Why I Chose to Circumcise My Son…

My son was born in 2001. I didn’t really want to circumcise him. It just didn’t seem nice. It didn’t make any sense to me either. Why would our boys be born with something that they didn’t need?

 

A Foreskin is like an Appendix

Our doctor pointed out the appendix.  We are all born with those, yet they are basically useless.  “That’s a good point,” I thought. Except, then I wondered why people didn’t just remove the appendix at like 6-7 years of age to prevent the life threatening issues of appendicitis since they remove the foreskin as a preventative?

Besides, I now know that the foreskin is the home of over 20 thousand specialized nerve endings. It’s doubtful the same could be said of the appendix. But, I’m certainly no doctor.

 

“Intact Foreskin Leads to Infection”

My doctor said that, if left intact, you have to pull back the foreskin and the area often gets infected.  He said it happened a lot. I didn’t really want there to be infections.  I didn’t know that my doctor was wrong about the forced retraction. I didn’t know that you’re not supposed to retract the foreskin until it separates on its own and retracts naturally. That might have made a difference if I had known the truth about it. I wish I had read this before deciding to circumcise my son.

And although I’ve since learned that the foreskin is fused to a baby’s penis to prevent debris and bacteria from getting into the urinary tract of an infant,  my doctor had other really good selling points though too, so it might not have made a difference had I known.

 

“There are basically no complications.”

Our son’s doctor said that  although the waiver says that there are possible complications from circumcision, that’s “just a legal thing the hospital insurance companies make” them do.  He explained that complications pretty much never happen.

When my son was only a couple weeks old, his circumcision led to adhesions. Apparently forced retraction of intact boys also can lead to these. So, I took him to the pediatrician on  two different occasions. Both times, the ped simply yanked the adhesion apart while my son screamed bloody murder and continued to scream for the following ten minutes until I managed to breastfeed him to sleep both times. Both times after he fell asleep, I felt a tremendous lack of control and fear for my baby. Both times, I waited until after he fell asleep to pick up sobbing where his screaming left off.  The doctor said I was being too sensitive. He said this kind of thing happens all the time.  I felt like I was in an insane asylum for a moment, because on the day he was born, the doctor said that complications basically don’t ever happen. I asked him in my head, “Is this NOT a complication?” Apparently, most women just come to accept that this is just part of having a boy.  Look at this thread in a mothering forum where pointers are swapped and stories exchanged about adhesions that often happen when a boy’s foreskin is either cut off or forecefully retracted prematurely.

“In my practice, as a pediatric urologist, I manage the complications of neonatal circumcision. For example, in a two year period, I was referred >275 newborns and toddlers with complications of neonatal circumcision. None of these were ‘revisions’ because of appearance, which I do not do. 45% required corrective surgery (minor as well as major, especially for amputative injury),” explains one Pediatric Urologist (a medical doctor) in an article that goes into more detail here.

If I had known that kind of complication was as common as it is, I probably would have put my foot down. Yet, maybe not, because the doctor still had additional arguments for why we should circumcise our son.

 

Circumcision can reduce the risks of STDs (like HIV)

I didn’t care too much about this because my son wasn’t going to be sexually active for many years. It seemed to me that it didn’t make any sense to take a risk with a newborn baby when he would be at his most vulnerable for something that he wouldn’t be at risk for for many years. As it turned out, as Georgetown University’s Dr. McAllister points out in this video, the studies that claimed circumcision prevents STDs were seriously flawed (explained again here by different researchers) and hence have questionable results anyway. Besides, acting like this is so effective might lead a young man into a false sense of security, don’t you think?

 

Parents need to be brave and do the right thing for their children

Our doctor knew that I had suffered a still birth the year before my son was born. He said that I needed to be brave and do what was right for my child to protect him. I thought that’s what I was doing in not wanting to get him cut. My doctor pointed out though that my unfounded fears of circumcision would be emotionally scarring for him. That doctor was obviously unaware of the trends and predictions though, because even ten years ago, when my son was born, the rates of circumcision in America were drastically declining as you can see if you read through to the bottom of this article. I have to wonder though, even if it weren’t declining so rapidly, just how bad would those emotional scars be? Would they be worse than the physical scars left from repeatedly ripping apart his adhesions?

Yet, in the end, being afraid of making a decision based on my own fears of my son dying from his circumcision was the swaying argument. My doctor and my ex-husband won. I didn’t want to be a coward. I wanted to be strong for my son. Who was I to say argue with a pediatrician? I cried and told the doctor I didn’t want to risk my son’s life. He assured me that in reality, babies do not die from circumcision. So, I conceded.

