MOBs, I need your help…

There is a silent war going on in my house. And as my due date approaches, it’s soon going to go from silent to an actual debate. It’s something I could really use some other opinions since, honestly, I don’t even know where I stand.

Our issue? Kinley’s little winky.

My thing is, I’m not so sure about this whole circumcision thing? I mean, I’m not against it, but I’m not totally for it. It just seems like it could be a super traumatic event for a little piece of skin. And the more I research it, the more difficult it is because it seems like doctor’s can’t even decide whether or not it’s totally necessary. I’m looking at it as a strictly medical thing, Chris is completely against the idea of him NOT being circumcised based solely on the aesthetic appearance of it. To me, it’s my son’s hotdog, I don’t care if it’s pretty looking. Every time I see it, it’ll be peeing on me or covered in poop.

So since I found out I was having a boy, I turned to the internet in my search for what would be most beneficial. And it seems pretty split down the middle, plus difficult to interpret because, as I mentioned before, the doctor’s can’t even make up their mind. This is where the post gets boring…
Is it medically necessary? Not really, but then again, apparently circumcised men have a lower risk of contracting HIV, or other STDs. Not to mention they have a lower chance of developing penile cancer and in infant-hood less chance for a UTI. But, I’ve also read that all that is phoney baloney and it’s actually the other way around, and uncircumcised men are at a lower risk.
Is it traumatic for the baby? I can’t imagine it NOT being traumatic!! I mean, seriously, dads who read this (I know you’re out there, the whole one or two of you), would you want the tip of your penis chopped off at the age you are now?? What makes it any less traumatic??
Is it painful for the baby? Once again, how could it NOT be? I’m sort of against inducing pain on my babies if I can help it. It’s bad enough for the first 24 months of his life I’m going to be forcing him to get tests run and all sorts of shots, can I just spare him some pain?
Does the baby have a choice? Obviously not, which kind of sucks. What if he grows up and decides he would have preferred the choice of circumcision, but we took that away from him? Guilt-trip.
Is it easier to care for? From what I’ve read and heard, yes. It’s much easier to keep clean and there is no risk for…ugh I can’t believe I’m going to say this…”head cheese” (excuse me while I throw up, please) with circumcised men. And if they grow up and get lazy and don’t clean it properly, well, eww! But then again, in infant-hood it’s important to care for it very, very carefully. I know someone whose baby grew his back because she didn’t take care of it, so he had to get re-circumcised. That must have sucked. This is an important factor to Chris, although he really won’t be the one caring for it. And once Kinley is taking care of it himself, it won’t be my issue either. We can take a horse to water, but we can’t force him to drink, you know?
Is it really that important for him to “look like daddy”? I’m not so sure this is really so much of an important issue. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and not a dad, but I can’t imagine Caitlin ever noticing a minuscule difference in our lady bits and saying “mommy, why does yours look like that and mine doesn’t?” But that’s another thing I’d need dad readers to chime in on. This is Chris’ big issue, he wants it to “look nice” and this is how to go about making it look nice. But really, seriously, he’ll find a chick no matter what, he might grow to love his different penis, or when he’s older, he might decide he wants to get circumcised. There is no way of us knowing the future and I don’t know if I want to take away those possibilities from him. He can always get circumcised later in life, but he can’t regrow a foreskin.

So all in all, mom’s of boys, I could really use some advice. I understand a lot of you have your boys circumcised, but was it something you always knew you would do? Did you have a choice? Is it something that if you had the chance, you’d go back and redo or not? And if there happen to be any MOBs with boys who are NOT, what made you (and your husband) decide to go that route? I just need some other advice from people who’ve been there to help me make this decision so I can either start fighting Chris on it, or just say “Okay, bye-bye foreskin.” After all the research, it seems to be that Chris is right and it could be in his best interest to just do it. I just wanna know how some other mom’s feel/felt about it.

