My wife and I are expecting our first son in a couple of months, and I was wondering if anyone had any pertinent advice/experience regarding circumcising a newborn.
I grew up in the States and am circumcised, as it seems were most of my peers growing up. My wife is from South America, where we are currently living and where circumcision is not the norm.
Some of the factors weighing on my mind are:
-the lack of circumcising experience of the surgeon, being as it's not a standard procedure here;
-possible effects of our son being the only guy who's circumcised (in S.America) or the weird uncircumcised guy (if we're in the States);
-possible effects of him being different than me (if we choose not to circumcise);
-the cost (circumcision is not covered by our health insurance);
-possible health benefits of circumcision;
-possible psychological damage from circumcision (there are lots of fear-mongering anti-circumcision sites on the internet which purport this; I'm not sure how much credit they deserve).
I realize it's probably not that big of a deal either way, but if there are any fathers out there who would offer some sound advice, I'd be grateful to hear your opinion.
You answered your own question.
I did not have my first son circumcised for many of the reasons stated already. However, as he got a little older (about 4), he developed phimosis (foreskin inflammation) that was very painful for him. So he ended up circumcised anyway. I told the doc to remove only as much foreskin as necessary, no "high and tight" if he could avoid it. When my second son was born, I went ahead and had him circ'd, because I didn't want to risk another case of phimosis. Again, I instructed the doc to leave him a bit of skin if she could.
I wouldn't worry about the fitting in thing. I remember seeing my first uncut penis when I was in high school. One of the guys on our wrestling team was uncut. I remember being surprised by the sight of it, but nothing more. No one gave him any grief over it. It may have even been something a conversation piece in a "wow, that's kinda cool" sort of way. (In those days, we were not bashful about anything in the locker-room.)
Given your circumstances, I would say leave him uncut. If it gets to be a problem medically, then you could have it done and it would be covered by insurance.Otherwise, in your circumstances, I thinks the costs outweigh the benefits.
By the way, here is a bit of historical trivia. Originally, Jewish circumcision was just a snip off the top, leaving at least half the foreskin remaining. That changed after Israel came under the control of the Greeks (and later the Romans). Many Jewish men at that time had their foreskins restored from the flap that was left so as not to be ridiculed at the gymnasium and baths (where everyone was naked and uncircumcised). To stop this trend, circumcision was changed to what it is today, leaving almost no foreskin remaining, to prevent any foreskin restoration, which was seen as a kind of renunciation of the Jewish faith.
As for Christianity, St. Paul was emphatic about freeing male Gentiles from the circumcision requirement (read his Epistles) as part of being baptized Christian. Circumcision was a sign for the old covenant, baptism was the sign of the new covenant. Besides the theological argument, there was the cultural argument as well: circumcision would have been a huge obstacle to Gentile men becoming Christian. That, along with the dietary laws, were left behind as no longer necessary for salvation.
For those of you who are uncircumcised, I say great. I'd be curious to know what having a foreskin is like. It certainly seems like a nifty thing to have. For us men who are cut, no big deal. I like the look and it works for me just fine. (I have read where circumcision may have been a cosmetic thing originally: the exposed head was a simulation of erection and a way for men to call female sexual attention to themselves; just as women using lipstick today is a sexual signal to men.)
Cutting off a body part just so that it does not have to be washed is barbaric, and that is the most flattering adjective I can offer.
Appearance is a non issue. If it is, your son is a flasher. Or has really, really, really poor taste in Women. In either case, circumcision is kinda the least of his worries.
We live in a civilized society featuring regular bathing and sexual practices meant specifically to limit exposure to disease. Immunity issues are irrelevant
There is no religious significance unless you are Jewish or Muslim.
Thank you Michael! My sentiments exactly! It is barbaric, antiquated and perverse to wilfully sexually mutilate a child. (as it is seen at least by us here in Europe.)
I can understand that there are religious aspects and they have their covenant with God. I am not going to step on anyone's toes over that! If you are not Jewish or Muslim, there is no thing that could recommend the procedure to anyone.
Not been online for a while but I am going to answer a few points here:
We have to invent the female equivalent out of words. Let's lay out the important characteristics:
1. Millennia-old practice - Yup, can't argue with that, Women throughout large parts of sub-saharan Africa have been circumcised for centuries if not longer
2. Deep religious significance - None for girls although it is expected of Jewish men. Not demanded of Muslim men although carried out in 99% of men of that faith anyway.