Oh, but just one more thing…

In retrospect, would indulging my fears have been so bad? Would protecting my child from even the slightest risk really have been such a character flaw?

Because I bet Riley’s doctor told his parents all the same things:

53 Comments

  1. Jenn

    thanks for sharing your story, Dawn. It’s so important for parents to get all the facts long before their expected due date. The ignorance about proper intact care is widespread in our country and even if a family decides to keep their son intact, they still have to make sure they are being cared for by an intact-friendly doctor. Doctors and nurses alike in the USA are not educated about the prepuce. The textbooks they ‘learn’ from have illustrations of circumcised penises only. WTF??!?!?!?!

  2. Dawn, Your pediatrician preyed on your fears and coerced you to agree to an unnecessary surgery that put your boy at risk. I am glad your son survived his circumcision, more than 100 American baby boys don’t.. However, it is too soon to know if he’ll suffer any of the other complications that don’t show up until much later in life. What I observerd is that you make the same mistake that many parents do, you think that this controversy is about you, your fears, your feelings, your relationships with your ex-husband and pediatrician. It is not. It is about the body of a now ten-year-old boy.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      I wish I had known then that it was a debatable issue. In my own mind, it was do the wrong thing or do what you want. It was portrayed to me as the only option. I believe that if I didn’t circ him and he got an infection, I could end up losing him to CPS. This is my responsibility and my weight to carry. And it is his loss. But it was not my fault. I didn’t even know to look for opposing views. I didn’t realize there were any. I used to feel horrible, once I started waking up… but guilt is a useless emotion. I don’t write from guilt, I write from knowledge.

  3. Dawn, Thanks for responding. You said, “I could end up losing him to CPS.” I have heard that before, but have had a hard time understanding it. I understand that parents fear losing kids to their local child protective services agency for any number of reasons, most of them unfounded. As kind and knowledgable as the current generation of parents are, they don’t have the courage or conviction of previous generations. Parents a few decades ago never thought about CPS coming into their home and taking their babies. Could you say more about this fear? It would help me to help other parents.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      It’s because our doctors tell us that. Once, my daughter had an infection and I wanted to delay her shots until her staph infection cleared up and he warned me that if something happened between now and then, he’d be obligated to let CPS know.

      The circumcision thing is because some doctors used to explain that babies can get infections from remaining intact, of course, now I know that’s from forced retraction. They used to say that was neglectful.

      My first son was born at an inconvenient time as far as knowledge availability went. There were fringe groups, but they portrayed themselves so fanatical, that when a doctor looked at you like you were so stupid for even considering those things, it was easy to believe them.

      The fringe groups were so militant and judgmental. I’ve found that actually UNDERSTANDING that most women care and want to do the right thing for their baby and validating that helps to inform them of the changing times. It’s the same with anything, even something as simple as breastfeeding… it’s bizarre the things doctors tell women that they believe.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        For the record, I didn’t get the shots that day… and in fact, his antics convinced me I needed a new ped. But my strength comes from learning the hard way, with my first son, a decade ago.

    • Jeni

      Dan, I think the specter of CPS is a bigger fright for us parents today than it used to be, for numerous issues. I do not remember my mother and her friends, in the 80’s, worrying that CPS would persecute them for things like ordinary childhood accidents or illnesses. And here today, I worry about things like letting my kids go out in mismatched socks. Perhaps part of it is because we hear about incidents from coast to coast in a way that we didn’t used to. But the things I hear are terrifying. Kids are removed or families harassed for all kinds of insane non-issues. You don’t even have to think that you’re doing anything wrong or questionable to fear the government anymore.

  4. Dear Dawn,

    Thank you for this. I hope that you and all of the mothers that have been duped by the greed of their physicians would write to those physicians and explain the harm that was done. So may doctors are performing this procedure. They need to be TOLD that they are hurting babies, hurting mommies, and hurting relationships.
    I like to send a letter, telling the doctor everything they did right, then telling them how deeply the circumcision had grieved everyone involved. Then one sentence about somthing the doctor does right. Then sign it and send it certified mail with return receipt, so the docotr has to sign for it.
    Let me know if I can help.
    Love,
    Dolores