See, this is just another reason why girls are so much easier. There is no questions about genitalia mutilation, you just don’t do it.

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26 Responses

  1. This was a huge thing for me as well. I however did not educate myself before I had Aaron’s done. Had I of, I wouldn’t of done it regardless of how pretty daddy’s penis is.
    Imo the whole STD/HIV thing is bs. I’m pretty sure that condoms work the same on each type.
    My thing is the pain. Did you read about how some pro-circ docs say “the baby sleeps through it” and then others claim that they sleep because it’s their little bodies way of shutting out the pain. Essentially they are in shock. “Welcome to the world!”
    Another thing is adhesions. You go through all of the mess to get him snipped and 3 months down the road it adheres back. Do you know what they do to fix that? They RIP the skin back… No thank you!
    Thankfully Aaron’s is doing fine but I still regret my decision.

    • OMG I HAD NO IDEA!! Jesus….now you just opened up a whole new book of things for me to look for. Now, I’m slightly terrified.

      • yup! If our next is a boy he will NOT be snipped regardless of what Andrew says. If he chooses to do it when he is older I’ll pay for it but that will be HIS choice!

  2. Oh! And Andrew has the same stance as Chris does.

  3. Hi Pua,

    It looks like you’ve done your research and thought this one through. It’s not an easy decision to make because there is no way of knowing what your son would have preferred. But I will tell you that whenever this topic has come up, I’ve heard some of those that weren’t snipped, wish that they had been, but I’ve never heard someone who was, wish that he were not. Got that? Okay, so in terms of there being a “what-if” question when your son grows up, it probably won’t happen if you choose to have it done.

    Good luck with your decision,
    Ray

    • I’m circumcised. I would not choose it for myself, if I still had my choice. I resent my parents for forcing it on me.

  4. This field is, as you have discovered, highly controversial, As a man, I became interested when, running my fingers down my penis, I noted that the skin was exquisitely sensitive to the circumcision scar and then it just – stopped. After that, just skin with touch sensation but nothing special. This started me thinking: neural sensitivity on the body changes gradually from place to place, so the skin that was removed must be pretty sensitive, so what did I lose?

    After much research, I came across a paper whose researchers had done fine touch sensitivity, I believe with some kind of carefully-calibrated vibrating wand, on circumcised and uncircumcised men. This is analogous to the kind of test your audiologist does with faint sounds. They came to the conclusion that there is no skin left on the circumcised penis that is as sensitive as that removed by circumcision, i.e., circumcision removes all of the skin with the greatest “touch” sensitivity.

    Now this leads us to a conundrum- those men who say sex is better after the snip. My feeling is that the neural networks of the penis and the feedback loops involved in sexual sensation have never been explored. Neurologically we know little about the wiring for one of the most important parts of our bodies. My guess is that the loops that involved orgasm link to nerve endings that are located near the frenulum and in the deeper tissues just under the skin on the underside in that very sensitive area. It may be that a man can have an orgasm quite well after losing the 15 square inches removed in an adult circumcision, but that he loses a large area that is very useful for “fun” up to that point. Analogous to your losing sensation in a nipple – you can still perform sexually perfect well, but you would notice the loss during love- making.

    One experiment that you might try (which I obviously can’t) is to take a small, smooth instrument or a fingernail and gently (and with lubricant) explore the sensation of the hood of your clitoris, which is the analogous organ on a woman to the foreskin. This may give you some idea of the sensitivity of the foreskin. I would be very interested in your findings- my e-mail is randcollins6@yahoo.com.

    The research to which I referred is mentioned at :
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070627144210.htm. I did quite a bit of research on this topic when we had out grandson and my son asked my advice. Thinking is shifting; early sex researchers focused on the sensitivity of the glans, which is relatively insensitive and, I suspect, is more structurally involved in the mechanics of penetration than as a sensory organ. I suspect that future research will focus on the soft tissues around the glans (i.e. the foreskin and tissues posterior to it) as the main areas of feeling.

