Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why I Kept My Sons Intact

Happy, Healthy and Whole

Circumcision has been in the news lately for a few reasons. The bill in San Fransisco that would prevent routine infant circumcision for example. As a parent, trying to navigate the internet for information can be overwhelming. There is so much data out there and whose facts do you trust? I decided to write this post after someone recently asked me why I chose to keep my sons intact. They wanted just a few of my top reasons. So this is it. It's our story, our reasons in no particular order. I want to say that while we have two sons, I will be using a daughter in some examples.

  • Foreskin is normal. Funnily enough in our decision not to circumcise we didn't look around us. While I am very happy to live in the Northwest where circumcision rates are very low, where almost every single one of my boy's playmates are also intact I didn't care. The same reason why I think to circumcise because everyone else around you did is wrong. The reason here we left them intact is because foreskin is normal. Every single male born on this planet in the entire history of mankind was born with foreskin. It reminds me of the saying If God had wanted me to be born with foreskin, I would have been. Now if you believe in evolution or adaptation, notice that after all these thousands of years, males still are being born with foreskin. It must serve a purpose. And it does.

  • Amputation on a minor is illegal as a first response to preventative health care. Doctors are not legally permitted to perform any surgery on a minor unless there is clear medical need and more conservative medical treatment has failed. So what gives? If I wanted the doctor to remove a daughters breast buds because of the risk of breast cancer, they can't do it. Even if her risk for breast cancer is higher than my son's risk for HIV or cancer. What about aesthetic reasons? Can a parent take their newborn baby in and request that they want the fingernails surgically removed because they prefer the look? No. Can I take a daughter in and have the doctor perform a surgery altering her vagina to look more like mine? No. I would be denied and most likely child protective services would be called. I would not remove any part of my daughters vagina for any of the reasons given for a benefit of male circumcision. And I would not remove any other part of my children's bodies for any of those same reasons. For my husband and I, the logic to circumcise for preventative health would encourage removal of body parts for any reason. Poor Bailey! You stubbed your toe! Here, let's get it removed so you can't ever stub it again.

  • We're poor and lazy. Seriously. Most health insurances don't cover circumcision since no medical organization in world recommends routine infant circumcision. The going rate at my clinic is $300. We figure that if our boys want cosmetic surgery, they can pay for it themselves. The care for a newly circumcised infant penis is demanding. Check for bleeding, check for swelling, lubricating the raw area, making sure the ring doesn't fall off too early or doesn't fall off at all, giving pain medication. To care for an intact boy is simple. Wipe clean. That's it. Like most parents, my husband and I choose to spend as little time at the changing station as possible.

  • It's a human rights issue. We are parents. We don't own their bodies. And it is our responsibility to make decisions for our children until they are old enough to make those decisions for themselves. But there is a big difference between choosing a surgery for cosmetic reasons and medical necessity. Remember, no medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision based on any reported health benefits. And we parents do make mistakes. Constantly. But there are very few decisions we make for our children that are as permanent as circumcision. Permanent. You cannot undo a circumcision. My husband and I strongly believe that our sons, and every child should be able to choose for themselves what their body should look like. If our sons choose to circumcise themselves as adults for any reason at all, I will fully support their decision. If you don't own your own body, what do you own?

  • We thought ahead to the future. Again, we are lucky to live in an area of the United States where circumcision rates are low. And our sons were lucky to be born at a time where circumcision rates nationwide are dropping and pediatricians are speaking up against circumcision. Unlike their father, born in the 1980's were circumcision was performed on nearly every male child. When we first discussed circumcision as expecting parents, my husband asked his mother why she had him circumcised. The reasons were that it was thought beneficial and that it was normal. Now in the future, if we had circumcised our sons, what would we have said? Well, at the time that you were born, circumcision wasn't thought beneficial by any medical organization. And well, no it wasn't normal. In fact most of the boys being born that year were kept intact. You can see where this was going. What would we honestly say? It was the best decision for our family? It goes right back to the human rights issue.

Here are some of my favorite sites with lots of information.

Still unsure whether to circumcise?


  1. I like the part about having to explain it to your son later. An argument I always use is, "when it becomes illegal, how are you going to explain to your son you did something so bad to him it is now illegal." But the fact is, the info is there now! I don't understand how someone can circumcise their son for non-religious reasons! I'm against ALL circumcision, it's just that if you don't have a religious EXCUSE then you have nothing.

  2. I think a lot of parents don't think of that. Explaining to your child why you chose to circumcise. Or they think the reason, "Because it was the best decision at the time" will be enough. While my husband claims he harbors no resentment towards his parents, he very much wishes he was given the choice. He understands what the world's view on circumcision at the time of his birth. But it's different now.

    Religious factor is a big one for parents. Since our family is not a part of a religion that endorses circumcision, it wasn't a major factor for us. Again, today is different. Many religions are speaking up against it.

  3. Fantastic good for you but more impt gr8 4 yor BOYZ!!!!!!

  4. I am the the mother of Maiya's husband that allowed two of my three sons to be circumcised.
    When I was pregnant with him I did what I could to look into what was better in the case of circumcision. I had home medical books that suggested that there was an increase in cervical cancer in women who where married to uncircumcised men and that in uncircumcised men had a higher incidence of penile cancer if he didn't clean himself well.
    We didn't have the Internet back then. We were not given the opportunity's we have today to here the masses that would have told me my son could bleed to death. e were lead to believe there was no difference in sensation between the circumcised and the uncircumcised during intercourse.
    I had one brother that was not circumcised and one that was not.
    For some medical reason the one that was circumcised had to be circumcised at two years old and my sister who is 5 years older than him was furious with mom for not having him circumcised at birth because it was very painful. He even had to spend time in the hospital with it.
    My husband was circumcised his brother wasn't. Yes I had read in the bible that the Jews were circumcised so that did have some influence. I was much more influenced by biblical beliefs at that time.
    Also we had the movie Roots they showed a circumcision scene were a group of young men's right to manhood was in part a circumcision. So I guess what I am saying with the lack of information and the societal influence at that time I made that decision.
    One of his younger brothers is not circumcised. He was short skinned at birth and it could have caused more trouble that it would have been worth to circumcise him so he is not. At this time that brother was very insistent that his sons be circumcised. So his sons are. Even with us all asking him if he was sure that is what he wanted to do.
    He was made to feel dirty by others because he was not circumcised. I never new that till he had his youngest son and it was time for him to make that decision.
    So yes you can do the right thing and you can do the wrong thing. You just make your decisions the best you can and yes you will always be judged for a decision you made for your child by your child sometimes they will judge it well and sometimes not so well but yes if I knew what I knew now I probably would not have circumcised my boys. It was a common sense choice at the time because we do have a very high cancer rate in my family. Brandon I am sorry I made a decision that hurts you now. One I cannot take back.