Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Jan

To Circumcise or Not To Circumcise?

circumcisionOnce a proverbial given in this and a number of other countries, circumcision has become a hot button issue, intensely debated in both family and medical circles. For decades it was standard procedure for hospital births, but the numbers are quickly declining. Today, 56% of newborn boys are circumcised, although the rate varies considerably by geographic region in the U.S. In 1999, the American Pediatric Association revised their statement on circumcision to acknowledge the “potential medical benefits” of the procedure but concluded “these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.” Most of Canada has “de-listed” circumcision as a necessary (i.e. paid for) procedure.

In truth, the decision to circumcise isn’t purely medical even as it becomes increasingly controversial. Intangible aspects play as much or more of a role in parents’ choice as scientific research. For some families, circumcision is an age-old rite celebrating religious covenant. For others, it’s a venerated custom that manifests cultural identity. Families who aren’t influenced by religious or cultural values might choose circumcision for social or aesthetic reasons in an effort to allow junior to look like the other boys at school or like the father. However, other families and experts argue that the practice is a painful, unnecessary procedure that violates the physical dignity and even legal rights of the child.

The history of circumcision is imprecise, but the practice is thought to have its roots in the Middle East. Experts suggest a number of potential reasons behind the initial practice of circumcision, including figurative sacrifice, virility ritual, and cultural hygienic custom. In many tribal societies, circumcision was observed as a cultural rite of passage into manhood. Although circumcision predates religious directive, it eventually became a sacred practice in the early Jewish faith and for the followers of Islam. At various times in history, circumcision was also used to designate social status as well as religious identity. On an odder note, Western societies, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries, practiced circumcision to discourage masturbation. In these same centuries, the issue also became medicalized around tenets of basic hygiene. In the late 19th and 20th centuries, the rate of newborn circumcision increased as hospital births rose and the public accepted the medical argument for standard circumcision.

For our part, let’s delve into the medical side.

These days, one of the most commonly cited health reasons for routine circumcision is decreased STD risk. Numerous studies based in Africa show that circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual HIV contraction by 50-60%. In response the assembled research, the World Health Organization/United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS issued their official recommendation of circumcision as one method to prevent the spread of HIV. Critics caution that the “context” of the African epidemic, which is as high as 25% of the population in some areas, is so different from the disease rate (as well as cultural and hygienic practices ) in the West that the protective factor of circumcision isn’t nearly as high in Western countries. Some experts estimate a 10% risk reduction in Western societies (PDF). Other Western-based research demonstrates reduced risk for other sexually transmitted disease like genital herpes and HPV as well as a decrease in bacterial vaginosis risk for female partners of circumcised men. Research exploring the impact of circumcision on infection reduction in homosexual men has been more limited but so far shows a mixed picture of protective influence. A review published this month indicates that circumcision appears to reduce risk in primarily “insertive” rather than receptive partners.

The physiological logic behind circumcision’s reduced infection risk involves the bacterial ecology of the inner foreskin itself, which harbors anaerobic bacteria that appears to fuel inflammation and infection. The inner foreskin is home to the highest concentration of so-called Langerhans’ cells, which facilitate HIV transmission and replication.

A less dangerous but more common problem for uncircumcised males, particularly boys, is recurrent urinary tract infection. Circumcision is considered a standard treatment option for those with recurring UTI or serious complications from an initial case of UTI. Some experts have questioned the usefulness and cost efficiency of routine circumcisions to prevent infections in a relatively small number of boys. According to a British study, 111 routine circumcisions must be performed to prevent a single UTI. However, other experts suggest that there’s more at stake than simple urinary infection risk. Another study found that 18% of young boys in the study who had UTI showed signs of kidney scarring. Follow-up circumcision in these boys substantially reduced subsequent UTI occurrence. As a research commentator noted (PDF) in light of this picture, “[I]f the circumcision had been done in the newborn period would the kidneys have been protected from damage in the first instance?”

In response to these infection-related findings, critics of the procedure counter that diligent safe sex and hygienic measures more reliably protect both the man and his partner from infection. Opponents say that circumcision (or at least the public message about its lower infection risk) can give men an inflated sense of protection against life-threatening diseases and discourage use of condoms, testing and other safe sex methods. Nonetheless, many physicians and public health experts maintain that circumcision is a practical strategy for reducing disease in males and their respective partners.

As for the other physical conditions circumcision is meant to prevent, many experts say that the evidence just doesn’t support the need for routine circumcision in every boy. The nonretractable foreskin in childhood is often a misdiagnosis, since separation of the glans happens over time (a protective feature) and may not even be noticeable until puberty. Common infections can be treated with a plethora of modern medications like antibiotics and steroid creams. As for penile cancer, the risk is so low (approximately 9-10 per million men) that circumcision choice shouldn’t be based on this concern.

Then there are the medical complications. They can be everywhere from aesthetic-based to functionally impairing. Infection rates hover close to five percent. Significant narrowing of the urethra occurs in anywhere from 5-10% of circumcisions and must be addressed with follow up treatment. Injury to the urethra can occur. The least common but most dramatic complications include partial to full penile amputation or even the rare death from serious infection.

On a considerably lighter note, critics also suggest that circumcision compromises sexual pleasure. They argue that the foreskin, as host to a dense network of nerves, is a functional erogenous zone in itself.

