Off With His Head | Circumcise or Not?

When I first found out I was having a boy and the doctor asked if we wanted him circumcised. I didn’t think twice about it—of course we do. I had no idea if you circumcise or not it would be such a big deal. Now that we are going to have another boy I thought I would look more into it.

Personally, I never thought that it would even be a question whether or not we do it. In America it is custom to get it done. Really, everyone here gets it done, but it’s not really something you talk about. Since I wanted to know if this was a good choice or not, I looked into it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that circumcising newborn boys did have potential medical advantages, primarily related to preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). But by 1999, the AAP had formed a task force on circumcision that decided the procedure shouldn’t be routinely recommended. The task force based this policy on 40 years of studies of both circumcised and uncircumcised boys, and it concluded the following:

  • Problems with the penis, such as irritation, can occur with or without circumcision.
  • With proper care, there is no difference in hygiene.
  • There may or may not be differences in sexual sensation in adult men.
  • There is an increased risk for a UTI in uncircumcised males, especially babies under 1 year. However, the risk for a UTI is still less than 1 percent.
  • Newborn circumcision provides some protection from penile cancer, which only occurs in the foreskin. However, the risk of this cancer is very low in developed countries such as the United States.

“We also looked at whether being circumcised prevents HIV in a man’s partner,” says Jack Swanson, MD, a pediatrician in Ames, Iowa, and a task force member. “There may be a slight benefit to being circumcised, but the statistics were inconclusive. There weren’t any medical reasons that were convincing enough for us to say that all boy babies should be circumcised,” he says.

However, in 2002, a study found male circumcision was linked to a reduced risk of penile human papillomavirus infection (HPV). The study also showed a lower risk of cervical cancer in the current female partners of circumcised men with a history of multiple sexual partners. (HPV is associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.) But no medical evidence has been weighty enough to reverse the AAP’s policy on circumcision. In fact, May 2015 it reaffirmed its stand that circumcision shouldn’t be recommended unless the procedure is essential to the newborn’s health.

After reading all that, it did in fact clear the air on a lot of the myths I had thought came with not getting it done. But that won’t change my mind, we’re getting it done. I know a lot of people say, “It’s their body and you should let them make the decision.” Have you ever heard a guy say, “I wish my parents would have let me decide?” Yeah, that doesn’t happen.

For me and my family it’s a personal choice and we are basically sticking with American culture on this one. So if you decide not to do it, that is your choice and I support your decision too. So to circumcise or not I say—do what’s best for you.

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