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Circumcision: Why We Chose Not to Make the Cut

Why We Chose Not to Make the Cut
By Heather Dexter

Are you pregnant? Are you looking for every piece of information on parenting that you can get your hands on? Are you researching everything?

With every decision you must face as a parent, make sure you feel good about each one. Do not take anyone’s word for it. Do not trust your doctor, your mother-in-law, your best friend or your older sister simply because they did it and their baby is “OK.”

“Just like every other decision you will face when becoming a parent, you should have an informed and educated reason as to why you might want to have this surgical procedure done.”
Look within, seek your truth, and make a decision that you will feel good about, now and in the future. Put those nine months to good use . . . Prepare!

You’re having a baby boy? Congratulations! Well ok then . . .You get the pleasure of deciding whether you should “Make the Cut” or “Leave it Alone.” Will you circumcise your son? Do you know what that experience is like?

There’s a reason that more than sixty percent of baby boys in the USA are now leaving the hospital intact. And why the majority of the planet is whole.

You can join the movement. You can choose not to have your sweet baby boy’s most erogenous sexual parts cut off. Instead you can choose to leave him whole.

Just like every other decision you will face when becoming a parent, you should have an informed and educated reason as to why you might want to have this surgical procedure done. Yes, it should require research, discussion, and contemplation, just like birth classes, hiring a doula, natural birth, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, baby-wearing, vaccines, buying an organic mattress, buying organic foods, being a stay-at-home-mama, and the list goes on.
When addressing this topic with expectant couples, doula clients, or health clients, there are two common statements that I often hear:

  1. We want baby boy to “look” like dad.

  2. We don’t want baby boy to be made fun of in the school gym locker room.

When it is all said and done, you are the parents. I honestly and truly believe every couple is entitled to their own parenting decisions, doing what they believe is best for the care of their babe. As long as they understand the process, and feel good about it, that is all that matters.

With that being said, I am going to share my honest to goodness opinion with anyone seeking truth-based resources on this procedure.

Those two reasons? Seriously, they have absolutely no logical grounds to stand on . . .None . . .Zero . . .Zilch. And here’s why.

#1 – He is your son. He has your DNA. He may or may not “look” like you. Think about it realistically, how many people really get to see his ‘nether’ regions? And will those people really say to you, “Hey would you mind if I compare the two of you, I want to see if your son looks like you…ya know… below the belt?”

On the flip side, at some point your son will reach the inquisitive age that all kiddos do and he is going to ask about Daddio’s penis regardless. He may inquire about the shape, the size, the fact that it changes shape, even that there is hair down there, but it probably isn’t going to be, “Hey Dad, your penis is missing some skin… where did it go?” But if it is, why shouldn’t you be able to have an open discussion with your toddler about your penis. Don’t you want to be able to discuss health, sex, philosophy, history – everything, with your kiddos? I hope the answer is yes.

“The post circumcision infant, who is in pain, traumatized, and exhausted, may be less available for mother-child interaction for a period of several days to a week or longer.”

#2 – I know firsthand just how cruel kiddos can be. They will find just about any reason to make fun of another child; from Four-Eyes to Freckle Face to Metal Mouth to Fatso to Ugly to Slow Poke to Teacher’s Pet to Smarty Pants . . . I can personally tell you the list goes on. And, I can honestly say I do not remember any catch phrases including, “Foreskin Keeper” or “Un-Cut Peeper?” Do you? Honestly?