Although it’s likely impossible to reach any definitive conclusions regarding the issue, self-report research on men who are circumcised in adulthood show mixed results. In one such study, the majority of men did not experience a decrease in libido or pleasure. Eighty-two percent reported the same (44%) or enhanced (38%) penile sensitivity. A smaller study (PDF), however, recorded patients’ written comments about the impact of the procedure on their sex life and calculated that nearly half of respondents experienced less penile sensitivity after circumcision.

Now that we’ve laid out some of the arguments and medical research, we want to hear what you have to say. What is your thinking on the subject, and what factors have or would influence your choice to circumcise or not circumcise? Thanks for reading and contributing.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Over/under for “anonymous Alex” addressing the substance of my last 3 comments?

    Christoph Dollis wrote on January 14th, 2010
    • Good day sir. I wish I could tell you that your response was so cutting that it has taken me months to respond, but, alas, I was just really out living my life and decided to revisit what I remembered to be an intriguing insight in to society’s views on circumcision. And I had the extra bonus of seeing this comment. My response will be brief. We’ll leave it to the bookies to decide if I have “address[ed]” the substance of your last three comments.

      Christoph,

      You do not prove much of a point by citing to practices from the “most traditionalist” groups of Jewish members. My initial disappointment with your overly zealous advocacy was your general notion that you are 100% correct and that my (and others’) general views toward circumcision are wrong. One commenter earlier says there is no right or wrong answer. Your retort was to the effect of the commenter being wrong (and you by implication being right). That’s insulting and demeaning to the good people who engage in a healthy debate on this site. You attack me by sighting practices that I too disagree with and then continue to call me out for my failure to immediately respond. This further undermines your credibility and your respect for your fellow man. My comment was only intended to say that when you say people are clearly wrong on this issue, you implicate more than the little piece of foreskin, you implicate deeply important religious beliefs. And I am not saying that those beliefs requiring sucking blood. I am saying that those beliefs include removing a piece of skin from the penis. Please don’t make the discussion something that it is not.

      I hope all of you are living wonderful, primal lives.

      P.S. If you respond to this 15 seconds after I post it, there is a good chance I will not address your response for 10 months. There is an even better chance that I will not address it at all. Please feel free to start an over/under on it.

      Alex wrote on October 13th, 2010
  2. Quackery.

    Finding this as a topic on the top rated blog on a Zen Habits post has just discredited this blog, that post and ZH too. Shame.

    Dan R wrote on January 14th, 2010
  3. sexasnatureintendedit.com and http://www.circumstitions.com/ for starters.

    Circumcision of an infant is never necessary and causes far to many complications to be even remotely worth it. There are no benefits–only pain, complications and regrets.

    If circumcision becomes medically necessary later in the boys life then so be it; but preemptive action by the ill informed parents and doctors is disgraceful.

    Nameofthegame wrote on January 14th, 2010
  4. Circumcised wieners are cool. They look more like Grok’s spear!

    What? Somebody had to say it. #ComicRelief

    Grok wrote on January 14th, 2010
  5. I don’t mean to split any hairs here but that was fascinating! I mean, I don’t have an axe to grind on any side of this issue, but it makes you think. At the end of the day, however you feel about this issue, let’s all just bury the hatchet and agree to disagree if that’s the case.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1cfLR-5mco&feature=PlayList&p=E6708DB0D0491FFA&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=68

    Zach wrote on January 15th, 2010
    • Not a hope in hell, Zach.

      I do not believe “agreeing to disagree” is the correct solution to all issues. It doesn’t fly when it results in a human being getting part of their body cut off against his or her will.

      No sale.

      Christoph Dollis wrote on January 16th, 2010
      • Christoph, I was being facetious, you may have noticed all of the “cutting references” in my comment and the youtube link mocking the practice? Cheers.

        Zach wrote on January 16th, 2010
        • I apologize for misunderstanding you, Zach, and replying to you sharply as a result.

          Christoph Dollis wrote on January 17th, 2010
  6. As a female, I’d like to make a few notes about circumcision in a sexual nature.

    Being Uncircumcised makes your member look and feel BIGGER. Plus One! Minus One: You need to deliberately wash it before she, um, eats that banana. Otherwise, it tastes pretty unpleasant.

    I don’t really want to circumcise my future sons, but have decided to leave that decision up the their father.

    Been Around the Block wrote on January 15th, 2010
    • If you have all your genitals and their father doesn’t, aren’t you in a better position to decide than him?

      If you’re going to give the decision away, how about leaving it to THEM?

      Hugh7 wrote on January 16th, 2010
  7. I’m with Christoph on this one. Performing surgery on infants with no CLEAR medical benefit is immoral.

    I’m circumcised. I’m not mad at my parents, and I don’t have any sexual problems, but I won’t have my kids circumcised.

    Also, I’m really surprised so many people on here are “pro-circumcision” given the content of this website. Isn’t primal about eating and living “what/how nature intended” unless there is a clear set of reasons to do otherwise?!?

    Logi wrote on January 15th, 2010
  8. There are many men who are trying to restore their foreskin. http://www.norm.org/ is one place they go for information how. There are other websites too.

    InfoMan wrote on January 16th, 2010
  9. What amazes me is just how many people here argue that because this is done to a child, not an adult, it isn’t as bad.

    I suspect I could guess a lot these people’s other beliefs.

    Christoph Dollis wrote on January 16th, 2010
  10. For everyone who has come here and been either offended or flabbergasted by Christoph, I just want to point out that of about 285 posts on here, 68 of them belong to Christoph. Which I guess makes Christoph the winner. You are the winner! Who is the big winner? Who is the big winner?

