14th Jul2012

Circumcision – to chop or not?

by crapmamma
Pin It

Deciding whether or not to circumcise your baby boy can be a painstaking decision for some parents. For others it’s really a non-event with the answer having been written on the wall since way before conception.

The Chook Whisperer and I were on the middle ground. Whilst we would have preferred to put our heads in the sand; producing three little boys within a short space of time pretty much forced our hand.

We had to make a decision.

We had no religious reasons for circumcising our boys nor did we have any particular opinion or view either way. We actually hadn’t really thought about it. Yet here we were, making a determination on whether or not to ‘alter’ our boy(s) and why. .

So as is always the case in our world, we researched. We educated ourselves as best we could on the positives and negatives of chopped versus unchopped versions of the phallus. And I have to say the information out there is varied, polar and overwhelmingly emotive.

On one hand parents are advised that un-circumcised boys are likely to end up with unhygienic willies and are more likely to pass on insipid viruses to their bed-buddies later (hopefully much later) on in life. Professor Brian Morris, a passionate advocate for circumcision claims it to be a preventative for numerous serious viral infections and penile cancer. He advises that the foreskin has a weak point which makes the penis more susceptible viruses to enter. Professor Morris likens circumcision to routine vaccination of children.

Some articles we read indicated that uncircumcised children probably wouldn’t clean themselves properly anyway and were consequently likely to need are more painful circumcision later on childhood. Oh and apparently circumcised schlongs are far prettier, more sexually useful and women are more attracted to a ‘helmet head’ versus the ‘ant-eater’ version of a member (no seriously – it’s in the brochure). I muse why that’s even a consideration advocated for parents when making a decision for their beautiful innocents. If that’s such a strong determining factor, does that mean that parents of girls should consider breast augmentation at an early age because men are likely to like ‘that look’ when they get older……

Image credit

On the other side of the fence we also read that if we did have our boys circumcised they would be inflicted with extreme pain during and after the procedure that could affect their mood and personality not just immediately after but potentially throughout their lifetime. The procedure would put them at risk of bleeding, excessive skin removal, loss of penis or even death……hmm….

Interestingly the Royal Australian College of Physicians subsequently issued a statement in 2010 outlining that the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of the procedure does not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand. In fact the Australian College of Paediatrics in 1996 expressed concern that infant circumcision may in fact violate their human rights. (Reference) Pretty heavy stuff.

But what about the argument of wanting our sons to look like their fathers? And considering 30years ago more than 90% of the Australian population of boys were circumcised (Reference) , that’s a LOT of Dads out there parading a ‘naked’ version of the wiener.

But if you think about it, the fact is that little Johnny’s ‘Johnson’ isn’t going to look anything like in my 3 year old’s words (that may have been put there by his father) “Dad’s enormous penis” for quite some time. By the time a little boy is old enough to have a pecker like his Pa’s’ he’s probably less likely to be concerned with wanting to be ‘just like Dad’ and more concerned with wanting Dad’s car keys and contents of his wallet! Not to mention he’s more likely to be spending his childhood peeing beside his peers than weeing next to his old man.

Image credit

So that takes us to our next point, what is everyone else doing?

Around 15% of the Australian male population is being circumcised. So technically only 1 to 2 out of 10 of your son’s friends will be circumcised nowadays……

The following statistics are the rates of circumcision for each state in Australia for 2002:

 Stats Reference

In the time we did our research we spoke with other parents of boys. Some who had and some who hadn’t circumcised them and their reasons for their decision. We heard a lot of the ‘my friend’s/sister’s/colleagues boy’ wasn’t circumcised and because of reoccurring infections he had to be circumcised when he was older. The description of the pain little boys go through post circumcision isn’t nice let me tell you. But if you do a little reading, the pain an infant experiences during and post circumcision isn’t nice either, it’s just their less vocal about it (reference).

Of the parents we’ve spoken to who have circumcised their boys, the general consensus was that the small amount of time their boys experienced pain and discomfort outweighed their concern for their child experiencing reoccurring painful and potentially embarrassing penis infections throughout childhood.

But it seems that most of the parents we spoke to (and I emphasise most) made their decision for their boys with their hand on their hearts and their fingers crossed hoping it was the right one. It’s a high pressure decision when one of the options is irreversible.

When we eventually based our decision on the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ kind-of logic. We decided that we weren’t going to remove the boys’ tonsils, adenoids and appendix at birth so why would we remove another piece of their anatomy that wasn’t problematic as a ‘just in case’ measure. As it turns out we’ve since had to remove one of our boy’s tonsils and adenoids – make of that what you will but we still stand by our decision and hope we don’t live to regret it.

