. . . that is the question! 

Other than for religious reasons, what are you arguments for or against circumcising baby boys? 

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...should provide you with a plethora of opinions.

From the standpoint of a medical professional (and an atheist):

Uncircumcised men run the risk of phimosis and paraphimosis, a condition in which the foreskin retracts over the glans but does not return to its original position. In such a state, it acts as a constrictive tourniquet, and can lead to damage of the corpus cavernosa and- eventually- gangrene. In such cases, an emergency circumcision will need to be performed in order to restore blood flow and save the unfortunate organ. I have actually witnessed this performed (on a 16-year old boy, no less). If done at birth, the memory does not persist; if done at 16 or older, I shudder to think of what the psychological impact would be.

An additional consideration is when you get older or are hospitalized in such a state that you require urinary catheterization. It is an almighty pain in the ass to catheterize an uncircumcised man; you have to fully retract the foreskin, and in older men this can take on an element of the magician's scarf trick- it just keeps going and going and going... some men with exceedingly long foreskins cannot be catheterized by the urethral route, and as such require surgical placement of a suprapubic catheter through the skin.

I will admit that I myself (and all the men in my family) are circumcised, and I have never had an issue with it. I have asked my fiancé if she sometimes wished I were uncircumcised (I have heard reports that women with uncircumcised partners receive more pleasure from coitus) and her answer has always been an emphatic "NO!". Given that she is a nurse and has to deal with catheters a lot- as well as the fact she has always expressed great satisfaction about our sex life- I am inclined to agree with her.

Phimosis and Paraphimosis :: That is why you have to teach your boys to masturbate 

Nate, uncircumcised men only run the risk of phimosis and paraphimosis if their foreskins have been forcibly retracted before the synechia have separated from the glans (this occurs as late as age 18). Doing so severely damages the foreskin, causing micro-scarring that prevents the proper working of the ridged band. Sadly, doing this is very common in the US, so many intact men have these problems which are caused by a common ignorance on the part of the US medical establishment of the most basic facts about the normal healthy penis. Contrary to your assertion, this is a complication of circumcision - it's just that it's a complication that happens to intact men in countries where circumcision is practiced.

The idea that catheterizing an intact man is more difficult than doing so to a circumcised man is ludicrous. Retracting the foreskin far enough to insert a catheter takes a split second. It's not as if the foreskin has some kind of strong elastic band that pulls it over the glans. The normal adult foreskin retracts very easily. Again, your assertion seems to arise out of a complete ignorance of the foreskin - how it works, what it's there for, etc.

As to your assertion that you have never had a problem with circumcision, how would you know? Everyone you know is circumcised. The loss of sensation is shared by everyone you know, so they have no way to know what they have lost. The keratinization that occurs does serious damage to what should be an internal organ - this causes problems to female partners of circumcised men.

The fact that your girlfriend does not know what she's missing (or what complications of circumcision she faces as the partner of a circumcised man (increased risk of yeast infection, vaginal dryness and the infections that can follow, etc.) is not surprising, since she has been raised and educated in the same culture as you.

Sex is satisfying, no matter what mutilations one has. But that doesn't mean it's as good as it is with all the equipment.

Ah, a well-thought, literate rebuttal. I love it!

You are right about phimosis and paraphimosis being traumatically acquired conditions (Usually, that is; paraphimosis, the more serious of the two, is sometimes idiopathic), and you are likewise correct about the lack of proper education regarding the proper care of the intact penis. However, given that that is largely a prevalent circumstance, rather than tilting at the windmill of the medical establishment, I would err to realism and go with the tide. Defeatist? Yeah, a little bit. But, I've worn out enough of my youthful idealism to know to pick my battles, and which side to fall on.

As far as my personal loss of sensation, you make a valid point about knowing nothing else. Quite frankly, though, the thought of a further level of sensation seems almost frightening; works just fine for me. I guess that further illustrates your point, eh? But, why gild the lily?

As for my comments upon circumcision and catheter placement, that is one I stand solid on, from experience. Having worked in a regional trauma center ER, I have placed more than my fair share of catheters, and cut men are definitely easier. Younger uncut men aren't so bad, but the older ones are truly a hassle, sometimes requiring two people to place a simple catheter. Everything is harder when performed on an unconscious patient. It may interest you to note that current nursing textbooks feature an illustrated guide to successful catheterization techniques for both genders; in every one I have seen, the pictured penis is circumcised, with only a little blurb at the bottom to "fully retract the foreskin of uncircumcised males before continuing with the procedure." Seems to be a disservice to medical personell, but it's worth it to see the look on the cute nursing student's face when confronted with their first uncut catheterization. Can you say "Kodak moment"?