    Jack wrote on January 16th, 2010
  11. I am just chiming in one more time here to say that I don’t mean to sound indifferent to anyone’s belief that’s strongly against this practice, or any religious belief that’s strongly for this practice, and certainly wouldn’t want to make light of it by my “cutting references.” However, though this is a sensitive subject, and parents’ responsibility of knowing all of the facts have been mentioned a few times regarding this… before we get too judgmental either way (depending which side of the argument you’re on) what about all of the mothers of the circumcised (and uncircumcised) sons out there who give gorge their offspring with nothing but cookies, HFCS-packed candies, whole grains, etc.?

    Again, not making light of this particular issue, but when this operation gets done at birth or part of a religious service, it’s done, and you live with it. Without judging it either way, you learn to live with it, and life goes on without a reduction in your lifespan, health, etc. But a mommy or daddy feeding their offspring with junk food or the almost as bad Standard American Diet may unknowingly give their kids type II diabetes, acne, obesity, depression, etc.

    The mothers from the ’70′s didn’t know any better, I struggled with my weight for a long time & just recently with my health because of my bad diet, I don’t blame my mom, my nutritional lessons from her were based on the foundations of bad public policy when it came to nutrition. My point? There’s a lot of damage out there both physically and psychologically being done unwittingly by parents onto kids from really bad nutrition, damage perhaps much more profound than this particular subject.

    If you’re against circumcision, and you feel very strongly about it not being a healthy thing for a child, I commend you for expressing your belief. If you see a mother or father feeding her/his already obese child a Happy Meal… which is worse? Just a thought I had. Mark, thanks for bringing up such a subject to your community. I’m sure this comment string is just beginning!

    Zach wrote on January 16th, 2010
    • Yes, there are many other evils, including feeding kids with junk food. Some are more evil, some less. Doesn’t make this one a ha’porth more or less evil. And “Worry about that, not this” is a recipe for doing nothing.

      “when this operation gets done at birth or part of a religious service, it’s done, and you live with it. Without judging it either way, you learn to live with it, and life goes on without a reduction in your lifespan, health, etc.”

      Except when it doesn’t. A very small number die of it. A small number have serious ill-effects. A larger number have less serious ill-effects. All have lost the function their complete anatomy would have provided, and all have lost the freedom to choose for themselves.

      Circumcision, even as an option for parents, is not a given. If more doctors would refuse to do it, or refuse even to ask about it, like Dr Joseph Pate, http://drpate.wordpress.com/2010/01/11/throwing-wrenches-at-the-gears/ , fewer babies would be circumcised, and eventually it would be consigned to the dustbin of history. And/or a Bill could be passed like the one at http://www.mgmbill.com .

      The first step is to question it.

      Hugh7 wrote on January 16th, 2010
    • Insightful comment, Zach.

      Christoph Dollis wrote on January 17th, 2010
  12. I have painstakingly read through every comment above and see that some people see circumcision as a prophylaxis for everything from the common cold to HIV and AIDS. What’s next? Dengue fever? One comment stated that an uncut penis was better protection against STDs than condoms. I’m sure there are millions of cut men scratching their heads (and other places) wondering how they caught their STD. Toilet seats?

    There are studies supporting claims on both sides. My question is; how is it possible that this surgical procedure protects against acquiring HIV and yet places like Japan and Scandinavia — where circumcision is rare — have the lowest HIV/AIDS rates in the world? If the prevention rate for circumcision is 50% or better, those areas should have drastically higher incident rates. Any study with that huge of a statistical anomaly in any other field would be immediately suspect; why not in this one? And fifty percent? Really? Would you play Russian roulette with a round in every other chamber?

    I find it amusing that some women would post comments about the look of an uncut penis being “ugly”. Is that cultural bias grounds for routine neonatal circumcision? And if I, as a male, made any comment about a female’s body part being unappealing to me, I would be labeled as a sexist pig. I would have to ask them; have you looked at your own vulva lately? Are the wrinkly inner workings of that thing ugly? (Or just normal?)

    As far as odor is concerned, a well maintained prepuce does not have an offensive odor. Again, that females complain about that, amazes me. They have between their legs what could only be described as a veritable cauldron of secretions, moisture and bacteria. They have a multimillion dollar industry devoted to keeping that area clean and smelling fresh. A few second daily lavation is all I need to keep my foreskin clean.

    Circumcision is mutilation. It is a lesser degree than FGM, but it is mutilation, none the less. Just because the scar heals doesn’t mean mutilation didn’t take place. (Ear piercing is mutilation, certainly a lesser degree than FGM or piercing the tongue, septum or urethra, but it is still mutilation.)

    I was one among the lucky 10% of American Baby Boomer males left intact after my birth in the fifties. I’m glad I have the “extra” natural erogenous zones afforded by having a protected glans, sensitive foreskin and super-sensitive frenulum. I chose not to alter my sons or daughter at birth with any cutting, piercing, tattooing, foot binding or any other tribal custom. If they want to do that to themselves, they are free to do it now as adults. All children should have that right reserved for them.

    Rational Thinker wrote on January 18th, 2010
    • My comment was that circ vs uncut provides greater protection against HIV than condom vs uncut. So, your Scandinavia/Japan note doesn’t really make sense. For example, Scandinavia and Japan could both have higher rates of condom use or higher rates of monogamy, they could have genetic predispositions against HIV, etc. All of those could explain a low HIV rate, and none of those things impact the fact that cells in the foreskin are hyper-receptive to HIV.