There is so much literature and research out there supporting both sides of the argument. Some provide compelling, highly emotive information. Some articles are just plain distressing. As parents all we can do is educate ourselves and make a decision either way with the interests and health of our boys at heart and hope to God we’ve made the right one. No pressure…..

More reading:

Should Elective Circumcision Continue To be Covered by Medicare?

Circumcision: Guide for parents

Circumcision – To circumcise or not to circumcise

Circumcision foundation of Australia

Circumcision – Medical Organisation Official Policy Statements

9 Responses to “Circumcision – to chop or not?”

  • Tam

    Quick, close the can of worms!! My hubby would have liked to circumcise the boys (like him) but my opinion was exactly like yours – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. If they get a horrid infection, we’ll do it out of necessity, just like tonsils or an appendix. I figured since I was the one who would have to take them to get it done, I had the last say ;)

    Most of my friends did circumcise, so that might present some interesting conversations in the coming years!

    • It’s funny Tam, we’re already getting comments from our eldest boy who is in grade 1 and he’s noticed some of his friends are ‘different’. But all we do is tell him he’s unique in every way from his eyes and his feet to the freckles on his face- same goes for penises :-). If he was circumcised I still think we’d be having the same conversation lol.

  • jennifer

    such an interesting and complex topic, and i am very pleased you brought it up!! we have 2 girls and our boy came last, so my hubby said off we go. the paediatric surgeon looked at me and asked why do you want to do it… so I said ask him – pointing to my hubby, I said I don’t have one, so not sure actually. Its kind of a bit like asking your hubby about the use of tampons or pads.! clearly no idea. the surgeon really had the attitude that it was an unnecessary and expensive surgery (that I don’t think was covered by medicare?!) and that unless the foreskin was “tight” and causing problems that there really was not a medical reason to do it. So she said she’d do us some costs etc. Well they never came and 6 or more months down the track without it being mentioned again by my hubby, he said what are we doing about bubba? I said well unless there is a prob, lets leave it! so that is what we did. Definitely all kinds of reasons why and why not, one particular one was once they get older and they are in sports at school that they will look different, i kind of think that (hopefully) you have brought them up to be confident and happy with themselves, they shouldn’t be worried about being “different” in that way, if that is the case. sorry about my epistle writing! Great article and thought provoking yet again. thanks. :)

  • Thanks for such a well rounded post. I was in a similar frame of mind to yourself, questioning what to do and in the end we did get our boys circumcised. We were in London when our first was born and had a Dr come to the house. He spent nearly 2 hours going through all the reasons for and against, all the concerns we had etc. We did get it done, and we were both with our son during the procedure and I ‘know’ he didn’t feel a thing. He flinch at the anaesthetic being injected, but was otherwise mesmerised by the light the Dr was wearing on his forehead.

    I don’t regret the decision, and we’ve since had our second son done. Although it was difficult to find a Dr who didn’t just rely on the cream. Having watched how it is done, and having heard how little pain relief the cream offers, there was no way I was going to get the 2nd one done unless the Dr used injectable anaesthetic.

    It saddens me though how judgemental people can be. We’ve had so many people feel they’re entitled to ask and then throw judgemental comments at us. Personally it makes no difference to me whether people choose to circumcise or not, it’s not really my place to enquire and it’s certainly not my place to judge. We made the right decision for us and that’s all that matters.

    Congratulations on presenting a non-judgemental overview :)
    Krystle recently posted..My week!My Profile

  • We have 4 sons, the eldest is 8. We briefly had this conversation very early on in our first born’s life, but decided it just wasn’t necessary. We then went on to have 3 more boys and I am glad we made that first decision. Now I just stress a little bit about making sure they keep it clean.. so to speak!
    Sophie recently posted..Best Tassie weather by far.My Profile

    • I guess all you can do Sophie is just cross your fingers and hope for the best from here hey. Oh and four boys, how brilliant (and I thought our house was loud ;-)).

  • We got Dex circumsised and I’m glad we did. But in saying that I have had to defend our decision, which sucks big time.
    There were a number of contributing factors and I’m certain we made the right decision and that’s all that matters to me.
    I love this blog because you manage to discuss such a sensitive subject so well and not offend either side :)
    tattoomummy recently posted..Healthy Child Friendly Food – Easy!My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Jess and that’s a real shame that you have to justify to anyone any of your parenting decisions. As far as I’m concerned as long as you’ve jusified it to yourself and done it with your little man’s interests at heart then everyone else can mind their own business. Hope you’re well hun x

Trackbacks & Pings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge