Circumcision: Do the Health Benefits Outweigh the Genital Mutilation?

Here’s something that won’t be controversial.

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced yesterday that “the health benefits of [circumcision] clearly outweigh any risks.” The policy statement can be read here.

“The health benefits of male circumcision include a drop in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life by up to 90 percent,” [Dr. Susan Blank] says.

But there’s a much bigger reason to do it, Blank said. Circumcised males are far less likely to get infected with a long list of sexually transmitted diseases.

“It drops the risk of heterosexual HIV acquisition by about 60 percent. It drops the risk of human papillomavirus [HPV], herpes virus and other infectious genital ulcers,” she says.

It also reduces the chances that men will spread HPV to their wives and girlfriends, protecting them from getting cervical cancer.

“We’ve reviewed the data and, you know, we have gone through them with a fine-tooth comb, and the data are pretty convincing,” she says.

The critics aren’t denying all of that (some of it, yes, but not all of it), but they still say circumcision should be a personal decision, not one your parents make for you:

“We have no right as parents or as physicians or adults to strap them down and chop off a normal part of their body. To do that is a human rights violation and an ethical travesty,” says Georgeanne Chapin of the anti-circumcision group Intact America.

NPR adds that experts are siding with the AAP, adding that male circumcision shouldn’t be compared to female genital mutilation:

They dismiss any comparison to female genital mutilation as grossly misleading and say male circumcision is about as safe as any procedure could be.

A couple of godless parents recently decided not to circumcise their child for many of the reasons mentioned already. In response to the AAP’s new findings, the father said this:

So we’re home and our little boy didn’t get cut. I just dropped it and realized that we had made a decision we felt was best for him and moved on. As I was posting photos on Facebook this morning, I ran across an article that mentioned the new statement from the AAP. Basically the only thing that changed was that their previous statement said there were potential benefits and the new statement removed the word potential. They are still very minimal and nothing to warrant routine newborn circumcision according to the AAP. The use of the word “significant” wouldn’t be appropriate since it’s still not recommended on a routine basis. Essentially nothing has changed and the controversy will rage on. For this family, we’re happy that we didn’t circumcise him and more than willing to engage our family in all necessary conversations around this topic as our boys grow up and start asking questions.

I’m going to step away for a couple of hours and when I come back, I expect you’ll all come to a conclusion one way or the other with no emotions flaring up on either side.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • @maninspired

    Of course, C0nc0rdance has a great video on this topic..
    http://youtu.be/i2gloq-prkA

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    I’m mixed about this issue, to be honest. On one hand, it does sound a bit barbaric to hack off the tip of a newborn baby penis. But on the other hand, since I’m the kind of guy who wants to please everybody, I don’t want to put any Mohels out of business.

    • Bruce Murphy

       Certainly less barbaric than fixing a cleft palate?

      • DealWithItBrah

         Implying uncircumcised penises need to be fixed…

        • WoodyTanaka

          That’s the mentality of these barbarians who are itching to maim these children.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Uncircumcised == reservoir for all kinds of nastiness, like HPV, herpes, HIV… (IOW, the experts disagree with you.)

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            Good argument for removing the labia then.

            • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

              SO not the same thing. The labia are there for a reason. The foreskin has about as much function as a hangnail.

    • Gus Snarp

      Here I differ strongly, I want to put all Mohels out of business. Whatever the risk benefit analysis on circumcision, it ought to be done by a trained physician in a medical facility with modern equipment. Religious freedom does not extend to performing medical procedures without a medical license.

  • http://alenonimo.com.br Alenônimo

    I heard it was beneficial for humans to remove the little toes from our feet. Less likely to catch worms because of the smaller foot area, less likely to hit your foot at objects on the floor, more likely to be successful on soccer and at running sports, etc.

    Shouldn’t we chop off the little toes of newborns? Or leave the decision for them when they grow up? :)

    • Bruce Murphy

       Except there isn’t any evidence that removing little toes is beneficial. Your analogy fails right out of the gate.

      A better example is the appendix.

      • J. R. Boedeker

        No, the analogy is spot on. Toes=foreskin, worms=UTI. WTF, dude? I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit my little toe on lots of shit. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

          Women are far more likely to get UTIs than men, but I would rather keep my lady parts at the risk of a UTI (even though they suck).   Breasts increase my chance of getting breast cancer, but I’ll keep those.  Why don’t all men remove their prostates too, while we’re at it?  I think if we just step back and stop looking at the social reasons, removing foreskin makes no sense.

          • Bo Tait

            Ehhh, that’s a bit flimsy. Your analogies are both risky invasive surgeries. The whole reason for the doctors saying this is the benefit outweighs the risk. I doubt thats the case in removing prostates.

            • WoodyTanaka

              “The whole reason for the doctors saying this is the benefit outweighs the risk.”

              And my question is how they could reach that conclusion and not consider the risk of death involved with circumcision? 

              • Bo Tait

                You should probably ask them.  What is the chance of death? I have no idea.  I’m guessing its super low. But how low is low enough right?

                • WoodyTanaka

                  100 die per year (see, upthread).  To me, a procedure with the minimal benefits that kills 100 babies needlessly, shoudl be barred.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  That’s an estimate from a (IMO) dubious source.  I’m anti-circ, but I’m opposed to tossing around conjecture as fact.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                Pffft, “risk of death”. From what, an allergy to the anaesthetic?

      • Icaarus

        The appendix doesn’t work for one reason. Recent studies have shown that the appendix is responsible for reintroducing the digestive bacteria cultures we need in our intestines after a bout of food poisoning (diarrhea will wash most of the intestinal surface cultures away). This allows for our intestines to return to business as usual faster than if we had to wait for the cultures to revive themselves on their own. This means that the appendix has a function necessary for stable digestion over a person’s life. Think what you will about the foreskin but it is not as necessary as that. 