  5. Jennifer

    Thank you for sharing your story. At first I laughed at the thought, “Why would anyone leave their son uncircumcised?”. Then I was shocked to find out that it is unnecessary, no national health organization in the World recommends it and most strongly urge against it. It was shocking to learn that circumcision started in America in 1860’s as a means to cure masturbation and all the diseases and conditions that masturbation supposedly caused. “Mass involuntary circumcision has failed to achieve any of the public health benefits its advocates have claimed for it; but even if it had achieved them all, there can be no scientific or ethical justification for depriving anyone of sovereignty over his own sex organs. Neonatal circumcision violates bodily integrity and imposes on an unconsenting individual a diminished penis for life. In the wake of the Nuremberg trials, it is inappropriate and unethical for doctors to persist in performing or advocating involuntary penile reduction surgery on healthy, normal individuals. The totalitarian concept of involuntary prophylactic surgery espoused by circumcision advocates has no place in modern medicine or the civilized world. The key to decreasing the transmission of STDs is education, not amputation. ” Where circumcision does not prevent STD’s > http://www.foreskin.org/immuno.htm It goes against all medical ethics to first do no harm and second use less invasive means of treatment, especially before amputation. Intact genitals are natural and normal and the are a birth right. 80% of the World’s male population is intact (not circumcised).
    The Case against Circumcision, Dr. Fleiss > http://www.drmomma.org/2009/11/case-against-circumcision.html.
    The Functions and Purposes of the Foreskin > http://www.drmomma.org/2009/09/functions-of-foreskin-purposes-of.html

  6. Wendy

    OMGosh! Another unscientific and unproved bunch of malarky! I will stick to what the BIBLE says because GOD knows and said why he wanted it done more than man will ever comprehend, apparently! I’m disgusted at this article and those who praise you like your some mini-god. A lot of doctor’s and scientists don’t know anything!

    Just like they (doctors and scientists) said back in the early 90’s that cow’s breath was deteriating the ozone layer and that chicken eggs were high in cholesterol. Then, these same idiotic, nincompoops had to recant their words because they found that their uneducated guesses were false. Misleading the public before then and still today.

    What happened to common sense? Do you seriously think GOD would create something that would harm where we live or harm our bodies! Absolutely NOT! MAN is the enemy as to why things aren’t good for us with all the harmful chemicals and other junk. We were put in charge of the earth to take care of it not DESTROY it!

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      “What happened to common sense? Do you seriously think GOD would create something that would harm where we live or harm our bodies! Absolutely NOT! ”

      You mean like foreskin?

      I also believe in God. Except I think God mad us how he wanted us and didn’t “screw up” when it came to men’s genitalia.

    • Niecey

      Wendy,

      Romans 4:10-12
      New Living Translation (NLT)
      10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!
      11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. 12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.

      First of all, biblical circumcision is completely different from American, clinical circumcision. They shouldn’t even have the same name. It’s a very different procedure.
      Secondly, Jesus died and rose again to fulfill the law. We now are under a system of grace. Circumcision set the jews apart as those under the law. We no longer are under the law, and we no longer need circumcised. Paul was a huge advocate of this, and he’s responsible for reaching Europe (which eventually reached the USA) with the message of Christ.

      We really need to separate this issue from one of religion. It is a medical issue, not a religious one. We are accepted as we are through Christ.

      If you would like to investigate it more on a medical level, there is a wealth of information to that regard online. It might take a while to get through it, but I challenge you to try. It’s eye opening.

      • Nikki

        Thank you for this response. You are so right about circumcision being totally different in biblical times. Also, we are gentiles. Gentiles did not get circumcised. I have a 34 year old DH who is not circumcised and has not once had an infection or an STD, thank you very much. I also have an 18 year old son who is totally healthy, well adjusted, and uncircumcised. He is actually proud of it and has more than a few kids in his gym class who aren’t mutilated either. I do believe it is a personal decision but it shouldn’t be lumped into a biblical category. I am proud to say we chose not to circ. I won’t ever judge anyone who does but I will urge them to seriously consider the reasons behind it. Most of the time it is now done for cosmetic reasons. How incredibly sad.

  7. Angie

    “What happened to common sense? Do you seriously think GOD would create something that would harm where we live or harm our bodies! Absolutely NOT! MAN is the enemy as to why things aren’t good for us with all the harmful chemicals and other junk. We were put in charge of the earth to take care of it not DESTROY it!”

    You, Wendy, are a complete idiot. Your post truly disgusts me, and I shudder to think that people like you actually breed.

    Even as a silly creationist, you have to understand why your super smart god would put foreskin on a man. And then you might take your head out of your semi-literate ass and think about today’s circumcision; if as much tissue was removed during biblical times as is removed today, each and every baby would bleed out and die.

