htm
Most Common Circumcision Myths:
Information for Daddy to be (also have him see the Penn and Teller video and the circ videos posted above): http://www.infocirc.org/MensHlth.htm
National List of Foreskin Wise Pediatricians: http://www.thecaseagainstcircumcision.com/index.php?topic=18.0
2008 Male Genital Mutation Bill: http://www.mgmbill.org/
Ask Your Questions Here: http://www.mothering.com/discussions/forumdisplay.php?f=44