Is male circumcision a good idea? What are the pros and cons of permanent vs. non-permanent methods? How can you ensure your baby will be circumcised safely if he’s born in an emergency situation where they don’t have access to medical facilities or trained doctors nearby?
Male circumcision is a procedure that removes the foreskin of the penis. There are many reasons why it’s accepted by society, but there are also some people who believe that it should be banned.
The first major choice you’ll have to make for your newborn boy is whether or not to circumcise him. It would have been simple a few decades ago; in the 1970s, over 90% of American-born men were circumcised. Today, that percentage has dropped to roughly 60%, and the practice is far less common in many other nations. Circumcision is a difficult and contentious topic, and the discussion over whether or not to circumcise may become rather heated. Every couple should consider the benefits and drawbacks of circumcision before deciding what is best for their child. Today, we give a point/counterpoint on circumcision to assist males in thinking through the problem and in the aim of fostering respectful debate on the subject.
We’ve gathered a group of pals who have taken sides on the debate. Ryan and Amy Lee, for example, will argue against circumcision. Jeff Trexler represents the pro-circumcision side.
And, so to be clear, this piece does include sexual content. So kindly avoid this essay if you’re easily scandalized like a Victorian housewife.
Circumcision does more damage than benefit, has needless risks, and should not be done on a regular basis.
Ryan and Amy Lee collaborated on this piece.
Despite the fact that normal newborn circumcision is the most often performed operation in the United States, it is sometimes misunderstood. Despite medical physicians’ pledge to follow the Hippocratic oath, primum non nocere (first and foremost, do no harm), circumcision seems to be an exception. Typically, a medical intervention would bear the burden of evidence in demonstrating that it is worth the potential dangers. However, since circumcision is more founded in custom than medical, many physicians and parents consent to it without thoroughly scrutinizing the reasoning, or lack thereof, that supports it.
My wife and I both have the unique viewpoint of knowing the physical role of the foreskin as a Canadian-born intact guy. We have determined, based on personal experience and thorough study, that the operation does more damage than benefit, involves needless dangers, and should not be undertaken on a regular basis. Though the literature has considerably more material than can be captured here, we will try to touch the surface of the evidence against circumcision, as well as urge you to think about and explore the issue further when you make decisions for your children or debate it with other parents.
We shall approach our case against circumcision by focusing on the logical errors in the pro-circumcision arguments, rather than seeking to laud what is just natural, since an uncut penis is the norm. Because of the abundance of web-based arguments on both sides of this subject, we’ve based our arguments on peer-reviewed papers, professional medical organizations, and our own personal experience. However, video footage is one of the most persuasive pieces of web-based material on this issue, so if you truly want to understand why circumcision is a horrible idea, do a Google video search for “regular newborn circumcision” and prepare to be shocked.
The first fallacy is that circumcision is advantageous because it enhances sanitation and disease prevention. As the proud owner of a perfectly clean penis, I can certainly state that my cleaning procedures are likely equal to yours and are more than adequate to keep the device spotless. If our main purpose is to remove people’s protective, functioning skin folds to avoid secretion buildup, we should be targeting infant girls with the scalpel. Thankfully, most people in the United States would be horrified by this thought, and I believe addressing infant boys in the same way should be as terrifying. In terms of disease prevention, the concept that circumcision is a valid prophylactic strategy is simply unfounded, and some research even suggests that the foreskin may be protective against infection. In the United Kingdom, barely 6% of men are circumcised, and the United States may be the only industrialized country that performs regular newborn circumcision. Take a look at the World Health Organization’s worldwide distribution map.
