In my household, a baby boy is due, and circumcision discussions abound.
Naturally, we have really dug into the so called "pros and cons".
After much research in this area, I have some new perspective that actually surprised me a little when I compare my new understanding to what I thought I knew.
I am always open to hearing both sides of the coin on PaleoHacks.
Do you think circumcision is good? Is it warranted for health reasons? Is it necessary? Or shall we let boys remain in their natural design and leave them as they are when they enter the world?
This is an issue near and dear to my heart...when I was pregnant with my second child, I knew without a sonogram that this child would be a boy. My family is Jewish, I was raised Jewish, but had zero intention of circumcising any child of mine. Some of my family had a HUGE problem with this decision, and called me often during my pregnancy to attempt to convince me to have a bris. Traditionally, a boy is circumcised when he is eight days old, so my step-mother, who took on the role of spokesperson in this matter, called me to yell at me every day from the day my son was born until day eight. She pretty much told me that I was dishonoring my entire lineage by not cutting part of his body off without his consent, and that she would all but disown me if I didn't. To be frank, I find the practice barbaric, and I know many men who wish this procedure had not been done to them. Studies show that sex is more pleasurable for women with intact partners, and modern cleanliness(i.e. running water) is plenty to care for an intact penis. The vast majority of my son's friends are intact, and while my husband is not intact, he wouldn't have wanted his son to be anything but...the whole idea of circumcision just to keep father and son looking the same is ridiculous...if girls have their breasts ironed at puberty should they do that torturous thing to their daughters ad infinitum so that they LOOK the same??? What about female circumcision? Should we keep that up through the generations so that daughters don't feel embarassed to NOT be missing a piece of their bodies????
Here's a link to one of my favorite articles about this issue:
I apologize for an emotional rant, this is a very charged issue for me, and one I obviously feel passionately about...
As a woman who has experienced the difference...in an intimate manner...
I would NEVER circumcise any male children I might have.
Believe me, there is a BIG difference...um, functionally. It takes very little "work" for the uncircumcised male as the bodies are working as nature intended. No need for lube because there is a natural seal and this suction helps keep the G-Spot in tight contact with the head of the penis.
I have also found that uncircumcised men take a little more time... :)
For me, it is not so much about the son, but about the women in your son's life.
They'll thank you later.
I think it's deeply immoral to sexually mutilate helpless infants. I would never do it to a son of mine.
Most men in the world are not circ'ed; the extremely high rate here in the USA is bizarre and troubling to me. There are also no proven health benefits or evidence that it is 'necessary' in the first world, and I think it's pretty telling how vanishingly few intact older boys/men ever choose to get circumcised.
Typical for men though, most are happy with what they have and don't waste time thinking about what life would be like if they had the foreskin they were born with, or vice versa. Beyond the initial pain for an infant boy, circ'ing isn't harmful either.
Ok - so here goes my neck out on the chopping block.
We had our son circumsized. I don't regret it. It was my husbands choice. I don't have the equipment, so I feel that I did not have as strong of a vote to cast. He did a lot of research, spoke to our maternity doctor, our family doctor and scads of friends, family and colleagues. He got reaction from both sides of the fence. We heard many stories and read many articles. We waffled from side to side for my pregnancy and then it was a conversation he had with 4 of his best friends that had him convinced. These four guys are all uncircumsized and they talked him into it. I do not know what happened during this conversation, and it is of a highly private nature, but my husband was convinced.
It was not a decision taken lightly. And Jack - ultimately it is your decision to make, and you should take your time. I may recommend taking some of your trusted buddies out for a frank conversation over some drinks to see what their thoughts are.
Everyone is definitely entitled to their own opinion, but please don't make rude comments on how I have mutilated my child and how he will hate me for his whole life.
EDIT: I am really quite disappointed with the amount of downvotes that I have received for my answer. I thought that Jack was wanting to hear both sides of this issue. I have not downvoted any answer here, and in fact I have upvoted a few that I thought were good answers. Just because I don't agree with what you are saying doesn't mean I don't think it is valid. As a parent I feel that other parents should be supportive and not judgemental. I too am disappointed with this forum, as I thought that it was about community - and to me a community is a collection of people and beliefs and a group who can celebrate not only similarities, but also differences.
I can tell you this, every man that is circumcised has held his thing in his hand..... and wondered.... what it would be like if he still had the skin he was born with? As nature intended? AND/OR, As god intended?
I'd reckon that a person is also less likely to get an ingrown toe nail without a toe. So, if we chopped off the little toes on babies feet when they were young and did this for many generations would people really be arguing about how it keeps them from getting ingrown toenails as adults? Or would we see chopping off pinky toes the same way everyone should see cutting off penis skin? As exactly what it is. Mutilation.
