Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The two words that changed everything

I'm not going to mince words, even though they are hard to say.

I believe routine, infant circumcision to be wrong.

Hear what I said.

I said that I believe routine infant circumcision to be wrong.

I did not say that people that have done it are terrible people (if that is true, I am first in line).  I did not say that parents who do it don't love their children, or are bad parents (I know I love mine more than I can explain).

I said that the act of routine infant circumcision is wrong.

I've been asked why I talk about it.  Or why it matters. Or been told it is not an issue of right and wrong.

I disagree.

The reason I talk about it, is because I do believe it matters.  I  believe it matters to God, and it should matter to us.  I believe it matters because newborn baby boys are innocent and defenseless, and I believe that we have been sold a lie by our culture. Did you know that the majority of circumcisions are performed without anesthesia? I believe that it is important to stop and think critically about things, even if they are common-even if we think it is what we are supposed to be doing.

The very, very first thing that struck me when I began to research this topic were these two words:


To be honest, I was offended.  I had already circumcised two of my children, and I was offended that anyone would believe that I did something cosmetic to my child's genitals.  What an offensive thought.

I pushed back my offense, wondering if my defensiveness should signal me that something wasn't right. I kept reading and researching.  I found that some insurance companies don't cover routine infant circumcision, because it is considered cosmetic. In 18 states, it is not covered by state insurance.

I talked to my obstetrician about it (OB's perform circumcisions in most states/hospitals).  I told him I didn't want to do it (with my third child).  I will spare you his exact words, as I have promised not to use inflammatory language, but to sum it up, he was extremely supportive of my decision.  He told me what I already knew-that it was cosmetic.

Then, I had my baby.  The nurse asked me if I was planning to circumcise him.  I said no.  She said "Well, good. It's cosmetic anyway".

I already knew this, from my study and research.  But it was good to hear it from the mouths of this medical staff.  I couldn't help but wonder though-why now? Why are people telling me this, only AFTER I decided not to do it? Why did no one tell me this when I was making this choice for my first two sons? Why did no doctor, or nurse say "you know this is cosmetic, right?".  Would it have changed my mind? I'd like to think so, but of course can't be sure.  But they should have said it.  I should have known that information before I subjected my tiny boys to the surgery.

The fact that it is cosmetic is one of the biggest reasons I believe it to be wrong.

When I allowed myself to really break that down, and really think about the fact that as a culture, we have accepted that it is acceptable to perform cosmetic surgery on the genitals of a newborn, I had to admit, even to myself, that that just isn't right.

Cosmetic surgery (female circumcision) on infant female genitalia was legal in the United States until 1997.  More on that later.

In January of this year, news stories of a mother having her three year old tattooed horrified readers.

Those two items are shocking to most folks, yet the cosmetic altering of baby boys is not shocking.  I had to start asking myself why.

I believe morally and ethically that cosmetically altering the body of newborns or children, routinely (meaning not to correct a medical problem) is wrong.

I believe, as a Christian, that routine cosmetic surgery on baby boys is wrong, because it implies that somehow, God was wrong-  That what He created was messed up, or ugly, or useless, and it needs to be promptly fixed.

Psalm 139:13-15
"For You formed my inward parts; you wove me together in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Wonderful are your works....My frame was not hidden from you, When I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth"

I Corinthians 12:18 says " But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, each one of them exactly as they should be"

More on the Biblical and spiritual component later.  Yes, I know that there is circumcision in the Old Testament, and will address that soon!

Cosmetic. Unnecessary . Two words that changed everything. 


  1. Not to start a disagreement, but I do want to add that it is not always cosmetic. I have an adopted son who was never circumcised. At birth the doctors told his birth mother that he needed to be because his foreskin was so tight that he could not use the bathroom properly and that it would affect his future fertility. She had been so brainwashed that it would be a "sin" etc, that she refused. Now, at 5, my son needs to undergo surgery that will be a million times more traumatic to him than it would have been at birth. Every person and situation is unique.

    1. Hey! Another great resource for you. This is a website of doctors that has compiled good circumcision information. One of the links is to intact friendly doctors. I know that there are others in other areas that are not listed on the list and I am still willing to help you find one if you don't live in any of the listed areas!

    2. Hi Anonymous! Just wanted to say that phimosis (tight foreskin) can be easily cured in other ways without something as drastic and painful as circumcision. Please check out the doctors Carrie mentioned.

    3. I'm so sorry you're facing this. You are right, not every surgery is cosmetic. Some people do face very real issues that need surgical intervention. I'm hoping you'll be able to find a doctor who will do the least invasive and best fix possible for your little guy. I know what it's like to see your little one in pain or all hooked up to tubes or to comfort them when they're coming out of the general anesthesia. You wish there was any possible way to be able to avoid or lessen their trauma and pain. Perhaps there is - I'm hoping there's another doctor out there who know of a less traumatic way of addressing your little guy's issue.

      There is a huge difference between surgically altering a normal penis and addressing real problems. There are many, many options for addressing such issues as well. I wish circumcision wasn't seen as such a panacea. In the case of a tight foreskin, often they can save most of the foreskin by simply slitting it open slightly (not removing anything). I would personally go that route if at all possible considering the foreskin has more nerves in it than the clitoris. Better to widen it than lose it!