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s06XzaKqELk&list=UUX6b17PVsYBQ0ip5gyeme-Q&index=7&feature=plcp

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          Can you replace the function of foreskin with pro-biotic yogurts? ;)

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Foreskin has no function other than to trap bacteria and harbor viruses.

          • Icaarus

            Just saying your better example isn’t really better.

      • Atalayac

        Most research that endorses circumcision cites that it reduces the risk of infection or cancer.

        Removing any part of your body will reduce the risk of infection or cancer in that area, thus, removing a toe is logically more beneficial than keeping it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

          I think I’m just going to keep my torso and head.  Cut the rest off!  I can’t have all of these risks of infections.

          • Atalayac

            I wouldn’t even risk the torso or head; that’s where some of the worst cancers and infections occur.

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          Taller people have higher cancer rates and lower life expectancy. Do the right thing and get rid of your legs if you’re approaching that 6′ danger zone.

          http://www.smbc-comics.com/comics/20090830.gif

  • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

    I know you are being snarky but do you really expect a rational conversation when you headline your article with the totally non-emotional “genital mutilation”?  You’ve already stacked the deck against any rational discussion on this matter.

    • Panini Thief

      I think it’s cause ‘Cutting a large portion of the protective skin causing scarring’ is a bit wordy…

      How would you re-word it? ‘Do the health benefits outweigh ________?’

      • Richard Hughes

         “Nonconsensual genital modification”

      • RebeccaSparks

        My guess is that gingerjet would say something like “risks for circumcision.” Probably gingerjet would prefer a more a lead in with a more neutral take on circumcision. like SciAm headline 
        Pediatricians Group Praises Benefits of Circumcision for Male Infants” or even the Jezebel one, “Doctors Endorse Circumcision of Baby Boys, Eagerly Await Angry Barrage of All-Caps Emails [Can Of Worms].”Still, calling it GM hasn’t really made it into a heated debate on the threads (yet).  This is in part because most of us are anti-circumcision, but also because people have been very scrupulous to not condemn the parents on either side of endangering their child.  As soon as someone says, “Only a horrible parent would ___,” the discussion gets personal all heck will break loose.

    • WoodyTanaka

      Which word do you think is wrong?  It’s done on the genital and it is a mutilation.

      • Bruce Murphy

         In 15 minutes, I’m getting a hair mutilation. (seriously, I am!)

        • WoodyTanaka

          And if foreskins grew back, your statement wouldn’t be stupid.  Since it doesn’t, it is. 

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            IT’S A TEENY BIT OF SKIN WITH NO FUCKING FUNCTION!

            Do you whine this much about fingernail clippings? Those are bits of the body, too…

            • Glasofruix

              Are you a man or a woman? Because the absence of foreskin poses some “logistic” problems and a general numbness of the area, well you can last longer but the effect is not as great…

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                Numbness, my ass. Every cut guy I’ve talked to hasn’t had ANY problems in that area.

                • Glasofruix

                  Every cut guy you know was probably circumcised as a kid, i doubt they know the difference.

        • Bo Tait

          Haahahaa. I love that.

          • WoodyTanaka

            No one is surprised.

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          Good thing your parents didn’t scalp you in infancy.

  • Gretschpicker

    What, no mention in your article of loss of a significant percentage of sensation… that in-tact males have full sensation while circumcised males may lose as much as 80% of what they may have been able to feel if left in-tact? Good ole Puritanical USA is the only country in the free world that has these infection problems? Come on! Virtually ll of Europe is in tact. Should there not be a serious rash of infections there? One certainty, American Peds are cashing in on Americans’ puritanical values.

    • Pedro Lemos

      I was circumcised when I was 10. My family is not jewish, and it had no religious reasons at all. My father is a doctor and he believed there would have been medical beneficts in doing this procedure.
      About the loss of percentage of sensation, I honestly couldn´t tell the diference, since I had never had sex before 10 year old (fortunately), so I have no referencial to compare. What I can say is that sex is really pleasurable to me, so I have my doubts if the 80% loss is really that accurate.
      If something, I think it takes a little more time for me to get to orgasm. Sometimes I have sex for more than 1 hour straight until I come. I don´t know it it´s directly related to the circumcision,  but that´s not really something to complain, it makes me and my girlfriend very happy. :)

      • James

        Here I thought I was the only one who had this issue. For the longest time I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out sex is just one hell of a workout! Seems to satisfy the ladies, from what I’m told…

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Longer lasting IS more satisfying for women.

          • Glasofruix

            So what? Every dude should snip a bit off just to please a woman?

            • James

              No way! I often wish that I was fully intact. Either way, I think my lady friend would be equally satisfied…

    • Bruce Murphy

       Yes, pediatricians entered med school for the sole purpose of making a killing cutting off foreskins. They salivated while listening to the story about David in the Bible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joequincy Jon Peterson

      Damn, if what I feel is significantly less sensation, then I guess I understand the stereotype about guys being done way too fast.

      I’ma tell you a little secret. I’m circumcised (by parental decision), and I experience a damned high level of sensation, that happens to balance perfectly with my partner so that she never goes unsatisfied. Something tells me that if I were missing out on “as much as 80%” of what I should be feeling, I simply wouldn’t be able to finish… or that uncircumcised people wouldn’t be able to so much as walk down the street without the friction in their undergarments bringing them to orgasm.

      I mean seriously. Aren’t we supposed to be evidence-based? Where did you summon that “80%” from?

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

       How about mentioning that your “facts” are LIES put forth by whiny men who are far too occupied with their genitals?

  • Meredith Hertzler

    I would hope that any parent, when making decisions about their children, do the research and come to an agreement between the mother and father (or father/ father or mother/ mother, etc) based on their findings. A decision that they both can live with and have no regrets about. Whether it be circumcision, breastfeeding, homeschooling, or any other topic. 

    …except religion. Those people are nuts… natch.

    • DKeane123

      Ack !- a rational and reasoned response – what are you doing responding to blog posts?

      • Coyotenose

         Seriously, I don’t even know what to do now. Are we supposed to troll her and piss her off until she acts like she’s on the Internet?