      I understand this is an emotional issue for some people, but try to maintain logical consistency and rational thought. You’ll still have great arguments against circ.

      Jack wrote on January 20th, 2010
      • My argument is that entire populations of intact men have drastically lower infection rates than populations where cutting is common. Of course, culture and behavior have the most to do with why they have such low rates of disease. That means whatever they are doing is obviously much more effective than surgery. So rather than subject boys to non-consentual mutilation, inculcate them with the knowledge of practices that will keep them almost 100% disease free.

        Rational Thinker wrote on March 25th, 2010
  13. Well put, Jacob. I was even told by my Rabbi that there are cases in which premarital sex is a mitzvah.

    I have to add, again, before I was circumcised, I never:

    1)had a UTI,
    2)had a yeast infection,
    3)had an odor,
    4)had any kind of self-esteem issue related to being an intact man,
    or
    6)had any other issue with my penis.

    The only reason I had to be circumcised was because of painful, tearing erections due to frenulum breve, which was the result of FFR. It was a human error. It had nothing to do with my body as it naturally was. It had to do with an error in action.

    Sex was way better before, for both lover and myself.

    Benjamin wrote on January 19th, 2010
  14. I think that most people who have witnessed the medical circumcision of a new-born, which I have, would not want to put their sons through that. The justifications offered for male circumcision in our culture are the same as those offered for female circumcision in areas where it’s a practice. I believe both should be labeled “genital mutilation,” and should be punished accordingly.

    Marcus wrote on January 20th, 2010
    • The justifications given for circ and FGM are not the same, at all.

      Jack wrote on January 20th, 2010
      • Let’s see:
        Control sexuality? Check
        Make more acceptable to the other sex? Check
        Tradition? Check
        Conformity? Check
        Religion? Check
        Appearance? Check
        Medical? Oh no, they don’t do FGC for medical reasons, that makes them COMPLETELY different.

        Hugh7 wrote on January 25th, 2010
  15. I’m gonna keep the little hat I was born with, thanks. :)

    arlojeremy wrote on January 21st, 2010
  16. I highly doubt the “Primal Blueprint” of Man included circumcision. Don’t mess with the original design. It was “done right” the first time.

    Kevin Jordan wrote on January 22nd, 2010
  17. I teach childbirth education and am a doula. I always tell my parents, if you can watch a video of a baby getting circumcised and not hurl and you still want to do it, I guess that is your decision. they often change their minds when they see the actual procedure.

    Kat wrote on January 29th, 2010
  18. Why remove what evolution put there? Evolution was a lot smarter at doing its job. Leave alone what it created.

    Markov wrote on February 5th, 2010
  19. I wasn’t circrumcised and neither was my son. If Mother nature intended us to not have foreskin then guess Evolution would have stepped in and the procedure wouldn’t be necessary. Also think of it this way. The foreskin is a protectant from outside bacteria, dirt, or whatever your fancy might be. It’s there for a purpose and we should honor Grok in all our glory.

    Matt wrote on February 9th, 2010
  20. As a male who had to get circ’d at the ripe old age of 20 I believe I am qualified to share some of my personal experience on this subject.
    Growing up I struggled with the fact that i was different than my friends. I didn’t get ridiculed for being uncircumsized but because of social norms I knew that i was “different” and it made me uncomfortable and shy. I was certain that if a girl ever saw it she would scream and run the other direction. When I was 12 or 13 or so I decided I wanted to get circumsized and asked my parents about it. They said I could and set up an appointment for it. For some reason though when the date came around I decided not to go through with it..maybe it was “growing” on me. Fast forward a year or two when I started having sexual encounters with females and lo and behold! Not a one of them ran away screaming! They didn’t really seam to care other than being a little curious about seeing something that they hadn’t really seen before. For a good six years I enjoyed the pleasures of life as an uncirc’d man. When I was 19 I developed Phimosis and the foreskin wouldn’t peel back to expose the head anymore. I went to the doctor and asked him about it and after talking it out for a while decided i would get circ’d. Yeah it hurt, yeah I heard the stories that I would be desensitized but you do what you gotta do. Much to my surprise not much has changed since then. I am almost 24, sex feels the same and I am just as happy as before.
    I have to say that it seems silly to circ a baby when there is no medical need for it. I got a long just fine with it and I get a long just fine without it. It should be a personal choice left up to the individual when they are old enough to know what they want. Bottom line

    Nate wrote on February 14th, 2010
  21. I think this is a decision for an adult to make, or at least, a teenager who’s well informed. I see no reason to inflict such pain on my newborn infant.

    k wrote on February 17th, 2010
  22. Nate’s post shut everybody up. Funny how so many people think they know what is best for others. Nothing worse than a sociopath.

    dave wrote on February 22nd, 2010
  23. Such practised circumcision seems strange to me, although I am a 19 year old woman from England, and I haven’t any children of my own. My parents however, had my brother (the eldest and the only son) in a New York hospital in 1986 as they lived there at the time, although they didn’t want him circumsised because it just isn’t what happens in England (and Britain as a whole) unless specific health conditions or religious practice dictates otherwise.

