Monday, June 14, 2010

Circumcision: In Favor of the Snip

Now to balance out the scale. I found some solid research based information backing the decision to get your child circumcised. Here are the basics:

Research Based Benefits:

  • elimination or reduction in physical problems such as phimosis (the inability for the foreskin to retract)
  • decrease in susceptibility to balanitis (inflamation of the foreskin & penis)
  • lower rate of urinary tract infections
  • prevention of problems with erections at puberty
  • decrease in susceptibility to certain sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV
  • in older men, elimation of penile cancer and a decrease in urinary problems and infections
If you want to read up on more, please check out the following links:
Other posts in this series:


  1. How do you feel though that no health organization recommends routine circumcision? Or that most countries have a very low circ rate(Europe is almost non exsisent and yet their HIV/STD rate is lower than the US). What about the risks.. I don't see those listed anywhere. My oldest son has reattchement problems from his circumcision. Also why don't you have listed that it only reduces UTIs by 1% and only during the first year of life(according to the AAP). Or that yes it reduced penile cancer, but penile cancer is so rare a man is more likely to get breast cancer???? Sorry, not buying this, yes you'll find some small pros, but also bigger cons to the agrument(hence why not one single health organization recommends infant circumcision, not even the AAP)

  2. Passionate Lady...just a few things...

    This is not my personal opinion. I have not, and will not state where I stand on this issue. I have been doing research requested by a reader & have presented both sides of the argument (scroll to previous posts and you will see that).

    And actually if you click through the links on this post you'll find organizations that do recommend routine neonatal circumcision, including the World Health Organizations.

    If you would like to comment again with the links to where you found your information I would be happy to post that research for others to see.

  3. I wanted to second -tAy-'s comment - thank you Joel for being so tactful even though you are so passionate - that goes for all of you readers that have been commenting! I love that we can all respect differing opinions on this blog - let's keep it that way!

    The only way we can/will learn from each other is with respect not condemning accusations and judgments.

    Starting this series of posts was very intimidating to me because I didn't know a lot about the topic - and I've learned a lot from Joel because of his attitude, he could have said the same things with a negative argumentative spin and it would have turned me off from listening with an open mind.

  4. Barb~
    Just had my little guy circumcised today.We just couldn't be in the room when he had it done. We made the decision to do it because both of us don't know how to care for an uncircumcised little guy. The factor we did not want him to be different did play a factor also. We weren't passionate either way, but we went for it.

  5. My husband is getting his bachelors degree in Nursing he said they learned all the same things but wanted to add one more thing. It also helps prevent yeast infections and that yeast infections are a lot more common in boys that are not. He said a lot of the information that was taught on this subject came from the World health organization as well.

  6. 40% if men who get penile cancer are circumcised. Circumcision does not eliminate the risk of penile cancer by any means...

  7. I do apologize as I did not see the other blog possing the I'm sorry on that regard. My post was not intend to aim fire, but ask questions. I am very into letting people understand the risks. I know many(not all, but many)American doctors who do not really asses the risks with parents or glaze over them. My oldest son has suffered greatly from his circumcision, hence why this is important to me. I hope I didn't come off too harsh, just questioning. And I looked on the links, but I do not see were the WHO recommends routine infant circ. I see the africian study, but nowhere does it state that they universally recommend circumcing. Maybe you could quote it for me in case I have missed it... Thank
    you. Ps ... How come. I can not read this Joel's response????

  8. Brian Morris is a professor of virology and molecular genetics at the Univ. of Sydney's medical school in Australia. He is neither pediatrician nor urologist. He is an academic scientist, not a practicing doctor. His website is just as much a matter of opinion as the sites he warns against. The Australian medical society declines to endorse his thinking.

    The Australian rule of thumb is that 1% of infant circs result in a permanent damage to the adult penis. American medical and sexual research has not been honest about the long term damage to sexual pleasure and function resulting from infant circ.

