By the time I was pregnant with my second child, the question came up for me yet again: to circumcise or not to circumcise? After doing some extensive reading on the subject, I knew what decision to make.
The first time I was pregnant, along with What to Expect and Parenting for Dummies and God only knows what else, I started reading up on circumcision. I had been hearing a lot from people who opposed it, and I wanted to find out why. To me, it seemed like such a standard practice (in our country) that I had never thought to question it. But I figured as a soon-to-be parent, I had better do my research before I cut off part of my possible future son's body, right?
Well, it turned out I was having a girl, so my research — while mildly shocking — was short-lived. But here I am, pregnant again with my second child, and I've begun asking the question again: to circumcise or not to circumcise? Turns out, after a lot of reading, the question isn't really a question. It's a definitive "No." My husband and I are 110 percent certain that if we are having a boy, he will not be getting circumcised.
The way I see it, there are about a dozen reasons not to circumcise and maybe only one (not so good) reason to do it. While I had thought there must be some medical reason for chopping off a body part, and a pretty vital one at that, there actually is none. That's right — there is no medical reason for circumcision, and neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the American Medical Association has ever recommended it at any time. In fact, the U.S. is the only country that routinely circumcises without religious reasoning.
I know, right? It blew my mind, too.
When it comes to the foreskin, nature truly knows best. It's actually a vital part of the penis that protects it from bacteria entering the urinary tract. That's right! Who would've thought a body part that about half the world's population is born with actually serves a purpose? Go figure. On top of that, the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis and has about 20,000 nerve endings that most grown men probably wouldn't give up given the choice... if you know what I mean.
Due to the rate of circumcision in the U.S., we may not realize that 75 percent of men throughout the world are actually not circumcised. Almost all European men are uncircumcised and have completely healthy penises! In fact, most other medically advanced nations are horrified that we practice this unnecessary procedure so routinely in America. This is the land of the free, after all.
While we may have been led to believe that the foreskin is difficult to clean and that it's easier to simply cut it off, this is just not true. Young men can be taught to clean their intact penises quite easily, just as they learn to clean their bums or behind their ears, and I'm sure they would prefer that option to losing a body part promptly after birth. There is no increased risk of disease or illness associated with having an unharmed penis. In fact, complications such as infection, pain and abnormal bleeding are not uncommon side effects of circumcision. In some cases, even hemorrhage and death have resulted. Infants do feel pain, and this seems a rather unpleasant way to come into the world.
Fortunately, the times, they are a-changin'. Since the early 1980s, the circumcision rate in the U.S. has dropped by more than half, going from around 80 percent to now just about 33 percent. That's huge! But one of the main reasons people say they still circumcise is so their son won't look different from his dad. To me, that's simply not a good enough reason to keep doing the same-old thing, especially when there are so many good reasons to keep our children's bodies intact. It seems clear that this is a purely cosmetic procedure — not a medical one — and that therefore, it should never be performed without a person's consent.
For more information about circumcision in the good-old U.S. of A., visit IntactAmerica.org.
Updated by Bethany Ramos on 4/18/2016
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