    Hope this helps. In the meantime, I write on WordPress about happier topics- see my blog at:
    http://randcollins.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/5/.

    Good luck,
    T. Rand Collins PhD MD
    Duncan, B.C.

  5. So happy to have girls, and not have to deal with this. So happy.

    • Agreed. I found out I was having a boy and my first thought was “great, now we have to get him circumcised.” Well, truthfully, when we first found out, I thought his umbilical cord was his piece and I was all like “WHOA!” Then I felt super silly.

  6. Personally I think it is the better route to become circumcised. As far as it being medically necessary? No. But it does help maintain cleanliness. While he is a baby, they will be using a local anaesthetic (it’s not like they will be doing this without any relief from the pain) and it will be less traumatizing as a baby as he will not remember it. If he were to have this procedure done when he is older, and can actively make the choice, not only will it be a major inconvenience but he may be angry at his parents for making him have to do this procedure as an adult and suffer through the embarrassment of having to say “I was circumcised.” On top of that, each and every time he were to have sex as an adult he would have to fold his foreskin back in order to prevent any type of infections that would occur from “sexual fluids” that he may not be able to clean out. You have to think about this child’s life in the long run, as an adult, more so than the little bit of pain he may experience as a baby. I know it’s hard to think of inflicting pain on your child, but you really do have to think about him as an adult when it comes to things like this.

    • Many hospitals do not use anesthetic. If you were to watch a circumcision video, you would see how traumatic it is for these boys. They are born expecting, and deserving, full protection; instead they are strapped to a table and have their genitals sliced on. This is with permission from their parents.

      Being circumcised as an adult, while it may be an inconvenience, is his choice. If he likes it better, great. It is not a violation of human rights, it is a choice.

      Infections from sexual fluids? It is clear you have had no experience with a normal penis. Being circumcised does not give you an ‘out’ for cleaning up after sex. If you are worried about getting an infection from sexual fluids, you should wear a condom, or teach your child safe sex; not remove healthy tissue from his genitals at birth. Now *that*, is thinking about them as an adult. Responsibility.

      Watch this, and then say this is less traumatic.

      http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6566037627729349272#

      Thank you for allowing me to comment Dinomomma, and I wish you and your son the best.

  7. I figured I’d try and help you out with your questions. I hope you don’t mind.

    Is it medically necessary? No, not by a long shot. It is true that some studies in third world countries (mostly in Africa) showed that circumcised men were at slightly lower risk of HIV but you have to consider the prevalence in the society and how it is transmitted to understand its usefulness. In those countries, HIV is endemic and circulating in the general population. In first world Western countries (such as the US), the situation is very different; HIV prevalence is very low and it is female to male transmission is rare. This means that any protection that circumcision might provide is negligible, certainly not worth circumcising a boy over.

    You also mentioned penile cancer. I think it’s important to know and keep in mind when thinking about this is that penile cancer is rare, 1/600 lifetime, male breast cancer is more common. Also we now have a very good vaccine against the virus that cause both penile and cervical cancers. So why circumcise because of a concern for a cancer that is not only extremely rare but that we now have a vaccine for?

    Is it traumatic for the baby? Yes, of course it is. Not just the act but the whole healing process too. This is why one would hope there was actually a good reason to circumcise but I have yet to hear of one. I think you’re on the right track though asking men would they get it done to themselves, I hazard to guess that most wouldn’t. All those other tests and shots have a medical purpose, an objective value to getting them done. That is where they differ from circumcision you absolutely can spare him from this.

    Does the baby have a choice? He can, if you give it to him. Few boys (and men) who are left intact ever choose to get circumcised primarily because they realize there is no point to it. If in the rare case he want to do it, it’s typically a short out patient procedure using a local. So don’t think that he can’t ever get it done if he wants but it’s not common.