    Elena wrote on February 25th, 2010
    • Should probably add that I remember as a young teenager, some of my male friends joked about one of them being circumcised (though he wasn’t) and THAT was seen as being different! It is just difference in practise and culture at the end of it.
      It also makes sense to note that for the health benefits of circumcision, I’m not aware of any high statistic of teenage or adult men in Britain with any problems associated directly to their penises.

      Elena wrote on February 25th, 2010
  24. Regarding the statements saying that FBM is not comparable to male circ:

    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

    there is a form of female circ that is exactly equal to male- Hoodectomy, the hood of the clitoris is removed.

    this falls under the 4 defined types of Female Genital Mutilation and is “recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. … It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.”

    This also could be used to describe the procedure we call Male Circumcision, yet we don’t call it Male Genital Mutilation. It makes no sense to me at all.

    the WHO definitions also include piercing- not permanent, not terribly invasive, but still part of FGM- why is that? Because it is done WITHOUT CONSENT. Such a simple concept in my opinion.

    Why in the world do adults want to cut off a piece of skin from their baby’s penis? I will let my son make the decision for himself, same as my daughter. (and i feel the same way about religion, why is it up to me what religion, if any, my child is? It’s up to them to figure that out for themselves. I wouldn’t force a ‘covenant’ upon anyone, much less a child)

    The reported medical ‘benefits’ are junk- i won’t cut off my daughters breasts or remove her ovaries to keep her cancer free either. (btw, if i found i was BRCA positive, i would, as an ADULT have a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction, the adult part is the important distinction, as well as the high risk marker)

    (just a thought: one of my best friends is into scarification, and has huge, scalpel inflicted designs on her back. She loves it, but she’d never agree that it should be done to an infant. Body modification for appearances sake should be left to adults)

    meredith wrote on March 11th, 2010
  25. ARGH. i hate typos. there’s probably more, but I must correct the major one-

    FBM should read FGM.

    meredith wrote on March 11th, 2010
  26. I’m nto and could care less about what other people think. When I was younger of course it was awkward but what wasn’t?

    For those who say it should be done think of it this way. A man’s becomes erect when blood flows to his nether regions (very basic explanation) and when you cut off the foreskin you are basically taking away from more blood flowbeing able to assist in the process therefore even taking some size and girth away.

    Also I have read numerous studies where an uncircumsized man has more pleasure due to the nerves being more sensitive and again the same study revealed the extra girth gave women more pleasure as well. Now who am I to take that away from myself or my wife? That would be downright selfish don’t you think?

    And for those who say it’s medicinal the only thing you have to do is wash it with soap and water and bam! Taking care of.

    AppalachianMatt wrote on March 11th, 2010
  27. Okay, circumcision is bad i was circumcised at birth and after reading this article and many others i feel like a lost arm at birth. i have never felt the foreskin i am starting the restoration process but you lose so many advantages being circumcised. I now hate my parents for removing part of my body a very important part may i say. When i have kids if the woman wants to circumcise the kids i will say fuck her and ask for a divorce.

    in teenage years (hitting puberty) i felt lots of discomfort in becoming erect and i ask some of my friends if they had the same problem i found out that only the ones with a circumcised penis had them and they reported occasional bleeding as well.

    and so i think F@#$ MY PARENTS FOR CIRCUMCISING ME!!!!!

    joe wrote on March 31st, 2010
  28. ok I’ve read about half of these comments until I had enough. Your arguments against are ludicrous!

    To imply that you are born with it, so why wack it off? …. has no one heard of vestigial organs? Parts and organs left over from a time when we needed them, but hasn’t evolved away yet…. our appendix, tonsils, the vestigial tail that forms in the womb? any of these ring a bell? We are not born perfect with a function and use for every last thing…. some things are ~unnecessary~.

    and all the whiney parents that can’t stand the thought of a procedure that the infant might sleep through and don’t want to ‘make decisions for them’. Uh, hello you are the PARENT. It is your JOB to be making decisions for the next 18 years! These kind of people want to be ‘friends’ with their offspring and end up with a surly, confused teenager picking off pedestrians from a tall building with a sniper rifle.

    And has anyone noticed Christoph’s creepy obsession with female circumcision? Mentioning it over and over again….. I think he may have ~issues~.

    buttercup wrote on June 14th, 2010
    • There are no other normal, healthy, functional, non-renewable parts that we just “wack off” babies. What’s so special about this one?

      Small =/= vestigial. The eyelids are as small and the earlobes have no known function, but we don’t wack them off.

      Babies don’t sleep through being circumcised, they go into shock.

      Nobody says you must never make decisions for your children, but the decision to cut a non-renewable part off his body – absent pressing medical need – is not one anyone ever has to make. Circumcision is not just for the next 18 years, but for life: if you could give him back has foreskin at 18, there would be far less objection to it.

      True female circumcision, surgically cutting off the clitoral prepuce, is the closest analogue with male circumcision, and ethically they are identical – yet the female version has a special federal law against it. Why the double standard?

      What’s creepy is so many people’s obsession with cutting parts off other people’s genitals. What’s healthy is just leaving them alone.

      Hugh7 wrote on August 30th, 2010
      • Yes, Hugh, but we can document benefits of removing the foreskin. Removal of ear lobes, I believe, would be of no effect. Also, I know you could document downsides. But I think the comparison is apples and oranges.

        Alex wrote on March 25th, 2011
  29. (I feel like I just wandered into the 1970s.) We now know the the function of the appendix (reservoir to replenish gut flora in case of wipe-out), tonsils (guardian against incoming infections), and the foreskin (think of the purposes of the eyelid, add pleasure, and you just about got it).