    • chanceofrainne

      How DARE you inject reasonableness into this discussion.  You are GROUNDED, missy!

  • DeeJay30

    My 17 year old son is circumcised, but it is not a decision I made lightly.  I discussed the issue with my doctor and family/friends.  Decreased risk of STDs was a factor.  But mostly it was because my father had to be circumcised at age 10 due to recurrent UTIs.  He said it was very painful and traumatic.  But my stepson (who was five at the time), who was circumcised right after birth didn’t even remember it (of course).  I also didn’t want my son to worry about why his penis looked different from his father’s and brother’s.

    • Bruce Murphy

       A very reasonable decision. I’m sure your son gets mad at you over many things but I highly doubt his circumcision is on the list.

      • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

        My boyfriend has said that he does resent that his parents had him circumcised a little.  He understands that it was social norm, and that they probably didn’t have much info on it.  He still wants it back!

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        What does anger have to do with it?

    • WoodyTanaka

      “I also didn’t want my son to worry about why his penis looked different from his father’s and brother’s.”

      Yeah, you may have saved YOU a long 5 minute conversation about basic biology.  You might even have had to reassure him that he was perfectly fine and that the other two had been maimed.  Easier just to maim him yourself.  Saves YOU a lot of worry.

      • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

        Also, newsflash: they still look different. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

      I agree with everything except for the last point. I don’t think that should be an issue at all. Just be open about it and explain that some people are circumcised and some aren’t, and it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I’d say the main thing that gets to me is that I have heard it’s terrible getting circumcised at an older age. I’m sure anyone who is circumcised when they’re older wishes they could have gotten it over with as a baby, though of course there’s no way of knowing whether or not the child will need to be circumcised in the future.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      We circumcised, too, based on recurrent UTIs and the other factors on the “possible” list at the time.  We didn’t really care about him looking like anyone else.  It was all based on facts.  It wasn’t a hard decision at all (except the pressure we received from anti-circ folks), but we are glad we did and he is happy to be circumcised (yes, we’ve discussed it).

  • Anonymous

    I was circumcised as a baby. It went wrong, and it now permanently affects my sex-life in a negative way. (Look up “skinbridge.”)

    • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

      I’m sorry that it went wrong.  However, in regards to that Google search… AHHHHH!!!!

  • dersk

    Well, I (and presumably a few hundred million others) don’t have a problem with lack of sensation.

    I’d like to see a response from a similar (wealthy, Western, industrialized) country where it’s not the norm.

    • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

      How do you know? You’ve never had anything else.

      • dersk

        I’ve procreated.

        • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

          And that lets you know with absolute certainty that you have the same level of sensitivity as someone with a foreskin?

          I’m glad you don’t work in a lab, not that you would for long if you think that’s proof.

      • Bruce Murphy

        Little known fact: Circumcision results in 10 times MORE pleasure for the man. Prove me wrong.

        • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

          You’re new here, and I’m desperately hoping that you’re not an atheist or else we’ve got to do something about this new crop.

          See, when you make a wholly unbelievable claim like that, the burden of proof is on you to back it up. This is the same thing we already have to deal with on people claiming that a single entity created everything. They make the claim, they have to prove it.

          Same as if I claimed I have a garage full of rare sports cars next to my house. What, do you think you have to track down where I live, fly out here, and take pictures before that’s an invalid claim? I could just say this wasn’t the house I keep them at and send you on a wild goose chase to find that one. So until you photograph every house on the planet, and collect their deeds, you’re just going to have to accept that I own hundreds of cars each worth a million dollars. Is that how you think this works? Cause if so, happy flight.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

            I think that was actually his point though.
            Bruce’s point was that you can’t prove him wrong about 10x more sensitivity, just like you can’t prove the 80% less sensitivity wrong. Dersk was simply questioning the idea of less sensitivity and you questioned his questioning of it, even though it is not at all proven. In fact, it might be completely untrue, as someone else posted: http://arstechnica.com/science/2007/08/study-shows-circumcision-results-in-no-loss-of-sexual-sensation/

            • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

              Oh, so his point was to refute something I never claimed? And that’s BETTER than thinking his assertion is the same as proof? Seriously, you’re not helping him do anything other than dig the hole deeper.

              Also, replying to this version of your comment instead of the one directly replying to me below because I can’t get the comment box to open properly for that one. This is a terrible comment system, I’ve never had anything but problems with it on several sites.

              • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

                I really hope that chip on your shoulder isn’t weighing you down.  You’re starting to sound like our opposition, my friend.  People make decisions that you might not approve of or like.  That’s their right.

                • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

                  Pointing out that someone was trying to refute something I never claimed, and that someone else backed them up on it and how they were acting exactly like religitards themselves is making ME sound like one of them? Do you view your monitor through a mirror or something, because you seem to have everything backwards here. 

                  For fuck’s sake, you take the standard skeptic line of pointing out someone is making a claim with no evidence whatsoever, especially one so insane as the one they were claiming, and then everyone who disagrees with you pointing out common sense dogpiles on you. If this is what atheism has become rose, we’ve turned into what we hate. This is a sad day.

        • Coyotenose

           Achron already handled this, but your statement is easy to disprove. Circumcised men experience far more friction on the head of the penis than uncircumcised men.  That friction leads to thickening of the skin and desensitization. That leads to reduced pleasure.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Not for the women, it doesn’t….

            • Glasofruix

              And it’s relevant because?

    • Bruce Murphy

       I can think of a couple million ways to make sex better. Adding ‘Foreskin’ to the list somehow acts as a real boner-killer.

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      I don’t remember my grandparents. People with grandparents (or who lost them when they were a bit older than two years old) invariably say things like “oh, that must have been so awful growing up” and it’s not. Not even a tiny bit. Of course you can’t miss something you don’t remember having.

      • Bruce Murphy

         If you don’t remember not having something, why would you want it back?

        • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

          The point is that whether or not you personally miss something is utterly irrelevant. I don’t miss my tonsils either, but that’s no argument in favor of cutting out tonsils.

        • WoodyTanaka

          “If you don’t remember not having something, why would you want it back?”For the same reason someone born without legs might want to run.

  • http://emilyhasbooks.com/ Emily Dietle

    From the assessments I’ve seen over the last ten years of this debate, there is still little defense for permanently modifying the child’s penis without his consent. If, at birth, my clitoral hood were removed so as to reduce STI/UTI’s, I’d be furious.

    • Bruce Murphy

       If removing the clitoral hood was equivalent to removing the foreskin, I can assure you, you wouldn’t miss it.

      • WoodyTanaka

        You speak for yourself. 

      • Kmk

        The clitoral hood is essentially the foreskin however when female children are circumcised it is in unsanitary conditions from the age of 5 without medical doctors or pain meds.  It is a much harsher procedure that generally causes lifelong pain and suffering as in most instances the clitoris is removed entirely and the vaginal opening is sewn shut, or depending on which country it is performed in sewn shut with thorns inside the wound to ensure that the female does not enjoy intercourse, cannot urinate or mensturate properly and have much difficulty in giving birth. There is absolutely no comparison to simply loosing the foreskin. Circumcision performed on a minor is wrong whether male or female. Mutilation is mutilation

        • Atalayac

          “…
          as in most instances the clitoris is removed entirely and the vaginal opening is sewn shut”

          I’m not certain if you meant this to be a statistical statement, but cases where the vagina is actually sewn up is one of the rarest forms of FGM (Type III).

          In speaking of terms where only the clitoral hood is removed, FGM is equivalent to male circumcision. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

          What you state as the most common form of femal mutuilation is actualy only the most common in the media.  The most common in practice is between a simple cut that removes nothing except a little blood, and removing part or all of the clitoral hood and leaves the clitorus alone.  Id cite it, but you can do that google search easily enough on your own.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

            Actually, the most common is type I which includes the removal of the clitoris. The whole point of female circumcision is so that women don’t enjoy sex and will remain a virgin until marriage, so leaving the clitoris intact would be pretty pointless.

            I hate the comparison of female and male circumcision. Male circumcision is mainly based in religious and cultural practice, which is pretty stupid, sure. Female circumcision is based in that *and* the hatred of women’s sexuality and the desire to control it, which is horrifying.
            Both are bad, but it’s not an equal comparison. Cancer and the flu are also both bad things, but that does not make them equally bad.

            • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

              While I agree that it’s not a valid comparison, I would point out that the desire to control sexuality has been a reason behind male circumcision as well.  Supposed to prevent masturbation.  I can tell you for a fact that it does not work.

            • Zadius

              The comparison is based in the fact that both are genital mutilation.  Nobody would claim that all mutilation is equal, but none is trivial especially genital mutilation of children.  

      • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

        I certainly would.  I have a very sensitive clitoris, and it keeps it from rubbing on things.  Newsflash:  Body parts are there for a reason!

        • Glasofruix

          Not every time, but “the hood” has a real function, that’s sure.

      • Zadius

        Um.. it is actually comparable.  The clitoral hood protects the clitoris from exposure to rubbing on things; the foreskin protects that glans from rubbing on things.  The clitoral hood moves which allows for indirect stimulation of the clitoris, since direct stimulation can be too intense and can cause irritation; the foreskin glides up along the shaft allowing which reduces friction which can cause irritation and chafing.

        So yes, she most certainly would miss it, and so would most circumcised men if they knew exactly what they were missing.

    • Bo Tait

      Probably not, cause you wouldn’t remember having it. Hell, I even remember having my foreskin removed  and it doesn’t bother me at all.

      • http://emilyhasbooks.com/ Emily Dietle

         You were mutilated without your consent. That should bother you.

  • primenumbers

    The data though is not “pretty convincing”. The major studies had major flaws. And of course, in the UK where hardly any circs are performed they’d have much worst stats on UTIs, STDs, but of course, they’re not dropping like flies over there, are they? They’re in-tact and healthy.

  • Kristenmomof3

    Both of my sons are intact. I would never put them through pointless surgery that could kill them. There are babies that die every year from this surgery. Most other counrties know that infant circumcision is unneeded and in Europe most males are intact. I do not understand why the USA is so backward on this issue

    • DKeane123

      Quick Google search says that about 100 babies boys die each year.  Approximately 4,000,000 babies are born each year (or 2 million boys, of which half are circum. – so 1 million) – so the odds of dying from the procedure are 0.01%.  Compare that to the total number of babies that die each year (25,000), and it becomes obvious that there are better places to invest our efforts in saving lives.

      • Ryan

        I don’t think that not performing surgery counts as “investing efforts”.

        • DKeane123

          I was addressing the amount of time we spend debating the issue (nationally)

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Stearns/100001316360952 Charles Stearns

            So give up mutilating the genitals of boys and we’ll stop discussing it.

            • DKeane123

              Circular reasoning, my favorite go-around  :)

      • WoodyTanaka

        ” about 100 babies boys die each year. ”

        For no reason.  Sounds like a clear reason to bar the practice. 

      • alconnolly

        @DKeane Wait, did you just say that one out of every 2500 infant deaths in America is caused by this unnecessary procedure? Did you just imply that that isn’t a very good reason to stop?

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      Let’s not get into the number of deaths from this “unnecessary” procedure.  If we go there, I’d rather discuss the number of deaths from the unnecessary practice of smoking, which kills many more people annually and has far more impact socially than circumcision.

  • pete084

     Circumcision is widely accepted in America because Dr Henry Kellogg promoted it as a preventative measure to discourage boys from masturbating: So cut guys, did it stop you from wanking?

    What the proponants of circumcision don’t want you to know is the numbers  of disfigurement and death caused by infection of the wounds inflicted upon an infant boy.

    A wholly barbaric practice best left in the stone age!