As for my fiancé, the reason I asked her is that she had once mentioned that her previous partner was uncircumcised; clinical curiosity drove me to ask. After all, who better to compare than one who has experienced both? Just for reference, though, we were actually raised in very different cultures; the only things that we have in common is our language, race (though you couldn't tell in the summer time), and a shared geeky streak.

I will agree with you on satisfaction being something that is attainable by all, regardless of various additions or subtractions. That being said, I do regret several drunken piercings; remember, y'all, professional piercers are NOT safe drinking companions!

In summation (as has been stated by many here), the procedure is strictly elective, and the pros and cons are evenly matched, given a little instruction either way. Each must make the choice for his own children, and while I may not agree with you, I defend to the end your right to do so. I will probably elect to have my children circumcised, if they are male; I get the feeling you did not. That's why they make chocolate and vanilla, folks.

Nate, I would not be surprised if the problems you've had catheterizing intact men have arisen because of the common practice (in the US) of forced foreskin retraction of boys - this is bound to cause some level of phimosis, which would make catheterization harder. BUT the idea that a normal (undamaged) intact foreskin might be difficult to retract is quite simply nonsense. I know because I have a normal intact foreskin - you can retract it behind the glans with one finger - once retracted it stays behind the glans until you extend it again. Any problems catheterizing MUST be caused by phimosis, which in the US is usually iatrogenic (caused by ignorant family doctors forcing back the foreskin during childhood - I know because a doctor tried - unsuccessfully, thank God - to do it to me).

I disagree with you that the pros and cons of circumcision are evenly matched. The pros of circumcision all arise from religious cultural practices and from basic misunderstandings about the very nature of the foreskin, while the cons have been proven by medical investigations that have been done over the last 60 years. In the US, the popularity of circumcision arose in the 19th Century from fear that masturbation caused disease - a belief that we now know to be false. The practice of circumcision was popularized by John Harvey Kellogg and others whose goal was to save lives by preventing masturbation. Sadly, these misguided "pioneers" of the practice remain very successful in convincing the medical establishment that a completely unnecessary and actually harmful practice is necessary and beneficial.

As for the procedure being "elective", that is demonstrably false, especially so in the US. Here, the victims of circumcision have no say in the matter. This should be a "personal" decision, but it is done when the only say the person it's done to has about it is the ability to scream about it afterwards, which all of them do (unless they go into catatonic shock, which many do upon the first application of the scalpel (let's not forget that most circumcisions are done with too-little or no anesthetic). The death rate after circumcision is quite alarming: one baby I read about actually burst his stomach due to screaming from the pain. Infections post-procedure are very common indeed, as are other less serious complications such as skin bridges.

Circumcision is a wholly damaging and useless CULTURALLY-driven mutilation, as well as being severely painful. It has nothing whatsoever to do with medical need. In my view, no one should be subjected to it without actual cause (by which I mean some infection that does not respond to the normal treatments).

As for your girlfriend's experience, all I can say is this: cultural bias is deep-seated. Just because she's had an intact boyfriend, it doesn't make those cultural biases go away.

I agree with Nate (except for the atheist part)!

For a good explanation of the foreskin and what circumcision does to it, see:


You can find arguments for either direction.  Any opinion about one site or other of the augment tends to be from someone who has not really experienced the other side.

For us it was not worth the risk, outside of my cultural heritage, and I felt my son would enjoy sex more.

The last point is purely subjective.  

I researched the question when my sons were born a few years ago, and I concluded that there are minor health benefits to circumcision: there's a little less risk of infection.  But the advantage seemed pretty small, and easily managed by keeping it clean.  On the other hand, it appeared that sex is a bit better when uncircumcised.  But you neither gain nor lose much either way.

So I concluded that the benefit of either is low, and that there is no compelling health reason to circumcise.  The pediatrician concurred, saying it's mostly for cosmetic reasons.  So we didn't circumcise.  So far it hasn't been a problem. 

Ditto. The same conclusion we came to. 


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