    You are a big, huge, uneducated idiot.

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  10. babz

    in 1978 the father of my child, not my husband presented himself at the nursery and signed papers and had my son circumcised without my permission or knowledge. the birth certificate had not been issued yet .the only proof the hospital had of parenthood , was that he had been in my room and the nurse had seen him hold the baby .no one asked him anything. i was a beginning midwife at the time, who had taken a slide down the stairs and gone into labor seven weeks early. my midwife backed out of the birth as too early for her.in the same state in nineteen and eighty two i could not sign a rental agreement without my husbands signature on it .some things have changed, i reckon.but not the semi truths and outright lies told to women about birth and their babies.

  11. Wow. There are some seriously interesting commments on here Dawn. You are a trooper. I just wanted to thank you for getting this information out so that families can make informed choices. I was fortunate to have a midwife…so plenty of informed choice….and a huband who agreed with my informed choice. Wishing you a bountfiul, beautiful 2012.

      • Dawn Babcock Papple

        Can you link to it instead? Or use the “press this” thing on WordPress? Not sure if you’re aware or not, but Google is cracking down on duplicate text. If duplicates are found, then Google basically black lists the offending blog in its entirety. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue to us (as of now) but it would harm your entire blog’s placement on Google searches.

  12. Thanks for writing about this, Dawn. It couldn’t be easy to admit you allowed something so horrible done to your son, and I feel for you. If your story will just spare one baby from going under the knife, than it wasn’t in vain. 🙂

  13. mary lanser

    Thank you for writing this article. I think it is so important that parents (MOMS) listen to their instincts to protect their baby from harm. It is often too easy to be pressured and guilted into believing a spouse or medical professional. I had that happen to me 32 years ago, and I will forever feel the regret. My son tells me he isn’t unhappy with being circumcised because foreskin is “gross”….. I am sad that he has fallen prey to the myths and misinformation out there, and doesn’t even know anything about the important functions of foreskin! I will leave him alone about it right now since he is young, and he married a gal who had a child and they are not having any other children, so I won’t be worried about a grandson being cut. Someday, though, he might really feel different about his circumcision, since some of the worst negative effects of being surgically altered at birth don’t show up until a man is in his forties or fifties. I hope he forgives me then…..

  14. My son was born in 2009 and though my un-circed hub was initially against not cir’ing my son (Fear of being different), I did the research (more readily available at this time) and decided against it.

    It’s such a shame this wasn’t more talked about when it happened to your son. It seems to me more people of aware of it’s uneccessariness and have stopped opting for it. Unfortunately, a lot of people are still obsessed with the appearance of it. If someone loves my son later in life, they will love him for himself, not for the extra skin on his body which was intended to be here.

    Are you also aware of the pending research showing those with erectile dysfunction as early as 30’s have a link to being circ’d? Scary stuff. Thanks for shedding awareness on this sensitive subject.

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  16. Joyanna

    Hi Dawn,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I’ve a 10 month old son who is uncircumcised as I had read horror stories from both sides and decided that not to do it. My hubby is uncircumcised as well and he was very anti-circumcision which made the decision easier.

    I can not believe there was so much pressure from your doctor about circumcision!!! You poor thing!! I don’t think my doctor or midwife mentioned it once. I do get a lot of flack from my parents (who circumcised both my brothers) about STDs and it been cleaner and healthier for my sons future wife etc. They often make me feel very guilty about not doing it so its nice to hear a story that doesn’t condemn me for not circumcising my son but rather shares the view point of someone wishing they hadn’t done it. Just to encourage you – I know my brothers (15 and 20) don’t really care either way and because they’ve don’t know what life is like with a foreskin I don’t think it really bothers them. So don’t worry about what your son will think – you made the best decision possible with the information you had at the time. As long as you don’t make him feel different he won’t worry about it.

    Cheers, Joyanna

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      It was ten years ago… “Everybody” in the US were doing it. It’s funny because a friend of mine from Canada had made mention of it, but my doctor also said that the only reason they say that in Canada is because of the governmental health plan… he said they don’t want to pay for it so they exaggerated any issues. The thing is, I believe he believed EVERYTHING he told me…. everything he’d heard.