    • Bo Tait

      “What the proponants of vaccinations don’t want you to know is the numbers of adverse reactions and autism caused by injections upon an infant.”

      This is what your argument sounds like to me. Obviously I’m not proving anythg here, but you may want to frame it differently.

      • pete084

         How many dead baby boys per years do you think would be acceptable for a cosmetic (It sure isn’t medically required.) procedure…. 25…….. 50…….. 75……… 100? Yeah, one hundred dead baby boys, and that’s just the USA. http://www.icgi.org/2010/04/infant-circumcision-causes-100-deaths-each-year-in-us/

        You can mock, but you can’t ignore dead baby boys!

        • Bo Tait

          There ya go! That’s much better than before. I wasn’t mocking your position, just pointing out the lameness of your comment.
          And your second one was way better. So we win!
          High five??

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I’ve quoted that same number before, but I’d have to say I’m suspect of it now.  That’s a single paper which is coming up with estimates, not hard numbers.  And it’s published by a pretty small publisher with it looks pretty MRA.  That doesn’t in and of itself mean it’s wrong, but to me it’s not convincing.  Unfortunately the paper is behind a $15 paywall, and I’m not sure I want to give them $15.

        • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

          Ugh, yeah, because, you know, that’s the ONLY reason babies EVER die, right? Sorry, but deaths from surgical complications — deaths that cannot be attributed directly to missing a bit of skin — happen, and circumcision makes up a statistically insignificant portion of those deaths.

    • Joshua Zelinsky

      The first bit is the genetic fallacy – who came up with an idea or what their motivation was doesn’t have much to do with whether it was correct. 

      Issues of disfigurement and infection are of course real. As with any medical procedure, there are some risks. The question is not whether such risks exist but how they compare to other problems. For example, we have as a society decided that vaccines are generally worth the risk and cost for common diseases , but at the same time we don’t give vaccines to everyone for say small pox, because the risks and cost would outweigh it. What is needed are careful consideration of the pros and cons. In this context, a major medical organization has looked at that situation and reached a decision in one direction based on the best evidence they have. 

      • WoodyTanaka

        “In this context, a major medical organization has looked at that situation and reached a decision in one direction based on the best evidence they have. ”

        actually, from what I’ve read, they specifically did not consider the fact that there is a risk of death from circumcision, nor did they consider the personal autonomy issues.  So this stinks of a political position, rather than a scientific one.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        And those disfigurements and infections would not happen if circumcisions were ONLY done by trained medical professionals, and if some people paid attention to the aftercare instructions!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      Again, if we’re going to discuss deaths from an “unnecessary” act, I’d rather discuss the number of smoking deaths, which is much worse. 

  • vexorian

    Is any of the supposed health benefits not replaceable by proper cleaning measures and using condoms? Specially the 60% drop in HIV acquisiton. You know how to drop it by 97%? USE A CONDOM DAMNIT.

    Also, with circumcision I think it is very difficult to find a good control group. I would say that the majority of people circumcised as babies tend to have heavy conservative backgrounds and the majority of people not, tend to have less so. Just that is enough to change your sex life a lot.

    It could even be that since circumcision makes less pleasurable, people with it do it much less and thus have lesser STD risk.

    HAH!

     

    • Erik D Red

      Actually, I believe the data shows that conservatives and liberals have just about as much sex, and as young.  The conservatives just feel guilty about it, and are less likely to use contraception. 

    • Bo Tait

      The studies I have read are not conducted in ‘Murica. They were done in Africa.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    It strikes me that most of the benefits are not even relevant until the male is sexually active. So I don’t see any added benefit of doing the procedure before the individual is capable of making the choice themselves. 

    Also, for dersk – were you circumcised as a child, or after you had become sexually active? If as a child, how would you know if you had or had not lost sensation? Never having experienced the alternative, I mean.

  • Ano

    A 2010 review reported that “despite conflicting results in some of the
    historical observational studies, most recent articles do not show
    evidence of adverse effects on sexual function.”[51]
    A review which analysed the data from eight clinical trials concluded
    that the “evidence suggests that adult circumcision does not affect
    sexual satisfaction and function.”[52]  Directly from wikipedia and we all no wikipedia doesn’t lie. :|

  • observer

    Well getting a circumcision is a very personal topic (and by personal, I mean having him, perhaps around 12 or older, and perhaps his doctor decide to do a choppy-choppy; NOT his parents). But, for whatever percentage the risks lower, we have something called condoms that, cut or uncut, can lower those risks significantly.

  • JamsSx

    The BBC have a very good piece http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19072761

    Personally (and having reviewed the data) I see no good reason for this. The HIV research is dubious at best at worst it is missleading. It reduces the ease of self pleasuring, it reduces sensitivity, it reduces her pleasure (seriously you’re ribbed for her pleasure so to speak) and it is against evolution that had some net benefit for it to be there.

    • Bruce Murphy

       Made up assertions always trump the evidence. My wife has had many orgasms but never, EVER, said, “Man, if only you weren’t circumcised! I would have REALLY gone crazy!”

      • Grrrl

        It may be coincidence but my uncircumcised husband is the best lover Ive ever had. He’s also the only uncircumcised lover I’ve ever had. But yeah, That’s one person’s personal experience and not scientific in the least. Also, the circumcised men I’ve been with were mostly very good in the sack as well. (With a few exceptions.)

        • Bruce Murphy

           So, in other words, skill of the lover probably has more influence than a foreskin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Evans/1017276335 John Evans

    JamsSx I wouldn’t hold to much to the evolution argument. There are a lot of things in our anatomy which are stupid and potentially detrimental, or leftovers of a time when they were useful. Evolution just makes things good enough. It’s the old “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”

    • Dustin Moskowitz

      Agreed. There was a funny post I saw where some angel was talking to god about creating man, and asked what the appendix did… “Explode, mostly.” 

