Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hot Topic


I’ve been mulling over writing this post for a while. The topic is quite controversial, and is a touchy subject for many. But as I have stated before, I feel the need to educate and inform others.  I will do my best to offer factual, unbiased information, and I ask that you read this post with an open mind.
Today I am writing about circumcision. For many people it’s just something you do, no big deal. But unfortunately it is a big deal, and one that quite a few people brush off without thorough research. 

Whether you have circumcised or not, I encourage you to continue reading. It is my hope to offer up some new info you may not have known before.

The common myths are that circumcision prevents UTIs and HIV, is cleaner, and prevents penile cancer. Let me begin by saying this is quite false. Males have a higher chance of developing male breast cancer than a UTI, and as with women, it can easily be treated with anitbiotics. Women, in fact, are more prone to developing breast cancer than a man to a UTI, yet we do not remove our breast buds as means of prevention. In this LINK the writer states “Moreover, penile cancer is much less prevalent in countries like Denmark, where circumcision is uncommon, compared to the United States, where between 50-60% of males are circumcised.”

For those who argue the intact penis is dirty, it is actually very easy to clean. Wipe it like a finger! In newborn to adolescent boys, the foreskin is actually fused to the penis as our nails are to our fingers. It does not retract, and it is important not to until it begins to do so on its own (which can be anytime between two and puberty, everybody is different). Simply wipe and you’re done! For the retractable penis, it’s just as easy (if not more so) to clean than the vagina, which has many creases and folds. The foreskin is actually quite clean and aids to healthy bacteria and a moist head, as our labia do for females. In fact, did you know females have a foreskin? It covers your clitoris (side note, female circumcision was legal in the US until 1997). The foreskin aids in intercourse as well. When erect, the foreskin is pulled back and the moist glans helps in lubricated sex (dryness is often a problem blamed on women and remedied by synthetic lubricant such as KY). The looser skin on the penis also aids in easier movement and stimulation during intercourse, and less friction and soreness for a female.

Another myth is that the foreskin is just skin. Actually the foreskin provides a great purpose! As this link, Functions of the Foreskin, states “Babies are born perfect. Every part of your baby’s body is there for a purpose. Every part of your baby’s body helps him grow, develop, learn, and experience our wondrous world. The foreskin is one of these special body parts. In fact, the foreskin is an important body part throughout the entire life of the male. The foreskin adds more to the penis than just increased sexual functioning and pleasure. It keeps your baby’s penis safe, warm, clean, and moist. It allows the baby’s glans (head) to complete its development normally. The glans is meant to be an internal organ, covered and protected from the outside world.”

As far as the HIV myth, the above link “Functions of the Foreskin” also says “The mucous membranes that line all body orifices are the body’s first line of immunological defense. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme. Lysozyme is also found in tears and mother’s milk. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, an immune system component, abound in the foreskin’s outer surface. Plasma cells in the foreskin’s mucosal lining secrete immunoglobulin’s, antibodies that defend against infection. Rigorously controlled studies have also demonstrated that the foreskin plays a protective role in shielding the rest of the penis and thus the rest of the body from the contagion of common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) encountered during sexual activity.” The entire article is quite eye opening, and I encourage you to read that as well.


Here are some common myths debunked by Intact America 

MYTH: Circumcising baby boys is a safe and harmless procedure.
FACT: Surgically removing part of a baby boy's penis causes pain, creates immediate health risks and can lead to serious complications. Risks include infection, hemorrhage, scarring, difficulty urinating, loss of part or all of the penis, and even death. Circumcision complications can and do occur in even the best clinical settings.

MYTH: Circumcision is just a little snip.
FACT: Surgical removal of the foreskin involves immobilizing the baby by strapping him face-up onto a molded plastic board. In one common method, the doctor then inserts a metal instrument under the foreskin to forcibly separate it from the glans, slits the foreskin, and inserts a circumcision device. The foreskin is crushed and then cut off. The amount of skin removed in a typical infant circumcision is the equivalent of 15 square inches in an adult male.

