18 February 2009

To Snip, or Not To Snip?

Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin circum (meaning "around") and cædere (meaning "to cut").

So that's the debate we're having around the house these days. Do we have Sennet circumcised or not? (He's not due till June).

Neither one of us has terribly strong feelings either one way or another, so I thought I'd get some opinions.

Right now I'm probably leaning toward not having it done, since it's natural to have it (the foreskin), so why remove it. 

I've done a little bit of research, including speaking with our OB-GYN, and it's no longer considered a medical necessity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global estimates are that 30% of males world-wide are circumcised. Seems the prevalence of 'the snip' varies mostly with religion and sometimes with culture. The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give evidence that male circumcision significantly reduces the risk of HIV acquisition, but still only provides partial protection and is not a replacement for other disease prevention techniques. Duh.

The American Medical Association states, from 1999: "Virtually all current policy statements from specialty societies and medical organizations do not recommend routine neonatal circumcision, and support the provision of accurate and unbiased information to parents to inform their choice."

So there's my question to you:

Mothers: if you have a son, or have had the discussion, what do you think, yes or no?

Fathers: which decision did you make for your son? Or would if you had a son?

Ladies: have you been with "both kinds"? Any opinions on performance, presentation, grooming, friendliness?

Guys: Do you have strong feelings of your own either way? Why?

Please leave any and all opinions in the comments section, and thanks.

KJT - Seattle (2009) (Picture photoshopped this morning...)


Julia Cherry said...

Hi Kevin, Interesting question to ask. James and I have 3 boys and we never questioned whether we would do it or not. All 3 are circumsised. If it is not for religious reasons, then it is for personal ones. All the males we knew had been circumsised, so we did not want them to be "different". Maybe that is the easy way out, don't know. If you choose not to, then just make sure your son knows early on how to care for himself. Also, whatever your religious beliefs, obviously, this is the way he was created and you did not want to change that. Good Luck with the decision. He is a lucky boy to have parents who care enough to explore all the options.

Anonymous said...

I think it is better to have the procedure done. I think it is a health issue. The procedure is simple and painless (ok, probably not) but easily forgotten (just as the pain of having children is easily forgotten). I also think it makes hygiene easier for everyone involved now and in the future. I have spoken to many men who have been forced, due to medical reasons, to have the procedure done as an adult, which is much more unpleasant. My son was circumsized and I am glad that we made that choice. Personally, as an adult, I have been with men who are and men are not. My preference is men who are circumsized. It is cleaner and prettier and easier to use.... Sorry, I felt as though I need to add this piece to the equation as well. Whatever decision you and your wife make will be the right decision. This is one of many difficult decisions you will make as a great parent...Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Snip it. Even if just for hygiene reasons. It's cleaner, and ultimately it might be less alienating (in various ways) later in life.

mighty jo said...

this is one issue i feel so strongly about! it is PAINFUL, DANGEROUS, & UNNECESSARY!
check out info at mothering magazine's website. they have lots of articles about it. i have 2 sons & neither one are circumcised. i hate the arguement about wanting all penises to look the same--do y'all really compare penises that often?? i don't know any other body part that requires conformity.
also, my husband was dead set against it. he is still angry that his parents never questioned it--just had him snipped.
& my best friend is uncircucised because his older brother's circumcision was BOTCHED! & i have had sex with said friend & i didn't even know he was uncircumcised until he told me. erect, they all look the same.

sorry if i sound hostile, but if i can stop any little boys from being unnecessarily hurt, i will be happy.

mighty jo said...

there are NO hygenic reasons for it. we are the only country that is not jewish that circumcises because years ago the crazy religious rights decided that uncircumcised penises would encourage boys to masturbate. also, these days, less & less people are having it done. so it wont be as uncommon anymore. i worked at a daycare in '94 that took care of doctor's kids. at least 50% of those kids were UNCIRCUMCISED! if doctor's are not having their kids circumcised...? one last thing--when i told my doctor i wasn't having my baby circumcised, she said, "good, one less baby i have to hurt."
if you do decide to circumcise him, you should be in the room with him so that you can see for yourself what they are doing to your newborn son.

again, sorry if im coming off as a crazy non-circumciser...but this is an issue that some people prefer to stay ignorant about & that just pisses me off.

im glad you are putting thought & research into it.

Mark Lyndon said...

You might also want to check out the following:

Canadian Paediatric Society
"Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."

"Circumcision is a 'non-therapeutic' procedure, which means it is not medically necessary."
"After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.

RACP Policy Statement on Circumcision
"After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision."
(those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

British Medical Association: The law and ethics of male circumcision - guidance for doctors
"to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate."

National Health Service (UK)
"Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest it has any medical benefit."