      • hallucination

        It’s our self destruct button, just a fail safe in case worse comes to worst

  • Bruce Murphy

    I was circumcised at a time when it was routine to do so. Frankly, I haven’t had any issues because of it, nor have I ever regretted it. I don’t hold any grudge against my parents (who really felt at the time it wasn’t something they got to decide on – it was just done). I prefer the look of a circumcised penis and, being a straight man, I’ve never been in intimate contact with the uncircumcised variety so I have no opinion on which is ‘better’. I am deeply skeptical of people who claim that sex is more enjoyable for uncircumcised men. I don’t buy that argument and how could you test that?

    I only hear two arguments against it: (1) it can go wrong and cause damage or (2) it’s going against the individual rights of the child.

    To the first argument, sure, it can go wrong. That’s certainly a risk you must balance with the benefits. According to doctors, the benefits win. But, by all means, think carefully about it.

    On the second, a parent is charged with making decisions that children cannot make for themselves. And again, it ‘s about balancing risks vs. benefits. Circumcision as an infant is the most humane time to do it. After that, the procedure will be traumatic. If circumcision is, statistically, most likely to avoid future suffering, why not do it? We vaccinate to avoid future suffering, why is circumcision somehow worse?

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      False equivalence much? Also, doctors don’t say that at all. American doctors? I suppose they might…

      • Bruce Murphy

         ?

        • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

          A little fact check learns that American doctors do not in fact support circumcision: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_analysis_of_circumcision#United_States

          And false equivalence between vaccination and circumcision. 

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Except, you know, that American doctors — the experts — DO in fact support circumcision. You obviously didn’t read the article.

  • Dustin Moskowitz

    I’m pretty neutral on this one. I was brought up Jewish, so circumcision was natural. I don’t remember it one bit, have never felt out of place, and don’t particularly care if it meant a loss of sensation. As a teen, the less excited I got down there during school hours, the better! I actually applaud the father who chose not to do it because it sounds like he’s actually going to engage his son in the necessary conversations when he gets older. My son was circumcised mainly because I was, and while that’s a ridiculous excuse when it comes to bringing up a child in a religious household (he’s XXX because I’m XXX and XXX god wants it that way), for me it was strictly an anatomical decision that he look like me so he didn’t feel different within his own family. Maybe that’s being selfish, but at no point has he or I ever felt different even though we may look different.

    • WoodyTanaka

      I think the “don’t want the kid to look different than the parents” argument holds water.  It’s a crock, in my opinion.  Do grown women get double mastectomies so they don’t “look different” from their daughters?  Do all hirsuite men shave and get their body hair removed so they don’t “look different” from their sons?  No, the act like parents and explain the basic biological facts to their children, who actually do generally understand.  If you did that and explained that you were circumcised but the child was not, do you really think your kid woudn’t understand??

    • Amy Quinkert

       This discussion came up in a different forum and a woman told the story of her son and her nephew. Her son was not cut, but her nephew was. She sat down and decided to discuss this with her son and he looked at her like she was crazy and said, “Yes, I know. I have a closed penis and he has an open one.” Clearly he had made his own observations, described them in a way that made sense to him, and accepted it. If only adults were this open.

      People use this idea that “I don’t want my child to feel bad about being different” to justify all sorts of things, but we forget that children will naturally accept difference and move on. They have to be taught to fear/disdain difference.

      • Bo Tait

         Makes it seem like in and out belly buttons when you look at it like that. 
        I think belly buttons don’t get the same attention because they aren’t the source of power like a penis is.

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      I don’t remember it one bit, have never felt out of place, and don’t particularly care if it meant a loss of sensation. As a teen, the less excited I got down there during school hours, the better!

      Unfortunately, you’ve kind of got that backwards. Yes, there is a lot of sensation in the foreskin, but it also protects the tender skin of your glans against all manner of things. As such, if you have a problem getting excited because your penis rubbed against your pants now and then it was probably more due to the lack of foreskin than vice versa.

  • Bruce Murphy

     Yes, people who support circumcision are evil pedophiles that steal money and spread disease in the water supply. Oh, and you’re right, in between the child rapings, they hide the statistics on circumcision disfigurement. They do it for the lulz.

    • Bruce Murphy

       Was supposed to be a reply to peteo84 but the Illuminati intervened and my comment was pushed aside.

  • WoodyTanaka

    This is nothing but the AAP taking sides in a potential legal battle.  They specifically say that it doesn’t warrant routine circumcision, but that it should be available for parents who want to inflict it on their children.  Basically, this is the AAP giving opponents of the anti-circumcision movement (which I suppose include many in the AAP itself) “scientific” cover for the circumcision fans’ desire to maim little boys for religious reasons.

    • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

      Anti-circ == pro-disease

  • Bruce Murphy

     I was circumcised and my parents have always voted Liberal (I’m Canadian) and I, too, voted Liberal but have been voting for the Greens in the last few elections. Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways! I shall now go back to voting Conservative.

    • Bruce Murphy

       Was supposed to be a reply to Vexorian, but his mental powers must have pushed my comment away.

  • http://twitter.com/AchronTimeless Achron Timeless

    I’ve still got my foreskin, and I’ve never had any complications because of it. Rather glad my parents left that decision up to me. 

    Of course the irony is I’m not entirely sure if I’ll end up still having it (or anything else in that region) in a couple years. Being transgendered puts you in an interesting position on such matters.

  • Intelligent Donkey

    It’s interesting that those in favour of circumcision (mostly the religious) can’t find better arguments for circumcision. There are both pros and cons, but no huge advantage either way, unlike with vaccinations.

    To me, it’s about consent and adulthood. No circumcision for anyone below 18 years of age, unless there’s an immediate and serious medical condition that warrants it.

    Yes, it’s tradition/ritual. But traditions and rituals are just doing something weird for no good reason. If there’s no good reason for doing something, it’s time to stop doing it. Like this one: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113179433
    It’s tradition, it’s ritual, it’s religion, and it’s stupid.