    Is it easier to care for?>/b> Caring for an intact boy is not at all hard there is no special care needed. As an infant/toddler you don’t need to do anything special just wipe it like a finger when you change him. Do not try to retract him or clean under the foreskin or anything like that, during youth the foreskin is fussed to the glans like your nail is fused to to your finger. Somewhere between about 2 and mid puberty (average age is 10) the foreskin will become retractable at which point it’s an extra 2 seconds in the shower or bath to retract, rinse, replace. Nearly all boys will figure this out on their own.

    Related to this question you asked: “And once Kinley is taking care of it himself, it won’t be my issue either. We can take a horse to water, but we can’t force him to drink, you know?” Let me give you the non-pc response. How hard do you think it is to get a kid to rub his penis in the shower? I suspect that it will be the cleanest part of your son.

    Is it really that important for him to “look like daddy”? No. It was of no importance to me or any other guy I knew. Most boys don’t think of or care about their fathers penis. As for girls, any shallow girl who rejects your son because of his penis is not worth your son’s time. They’ll love your son for the person he is not because his penis. Keep in mind that outside the US secular circumcision has alway been rare.
    Here is a map to show you where it happens:

    hxxp://www.circumstitions.com/Maps.html

    Even in the US, it is becoming increasingly less common as parents such as yourself ask the tough questions and learn how needless it really is. How much less common depends on where you live, some areas are more progressive than others. So do your son a favor, cut him a break and skip the circumcision there is just no point to it.

    I hope that was useful to you feel free to shoot me an email if you’re interested in a clarification or more information.

    • Thank you so much! This really was extremely helpful and answered everything I wanted to know. :) Thank you for taking the time to lay everything out honestly. I have a lot to think about and discuss with my husband.

    • PS, I really really REALLY loved the non-pc response to him cleaning it. I snorted with laughter.

      • Thank you. I wish I could take credit for it but it’s actually a paraphrase from Penn and Teller’s ‘BullSh!t’ show which is a sort of myth busters, their show is full of crude but relevant humor like that. The episode might actually help you out; you can get it from a rental place (such as netflix) it’s Season 3 Disk 1 Episode 1 if you’re interested.

        And I am serious just ask if you have more questions or need a clarification. :) There is quite a bit to this topic.

  8. I am a son who was circumcised at birth. I really do not like having a circumcised penis. I dislike it so much that I am restoring my foreskin.

    Following is a link to “The Vulnerability of Men” that describes why many men are adament that their sons be circumcised. If nothing else, it may help you understand why your husband wants his son circumcised.
    http://www.udonet.com/circumcision/vincent/vulnerability_of_men.html

    Also, be aware that, thanks to the Internet, many young men (and some older boys) are learning what they lost by being circumcised. These guys are understandably upset that they had part of their sex organ cut off at birth. For an example of the anger many of these guys feel, read this forum:
    http://www.foreskin-restoration.net/forum/showthread.php?p=30982

  9. Hi,

    Having been in your situation and now having two circumcized boys and one who is intact, I wanted to share my information. Here is a huge list of common questions/issues and where to find the answer.
    http://www.agapedoula.com/Circumcision.pdf

    I would esp. look into how the lack of a prepuce affects the sex life of the man as well as of any woman he may have sex with.

    Also, no, it is not true as one poster claimed, that they would not perform this procedure without pain medication. In most cases the anesthesia does not work and that whole step is therefore often simply omitted.

    When people say that there is not medical benefit, there is no medical benefit, this includes HIV and UTI’s. And no, and intact penis is not dirtier than a circumcized one, just like it is not dirtier than a vagina. We would think twice about cleaning that out with soap. A penis gland in its prepuce is not different.

    I would urge you to look at the short video on the NOCIRC website. http://www.nocirc.org/
    It is very informative and should be watched before making any decision in my opinion!

    Good luck with this decision. It really does not have to be a hard one. We would not amputate any other part of our bodies in order to look alike. A foreskin should be no different.