      Anyway, I offer these comments not in any way to make you feel bad or to question you, but to offer more information and another perspective. Facing surgery with you little ones is always a terribly stressful experience for everyone. I'll keep your little guy in my thoughts and prayers. I know you're trying to do what's best for him. <3

    4. Sorry but the one that was brainwashed was the doctor. Cultural brainwashing. A "tight" foreskin is normal and expected in a baby and in a young boy. The average age of natural separation is 10 yrs old. My son is 5 and his foreskin is still "tight" and fused to the glans. Again, it's normal.

    5. Did you know that in an infant/young child the foreskin is actually fused to the head of the penis, similarly to how the fingernail is fused to the nail bed? It is actually completely normal for a 5 year old to have a tight foreskin. The age when the foreskin becomes retractable can vary from early childhood to puberty. In fact, during puberty the high amounts of testosterone causes separation if it has not already happened. Therefore, it is frankly impossible to diagnose phimosis in a child, and if late in life phimosis occurs, it can be resolved without surgical intervention. An example of such a treatment is a steroid creme with gentle stretching exercises.

      There is no need to clean under a child's foreskin because the tight foreskin prevents dirt and contaminants from getting under it. In fact, forced retraction can damage the foreskin and underlying tissues by causing tears that actually promote infection. You should look into a second opinion from another doctor who is more knowledgeable about the foreskin and its functions. Sadly because circumcision was so common in the past century, many American doctors are ignorant about the anatomy and physiology of an intact penis, particularly its development.

      Did you know that nonreligious routine infant circumcision is a purely American procedure? The majority of men in Canada, the UK, and Australia have not been circumcised for decades, and it never caught on in continental Europe.

      I highly suggest that you consult this resource before exposing your son to the risks of an unnecessary surgery.
      It also has a plethora of other sources and resources that you can consult. Please don't assume that just because a doctor says something that it is correct. Doctors are only human, and are capable of making mistakes.


    6. Anonymous, I know you are getting a lot of info here-I hope that it is helpful! I know it can be overwhelming. I wanted you to know that if you'd like to talk privately, you can email me. My email address is calee824@yahoo.com. I will not post or comment about our private conversation publicly. I would love to help you find any information or medical care that your son might need.

    7. I am a 41 y/o male who was circumcised at 5 years due to "phimosis". Today, many hospitals at age 5 will test your son for retraction, and if the foreskin does not retract yet they will recommend circumcision due to "phimosis". This is false. More than 60% of the non-circumcised children are not retractable at age 5, and the doctors know that if left alone, that child has a high rate of overcoming that "phimosis" before age 17.

      Please check this blog entry: http://circleaks.blogspot.com/2013/05/circumcision-at-5-years-how-your-doctor.html

      I hope your son can be spared an unneeded surgery. I know that my surgery was not necessary at all.

    8. http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(05)63612-9/abstract termed "infrequent but important complication" circumcision can cause phimosis

      http://www.network54.com/Forum/244184/ How to Fix Phimosis and Tight Foreskins, Solutions That Work

      The UK doesn't cut off the foreskin that has 16 known functions (65%-85% of the male's sexual receptors). a Z-plasty is sometimes used but about 89% are handled by manual stretching. I not you don't say what the problem is. Phimosis can't be determined at this age. Retracting can take up to age 18. Even TLCTugger has a tool for manual stretching. And too, many men are okay with having non retractible foreskin. It is not a problem. The problem is usually being told there is a problem. Btw my belief is based on knowing their are different thicknesses of dartos muscle, that harder to retract are just a far spectrum of thicker dartos. I chose circumcision at age 5 and know it to be the worse thing ever.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your son's impending surgery. I hope and pray that you will seek a second opinion, from an intact-friendly physician. Often, finding a doctor that is not from the United States is the best way to do that.

    Sadly, American doctors are, by and large, incredibly misinformed about the intact penis. The American medical system has received much criticism from doctors and medical organizations around the world for our "culture" of circumcision. Many doctors give information and advice about the normal penis that completely contradicts scientific data and information, even from our own, American sources.

    Having a tight foreskin at birth is completely normal, and the way that baby boys are designed. The foreskin functions as a protective organ, similar to an eyelid. It is fused to the glans of the penis. It is SUPPOSED to be tight. ALL boys are born with a naturally tight foreskin that can not be retraced. This is basic human anatomy information that can be found pretty much anywhere (even Wikipedia!). For a doctor to claim at birth that a child's foreskin is "Too tight" and will affect his "future fertility" is absolutely false information, and extremely uninformed and unethical medical practice. I am so sorry that your family fell victim to a culturally biased doctor that does not know basic information about the normal human anatomy. I am so thankful that his birthmom knew that the information she was receiving was wrong, and that she stood up for her baby boy. She should be commended! The fact that this doctor was crying "TOO TIGHT FORESKIN!!!!" immediately upon birth is in no way medically, or scientifically accurate. It's just not possible.