The College of Physicians & Surgeons of British Columbia
"Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death. The benefits of infant male circumcision that have been promoted over time include the prevention of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and the reduction in risk of penile and cervical cancer. Current consensus of medical opinion, including that of the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies and the American Urological Society, is that there is insufficient evidence that these benefits outweigh the potential risks. That is, routine infant male circumcision, i.e. routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended."

See also:
Canadian Children's Rights Council
"It is the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council that "circumcision" of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.

Drops in male circumcision:
USA: from 90% to 57%
Canada: from 47% to 14%
UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
Australia: 90% to 12.6% ("routine" circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
South America and Europe: never above 5%

It's worth remembering that we wouldn't even be having this discussion if it weren't for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don't believe me, then check out this link:
A Short History of Circumcision in North America In the Physicians' Own Words

The record insurance payout for botched circumcision is $22.8 million btw. It was said at the time that the victim "will never be able to function sexually as a normal male and will require extensive reconstructive surgery and psychological counseling as well as lifelong urological care and treatment by infectious disease specialists."

KJT said...

Excellent! Thank you all! I value each and every opinion and they will all be tossed in the hopper and utilized in the decision-making process!

Keep 'em coming!

Brenda J said...

I am an OB nurse and have been for 12 years. I have seen "plastibells" (leave a ring on around the top and it falls off after a few days) and "Gomcos" where they remove it completely and it is treated with gauze and petrolium jelly for about a week until it heals. My best advice is to talk to your pediatrician before considering this proceedure. Make sure you know who will be doing it and what type. I am a mother of a plastibell gone wrong. I had been an OB nurse for 5 years at the time and had plenty of preparation and education to make what I thought was the best choice. My issue came about when I asked for a Resident to not perform the proceedure but a Pediatrician. What happened was that the Dr that did it had little experience, was fairly new and was the on call dr.He was not going to be my sons primary physician. I had also worked at the Hospital that I delivered at and felt very comfortable taking the advice from my co-workers and the staff that was provided. Long story short, not all of the skin fell off when the plastibell started to come off. My son ended up with a "tag" left on one of the sides and I had to wait until he was 6 months old to undergo surgery under a general anesthesia. The Pediatrician I ended up with was fantastic. I wish she would have done the proceedure to begin with obviously. When I was pregnant the 2nd time, before I knew I was having a girl, the pediatrician and I spoke at length about if I would have the proceedure done if my second would have been a boy. Her proceedure included numbing medication,which suprisingly not all drs do. I can not stress enough to speak and feel comfortable with your Ped.

As for another view...I have also worked in an outpatient center that did adult circumcisions. NOT a fun thing for these men. For medical reasons they had to have a circumcision...all of them said they wished they had it done as a child.

Had I had a boy the 2nd time I believe I would have had him circumsised despite all my son went through. However, with a ped that I trusted and had an established relationship. And with a gomco instead of plastibell.By the way, my sons penis looks like a normal circumcision.

Hope this helps Kevin! I also think it is great that you are exploring all your options and taking opinions with an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin-

I have three boys 1 did and 2 did not. Being a woman, I let the dad have the final say and find that the dad that decided no snip regrets it now and worries about their future with "the ladies." Personally as a mom, I have met and been at enough births over the past 10 years to say that over 60 % of the boys born have not been and whatever you decide, he will not be the only one in the locker room that way. It used to be, when Taylor was born, the only real choice and pushed by Pediatricians for health reasons and society. But now, it is much more common and as the mom, I have had zero health isssues with my boys regarding no snipping. He will ask why he is or isn't like you - trust me there - but he will also ask why Stacie isn't like him either. But do know this, if you do commit to doing it, do it in the hospital while doing all the other stuff when he is first born so that is not later once you are home and all the bonding is done. It will be very hard to turn him over for that procedure later:-) So fun hearing you guys think like parents! Melissa

redwithenvy said...

i had an opinion, but it was more of a non-opinion. i feel silly posting it now based on the wide variety of rad experienced and honest posters you have already.

however, regardless of what you decide, once you have information on both sides, you'll know you've made the right decision for all of you.

good luck, my friend! ;)


Pyzahn said...

Wow...those are some serious, well thought out responses. I couldn't get my brain passed the scary picture.

KJT said...

These are from my friend Gena
- who likes to do things her own way! :-)

And I quote:
"cooper is not circumcized. most of the boys we know in his age group are not. i do not see the point of putting an infant through that torture. i bet you could google actual videos of circumcisions.
also, i have heard that men who have not been cut have more penile sensitivity. that's good, right. i have been with both and the men who were not cut were meticulously clean. so, when they are young and you are still bathing them, make sure you pay close attention to that area to avoid infection. also, ask your pediatrician."

Thanks Gena!!

Anonymous said...