    There is no medical justification, and while I respect religious reasons, Jews, Muslims, & Christians should know that the circumcision G-d commanded to Abraham was not the procedure done today. Google “brit peri’ah”.

    MamaGrok wrote on August 12th, 2010
    • That was supposed to be a reply to buttercup. Sorry!

      MamaGrok wrote on August 12th, 2010
  30. Buttercup, those parents concerned about adequate pain management when it’s done RIC can’t use that as a cop out. Nowhere is it written that boys have to be circumcised in infancy. Almost any age is OK, and some ages may be better than others. A Number of cultures practice it around age of puberty, so boys can understand and make their own decision or at least participate in it.
    Those of us that can remember a foreskin and then getting rid of it can appreciate the improvement best.

    Charles II wrote on August 30th, 2010
  31. It would be a tough call for me if I ever had a son. For one thing, I’ve never really seen an uncircumcised one.. not that there’s anything wrong with them that way, but I’m from a time where it was a standard practice. But I know that there are reasons why it’s not anymore, and I agree with most of you that say that it’s natural and let it be that way so long as they want to.

    But my other issue is that both my grandfather and my father had to have circumcisions as adults due to complications (I’m not exactly sure what is was.. I’d obviously find out if I were making the decision for a son), so I’d think it likely that a son of mine could suffer the same problems, so why not get it over with preemptively when he won’t have to remember it versus later on if it’s likely going to have to get done either way?

    Alison wrote on November 9th, 2010
    • Genes are not gospel. Genes may determine which of those with the wrong environmental conditions may develop problems, but they are not mandates.

      Regardless, most problems with the foreskin are preventable with reasonable, normal care. Many doctors are far too eager to jump to circumcision as the cure (just as they’re far too happy to jump to BCP or hysterectomy to cure whatever ails women) instead of taking appropriate care to find out what the real solution should be. When I get an eye infection, I look at my recent eye hygiene and learn how to take better care of it and use appropriate medications to eliminate the infection if needed – I do not get a doctor to cut off my eyelid.

      MamaGrok wrote on December 2nd, 2010
  32. Alison, the concern about your grandfather and father is important, however if you had a history of breast cancer on your mother’s side would you preemptively have your daughter get a mastectomy before she develops? Or would you wait and see what her risk factors were as she matured and let her make that decision?

    Shannon wrote on November 9th, 2010
  33. I was born into a family who believed in circumcision. I thought not being circumcised was weird until I started dating my current boyfriend. My personal belief is that, like many old religious laws, this was primarily a sanitation thing, more than a right of passage. I don’t believe it’s okay to circumcise solely on the base of fitting in. I’m much less judgmental of people who do it for religious purposes, but it is still genital mutilation. If a man wishes to do it when he is older, that’s his own choice. I don’t believe parents should have the right to do that to their children, simply because it is not their bodies. Children have little rights and what happens to them is legally up to their parents/legal guardians, but decisions like these should be left to children when they are adults, especially since this isn’t reversible.

    Lady Jaws wrote on November 24th, 2010
  34. I am against any and all altering to my (hypothetical/future) baby’s physical form. It is beautiful and wonderful and there is no call to mutilate any part of it–whether that means circumcision or forced gender assignment, or elimination of ‘extra’ digits or WHATEVER. I don’t care. Unless something is causing em pain and physical harm there’s no reason to alter how ey was born.

    Melanthios wrote on November 30th, 2010
    • Agreed. And it’s truly a pleasure to see someone Spivak pronouns. They edge out the generic he for accuracy, and don’t have the awkwardness of he/she. Well done!

      Mitchell Powell wrote on December 22nd, 2010
  35. I am a grown woman who has experienced sexual intercourse with both circumcised and uncircumcised males. I must admit that I find the circumcised both much more pleasurable, and able to last longer. Not only that, but many men do not properly care for the hygiene of their uncircumcised phallus. I would NEVER give fellatio to an uncircumcised male, as it seems less safe due to it being less hygienic. If nothing else, I know I enjoy intercourse of any kind with males (now my husband) that are circumcised. I know I will circumcise any sons I have in order to let them pleasure their partners more. It’s common knowledge that males usually get more pleasure out of sex anyway, so I don’t see a need to increase it for them and decrease it for female partners they may have.

    Amber wrote on December 4th, 2010
    • Also, I take extreme issue with people using such biased words to describe their opinion. Words like “hack” “chop” and “wack” have very strong negative connotations, and should not be used while trying to discuss the pros and cons of a medical operation. Please use less volatile words. Thank you.

      Amber wrote on December 4th, 2010
      • And stating that you’d never do a certain act at all w/ an intact male, which implies that you believe most intact males are “unhygienic,” is not volatile?

        MamaGrok wrote on December 4th, 2010
    • While it may not be true for you, a large number of women, and it is often said “most”, enjoy sex wtih intact men more, as long as cultural customs don’t create a mental barrier against it.

      The simple reason is that the foreskin provides the male contribution to lubrication, which is often missing for women (for instance, while breastfeeding or as we age). It also allows a smaller, closer movement that prevents the “battering ram” effect from being necessary to bring the male to climax. I encourage all interested to google something like “why circumcision hurts women” and most definitely to look up the history of circumcision. It was originally a much smaller snip (not a total foreskin amputation), and was done almost exclusively by Jews & Muslims until the late 19th century, when the claim that it would cure masturbation hit the military. The UK & US went nuts for it, then the UK regained their senses and as of now, the US is one of the only nation in the whole world where it is common for non-religious reasons.