    Over time, a boy's foreskin will naturally become looser, and able to retract. This can happen anywhere from age 2, up into the mid to upper teens. There is NO WAY TO KNOW before the upper teen years if the child has a legitimate medical condition where the foreskin will not retract properly. This is EXTREMELY rare. In other countries, where circumcision is not the "norm", very, very few men end up needing circumcisions for any medical reason. More on that in a minute. Until a boy retracts on his own (again, anywhere up through the teen years), the foreskin should NOT be retracted by anyone. Even the very conservative American Academy of Pediatrics admits to that. Often in the United States, doctors mistakenly tell caregivers to forcibly retract, which causes pain and medical problems. ANY DOCTOR THAT RETRACTS A NORMAL BOYS FORESKIN, OR WHO ADVISES A PARENT TO IS OFFERING UNPROVEN, and OUT OF DATE medical advise that can CAUSE HARM. A baby and young child should be cleaned by a simple wiping (like a finger). The glans should not be exposed.

  3. One cause of tight foreskin (primary phimosis) is the too early attempt to retract. This can cause injury to the foreskin, which makes it impossible or difficult to retract. In some cases, even without attempted retraction, primary phimosis can occur. This, medically, is actually considered a normal variation of the intact male, and can be easily treated by 3-6 weeks of a corticosteroid cream and gradual gentle retraction when/if it is time.Having surgery to "correct" this condition is typically not necessary, and there is no way at 5 years old that any doctor can tell you that this "problem" (which is actually just normal), will work itself out as the boy ages into the natural age of retraction.

    The fact that your son is 5 years old tells me a lot. There is no way that he could have survived for the past 5 years if he truly did not have the ability to urinate. Obviously, there is no actual way for anyone to know or prove that his fertility is affected. He sounds like a completely normal, happy, intact little boy, who has been blessed to have his entire body.

    Even IF a person is one of the EXTREMELY rare individuals who needs a medical circumcision, that still does not justify routine infant circumcision. There are plenty of body parts that folks end up having trouble with that we do not routinely remove at birth "just in case". To do so would be completely unethical, as is routine infant circumcision. Pediatrician Ted Humphrey states that the chances of an intact boy needing a medical circumcision later in life (in the United States) is less than 1/2 of 1%. A newborn boy actually has a higher chance of dying from his circumcision than he does of ever actually needing one.

    Please, please seek a second opinion. You are welcome to contact me if you would like help finding an intact friendly physician in your area. I would gladly point you to a number of wonderful resources that would spare your sweet son an unnecessary surgery.

    Blessings and prayers,

  4. The following article is excellent, and covers many of these issues, and also has the sources for all of this medical information, so that you can check it out. Please do!

  5. I have 3 intact sons. None of them have ever been retracted at all and all of them have foreskins that are still tightly fused to the glans. Their foreskins all appear very small and tight. THIS IS NORMAL and GOOD! This means their foreskins are doing their job - protecting the glans! Early forced retraction can do severe damage and be devastating to an intact boy. It is very important to protect our sons by making sure that all care providers they may come in contact with understand the function and purposes of the foreskin and DO NOT attempt to retract it at all. It is extremely rare for problems to come up unless the poor boy is manipulated by a misinformed care provider. And unfortunately, many care providers in this country haven't the first clue on proper intact care. It is more likely for a baby to die from his circumcision than for him to ever need a circumcision later in life! Please please seek second opinions before having an irreversible surgery done on your son. Some boys grow up to find out what was taken away from them without their consent and wish they had that choice for themselves and/or wish they had their foreskin back. Once it is gone, it's gone. :(

  6. Hi Anonymous. My two year old is also intact. We have changed pediatricians because the one he had since birth constantly tried to forcibly retract his foreskin at every appointment. I almost had to shout at him to stop, because I know this can do long-term damage. He told me "well, we are eventually going to have to do it" and said also that it should retract on its own by 12 months. That is TOTALLY incorrect information. The doctor we see now is Polish but has been in the states for decades. When he checked my son's genitals at the last appointment, he pulled the foreskin just enough to see the hole and that was it. My son's foreskin at 2 is still attached to the glans, as it should be. The last stats I read about circumcisions that were medically necessary - it's about 1 in more than 16,000. I second what Carrie said - please find an intact friendly doctor for a second opinion. Most likely, your son won't need to be circumcised.

  7. Hi! I am so sorry to hear you are undergoing such an ordeal. Unfortunately since most American male doctors here don't have a foreskin, and most female American doctors have circumcised partners and a misunderstanding of intact care, they don't understand why in the world it's such a big deal to simply do away with it. Unfortunately it IS a big deal and everyone should leave no stone un-turned before resorting to something like that!! Here is something written by an intact friendly doctor- about the frequency he has seen the medical necessity for circumcision. After reading it, I'm certain it might be a medical need for boys about as often as it is for girls. (very, very rarely.)


    I have also had to switch pediatricians in order to find an intact friendly one. In fact it took me 4 tries. :( Now we are with a doctor we love and I know my son is safe.

    1. Beware of temp doctors and medical office help. It only takes a second to cause retracting harm while the mother's back is turned getting something.