I have one boy, we choose to have him circumsised. I heard him screaming through the hospital. The baby may forget but as I a Mom, I never did. I felt like I had handed him to the butcher. If I had had another son, I would not have done this again. It is common to or not to circumsize. If you choose to do it, wear ear plugs and turn off your heart, it is painful! Shaughna

Ronda Cherrie said...

I have 2 boys and we choose not to "snip". Their doctors advised us against it. I talked to the boys today about it; they are 18 and 14 now. They said that they wish we had had it done. Especially the one in football. Locker room talk can be cruel. And they just didn't understand when they were younger why they were different, but never asked. So, I hope their opinion helps. But ultimately, it will be your choice.

Mark Lyndon said...

The good thing about not doing it is that the person whose body it is can still have it done later if that's what they want. Almost no-one in the western world does decide to get circumcised without a medical reason, but it's safer and less painful to circumcise a teenager or adult than a baby. The results are cosmetically better too, and they can decide for themselves what kind of circumcision they want.

Ronda, if your sons aren't happy being intact, they can talk to plenty of men out there who regret having been circumcised, even if they chose to have it done. The operation itself isn't such a big deal, but it's a one-way ticket, and once it's done, there's no going back.

Almost all men in South America and Europe, and most men under 30 in Canada and Australia are intact, and they seem to like it that way.

If my son wants to be circumcised when he's 18 (16 if he knows what he's doing), I'll gladly pay for it, and help him find the best surgeon. Until then though, no-one is cutting parts off his genitals. His body, his choice.

Hugh7 said...

In Finland, where it's not customary, the rate is less than one in 8000 lifelong, so "he might have to have it done later" is a crock. (The stories about the few who do, get told and retold, making them seem more numerous than they are, while the many with no problems have no story - and too many doctors in the US know nothing about the foreskin except how to cut it off.) Here in New Zealand circumcison was almost universal in the 1950s, now it's almost unknown, and there hasn't been any outbreak of the diseases it's supposed to be good for. Our HIV rate is about 1/8 of yours, though the most susceptible age group is almost all non-circumcised.

Since the US neonatal circumcision rate now averages around 55%, he's sure to find plenty of similar peers. If he asks "Why is mine different?", which would you rather tell him - "They all had part cut off theirs and you didn't" or "You had part of yours cut off and they all didn't"?

The health reasons for doing it are either exaggerated - marginal reductions in rare ailments that can be readily treated some other way - or completely bogus. (The studies claiming to show circumcision prevents penile cancer failed to correct for age. Penile cancer is a disease of old men, and when infant circumcision was coming in, old men were intact. Penile cancer is rarer than male breast cancer, and circumcised men do get it - on the circumcision scar!)

Cutting genitals is a peculiar obsession - once it gets a hold, it's hard to stop. Some of the scientists who claim to have proved it has health benefits, and doctors who want to do it, are in the grip of that obsession too. "He's got to look like me!" is not confined to fathers.

Frank said...