Fallacy #2: The foreskin is superfluous and may be removed without any harm. The loudest proponents of this argument, in my experience, are circumcised guys who, with all due respect, have no foundation for comparison. I’ve never had my penis circumcised, but tales of guys circumcised as adults equate the change in sexual sensitivity after the process to seeing in black and white after seeing in color for the first time. Given that the foreskin is substantially more innervated than the remainder of the shaft, this makes sense. The foreskin, in my experience, is the source of the greatest genital sensation and pleasure. The quantity of skin lost in a circumcised adult man is around the size of a 4X6 index card (depending on overall size)—over one third of the penile skin. The anatomical role of the foreskin is diverse. The foreskin covers the glans in the same manner as the eyelid protects the eye; without it, the glans gets keratinized from rubbing against clothes and is significantly less sensitive. Another key role of the foreskin is to generate an erotogenic (pleasant feeling!) gliding sheath around the shaft, which reduces lubricant loss and friction, both of which may reduce enjoyment for both partners. Because the foreskin adheres to the glans like a fingernail in babies, it must be detached before being cut off. This must be very painful, since it exposes the glans before the foreskin has matured sufficiently to split on its own, which generally occurs during early infancy. Furthermore, I have read about and personally known people who have had difficulties as a consequence of circumcision, even death in rare cases due to significant blood loss or infection. It’s worth noting that, although uncommon, these occurrences occur at a comparable or higher rate than fatalities from penile cancer, which is often touted as a cause to circumcise. Perhaps we should start removing newborns’ toes at birth as well, to avoid ingrown toenails or the feared toe cancer later in life. Just a thought.
Fallacy #3: If circumcision is to be performed, it is more ethical to do it while the individual is young and will not remember it. Many circumcised guys have expressed gratitude that the treatment was performed when they were newborns and that they don’t have to recall it. While I agree that having a bit of my penis cut off without anaesthetic is an unpleasant memory, there is a better way to prevent it: leave those youngsters alone! As I learn more about circumcision and discuss it with others, it appears that for every bravado man who claims his circumcised member is exactly to his liking, there is at least one humble fellow who admits, sometimes with great emotion, that he wishes such important decisions about his body had been left to him—that he would have chosen to avoid a traumatic experience during his first moments and live life with a complete, intact penis. I’m thrilled that so many circumcised males are as happy with their genitalia as I am. I’m also relieved that so many spouses and partners share my enthusiasm. However, I know some men and women who lament the loss of their foreskin and wonder how their relationship might have been different if they had kept it. A newborn boy cannot agree to the surgery when he is born, and by the time his opinion is known, it is generally too late. True, parents must make many decisions about their children without their agreement, but cosmetic genital surgery is, in my opinion and that of many others, going too far. Why would you risk it if there’s a possibility your kid won’t want it done to his penis? At the end of the day, if you choose not to circumcise your child, he will be able to do so later in life. If you agree to the treatment, however, everyone’s options are limited. There’s no way to get back all that’s been lost.
Fallacy #4: Intact penises are less attractive from an aesthetic standpoint. What the hell is going on here? Again, I’m delighted to see that so many guys like the appearance of their circumcised penises, and that their spouses agree, but this is a strong assertion. People who have had pleasant experiences with a penis, whether their own or their partner’s, are likely to acquire a fondness for that penis and believe that theirs is the “best.” Great. We want everyone around here to cherish their penis; after all, taking care of penises is what we’re talking about. My wife, on the other hand, loves my penis to be intact. And, I’m not going to lie, I do as well. People like penises with which they have had positive encounters.
Fallacy #5: A boy’s appearance should resemble that of his father. This is the most perplexing of all the fallacies to me, owing to the fact that my father is circumcised, but neither am I nor my three brothers—and no one seems to mind. I realize that choosing a different option for your kid than your parents did for you may suggest some amount of unhappiness with your own experience, and God knows how difficult it is for a guy to stomach the concept that his penis has been compromised. In the spirit of this blog, though, I pose the following question: is it more manly to guard your ego or your newborn? I know a number of circumcised men who are quite proud of their penises but leave their kids uncircumcised. In many other circumstances, the infant’s mother would prefer that the baby be left alone, and it is the father who insists on the operation despite having done no serious research. Be a guy, do your research, and think things through. Emotions are vital, but when they come before your responsibility to protect your family, something is wrong.
