Hi Aunt Becky,
My husband and I just found out we are having a boy, so our house will be a sausage factory too. After recovering from hearing the news, I picked a fight with the husband about circumcision. He’s pro sausage casing removal, and I’m kind of anti. He is “jewish” (mom is catholic dad is jewish), but he doesn’t have any religious reasons for his feelings.
He’s worried the little snot will get teased in the locker room and also thinks they look better. I think there isn’t a good medical reason to do it, they don’t look THAT weird, and circumcision rates are falling, so by the time he gets to school more boys will look like him. I would love it if you could please be our tie breaker.
*looks frantically around for cover*
Oh Prankster, how I am afraid to touch this question beyond all others before or after it because circumcision is the new abortion in terms of making people want to hurl things at each other at maximum velocity. But you asked and I can try and help you here.
First, let me start by saying this: I do not court controversy on my blog because, well, I don’t like it. Second, I am neither pro nor anti-circumcision in terms of what you do to your child because frankly, I have better things to get worried about, like why Househusbands of Hollywood got canceled.
That said, there are a WHOLE LOT of people who feel beyond strongly about it and I have no doubts that they will come and discuss it here. I have hopes that my Pranksters, being the awesome people that they are, can keep this discussion civil. Because opinions are like assholes (everybody’s got one) and what’s good for the goose may not be good for the gander.
I think that means that this decision is personal and personal attacks don’t need to be made against one another here. In fact, I will not tolerate it.
Lengthy disclaimer aside, I decided to go ahead and do some research for you, Prankster, because I do not like to give emotional responses to such a topic. Specifically, I went to the Centers For Disease Control’s Website to see what THEY said about the matter. They tend to have good, non-biased EVIDENCED-based material, and they did not disappoint.
I was looking for the medical reasons to circumcise, because while it used to be a standard procedure for all male infants in the hospital, that’s come under fire recently as being medically unnecessary. I wanted the FACTS. Here is what I found (information can be found here):
*Male circumcision has been associated with a lower risk for HIV infection in international observational studies and three randomized controlled clinical studies performed in Africa.
*The reason for the lower risk of HIV infection is due to the makeup of the skin of the foreskin which may have a greater susceptibility to tears during intercourse, providing an entry for pathogens (including HIV). The space between the foreskin and the penis may also provide an ideal environment pathogen survival as most flourish at normal body temperatures.
*Male circumcision has been proven effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection through insertive vaginal sex.
*That said, there are risks associated with male circumcision, which is generally performed in the hospital by the obstetrician before the mother and infant are sent home.
*The most common risks are bleeding, pain and infections and those are very rare. No long-term complications have been noted in the studies the CDC was referring to, and because the Internet is a vast and oftentimes incorrect place, I wasn’t about to Google it.
*The results of effects of male circumcision on penile sensation and sexual function give us a mixed picture: there is a report of decrease in sensitivity to fine touch. But several studies among adult circumcision patients report that there is no change or an improvement post circumcision.
From the American Medical Association (will open up a PDF if you click on it, but has a TON of information about it), here are the numbers for you number people, updated January, 2010:
*Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was reduced by 53%
*Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) was reduced by 28% to
* Human papillomavirus (HPV) was reduced by 32% to 35%.
*Among female partners of circumcised men, bacterial vaginosis was
reduced by 40% and Trichomonas vaginalis infection was reduced by 48%.
(many of those studies were done in developing countries so the numbers may be lower in the US)
Probably the best, most medically sound information I could find was here, on the National Library of Medicine’s Website. The links are sound and up-to-date. Plus, none of them involve the same emotional tone that I so hate when it comes to this topic.
*The American Academy of Pediatrics takes this stance on circumcision: “The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages, as well as risks. The existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision. Therefore, because the procedure is not essential to a child’s current well-being, we recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions.”
The Center’s For Disease Control and Prevention are launching an evidence-based study into the topic of male circumcision and have made no final recommendations.
And as for you, Prankster, I find it to be a very personal decision that should be made once you know all of the risks and benefits. Education is key here, and I hope that I’ve done an okay job gathering the facts for you.
Now I turn the table to you, my Pranksters, to discuss this topic. She asked for a tie-breaker, and I’m not giving her one because, well, that’s not my style. So have at it. Just be nice, yo.