    All the hoopla about routine circ reducing AIDS is based on clinical trials conducted on African subjects. Hot running water and condoms are hard to come by in Africa. African sexual practices differ from ours (anal and dry sex are more popular there). AIDS is apparently heterosexual there; around the North Atlantic, AIDS is homosexually transmitted. The WHO has endorsed routine circ only in the parts of Africa that are in an AIDS pandemic.

    Europe and Japan do not circumcise, and there is no urological disaster going on there.

    The solution to yeast infections is eating less cane sugar and alcohol, and abstaining from oral sex. Altering the male body is not the way forward here.

  9. * elimination or reduction in physical problems such as phimosis (the inability for the foreskin to retract)

    True phimosis, the inability to completely expose the glans after the 18th birthday, despite applying steroid ointment daily for 2-3 months, is rare. Not a valid reason to cut every baby.

    Meanwhile, routine circ gives rise to a variety of physical problems that often do not manifest themselves until adolescence or middle age.

    * decrease in susceptibility to balanitis (inflamation of the foreskin & penis)

    Just how common is balanitis in Europe and Japan, where a boy's foreskin is almost always left alone? Balanitis and its ilk also respond well to Neosporin and the like.

    * lower rate of urinary tract infections

    Girls have 3-4x more UTIs than intact boys, but are happily treated with antibiotics. Boys deserve the same courtesy. UTIs in infancy are best guarded against by deliberately infecting newborns with good E. coli.

    * prevention of problems with erections at puberty

    This has no foundation in fact. When too much skin is cut off, the result is unsightly and uncomfortable problems with erections that set in at puberty. Another occasional complication of circumcision is the slow death of all sexual sensation after age 40.

    * decrease in susceptibility to certain sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV

    It remains the case that no irresponsible sexual behaviour => no STDs. I refuse to assume at a son's birth to make a worst case assumption to the effect that he will grow up to be a rake lacking basic self-control, and that consequently his body should be permanently altered to reduce the damage he does to himself and others.

    * in older men, elimation of penile cancer and a decrease in urinary problems and infections.

    Penile cancer is rare among all men who wash under the foreskin as part of their daily shower. The other foreskin problem in older men stem mainly from adult onset diabetes, which can (and should) be mitigated by diet, exercise, and lowered alcohol intake.


    But the biggest problem with this post is its silence about how the male bits circ discards enhance, to a degree that varies across individuals, sexual pleasure and functionality.

    And most American docs still refuse to inject lidocaine before doing an infant circ. This is profoundly unethical.

  10. Purely my own opinion and experience...
    I have 7 children, 4 of whom are boys, and yes, we did our research before making any decisions, and yes, we decided to go ahead and get each of the boys circumcised. My oldest boy is 18 and my youngest boy is 3. No regrets, no problems, and it worked for us. I am pregnant again, although not sure of the gender yet, but if this baby is a boy we will choose to circumcise again. I also have family members that choce not to circumcise, and they also have no regrets and have had no problems, and it worked for them. Everyone gets to choose what they feel is the best decision for them and their baby. And we do have to choose, since the babies cannot. As parents, we are in charge of making decisions for them, through pregnancy, birth and as they grow up. That's just how it works. We are just doing what we think is best for our own child, and what is right for one is not always right for another. Everyone gets to pick.

  11. Barb said: "And actually if you click through the links on this post you'll find organizations that do recommend routine neonatal circumcision, including the World Health Organizations."

    Barb, this is not really the case. The recommendations of the WHO [where it relates to circumcision] state that this strategy is aimed at countries with high prevalence [of HIV], and not at countries with low prevalence or in countries where it (HIV prevalence) relates specifically to one part of the population such as in the United States or other Western countries.

    When a boy is circumcised, his choice is taken away so I don't see how "everyone gets to pick". I know plenty who didn't get to pick and are resentful for it.