      Billions of women would differ with the assertion that circumcision is better for us.

      MamaGrok wrote on December 4th, 2010
    • If a couple decide jointly that a body modification for one of them would be good for the other, that is unimpeachable, but there is something bizarre about cutting (any objection to “cutting”?) part off a baby in the expectation that that is what a hypothetical future partner will want, based on one’s own experience of other men. Tastes differ.

      And have a look at the instruments of circumcision, http://www.circumstitions.com/methods.html and see what word suits what they do. Better yet, look at an actual circumcision: http://www.circumstitions.com/#pictures

      Hugh7 wrote on December 12th, 2010
    • you wouldn’t give fellatio based on it “seeming less hygienic”?

      That’s an insult to an intact male.

      Besides, imagine how males feel having to go give cunnilingus?? Washed or not washed I’ve tasted nicer things in my time.

      If your sons can’t pleasure their partner unless they’re cut they’re doing it wrong.

      Cameron wrote on December 22nd, 2010
  36. I hail from the backwoods of Ontario, so neither I nor any of the robust, venison-fed men in my family were circumcised.

    Did I get razzed by schoolmates for being intact when I moved to the big city as a teen? A little.

    But did it bother me? Not in the least.

    And I’ve never met a lady who wasn’t just as pleased with “little Grok” as I am.

    Jebadiah wrote on December 6th, 2010
  37. It’s of note that foreskin restoration is nearly as old as MGM. The reasons vary equally for its practice and the individual’s desire for restoration, but it is certainly interesting that men have been restoring for nearly as long as they’ve been ritually cut, historically, given the cavalier treatment of the subject by some here (and elsewhere).

    Obviously a lot of men have taken the issue rather more seriously than those who claim it isn’t an issue would like.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/restoration/schultheiss/

    imogen wrote on December 9th, 2010
  38. While FGM may not occur under the same context as circumcision, they both generally occur without consent so I think there is some merit in comparing the two.

    I’m surprised to see people on this site who are actually pro-circ…

    I say this because I would expect people who frequent MDA are proactive in achieving or maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That is, following a primal way of life, not taking a pill for diabetes or any lifestyle-related illness.

    In saying that, isn’t cutting off PART OF THE BODY a little lazy (and disgusting).

    Religion aside, using hygiene and disease prevention as a reason is hilarious.

    Is it too hard to teach your boys how to wash themselves and about safe sex or is it just easier to “swallow a pill”, i.e. circumcise?

    Cameron wrote on December 22nd, 2010
  39. I believe that circumcision is a good and beneficial practice. Why? Because God instructs his people to do so in the Bible. (Oh, I’m sure that will rile some of you, no doubt. But that’s okay by me.) I have learned over the years that EVERY time God gives an instruction, He does it for a REASON, and it’s ALWAYS in the BEST INTEREST of his children. Even if we don’t understand it upfront — new data and discoveries down the line always seem to back it up, or bring light to and explain even things that seem trivial and unimportant at the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something in the Bible and thought to myself, “What in the world is THAT all about… really God? Is that such a big deal? Why would that even be an issue…” Or whatever. And then a few years later, when I’m not even looking for it, the answer will come though a news story, or sermon… and I say to myself, “So THAT’s why you did that, Lord!?!” Interesting. So I’m thinking that maybe God knows something that we don’t… cuz if you know his heart or character at all, He doesn’t just say, “Listen parents, I want you to mutilate your children and put them through agony “just to be different,” or so that “outsiders” will know you’re mine! There’s really no benefit to my instruction other than that, so just go do it and don’t question me, cuz I’m God…” or some wierd thing like that. TRUST, anyone? In your Father/creator? On this particular issue, I think enough studies were cited already to show a few of the POSSIBLE benefits. And since God knows what we do not, and can even see the end from the beginning, I don’t think his reasons ever become invalid or outdated. Do we, as humans, REALLY change all that much? Yeah, we learn and evolve in many areas and in many ways. And yet some things stay the same as well. And sometimes we progress and then fall back. As individuals, but moreso as a society as a whole, especially through the generations. But to each his own. I know that I will be circumcising my sons as infants, because that is the right choice for my family. Why such a hot-button issue, anyway? Babies are not going to remember it, they will suffer no ill effects, and there’s actually good reason to do it! It’s okay people! Don’t be so sensitive… We’ve become a culture of sissys and over-thinkers. (Na, that wasn’t meant to be mean; just a matter-of-fact observation.)

    MsMinne wrote on December 23rd, 2010
    • Why so a hot-button issue?! Cutting up and mutilating babies seems trivial to you? Sicko.

      But more importantly, don’t bother using the bible to justify your sadism:

      “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we can wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” Galatians 5:1-6

      “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that would compel you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:12-16.

      “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil-workers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:2-3.

      So, apparently, God could not care whether boys are circumcised or not – which only makes sense – how could God value anything forced upon you as a child that highly? Clearly your heart and acts and decisions matter more to God than something you had absolutely no control over.

      Charles wrote on December 23rd, 2010
    • MsMinne – there are places for people like you – they’re known as loony bins and, for the above post alone, you should be incarcerated in one for the rest of you pathetic existence – either that or you should be forcibly sterilised so that you weren’t able to breed. Circumcision is CHILD ABUSE, simple as that!