    • Bo Tait

      What? Eighteen seems kind of arbitrary considering kids go under the knife for cosmetic reasons all the time, not to mention getting tattoos. All that is required is parental consent.
      If the risk of HIV is lowered with circumcision, and I’m pretty sure people have sex earlier than 18, shouldn’t a sexually active teen at least have the choice or access to whatever  measures are promoted (or at least not condemned) by the medical community?

      Oooh, its almost like a men’s bodily autonomy debate. Exciting!

      • amycas

         I think the HIV thing could be solved by just giving them condoms and teaching them how to use it.

        • Bo Tait

          But what if they want to do both? Shouldnt a 16 year old be allowed to have it done if they have parental consent?

          • amycas

            If somebody really wants to be circumsized? Fine, if they’re able to consent they can do it (after all I have tattoos, and those are virtually worthless outside of aesthetic values). Then again, afaik, the medical community doesn’t necessarily promote circumsision as a great defense against HIV. The only studies there have been have shown a slight correlation between those who are uncircumsised and those who have HIV, but that was in aids-ridden Africa, not in the US–and afaik, the studies were highly flawed, and each one done after the first has shown a smaller and smaller correlation. It’s almost as if there’s no real benefit and people are just clamoring to find a post-hoc rationalization for hacking off the private parts of infants…

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        Good job derailing to age-of-adulthood.

        • Bo Tait

          Such insight! Please, tell me more.

  • J. R. Boedeker

    I’m afraid my son’s ears will get caught in a horrific table saw accident. Off with his head!

    • Coyotenose

       Now I’m trying to picture a table saw that can both get caught on body parts and can get both sides of the head at the same time. The imagery, it is not pretty. Involves rusty clamps, mostly.

  • Mrs Schaarschmidt

    This is a fascinating topic. When I had my kids it just wasn’t even a discussion…it was just done the same way vaccinations are done.

    I have a little trouble with the argument about loss of sensation. How could we possibly know that? You can never know what “would have been”, and comparing one group of people to another adds so many confounding factors that, unless there were an extreme difference across the board (one group it is terrific, one group it’s not – on an overwhelming scale) there’s just no way to know.

    Being a woman I can’t speak to personal experience one way or the other. But everything I’ve heard is that if you wait until a boy is old enough to decide for themselves the surgery is really, really awful. It’s not for a baby (at least in the long run). So if it is going to be done, it should be done on a baby.

    As for whether or not it should be done at all…I have no idea. If I had a son today I would do it. But I understand that’s just because I have spent my life in a time when it’s always been done, so it just seems right to me. That’s not scientific and I don’t pretend it is.

    I think that, if people were honest, most people who support circumcision for reasons other than religion just do it so that their son’s penis looks “normal” to them. It’s not rational, it’s not logical, but let’s be honest – that’s the reason. I’ve seen a number of men in my life, they’ve all been circumcised, and I’m afraid I would just find an uncircumcised man “icky”. Maybe it makes me a bad person to admit that I would circumcise a son for that reason, but I think that’s really the overwhelming reason people do it, even if they won’t admit it.

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      I have a little trouble with the argument about loss of sensation. How could we possibly know that? You can never know what “would have been”, and comparing one group of people to another adds so many confounding factors that, unless there were an extreme difference across the board (one group it is terrific, one group it’s not – on an overwhelming scale) there’s just no way to know.

      Yeah, it’s not like the foreskin is home to many nerve bundles or anything, or like the foreskin protects the skin of the glans…

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        OMG, stop obsessing over a teeny bit of skin!

    • Ryan

      I think we can safely assume that if you cut off a part of the body that normally has sensation, that you in fact lose all sensation in that part of your body…

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    This is a great opportunity to see science denial in action amongst more liberal folks, as well as the sort of of corruption of language we usually associate with conservative arguments.

    Using the word “mutilation” is exactly the same strategy anti-abortion people use when referring to the procedure as “killing babies”. Circumcision is no more “mutilation” than is a tonsillectomy. To emotionally charge a discussion of a valid and beneficial medical procedure with words like that is intellectually dishonest.

    The science here is quite clear, and failing to recognize that is science denial as much as denying the existence of global warming or the efficacy of vaccines. The science very solidly supports the idea the there is a societal benefit to widespread male circumcision (billions of healthcare dollars saved in the U.S. each year), a benefit that is best viewed from an epidemiological standpoint: a significant reduction in various infections and STDs, and a small individual benefit (for the same reason). It also makes clear that for an individual, while the benefit is small (but positive), the risks are even smaller, so there is no medical reason to argue against the procedure. The position statement also refuses to specifically recommend the procedure because of the small individual benefit (this is the same position taken with some less common vaccines).

    In all, the medical position is solid and reasonable. Many of the responses to it are not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wheresmysmokes Nic Steele

      A tonsillectomy isn’t recommended for every child at birth.  From the Mayo Clinic website, this is when it is recommended:  
      Recurring, chronic or severe tonsillitisComplications of enlarged tonsilsOther rare diseases of the tonsils
      I can’t believe that there is still an assumption that a child’s body part is a nuisance from birth.

      • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

        When I was a little child, tonsil removal was a routine matter. Practice has since changed so it isn’t routine anymore, but the number of tonsillectomies in the Netherlands is still more than double that of most other Western countries. The comparison was thus reasonably valid, albeit in a different manner than suggested.

        However, there was still a better reason than “something might happen”, even if a single little tonsil inflammation is a pretty bad one.

      • WoodyTanaka

        Absolutely right, Nic.  The other thing about this latest statement that shows that it’s all a political act is that they state that they don’t recommend this mutilation as a default practice. 

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        And this report doesn’t recommend circumcision for every child, either. It only advises that there are benefits- fairly large ones to society, much smaller ones to individuals, and if parents opt for the procedure, they can expect the benefits (which are real, but small) to outweigh the risks (which are even smaller).