Please visit the following links for further information:
Contrary to popular belief, circumcision is a viable option with few drawbacks and several benefits.
Jeff Trexler is the author of this piece.
To begin, I’d want to state that I’m not very pro-circumcision. I wouldn’t attempt to persuade someone who refused to circumcise that they were making a mistake. It’s little more than a blip on the radar. What I’d want to say is that circumcision is a completely acceptable option. Many anti-circumcision activists will just not accept this viewpoint. Consider the following reader remark in response to a recent piece in Men’s Health on the issue (which I strongly encourage everyone to read):
“Amputation of any of a non-consenting individual’s natural, healthy, alive bodily parts is a grave violation of their unalienable human rights.” Torture, mutilation, and human vivisection are all crimes against humanity. After World War II, Nazi physicians were found guilty of crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg Trials.”
Circumcision isn’t even close to being a human rights violation. I agree with the American Academy of Pediatricians that circumcision has both benefits and drawbacks, and that everyone should do their homework before making the choice that is best for their kid. If I ever have a son, I intend to circumcise him. And I don’t believe I should be tried at Nuremberg. This is why.
Let me first answer three of my opponents’ arguments, and then I’ll add my good reasons:
Is it traumatic for the child? Circumcision is certainly not a pleasant experience. But I don’t believe the youngster is being subjected to inhumane treatment. Yes, there are videos that show screaming newborns going through the surgery, but they are cherry-picked and deceptive. When these photos were taken, no one knows. The baby’s arms are often bound in crucifixion manner in the films, which is an uncommon occurrence nowadays. In addition, newborns are now regularly sedated before to the surgery and given a sugar-coated pacifier to aid with pain management. This isn’t to say that the operation is painless, but it’s also not to say that it’s a harsh and unusual punishment. My sister-in-law works as a neonatal nurse and has witnessed a lot of circumcisions; she claims that some newborns fall asleep throughout the procedure. Yes, some newborns scream and cry, but they also scream and cry when they aren’t touched at all.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that it permanently harms children’s psyches or creates psychological trauma as they grow older. If this were true, kids who had actual medical crises as newborns, such as being poked with needles, incubated, and cut open, would grow up to be mad. After all, the infant has no idea why you’re cutting him. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. So a quick snip won’t leave them emotionally traumatized; they won’t remember it either way.
There isn’t a choice for the baby! This is really true! And, unfortunately, the baby has no say in who its parents are, where it will live, what it will eat, what religion it will be reared in, where it will go to school, and so on. Parents make hundreds of decisions for their children, many of which will have considerably more long-term consequences than circumcision. It is the responsibility of parents to make choices for their children that they believe are in their best interests. I realize that males may elect to get circumcised later in life, but it would be more traumatic and a more vivid memory. It’s best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.
The problem of sensitivity. The belief that a circumcised penis is not as sexually sensitive as its circumcised counterpart is perhaps the most fear-inducing argument used by anti-circumcision activists. Despite this, no research has definitively demonstrated that this is the case. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, circumcised males had “more diversified sexual practice and less sexual dysfunction” than their uncircumcised siblings in a self-reporting research. The APA also dismisses circumcised men’s lack of sensitivity as “anecdotal.”
Meanwhile, an actual research has debunked the theory. According to the Los Angeles Times:
“Nearly 4,500 Ugandan males, aged 15 to 49, who were all sexually experienced, were studied in a recent controlled research published in the January edition of BJU International, the British Journal of Urology. The researchers chose half of the men to be circumcised immediately, and the other half to be circumcised after 24 months. They measured sexual pleasure and performance in the two groups at six, twelve, and twenty-four months.
The circumcised group’s sexual pleasure remained consistent, with 98.5 percent expressing satisfaction before circumcision and 98.4 percent reporting satisfaction two years afterwards.”