16 Reasons to Rethink the Removal

1. Your baby boy is born perfect, with his foreskin.

The foreskin has multiple functions. It is very different for a baby versus an adult. It is a sexual organ that protects the head of the penis from infection due to the happenings of what can be found in a diaper on a continual basis. It is supposed to be there. Would you elect for your newborn to have an appendix or spleen or tonsil/adenoid or gall bladder removal? At day one? Wait a minute, it isn’t that out of the question . . .If his dad doesn’t have any of those, why don’t we just get them out of the way now? www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html

2. The first month with your new babe is all about family bonding.

It has been established in numerous studies that circumcision causes changes in infant brain function and behavior. Marshall el al. (1982) and Howard et al. (1994) have studied the effect of the pain, stress, and trauma, of male neonatal circumcision upon subsequent feeding behavior. They each found that male circumcision disrupts feeding behavior. Sometimes the infant is returned to the mother in an exhausted and debilitated state in which he is unable to manage the task of latching-on and feeding. Generally, the post circumcision infant, who is in pain, traumatized, and exhausted, may be less available for mother-child interaction for a period of several days to a week or longer. www.cirp.org/library

3. His foreskin (DNA) is sold to pharmaceutical companies for research.

Say What? Yes. That’s because foreskin fibroblasts are big business. A fibroblast is a piece of human skin that is used as a culture to grow other skin or cells – like human yogurt kits. Human foreskin fibroblast is used in all kinds of medical procedures from growing skin for burn victims and for eyelid replacement, to growing skin for those with diabetic ulcers that won’t heal, to making creams and collagens in the cosmetics industry (yes, the product that is injected into puffy movie-starlet lips). One foreskin can be used for decades to produce miles of skin and generate as much as a hundred thousand dollars. www.alternet.org/story/47421/foreskin_face_cream_and_other_beauty_products_of_the_future

4. The potential risks outweigh the perceived benefits of the procedure.

Complications include but are not limited to; bleeding, infection, insufficient or excessive foreskin removal, adhesions and skin bridges, inclusion cysts, abnormal healing, meatitis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, phimosis, chordee, hypospadias, epispadias, urethrocutaneous fistula, necrosis of the penis, amputation of the glans and even death. Yikes! Really? Is it worth the risk of amputation of his penis or his death? Not in my book.

5. It’s excruciatingly painful and traumatic.

“The often repeated statement that babies can’t feel pain is not true. Babies are as sensitive to pain as anyone else, even more so. Most babies scream frantically when their foreskin is cut off.”

Yes. Circumcision is extremely painful – and traumatic – for anyone. Just being strapped down is frightening enough for a baby. The often repeated statement that babies can’t feel pain is not true. Babies are as sensitive to pain as anyone else, even more so. Most babies scream frantically when their foreskin is cut off. Some defecate. Some lapse into a coma. However, the reason that some babies don’t cry when they are circumcised, is that they can’t due to being in a state of shock.

Did you know that most babies are circumcised without anesthesia? Even when anesthetics are injected into the penis, they don’t always work and they are never one hundred percent effective. Being stuck in the penis with a needle is painful.

 How about after the procedure? Babies are rarely given pain medication after the circumcision or during the week it takes for the wound to heal. Youch! It is the most erogenous tissue in his body containing between ten and twenty thousand nerve endings. Enough said.

6. It creates a huge scar directly on his central meridian.

The scar left on the penis from removing the foreskin frequently tends to sedate and weaken the main central meridian on the front of the body. It runs from the perineal tissue up to the center of the lower lip. Some researchers, acupuncturists, and practitioners of Eastern Medicine, believe that circumcision may be an unrecognized, contributing factor in the high rates of impotence in older American men. Could this be due to the blocking effects of the penile scar tissue? You decide!

7. It isn’t my body. It isn’t my decision.

If you have never had a foreskin, you cannot possibly know what having one would feel like. You only know what it feels like to be minus a foreskin. You cannot possibly know now how your son might feel in twenty or thirty or forty or fifty years. If you have your son circumcised, he may grow up to regret the decision you made for him, but your decision is irreversible. (Yes, men can partially restore their foreskins, but it is a difficult procedure and the sensitive nerve endings are gone forever.) Leave the decision to your son. It is his penis. He deserves to decide for himself. This is a fundamental tenet of international human rights law (UNESCO 2005). As babies cannot speak for themselves, they need special protection. Balancing the potential benefits of circumcision with the definite risks can be a difficult decision, but the only person qualified to make this decision is the person the penis belongs to, as he is the one who is going to have to live with the results (or mistakes) of the procedure, not his parents. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/circumcision-ethics-and-economics