  10. If it is so important to a father that he and his son have matching penises, dad can always go through foreskin restoration. That way they can look alike and no surgery is needed. The son is not going to care if dad’s junk looks different. Why should the baby be the one altered when it is dad who has the problem with looking different?

  11. I strongly advise against circumcision for infants. Its best to leave babies as nature intended…my partner and son are both intact.

  12. Man, I’m getting a lot of super informative (and some not so informed, and some creepy) comments about this!! Thank you everyone who has commented!!! And keep them coming. I want all my information and other’s experiences laid out in front of me so I can think about it in the coming weeks. You guys are awesome!

  13. We circumcised our son. Having done more thinking and reading since then I’m unsure whether we’ll do it again with future sons.

    However, I just wanted to say, you’ve gotten a lot of good info here about it not being harder to care for, etc, but if for whatever reason you do decide to have him circumcised, see if you can find a good Jewish mohel near you. We aren’t Jewish, but we took our son to one. It was SO much faster, he wasn’t strapped down into a cold plastic thing, and the mohel quickly swaddled him up and handed him to me for some comfort nursing. I’ve seen a medical circumcision (shudder!) it was way longer.

  14. It looks like you’ve gotten some great info/links, but I’ll add a few in case you are still on the fence. I wrote a few posts about researching circumcision, here are some highlights.
    From Part 1: What is the Foreskin? (http://codenamemama.com/2010/02/16/researching-circumcision-foreskin/)
    Each baby boy is born with a normal, intact penis. Every normal, intact penis has a continuous skin system that begins at the base of the penis and ends at the tip of the foreskin or “prepuce.” The foreskin is actually two layers of skin: the penis’s skin system folds in on itself near the tip (the glans or “head”) of the penis and reattaches somewhere behind the glans. This fold is the foreskin. Some people mistakenly think that the foreskin is just an “extra flap,” unnecessary, separate. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, the foreskin is as much a part of the whole penis as the glans is. The foreskin provides many functions that are lost after circumcision. These functions include: protection, immunological defense, antibacterial functions, erogenous sensitivity, coverage during erection, self-stimulating sexual functions, sexual functions during intercourse. (More info on each in the actual post)

    From Part 2: What is Circumcision? (http://codenamemama.com/2010/02/22/what-is-circumcision/)
    Circumcision removes up to 80% of the penis’s skin. “Careful anatomical investigations have shown that circumcision cuts off more than 3 feet of veins, arteries, and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves, and more than 20,000 nerve endings. The foreskin’s muscles, glands, mucous membrane, and epithelial tissue are destroyed, as well.”
    Short-term consequences of circumcision: it affects newborn’s sleep, it can affect bonding, it interferes with breastfeeding, it is painful, and it is risky.
    Long-term consequences: it desensitizes, disables, disfigures, disrupts circulation, harms the developing brain, it is unhygienic and unhealthy, it has other health consequences. (More info on each in the post)

    Part 3: Common Concerns (http://codenamemama.com/2010/03/01/circumcision-common-concerns/)
    Circ. does not prevent HIV/AIDS. Interestingly, “the US has the highest rate of medically unnecessary, nontherapeutic infant circumcision in the world – about 56 percent of male babies today undergo the procedure, . . . and yet the HIV infection rate in North America is twice the rate in Europe, where circumcision rates are low.” If circumcision prevented HIV, it should logically follow that the United States would have some of the lowest rates of AIDS, since men have traditionally been circumcised here.
    Circ. does not prevent STDs.
    Circ. does not prevent cancer. The American Cancer Society has actually written a letter to combat the myth that circumcision prevents cancer in either men or women. The American Cancer Society’s purpose in writing the letter was “to discourage the American Academy of Pediatrics from promoting routine circumcision as a preventive measure for penile or cervical cancer.
    Circ. does not prevent UTIs.
    Intact penises are actually cleaner. A woman’s reproductive tract is certainly moist and contains lots of bacteria, yet no one would suggest circumcising females to make them cleaner. Intact boys and children have nothing to ‘clean’ and a post-puberty man can rinse his penis just as he would wash any other part of his body, and just as a woman washes her genitals.
    Intact penises do not require special care.
    Fathers and boys do not need to match. (for more on the locker room argument see http://codenamemama.com/2010/01/22/locker-room-argument/)
    __________