  12. The Dutch medical establishment recently released a policy statement on circumcision, though it's rare in the Netherlands just like the rest of Europe (most of the first world too actually) anyway the English translation can be found here:

  13. I guess I should have clarified, "Every parent get to pick". That's what a parent does, we make decisions for our children. Just like we also decide upon other things such as whether or not to vaccinate our children, which is also another hotly debated topic. These can be hard decisions sometimes, but we as parents have to make them. And I am not wrong in choosing to circumcise my sons, just as those that choose not to circumcise are also not wrong. I don't feel there is one absolute right or wrong here in whether someone chooses circumcision or not.

  14. Heather said: ""Every parent get to pick". That's what a parent does, we make decisions for our children."

    That would be a more accurate description of your position since most people I know didn't have a choice.

    I disagree. Parents do have to make 'choices' but that is not one of them. This isn't anything like a vaccination which is clearly beneficial. I see no rational/objective reason why my parents should have had any say over that part of my body when there was no medical reason. I don't see how it would be any different from getting a child tattooed or branding them.

    My thoughts align fairly closely with the Dutch statement (previously posted). Though I feel that with proper education the practice can be eradicated.

  15. There seems to be confusion about what the WHO really recommended! The WHO has NOT recommended a global campaign of male circumcision. Their circumcision recommendation, which was in response to the three African studies (RCTs), is intended for "those countries with high rates of heterosexual HIV infection and low rates of male circumcision". The HIV epidemic in all developed nations is not via heterosexual sex, but one transmitted 90% via anal sex and drug abuse (for both these two routes, circumcision is not helpful). Moreover, the USA is already 80% circumcised, hich hasn't prevented it from having the highest level of HIV infection out of the developed nations (Source: "cia world fact book hiv/aids adult prevalence rate"). No medical society recommends circumcision in any developed nation, or believes that alleged circumcision benefits there outweigh the risk of harm from the procedure. If you want to promote circumcision in the USA, produce evidence that it is likely to have an overall benefit there!

    Several researchers, e.g. Michel Garenne of the Pasteur Institute. are critical of the WHO's circumcision recommendation in Africa. Garenne calls is a "dangerous distraction", since only the use of condoms is of proven efficacy. The WHO was incorrect about the "swine flu", which did not turn out to be the pandemic the WHO believed. There is good evidence that drug firms led the WHO "up the garden path", and made a lot of money out of scaremongering - the WHO swallowed the bait! The WHO is not infallible.

  16. I'm a pharmacist from the UK. The USA seems to be fixated on male circumcision. It baffles me! In European hospitals or birth clinics, mothers are never asked if they want their newborn sons circumcised. It's just not on the agenda! Most European paediatricians or urologists would refuse to circumcise without a pressing medical need. The penis belongs to the baby, not the parents, and the operation carries some risk of complications.

    The foreskin does not normally present as a problem, and penile hygiene is very easy (easier than female genital hygiene, and the penis is less prone to urogenital infections than the female genitals). Penile cancer is very rare (rarer than MALE breast cancer), and there is no sound evidence that circumcision prevents or reduces it. At any rate, this is what the Canadian Paediatric Society says (under "neonatal circumcision revisited"):
    "The incidence of penile cancer is 0.3 to 1.1 per 100,000 men per year in developed nations. In the USA, the rate is about 1 per 100,000 men per year. This is similar to the rates in Norway and Sweden, where circumcision is rare".

    Re. cervical cancer, the incidence is similar throughout the developed nations (that's regardless of the prevalence of male circumcision). About 7-10 women per 100,000 per annum develop cervical cancer in the USA, Canada, Japan and European countries. The nation with one of the lowest cervical cancer rates in the world is FINLAND, where circumcision is very low (Source: United Nations Human Development Report 2001).

    Circumcision may have been linked with lower HIV transmission from women to men (NOT vice versa) in sub-Saharan Africa, but there is no evidence of any circumcision protective effect in the industrialised nations, such as the USA. European nations do not have a heterosexual HIV epidemic, although their circumcision rates are low (Source: "cia world fact book hiv/aids adult prevalence rate").

    Foreskin is not a birth defect. It is to be appreciated.


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