MYTH: Circumcision is routinely recommended and endorsed by doctors and other health professionals.
FACT: No professional medical association in the United States or anywhere else in the world recommends routine circumcision as medically necessary.

MYTH: The baby does not feel any pain during circumcision.
FACT: Circumcision is painful. Babies are sensitive to pain, just like older children and adults. The analgesics used for circumcision only decrease pain; they do not eliminate it. Further, the open wound left by the removal of the foreskin will continue to cause the baby pain and discomfort for the 7-10 days it takes to heal.

MYTH: If I don't circumcise my son, he will be ridiculed.
FACT: Times have changed and so has people's understanding of circumcision. Today, although the popularity of circumcision varies across geographical areas, nearly half of all baby boys born in the U.S. will leave the hospital intact. Most medically advanced nations do not practice child circumcision. Three quarters of the world’s men are intact.

MYTH: A boy should be circumcised to look like his father.
FACT: Children differ from their parents in many ways, including eye and hair color, body type, and (of course) size and sexual development. If a child asks why his penis looks different from that of his circumcised father (or brother), parents can say, "Daddy (or brother) had a part of his penis removed when he was a baby; now we know it’s not necessary and we decided not to let anyone do that to you."

MYTH: Routine circumcision of baby boys cannot be compared to Female Genital
Mutilation.
FACT: Rationales offered in cultures that promote female genital cutting – hygiene, disease prevention, improved appearance of the genitalia, and social acceptance – are similar to those offered in cultures that promote male circumcision. Whatever the rationale, forced removal of healthy genital tissue from any child – male or female – is
unethical. Boys have the same right as girls to be spared this inhumane, unnecessary surgery.

MYTH: To oppose male circumcision is religious and cultural bigotry.
FACT: Many who oppose the permanent alteration of children's genitals do so because they believe in universal human rights. All children – regardless of their ethnicity or culture – have the right to be protected from bodily harm.

MYTH: Circumcising newborn baby boys produces health benefits later in life.
FACT: There is NO link between circumcision and better health.  In fact, cutting a baby boy's genitals creates immediate health risks. Circumcision also diminishes sexual pleasure later in life.

MYTH: Male circumcision helps prevent HIV.
FACT: Claims that circumcision prevents HIV have repeatedly been proven to be exaggerated or false. Only abstinence or condoms can prevent the spread of STDs.


Christians often say they are told to circumcise by the Bible. Unbeknownst to many, circumcision in Biblical times was not performed as it is today. The entire foreskin was not removed. A cut to spill blood or the slight tip was removed, and the foreskin still covered the glans of the penis.  Today’s form of circumcision was made popular by Dr. Kellogg in the Victorian age (and yes, the cereal Kellogg) as a means to prevent boys from masturbating. It was believed that circumcising would cure an array of ailments as well, which we now know is false.

For Christians, under the New Covenant covered by the blood of Christ, we are no longer called to circumcise anyway. For those who may be Jewish, this link talks about the Bris Shalom.

Another thing to consider is that most other countries in the world other than Arabic or Jewish nations, are intact and do not routinely practice circumcision at all! America does practice RIC (routine infant circumcision) as a means of “prevention” and yet we have higher rates of STDs than the countries that do not.

http://www.circfacts.com/ is a wonderful website that offers many interesting views and facts on circumcision. For instance, did you know that more babies die from circumcision related injuries than from SIDS, car accidents, and drop side cribs? A lot of blood is lost during a circumcision, and it doesn’t take much blood loss to kill a baby. Take a quarter and put it in a shot glass. Put some water in it a ¼ of the way up the quarter. It takes that much blood loss to kill an infant. Shocking, isn’t it?