3. Deep ethnic/cultural significance - For people living in America???
4. Possibly puts patient at reduced risk of contracting deadly virus - Very dubious. It is true that HIV transmission appears a little lower amongst the circumcised but this is more likely due to men working away from home for long periods of time and sending money back. For those uncircumcised (largely Christian) people, many typically use prostitutes. For those cuircumcised (largely Muslim) people, they may just take a second wife nearer their work!
5. Less traumatic than other medical procedures performed on infants I have looked but not found any evidence to back this up!
6. I had it done. So did the mothers and grandmothers going back on both sides for centuries. Yeah, I had my bottom smacked when I was a kid. Not once have I ever hit my own son out of anger.
7. Possibly makes the organ more attractive to the opposite sex. A matter of personal taste. An ex of mine had never been with an uncircumcised man before. She said it took a little getting used to but after a couple of weeks she actually said it felt and looked better uncut. For that matter, boob jobs make the opposite sex more attractive to me so maybe we should make those more widespread!
8. Preserves sexual functioning. Preserved but reduced and certainly not "the way nature intended"
9. Reduced sexual pleasure possible, but unknown. Certainly not eliminated. No evidence the procedure results in painful intercourse. It does cause the glans to thicken and become more leathery. Also huge amounts of nerve cells are cut off - this would certainly reduce sensitivity.
10. Indeed, the procedure eliminates one source of injury during intercourse. I will give you that. A torn frenulum can be painful!
11. Almost all doctors in the two specialties that will attend my newborn daughter are trained in the procedure and have performed hundreds or thousands. Still not a pursuasive argument to have it done! My wife had two midwives in attendance when my son was born and I was crapping myself. My wife had had two already but the labour was quick (one hour from first contraction) and we were miles away from the nearest hospital at the time!
12. Legal. So is tobacco and alcohol and in the USA, firearms. Still not something you would want to subject a child to.
13. Costs less than $200, or is completely covered by insurance. Yes, a way to get more money out of people in a society that does not have nationalised health coverage. Could anybody answer me why it is covered by insurance policies over there?
Will is correct. Mine was a rebuttal, not a positive argument.
For #3, absolutely Yes. It's very hard to explain to a non-Semite what it feels like to be culturally or ethnically Jewish. I can give examples of concerns and offenses that arise that would never arise among gentiles, but I can't express the source in logic.
I don't have a citation for #5. As I mentioned before, it's a study my father (who has worked in healthcare for several years) read about. It involved video of babies crying during circumcisions and during other common infant procedures, and adults judging by the intensity of the crying which was the most painful. Circumcision wasn't top. I can't remember what was. Maybe injected vaccines.
As I've explained elsewhere on AoM, regular maternity care and vaginal delivery costs $4,000-$6,000 [just the obstetrician's fees; hospital fees, lab fees, any assistants' fees are additional]. Circumcision is about $150 more. Sometimes the doctor has to come in special on the weekend just to do them. Argue about the cost of medical procedures all you want; circumcision is not even an ant hill in that battle.
As to why they're covered by insurance, it's probably layered. In the US, they're still done on a majority of newborn males, and they were even more popular when the insurance formularies were written. It would have seemed strange to the pencil-pushers to refuse to cover a doctor-performed procedure done on 99% of eligible newborns. There may have been concerns that it would be done back-alley if there wasn't a third-party payer. Back when the formularies were written, people still believed the folk wisdom about keeping it clean, so it was an at least recommended preventative procedure. (and the folk-wisdom may have been true considering the state of plumbing back then)
And that tiny feminazi in me points out that in at least one state, circumcision is covered by medicaid, but pregnancy is not.
To those who say a circumcised penis is more aesthetically pleasing, do you also bleach your childrens hair and make them wear blue contact lenses because that looks more attractive too?
To those who say they do it to their sons "to look like their father" how much time in your household do you spend comparing penises to each other? I think that that is a pretty screwed up household!
To all men I say that one of your main responsibilities as fathers is to protect your children from harm and that includes unnecessary surgery which brings with it infections, scarring and many other problems.
1) No, but then, my genetics don't need enhancements.
2) Every day apparently.
3) The line of work I'm in, and my leisure time activities, precludes me from thinking anything that happens in a doctors office is "harm".
The basic principle is this: The foreskin is not a birth defect that needs to be corrected. God/nature did not make a mistake when a foreskin was put on the penis. It's there for a reason.