Here's my strong opinion. I'm 51 and chose circumcision at age 5. Was happy, perfect cut, until i read "The Joy of Sex" and the foreplay I would never be able to do. Experienced a great amount of loss of sensation during puberty due to callousing and some problems with erections due to incomplete vascularsation having been cut.
Have educated myself by web reading medical studies for over 6 months 8 hrs/day. I'm gay and it is obvious intact men have more fun, feel more and react more (copious amount of precum, whereas circ'd men don't) One UK medical study sidelined a comment saying it is common for intact men to be able to orgasm by thought alone. Orgasms are toe curling (full body) while circ. reduces it to local sensation. Intact men frequently describe feeling in terms of exquisite, circ'd men never do. Circumcision decreases sensation by breadth and depth. No two circ's are the same and there are different styles. Typically removes 65% to 85% of the sexual receptors (85% when the frenulum (the males nexus) is removed) this leaves 15% receptors at the glans corona all of which then has a great sensation loss by callousing and by late 40's this will have the thickness of 1 1/2 -2 condoms. Truly this is the biggest mistake of my life and all I can do now is naturally restore through stretching thereby growing new skin and some scant nerves to cover. this will reverse the callousing and make more natural connections (gliding response) to orgasms. And to educate! For intact males the dartos muscle upon erection tenses thereby making a solid skin tube where any action on it is transferred to the ridged band and so this action is transferred to the frenulum thereby all eliciting an orgasmic response. These mechanisms are destroyed by circ. and so the male then seeks direct action solely on the frenulum remnant and/or corona. (see foremost doctor and researcher on the foreskin Dr. Taylor "The Prepuce" the frenulum delta and its loss to circumcision") The study of Sorrells et al. shows (what every intact man knows) that circumcision cuts off the most sensitive part of the penis. The foreskin protects the glans but more importantly it protects itself, the mucosa. The mucosa like all mucosa of the body is the immune system's first line of defense against disease. Containing Langerhans that secrete Langerin which kill HIV. (see HEALTHDAY, Monday, March 5, 2007. "Scientists Discover 'Natural Barrier' to HIV" and http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/2008/03/cdc-inaccuratel.html and http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Protein-Blockade-For-HIV-Infection-18798-1/ ) BTW- the tonsils have more Langerhan cells than the foreskin, but tonsillectomies are not recommended. Circumcision disrupts the natural bonding between mother and infant and between husband and wife. (read Kirsten O'Hara book "Sex As Nature Intended". Circumcision kills parts of the brain. (can this be good for a developing child?) Brain cells no longer receiving neural impulses from the now gone foreskin, atrophy and die. Thereby adjacent cells grow chaotically into the dead space. Circumcision is remembered pre-verbally and so can't communicate it verbally. Hypnotists have documented patients who relive the operation while under. PTSD has been documented in medical studies. The body also records the event by armoring, stiff hip, stiff walking, not freely out going, apprehensive. Irrational fear of car seats (reliving circumstraint board). As related by men I've talked to: One had a fear of being in a group of 3 or 4 people who are causually waiting. He would get panic attacks and have to leave. but he confronted this fear by waiting in the group to see what would happen. His fear was heightened to the point of feelling they were going to attack and hurt his genitals. Upon this "knowing' he no longer has this fear at age 45. A Jewish friend had recurring nightmares of genital pain and would look down to see a goat eating his genitals. He, also in his 40's, came to realize he was reliving his circumcision done by a Mohel who had performed Mezizah. (http://www.come-and-hear.com/editor/br_4.html) Circumcision takes the most sensitive and nerve rich skin of the body and is torn apart, crushed, cut, crushed again, completely sliced off and sometimes burned (cauterized) stitched. Most are done by OBGYNs who don't have penile training. And shockingly, most don't use anesthetic as reported in their programming at the last OBGYN conference in SF.. Even if a the best anesthetic penile ring nerve block is used there is still pain. EMLA creams have virtually no effect. it's estimated 200-300 male infants die each year from circ. and 24,000 each year have complications. (On botched circ's: if you're planning to circ, join regretfulmoms@yahoogroups.com) Meatal stenosis happens to upward 30% of infants circ. and requires further cutting of the meatal tip. Usually is over compensated by cutting it open larger than necessary and making urination a wide angle. On this issue, intact boys foreskins are growing and reshaping and so at times may start off missing the toilet. The penis distends to naturally reveal the meatus for urination. Pulling back is not common to pee unless it is very cold. Intact toddlers may frequently pull on their penis because the natural separation of the glans from the foreskin itches. This pulling action also speeds the process which is governed by testosterone production and 4% babies are born with this separation complete. Restoring men report an increase of 1/4 to 1/2 inch in erectile length and lessor increase in width. I hate the term redundant foreskin becaus it is not extra. An infant needs this skin for his penis to grow into during puberty. Uncircumcised is another bad term because it infers it needs to be circumcised. The term intact is better. Or natural is good. Foreskin restorers are divided on the term fauxskin. and intactivism refers to educating on intactness and circumcision. Politically www.mgmbill.org (male genital mutilation bill introduced into the senate) seeks equal rights between the sexes for genital protection. Currently it is unlawful to even pin prick a drop of blood form a girl's genital. Such unequality must have our forefathers turning in their graves. Not to mention the right of person to bodily integrity. Currently our nation mocks them and the cornerstone of our national foundation.
www.consciouswoman.org also seeks to educate.
Thanks for this opportunity. Frank McGinness

KJT said...

Another one sent via email:

I would do it without reservation. I can't tell you the humiliation several guys I went to school w/ endured in the locker room w/ one piggy in the blanket joke after another. I guess it depends on what part of the country/world you're in, but around here, pretty much the only "hoodies" you see on guys say Denver Broncos or CSU Rams.

There you have it. Good luck.


bunnylishiss said...

My mom went with something called a "french cut", or a "half-snip". I always said the Doc left some to play with.

Having played with both, I can definitely say uncut is totally hot.

I feel like he should decide when he's older.

I have heard of someone who had to have it done later in life(around the time you start getting boners), because the opening wasn't big enough for the skin to retract, and arousal caused pain....something not everyone is into. In a case like that, I'd say medical intervention was necessary.

You're right about the religion thing....you can thank our hebrew brethren for the "Eight-Day-Chop." I used to wish my mother had left it alone, but now that I'm getting rid of it, I couldn't care less:)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't do it and I'd guide him to be happy with himself the way he is as he grows, and not doing it would simply reinforce the fact that he's perfectly fine, complete as he is.

athanasia said...

My husband settled our argument with, "OK, I'll agree to snipping his foreskin if you agree to snipping her clitoris!" The tradition continues in our family group: my first grandson has all his body parts. Whew!