Cutting off a body part because of the possibility that it might get or cause infection in the future is sort of a ridiculous argument. My children have already spread germs via their hands, mouths, noses and lungs. So- if we follow the circumcision logic- I should definitely chop off their hands, remove their lungs (so many germs exhaled and coughed out! And to anyone within a certain radius! Not just a potential sexual partner), plug up their noses etc... Not meaning to put anyone down who responded to the 'FEAR OF DISEASE' threat (it's a scary one for certain) but cutting off a part of the body because of future germ potential is , as i said, ridiculous. Really think about it. You're cutting off a part of the baby's body.
If circumcision really does prevent STDs then I figure my sons can chose to have the procedure done when they are older and they have examined the literature themselves (or they could just avoid a lot of pain and use condoms). Since it's a permanent procedure, I don't feel comfortable making that decision for them, particularly considering the evidence that the foreskin serves a purpose.
I will say that if you chose not to cut, you need to find a pediatrician that is not ignorant and doesn't try to retract the foreskin (which I've heard about happening!). As for cleanliness or whatever, I lived in European countries where circumcision is rare and I can report that the people there are doing fine.
As far as whether or not this is an appropriate forum for this conversation, I would remind everyone to please discuss the costs/benefits of circumcision and not be too emotional about it. Clearly, if religion is a role in your decision, that that's a private matter between you and a higher power, so you have other considerations that may trump a scientific cost-benefit analysis.
Interestingly, a lot of hunter-gatherer tribes do circumcise, but they don't cut the entire foreskin. There is some debate whether the original Jewish form of circumcision was similar.
Also, the idea that the pain doesn't matter at that age has been increasingly called into question. In fact infant circumcision might have worse life-long effects compared to adult circumcision http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/magazine/10Fetal-t.html?pagewanted=all : "Anna Taddio, a pain specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, noticed more than a decade ago that the male infants she treated seemed more sensitive to pain than their female counterparts. This discrepancy, she reasoned, could be due to sex hormones, to anatomical differences — or to a painful event experienced by many boys: circumcision. In a study of 87 baby boys, Taddio found that those who had been circumcised soon after birth reacted more strongly and cried for longer than uncircumcised boys when they received a vaccination shot four to six months later. Among the circumcised boys, those who had received an analgesic cream at the time of the surgery cried less while getting the immunization than those circumcised without pain relief.
Taddio concluded that a single painful event could produce effects lasting for months, and perhaps much longer. “When we do something to a baby that is not an expected part of its normal development, especially at a very early stage, we may actually change the way the nervous system is wired,” she says. Early encounters with pain may alter the threshold at which pain is felt later on, making a child hypersensitive to pain — or, alternatively, dangerously indifferent to it. Lasting effects might also include emotional and behavioral problems like anxiety and depression, even learning disabilities (though these findings are far more tentative)."
So if you DO do circumcision, please insist on the analgesic cream.
26 years ago, my husband and I made the choice not to circumcise any male children we had, after reviewing the evidence at hand, and after discussions with a number of professionals, from pediatricians to public health specialists to anthropologists. We've not had cause, with either of our boys, to regret that decision, nor have they -- and they, too, have decided that, when the time comes, they will not circumcise their sons.
"Back in the day", my husband and I had to fight to not inflict unnecessary harm on our sons. In fact, when our oldest boy was born, the hospital we were in actually proceeded to take him for circumcision WITHOUT our permission, and we had to go rescue him from surgery. Fortunately, one of the nurses on our floor was supportive of our decision and let us know that they'd taken him from the pediatric evaluation center DIRECTLY to surgery, rather than bringing him back to our room, in order to avoid having to discuss the attending physician's decision to circumcise despite our preferences. When asked about such a blatantly inappropriate action, the physician in question responded "Well, I'm more comfortable with circumcision, and I figured that once it was done, considering that you can't sue a military practitioner (at that time you couldn't), you'd come 'round to a sensible position." Can you IMAGINE the hubris?
Anyway, both our boys are happily intact, and their mates don't seem to have any problems with it, and they actually support the trend to non-circumcision.
My husband is English & intact.
Intercourse is much more pleasurable with him than the circumcised men I have known.
Nature designed us perfectly--why mess with it?
I applaud all the parents who respect their sons enough to let them choose when they are old enough.
My baby boy arrives in 5 weeks and I am not circumcising. I have not been persuaded that there are any health benefits, and the procedure seems barbaric to me. Why would I put him through that when he can't give his consent?