Men who are circumcised later in life claim that it takes more friction to get things started, but their orgasms are just as strong, if not more so. Isn’t it a nice thing if you can retain the amazing orgasms while also lasting longer and delighting your woman? I doubt many women wish their husbands were more sensitive than they are currently.
Anti-circumcision activists also claim that since the foreskin offers natural lubrication, intercourse is less enjoyable for women. But, once again, such a hypothesis is founded on hearsay. There are stories online about women who prefer sex with an uncircumcised penis versus others who prefer the opposite. (Please be aware that this link includes graphic language and images.) Many women enjoy the sensation of a circumcised penis; they claim that having sex with an uncircumcised male feels like he’s having intercourse with his own foreskin rather than with her.
Now for the advantages:
Like his father, he is like his son. My kid will be circumcised once I am circumcised. In that sense, my kid should resemble me. Some people, particularly women, I believe, reject this rationale as nonsense. While my kid is unlikely to encounter my member on a regular basis, if he does, I want them to appear identical. I have no idea why; I just do.
Hygienic. The inner layer of the foreskin contains glands that produce smegma, a “cheese-like substance,” according to the dictionary. To avoid this build-up, uncircumcised males must raise and wipe their foreskin on a regular basis. Sure, doing that isn’t a huge issue for grown guys (though given my male friends’ cleaning habits, I’m not sure it would always be done). The foreskin, on the other hand, may be troublesome for young boys and elderly men who are unaware of the need of cleanliness or who are unable to clean themselves. My grandpa, who resides in a nursing home, had an infection in his nether regions after failing to clean beneath his kangaroo pocket. This isn’t a unique incident. Circumcision became the standard in our nation as a result of our GIs’ experiences during World War II. Balanoposthitis (inflammation of the foreskin and glans), phimosis (a foreskin that is too tight to retract over the glans), and paraphimosis (a foreskin trapped in the retracted position) plagued the 145,000 troops who served in the North African war. (MH) Circumcision keeps a man’s member clean, whether or not he’ll ever find himself in the trenches. Which gets me to the second point I’d want to make:
It’s a hit with the ladies. I’ve met a few women who have had relationships with both circumcised and uncircumcised males, and they all favored the latter, particularly when it came to oral sex. Anything that can be characterized as “cheese-like” isn’t sexy in the least. Women like the appearance of a circumcised penis and consider it to be cleaner. Of course, my proof for this assertion is anecdotal, but scientific research support it as well.
Circumcision aids in illness prevention. Anti-circumcision activists would have you think that there are no legitimate medical grounds to circumcise your child. However, this is not the case. “The weight of scientific evidence could be moving in favor of circumcision,” said Lise Johnson, M.D., director of healthy-newborn nurseries at Boston’s Brigham Women’s Hospital. The following are the grounds for making such a claim:
- According to a research conducted by the National Institute of Health, circumcision may reduce the risk of a male contracting HIV by up to 64%. (NIH)
- The chance of developing syphilis is lower among circumcised males. (APA)
- Male newborns who are not circumcised have a 10-fold higher chance of developing a urinary tract infection than their clipped counterparts. (APA)
- Uncircumcised males are three times more likely to acquire penile cancer. (APA)
- Women with circumcised penises had a lower risk of cervical cancer. (BMC)
Finally, I feel that circumcision is a completely acceptable option. However, I urge you to do your own research and make the decision that you believe is best for you. When doing so, be cautious of just Google the topic. Many of the results, such as circumcision.org and cirp.org, seem to be basic information websites but are significantly prejudiced against circumcision. It’s preferable to stick to scientific research and sources that aren’t biased or have a predetermined goal.
Thank you, Jeff and the Lee family!
Male circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin from the penis. The effects of male circumcision later in life are not known, but it has been observed that circumcised men have a lower risk of infections and STDs. Reference: effects of circumcision later in life.
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