    We are raising an intact son and believe me – your son’s intact penis will eventually be much more “normal” in your eyes than any circumcised one.
    Our choice to keep our son whole revolved around a few things: 1) we did not feel it was appropriate to take away a choice that affected our son’s life and genital integrity; 2) if people used the same reasoning for girls, there would be a public outcry – why is it ok for boys??; 3) if it were me, I would have wanted my parents to give me the choice.

    Wishing you, your husband, and your perfect little boy peace.

  15. Good for you for taking the time to think about this! So many people do it reflexively, either because they’ve been so conditioned to think of it as necessary that they can’t look at the question objectively, or because they don’t even realize that it’s optional. (So much for informed consent.)

    I have an intact son and a circumcised husband . . . who was, initially, quite adamant that his son would be circumcised to look like him. Later, when the dust had settled, I asked him if he was also planning to acquire a pubic wig for our son, and to wear ice in his own shorts to obtain the extreme shrinkage required for them to truly look alike. (He snickered.) My contention was and still is that we can satisfactorily explain those other differences in appearance, and expect our sons to accept those explanations with no trauma, why is it that only that one (arguably less obvious) difference matters?

    The answer is that it doesn’t matter *to the son*. Interestingly enough, this is now what my husband says as well. He says that “looking like daddy” is about the father’s insecurities and fears, not the boy’s. There is no reason that a child raised in an open, loving environment would be traumatized by the notion that we didn’t have a normal, sensitive, functional part of his penis cut off when he was a newborn, any more than you are I are traumatized by the idea that we still have our inner labia and clitoral hoods. It just doesn’t compute.

    My son is normal, healthy, and perfect, and his daddy could not be more proud of our *whole* little boy. Even the tiniest risk of complications, even an unremembered pain cannot possibly be justified to “fix” something that was never wrong to begin with.

  16. Well, there is truly nothing that I can add that hasn’t already been said. I think Andrea seems rather uninformed and wonder if she has had a circumcised son. They DO feel the pain of circumcision, my little guy cried for three days straight and had a hard time sleeping after his was done. Looking like Daddy is not worth that pain and trauma. We don’t always look like our parents anyhow, as women our mothers may have big breasts and we may grow up to have small ones, I don’t think this really matters to either mother or daughter.

    Here is a video showing a circumcision, perhaps it should be required viewing for all parents before signing on that dotted line (which is a release of liability in the case of death to which my son’s doc said, “I’ve done over 500 of these things and haven’t had a death yet” thanks for the reassurance, Doc).
    http://fr.video.yahoo.com/watch/352478/2210721

  17. Hey Dinomama- Its great that you are looking into this now- that’s more than most people do… And that’s something to consider when you think about circumcising a baby just because his dad was circumcised… Most parents back then didn’t give it a thought… And that’s IF they were even given a choice. I’d like to invite you to check out the posts I wrote on my blog for Genital Integrity Awareness Week… They should still be on the front page scroll.

  18. I’m 27. I was circumcised as a newborn. I’ve been upset about it since I was a teenager, and I’d say extremely pissed off about it since I was about 20. I resent my parents for it. This was actually one of the last arguments I had with my father before he died of cancer. He was pointing to some newspaper article about the supposed risk of HIV in Africa. He told me, “See, I made the right decision!” I was infuriated.

    Apart from all of the tissue lost to the surgery, my sensitivity has gone progressively down over the years due to exposure of the glans. I’m a month into non-surgical foreskin restoration. For the love of God don’t do this to your son.

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