      I believe that anyone who mutilates a helpless infant is in the name of religion is no better a Catholic priest who buggers young boys.

      You claim that your god is telling you to mutilate your son(s); well Brian Mitchell claimed that his god told him to abduct, repeatedly rape and mutilate Elizabeth Smart and, guess what? He’s now spending the rest of his natural life in a high-security psychiatric unit!

      Now, I’m a dyed in the wool atheist (comes from spending 15 years in a convent school) but I remember some of my R.E. teachings, and I seem to recall a passage from Matthew’s Gospel (excuse me if I misquote and/or paraphrase slightly)

      Mt 18:6 But whoever so shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

      Yes I looked it up. Didn’t want to misquote. I believe the same quote also occurs in Mark’s and Luke’s Gospels.

      If you want Bible quotes, I think that one speaks volumes, don’t you…?

      If humankind is made in your god’s image then, by definition, your god must be against circumcision, for surely he, himself, must be uncircumcised, if boys are his likenesses?

      Many crimes have been committed in the name of religion (not just Christianity, but Judaism and Islam too).

      I think that ANYONE who uses religion as ‘just cause’ to commit an act of violence upon another person should be punished more harshly than someone who does not.

      Child abuse is child abuse – and ritualistic abuse is even more abhorrent.

      You say it’s ‘personal choice’ for the family – you obviously don’t understand the meaning of the word; allow me to enlighten you: –

      Personal adj: – 2nd meaning – done or made by a particular person

      So, let me ask you this how is it PERSONAL choice? The PERSON concerned is too young to have personal choice – a parent deciding to mutilate their newborn son is making that choice for him – it is NOT PERSONAL CHOICE!!!

      Let me end with one last comment. I CANNOT have children – I am completely sterile, and it makes me weep that there are sick individuals like you who will breed and then mutilate the result.

      A human life is a blessed, sacred, precious thing, to be protected and nourished, cherished and loved – how is mutilating a newborn infant, for religious and/or dubious medical reasons, a loving act?

      I also must pick you up on your use of ‘bipolar’ – do you know what bipolar disorder is? I have suffered from it myself, so I am more than qualified to explain it to you – it DOES NOT mean having a ‘split personality’ – ‘bi’ = ‘two’, ‘polar’ = ‘extremes’. It is a disorder caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes a person to suffer extreme highs and and extreme lows.

      I’m NOT by nature given to violence, MsMinne but, I have to say that if you’d said that to my face, you’d be picking up your teeth… You are one sick, sadistic, f*ck.

      STOP putting across your sick, warped, vile personal beliefs as statements of fact. I am not going to waste any more time and effort on you – you are simply not worth the bother. Charles – and Christoph earlier – have said everything I would have said (and in a FAR more erudite and eloquent way than I ever could).

      DO let me know when you decide to breed so that I can inform the child welfare services before you ritualistically abuse your new-born son…

      Sarah wrote on December 29th, 2010
      • While I completely oppose circumcision, there is no comparison between it and raping children.

        MamaGrok wrote on December 30th, 2010
        • Forcible? Check.
          Invasive? Check.
          Sexual? Check.
          Traumatic? Check.
          May be physical damage? Check.
          Not always remembered? Check.
          May be for adult sexual reasons? Check.
          Removes forever a healthy, functional, erogenous, non-renewable body part?
          Oh no, rape doesn’t do that. So there is no comparison betweem circumcision and raping children.

          (And no, I do still think raping them is worse.)

          Hugh7 wrote on December 31st, 2010
        • LOL, nice job nit-picking my exact word choice: “no comparison.” Of course you can compare any two things. Let’s try again: “While I completely oppose circumcision, there is little point (& tremendous potential for harm) in comparing it with child rape. You will convince no one and only cause those who disagree with you to think you’re a nut, instead of making headway with reasonable argument.”

          FTR, I *do* think there is merit in comparing MGM with FGM, whether among those who oppose circ, or among those who don’t yet oppose it, as long as it is done calmly and rationally.

          JMO, FWIW. :D

          MamaGrok wrote on December 31st, 2010
  40. Wow, friend… no need to get nasty! “Sicko???” My only point was that God loves us and that He’s not going to instruct us to do something if it’s damaging… rather, if He tells us to do something, it’s for our own good! In ways we may not yet realize or understand… whether physical or spiritual, or both. (Even things that were a part of the “law.” All of those longs lists in Leviticus, for example… they go on, and on, and on about what to do and not to do… seems pretty boring and useless, and ritualistic at first glance. But the reasons were for both our physical and spiritual wellbeing. People back in the day had to do it purely by instruction, but science has now explained many of the reasons BEHIND those instructions from back in the day.) If you read the bible… God clearly instructs his children to circumcise — it’s a sign of those who are under his covenant! Therefore He’s clearly not opposed to it, and He obviously doesn’t view it as “mutilation” either. Do I think God considers us rebellious or disobedient , or “sends us to hell” if we don’t circumcise our children??? NO! That’s ridiculous!!! No one is living under the “law” here. Circumcising doesn’t “save” and no one is suggesting that it does. But please don’t take God’s scripture, turn it around, and then use it to condemn God himself for his own words… you really think God’s opposed to circumcision? Read the old testament before you go quoting scripture back to me. Really. And keep it friendly for heaven’s sake… especially if you’re gonna use God’s word to “put me in my place.” How very Christian of you.

    MsMinne wrote on December 23rd, 2010

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