As this mama writes in this informative post, The Circumcision Decision - “…my son is happy, healthy and has never had a single problem whatsoever with being intact. As I’ve continued to research the subject, I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined, such as the many important functions of the foreskin and how specialized it is. It is truly so much more than a “flap of skin”.

Another thing you may not have known is that babies are strapped down to a board when circumcised. 
The foreskin (fused to the head of the penis) is ripped from the glans in preparation to cut, and there is not adequate pain relief. Nothing is strong enough to fully block the pain without being too strong for a baby's system. Many people say their babies were fine or didn’t cry, but in reality if a baby isn’t crying they most likely went into shock from the trauma. Here’s a video of an actual circumcision as an example. It can be hard to watch, but shows just want the infant goes through. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDuDhkiDdns&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DMDuDhkiDdns&has_verified=1

Something many people argue is that they’ve known an intact man who had issues or needed to be circumcised. In most cases, men with foreskin issues or infections were caused by forced retraction before the foreskin loosened itself. Any other issues are rare, can usually be fixed without circumcision, and are still no excuse to preventatively circumcise infants.  As mentioned earlier,  women are more likely to have breast cancer than men are to have a UTI and we do not remove our infant daughters’ breast buds as a means of prevention.

Another thing to consider is that circumcision is not covered by many insurance companies or Medicaid in many states because it is a cosmetic surgery. It is not labeled as a medically necessary surgery, that should be one clue that our country has missed. It is cosmetic, just as breast implants or a nose job would be.

Here is a quote from a very wise woman I know, Ruthie Davis –
I know this is a touchy subject for some people so please don't be offended by this as it comes from a place of love and compassion with zero judgment. Since you're having a boy I'm wondering if you've researched circumcision? Many people don't actually research and think that it's the "norm" when it's not (I think the statistic is only 32% of babies in the US are circumcised these days and it almost never even happens in other countries.) Some daddies convince mamas to do it even mama's gut instinct is to not. I have several friends who circumcised their first but then not other sons. They really regret not fully researching before "letting daddy make the decision." I have no idea if that even applies in your case, it's just so common. My husband is circumcised and our son is not (we had made that decision long before we were ever even pregnant with our oldest.) He actually wishes he had his foreskin back even though he's never had any "problems". Now that my son is here I can't imagine doing that to my sweet boy, it gives me a panicky feeling when I think about him being hurt like that. I also can't even imagine dealing with a circumcision wound on top of everything else that comes along with a new baby. Not to mention any complications that arise with breastfeeding or infection, etc. Oh man, no way.

Anyhow, I really like this article about it: http://birthwithoutfearblog.com/2011/11/27/the-circumcision-decision, and this is a great perspective piece: http://barreloforanges.com/2012/07/17/the-unspoken-aspects-of-having-a-foreskin-a-guest-post-by-life-intact. Also, here's a link with a TON of informative links to articles, books, videos, etc. It's a good place to start if you haven't already watched the videos and researched: http://www.drmomma.org/2010/01/are-you-fully-informed.html

Please know that I only aim to provide accurate information. I hope you can check the links with an open heart if keeping your boy intact is not something you have considered. I have a ton more (some very graphic) informative links if you're interested because I've researched every aspect of why anyone would even consider cutting a perfectly healthy baby. (I really like this one too  http://9davids.blogspot.com/2010/11/50-reasons-to-leave-it-alone.html

I apologize if this message seems blunt. It's just that there have been times I didn't send a message like this and the baby was cut, only then to find out that mama just didn't know and if I'd only have sent that message... "
http://9davids.blogspot.com/2010/11/50-reasons-to-leave-it-alone.html

And here's a pretty good thread from male perspectives:  http://boards.askmen.com/showthread.php?136832-Why-do-so-many-men-insist-on-circumcision-for-their-sons/page2”

If you’re a mom who HAS circumcised, and this post has got you thinking, do not feel bad or be filled with guilt. You didn’t know. When we know better, we do better! If you are pregnant and have yet to decide what you’re going to do, please read the links provided and do some more research, and feel free to message me and ask questions if there is any topic I haven’t mentioned or covered. Another wonderful resource on circumcision is http://www.drmomma.org/ and I am providing many more links to read.