8. The foreskin is the same tissue in utero as a clitoris on a baby girl.

I did not cut either of my daughters’ clitorises off . . . oh, right that’s illegal in this country. The foreskin isn’t just skin. Think of it as more like an eyelid for male genitals. Women have a foreskin equivalent, too: the clitoral hood, which protects the clitoris much as the foreskin covers the glans of the penis. The foreskin and the clitoral hood, known in gender-neutral terms as the prepuce, evolve from the same tissue in the womb. How is it that North Americans are so uncomfortable with female genital cutting in Africa and the Middle East, yet not an eyelash is batted at the thousands of day-old baby boys who get separated at birth in this country? How is this not hypocritical?

9. My job is to protect my son and keep him safe.

The most sensitive part of the body has been removed, and the parents are basically told to ignore the wound and continue on as normal because this procedure is not really a big deal. This in itself is shocking for me to hear clients describe, as this is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath (First, Do No Harm) that every doctor pledges before practicing medicine. The removal of healthy tissue in the absence of any medical need absolutely harms the patient.

10. The piece removed on an infant is the size of a three-inch by five-inch index card on an adult male.

Yes, ladies it’s a big old bummer: On average, twelve to fifteen square inches of the penis are removed during circumcision. With it, goes the man’s contribution to lubrication, in a physical sense. Using K-Y Jelly or even coconut oil doesn’t really come close to the sensation of physical lubrication that is removed with the foreskin. Man, do I feel ripped off! You should too! Being fully lubricated is not the sole responsibility of the lady. Both the man and woman play a role in eliminating friction during intercourse.

11. Cutting off the foreskin desensitizes his penis.

It is a sexual organ. As parents, you are deciding your child’s sexual fate and potentially the fate of his partner. Researchers have found the specific reason as to why a circumcised man feels less pleasure – callus. The thin layer of callus forms, causing the penis to lose a bit of sensitivity and causing slight pain to women during intercourse. This is because there is no covering on the glans, causing it to rub continuously, eventually developing a callus.

“The most sensitive part of the body has been removed, and the parents are basically told to ignore the wound and continue on as normal because this procedure is not really a big deal.”

12. I do not want to be responsible for the process negatively impacting his sex life.

Morten Firsch of Statens Serum Institute, stated, “It turns out that women with circumcised men experience twice the risk that their sexual needs are not being met. They are three times as likely to frequently struggle to reach orgasm. And there is an increase of eight times the risk of painful intercourse — so-called dyspareunia.” With intact men, the foreskin provides a “gliding movement” mechanism that acts as a natural lubricator, allowing more ease and pleasure during sexual intercourse. This specific research finds that there are not just health risks pertaining to circumcision, but also sexual risks. Did you know that unsatisfactory sex is the second most abundant reason for divorce in the U.S.? 

13. This is a gruesome modern trend, which was short lived. Have you considered whether your grandfathers were intact?
In the USA in 2010, only forty percent of newborn males were circumcised, down from an all time high of eighty-five percent in 1975. The circumcision rate is actually estimated to return to ten percent by 2050. In doing my research, I was impressed to find out that my maternal grandfather was born at home in 1929 as a first generation American. His bits and pieces were kept intact. Upon researching my paternal grandfather, I found he too was born at home in 1922 as a first generation American. He was also left whole. Somewhere, the tables were turned. These folks establishing communities in a new world were told their baby boys should be foreskin-free. Together, my grandfathers had five sons (my uncles) and they all were cut. Together those sons had nine sons (my cousins) and all but two became foreskin amputees. After two short generations of this unnecessary and peer-pressured cutting procedure, the tables are flipping once again.