  17. christine kangas

    I wish I had looked into this with my husband before we had our son. I thought he would be on the same page as me with not wanting to cut our son. I was wrong. He was circ’ed, he wanted our son to be too…. he didn’t want him to “look different than daddy”. I learned this as I lay in the bed after birthing our son as a preemie a month early. I am still upset we had it done. Here’s what really gets me…. if we have another son, do we NOT have it done to the next son and then let our boys be different and have (at least one, if not both of) them resent us? If we don’t do it, will our 2nd son feel like an outcast because #1 and daddy have it done? Will our first son be mad that we cut him and not his brother? I’m so torn now…. I hope #2 is a girl! *sigh*

    • Christy

      Your future sons will be very grateful to be spared having part of their penis amputated. I have a cut husband and stepson, and we have 4 intact (not circumcised) sons together. Our boys are horrified at circumcision, and have zero desire to be circumcised so they will “look like” their dad and big brother. My husband wishes he were not circumcised, but when he had my stepson, he just thought that’s what you did when you had a boy. Just sincerely apologize to your son. My friend has 4 boys, and only the last is intact. Once she learned the truth, she couldn’t do that to another son. There are many families with some sons cut and some not.

  18. roger desmoulins

    The typical American obstetrician or pediatrician is a circumcised male. Or her bedroom experience is limited to circumcised men. Doctors, like many middle class Americans, see the natural penis is sexually disgusting. Medical schools train doctors to circumcise. They do not teach that circumcision is useless and can be harmful. They do not teach how the moving foreskin enhances intercourse and foreplay. Until 15 years ago, medical students were not taught to use anesthesia while performing a RIC.

    The upshot is that educated thoughtful lay people 10-30 years ago often knew a lot more about the intact penis than doctors did. But doctors expect that the advice they give be deferred to. And most people have great respect for the considered professional judgements of the doctors they consult. But when it comes to the most sexual part of a man’s body, the tip of his penis, American doctors have let us down in a major way.

    Incidentally, the potential harm of circumcision has yet to be carefully documented in the USA medical literature. Pediatric urologists are in part to blame, because of their silence about the fraction of their caseloads arises from circumcision “revision” and repair.

  19. Katie

    I just came across this blog while trying to find some information on how frequently circumcisions are botched are incomplete.

    The reason I was searching for this is that my boyfriend of almost 3 years is, in the most delicately put way, half-circumcised. It’s very difficult to explain, but essentially he has more skin than most cut men I know of or have seen, but he doesn’t look like a general uncut OR cut man. And while he’s lucky to have never encountered problems (other than some self-image issues) he really hates that he’s somewhere in between cut and uncut.

    Because of his own issues with what happened during his procedure as an infant he is adamantly against circumcision of infants. He says, “If I have a son and he wants to get one when he’s older, that’s fine. Or if he needs one for some practical medical reason, that’s fine. But I don’t see a reason to cut off something that’s meant to be there in the first place without damn good reason”.

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  23. Anonomous(spelled wrong)

    Ur an asshole, you cut off your sons foreskin for no reason. You just made sex less pleasurable for him. Oh hey look here it took me 30 seconds to clean, well we better cut it off, he might forget to clean there. Oh whats that, he might want a choice on whether he has worse sex and a body part cut off that actually does something(not like an appendix), nope fuck that he doesnt get a choice because were shitty ass parents.

    • Dawn

      Anonomous(spelled wrong)- Did you even read the post? I was lied to repeatedly. Please refrain from calling me names that I do not deserve and that are not fitting for who I am or even for who I was at that time.

  24. Lawrence Newman

    Well done for making the only rational decision.

    I was duped into circumcision at 14 years of age and I can tell everyone with surety that circumcision destroys sexual pleasure. I experienced both so know for sure. From the moment it was done I had anxiety, depression and countless failed sexual experiences.

    There is no valid medical reason to cut off a man’s foreskin other than for life-threatening conditions like penile cancer. This is a medical fact. Most pro-circumcision doctors are Jewish, muslim or have simply been cut themselves due to their insane culture. They also make money from the procedure and also from selling foreskin tissue to big pharma for research purposes and for face cream manufacture. It’s the biggest scandal in the world.

    Most people don’t realise this, but more nerves are excised in a typical male circumcision than in an average FGM. What was done to me was like cutting off a woman’s glans clitoris and clitoral hood. I lost my ridged band, my frenular delta, my frenulum and half my foreskin. Contrary to popular myth, the glans penis is not sexually sensitive; it’s sensitive to pressure , pain and temperature–a protopathic sensitivity.

    It is sheer insanity that this is allowed to continue while girls and women are protected. We live in an anti-male, gynecocentric society.

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