In your research I would like to warn however against sites that are in anyway affiliated with, owned by, or mention in positive light Brian Morris. He is a circumfetishest, a man sexually excited by circumcision, and has procured false studies and statistics to promote genital cutting.

I leave with this. A lot of men don’t care if they are circumcised, but that is because often they don’t know what they’re missing or haven’t had any issues. But many men ARE upset about what they’ve missed out on, and some have had some serious issues. If you are one of those men, or know a man who is disgruntled with his circumcised penis, there IS such a thing as foreskin restoration (I personally know a few men in the process of restoration), and there are currently studies being conducted on actually regrowing the foreskin.  I have provided links to resources about that as well.

I truly hope in writing this that I have not offended anyone, but have opened eyes to the tragedy that is infant circumcision. If you have stayed with me through this post, I thank you for your time and hope this information has you thinking.

If you have anyquestions, comment, or feel free to message The Crunchy Mama on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thecrunchymamablog


11 comments:

  1. This is very well done! As a mother who chose circumcision for her firstborn and found out too late how unnecessary it actually was, I appreciate the tone of this post. You were very kind, while speaking the truth. I appreciate that very much, because sometimes when I read pro-intact blogs, there is an undercurrent of disgust or hatred directed towards parents who have chosen circumcision... we are not monsters, just people, people who were lied to, people who put their trust in their doctors (who we are supposed to be able to trust!) Anyways, the point is, thank you. I will be bookmarking this blog post as a resource to use. :)

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    1. Absolutely! Thank you so much, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. An excellent summary. Thank you so much for speaking up from a gentle, research-based position.

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    1. Thanks for reading! I'm glad I came across as I hoped.

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  3. Thank you for writing this! I wanted to circumcise my son but something held me back even without all this information. I did not want to put him through pain and now after watching it I'm so happy I listened to instinct.
    This just breaks my heart :( no baby should be strapped down and put through such pain religion or not its just not right. Its a baby for goodness sake! Why not give the freedom to choose to the baby when he grows up.

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  4. Hi Alyssa,

    Thank you so much for this excellent article; it is wise, informative and compassionate. I'd like to share with you an article which I wrote and was published by the Huffington Post about a year ago, which looks at the unspoken, unacknowledged effects of circumcision particularly on the mother and the maternal/infant bond. I've written it through a feminist and Jewish lens. It's entitled, "Circumcision: Identity, Gender and Power". Here's the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/miriam-pollack.

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  6. well researched and well put, you have given a unbiased viewpoint that points to an obviously choice for our children.

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  7. I am a mother who, when young, circumcised my first born. I for many years have had the belief that we are born perfect, the way we are meant to be.
    I birthed my last baby a girl @ home 13 1/2 months ago, and was relieved I would not need to convince my other half why we should not circumcise or baby. Well we just found out the gender of our unborn child & and I knew I needed to start helping him understand that it it's completely barbaric.
    Your blog gave me some great points to make. Facts that even I was in a "really" moment when reading.
    I'm so happy to say that he has agreed that we will not circumcise our baby boy!! It only took me two days of pointing out facts for him to agree. I think thats how long it took me to give him facts about homebirthing as well....LOL

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  8. This is great. People DO need to be educated on this issue. Probably my biggest regret in life so far is circing my 2 sons. I was so upset when I found out what I had really allowed to be done to them, and how unnecessary and damaging it really was. Now I try my best to gently educate my friends who are pregnant, so that they hopefully make a different choice than I did, and avoid living with the guilt that I deal with every day.

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  9. I can not believe that this is what my baby boy went through. Just seeing upset makes me tear up a bit. I just straight up cried for allowing this to happen to him. I will not let it happen again if I have another. :'(

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