14. Serious emotional trauma occurs from removing the most erogenous body part on the male body.
Research shows that babies remember music, tones, words, mom’s voice, and more while being in utero; they are conscious before and during birth; and they remember pain. Why would anyone believe that circumcision on a sweet new babe is without pain? www.sickkids.ca/AboutSickKids/Newsroom/Past-News/1997/Study-shows-that-infants-feel-and-remember-circumcision-pain.html www.cirp.org/library/psych/chamberlain/ 

15. The majority of the planet is intact.

Few industrialized countries on the planet do this procedure routinely on day-old infants; the majority of the planet is intact. It is an elective surgery, not medically necessary, simply socially accepted in the USA. The British, New Zealanders, Japanese, Germans, Swedes, French, Italians, South Americans and most other industrialized countries do not cut their children. Canadians have also begun to abandon the process.

So why does the USA continue to do the procedure?

Just follow the money trail, mama. Medicaid spends $198 million each year on routine infant circumcision in the thirty-three states that still pay for it. This is a procedure that its own guidelines consider to be medically unnecessary. In addition, private insurance programs are reimbursing an additional $677 million, raising prices for us all. In addition to the cost of circumcision itself, correcting its complications are said to double the cost, bringing the total bill to $1.75 billion each year.  www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/circumcision-ethics-and-economics

16. Because, unlike previous popular belief, it does not decrease STD transmission. In fact, the opposite is true.

The U.S. has the highest population of circumcised males in the industrialized world. The U.S. also has one of the highest rates of STDs. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “circumcision does not lead to lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases.” In fact: “Circumcised men appeared ‘slightly more likely’ to contract a sexually transmitted disease during their lifetime.” In the survey of fourteen hundred men, “circumcised men reported several cases of the bacterial infection called chlamydia, while the disease did not occur at all among the uncircumcised men. Circumcised men “who had twenty or more sex partners had more than twice the risk of bacterial or viral infections — most often gonorrhea — compared to uncircumcised (intact) men.” http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/STD/

“Yes, this is a controversial topic. Yes, I want you to think about what this procedure means for your babe. Yes, I want you to own whatever choice you make.”

Yes, this is a controversial topic. Yes, I want you to think about what this procedure means for your babe. Yes, I want you to own whatever choice you make.

As you can see, there is an abundance of science-based evidence showing multiple ways the choice to cut your son can negatively impact his physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I don’t think it’s a hard decision but you tell me that you are still not convinced or that you are having a hard time convincing your partner?

Most parents are misinformed about the procedure, not having a good reason to do the procedure, not knowing what actually happens to their own creation, and then they are shocked when their son returns in extreme discomfort and remains that way for several days.

Take a minute and watch a circumcision video. See how it feels to watch a baby be cut. Imagine it’s your baby, the one you just birthed, the one you created from scratch, the one you would do anything to protect. I bet you can’t watch the whole video with your stomach remaining calm.

In the section below, I have even provided you with two very different methods of cutting to watch and learn. Or search for one yourself.

Don’t turn a blind eye. Educate yourself and provide your partner with information as well. You can make a difference in the life of your son. Together we can change the lives of a whole lot of sweet baby boys.

If you still believe the procedure should be done, remember that each medical doctor does the procedure a little differently, so ask questions and choose the method you believe is best for your son.

Learn More

www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1kSx4TkuRo

www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVCJLiBk_fI

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceht-3xu84I

www.drmomma.org/2009/08/cut-slicing-through-myths-of.html

www.drmomma.org/2010/01/are-you-fully-informed.html

www.nocirc.org

www.intactnews.org

www.Circumcision.org

www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org

www.noharmm.org

www.historyofcircumcision.net

www.intactamerica.org/resources/decision

Heather Dexter is a Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor with a passion for all things natural. Although she works with a varied clientele with a multitude of diagnoses and ailments, she specializes in working with women during their childbearing years. As a Holistic Doula and Natural Childbirth instructor, she believes in the body’s ability to create and birth naturally. Heather is an attachment parenting advocate and truly believes there is a natural remedy for every ailment. To learn more about her services (available in-person, Skype or by phone), please email her at heather@likemindedmamas.com. You can also read more of her writing at http://likemindedmamas.com.

 

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