        • DealWithItBrah

          If the AAP isn’t recommending this for every child, then this whole announcement seems like a moot point since circumcision has always been an option for those able weigh the pros and cons and make that decision for themselves. The major issue a lot of people have with circumcision isn’t whether or not medical benefits exist, it’s an infant’s inability to consent to something that isn’t medically imperative.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            Exactly. All that’s changed is that an examination of new evidence now informs parents that if they choose to circumcise, the benefits are greater than the risks. That had not been scientifically established before. It’s a completely neutral bit of information.

    • Ryan

      I had part of my body cut off without my consent (it was causing no immediate danger), and you are claiming that the personal and societal benefit of a reduced rate of the spread of STDs should I choose to engage in risky sexual behavior combined with a reduced rate of infection should I practice poor hygene outweighs the risks? Perhaps it outweighs the risks of complications, but I do not think it outweighs the risks of being able to make my own choices about my own body. Better sexual education does far more to decrease these risks and it doesn’t involve cutting parts of children’s bodies off at birth.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I’m not arguing for or against circumcision at all. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy in people using the same sort of irrational argument techniques here that they criticize when used by anti-choice or anti-vaccine people or anti-global warming folks.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000434302335 Michael Connor

          The argument is simple and not hypocritical:
          Male Circumcision is an amputation with minimal risks and minimal benefits.
          What is wrong with it is that it is non-consensual and irreversible.
          There is no other area of medical science that proscribes pre-emptive amputation.

          For example, women are much more likely to die of breast cancer than men are to die of an STD by a huge margin.  But we do not gift double mastectomies to infants.  We also do not remove tonsils, appendices, or wisdom teeth UNTIL there is an immediate problem.

          • http://twitter.com/moother moother

            Comparing mastectomies to circumcision is hardly rigorous.

            I guess you have gone a long way to prove C Peterson right, right there.

            • Zadius

              He isn’t saying they are exactly equivalent, he’s making the point that reducing cancer rates, HIV rates, UTI rates, etc. cannot justify routinely removing a useful, functioning part of a person’s body without their permission. 

    • WoodyTanaka

      It’s a mutilation.  It accomplishes sever damage and injury to the function of the foreskin and disfigures the penis.

      • Bo Tait

        Hey now. My penis is not disfigured. According to the doc it’s enhanced. Watch your language.

        • WoodyTanaka

          Yes, if it’s cirumcised then it’s disfigured.  It’s not meant to look like a circumcised penis does. 

          • Bo Tait

            Sorry, but since it looks more awesome than the original I just can’t accept that.

          • Pseudonym

            Just like ear piercings, tattoos and dying or removing body hair.

            • eccles11

              How many tattoos were you given as an infant?

    • Thegoodman

      Aside from the decreased rate of a UTI (is that even a big deal? I am asking honestly); every reason I have seen is related to sex. The medical position is a very short list of minor benefits (at a proportionaly larger risk, albeit a small risk) followed by a litany of very serious sex and adult related issues.

      Male infants do not engage in sex. Because of this, we can toss out anything that can be addressed when the child is of age.

      Risk of circumcision:
      Botched circumcision which could result in an ENORMOUS and IRRECONCILABLE decrease in quality of life.

      Risk of NO circumcision:
      Decreased chance of a UTI.

      How is that a “solid” medical position?

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        The position is absolutely solid. The conclusion was based upon the rigorous scientific determination that the benefits outweigh the risks. That’s a very simple idea, and it forms the foundation of medical practice. Your comparison has no value because you’ve left out the actual statistics associated with both the risks and benefits.

        This is the same thing that vaccine deniers do:

        Risk of vaccine:
        Serious allergic response leading to brain damage or death.

        Risk of no vaccine:
        Small chance of getting a childhood disease that in most cases will be mild.

        Phrase it like that and it makes vaccines sound like a bad idea.

        • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

          Solid my back side!

          Rigorous scientific determination? If by determination you mean carefully leaving out some questions in order to arrive at a politically timely alternative, then yes, they sure were “rigorous”.
          Your straw-man analogy about vaccines doesn’t hold. Vaccines ARE proven to work and scientists world-wide agree on that.They do not agree with the AAP’s findings. And the data the AAP used was poor.

          In the irony of ironies, you call this scientific denial. It is called skepticism. Valid questioning of the AAP’s methodologies. When held up to the light, it turns out their sample is incredibly biased and incomplete.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katie-DeLeon/647208103 Katie DeLeon

        Infant UTIs can be a very big deal!. My son was not circumcised because he was born with a buried penis and the exposed part was too small to circumcise. At three months old, he woke up with a 105 degree fever and I was terrified. I rushed him to the hospital, he was cathed, and they found that he had a severe UTI. He was in the hospital for four days, enduring multiple tests to figure out if there was something wrong with his anatomy. They found nothing, so we just chalked it up to his being uncircumcised. If I had not been sleeping with him that night, and felt how hot he was, he could have died from overheating.

    • http://twitter.com/GodlessLiving Godless Living

       C Peterson – I’m the father that was mentioned in this post.  I think your comments point out exactly my fear and stress surrounding this topic.  I really wanted to make the right decision for my son and don’t want to ignore science.  My son was born four days prior to this updated statement from the AAP and at the time they had a very neutral stance on the subject.  Based on the current evidence that we had at the time, we opted out of it.  We saw no reason to do it. 

      He’s still young enough to have it done under local anesthesia, but I’m still not convinced by the AAP’s updated statement.  Without getting emotionally charged and ignoring science, I think I have very reasonable reasons to question their stance.  Others around the world have access to the same studies that the AAP does and have very different conclusions on the subject.  It seems to me that the AAP was possibly biased due to the controversy surrounding this and the fact that some medical benefits are not covering for this procedure.  I can’t help but wonder this since there are different conclusions. 

      Without ignoring their findings, I still am not comfortable doing it because:

      1) The AAP even admits their findings don’t warrant routine newborn circumcision.  They just feel people should have access to this based on the findings.  They seem to just be pandering to the pro-circ community who is in fear of having this banned (this was being attempted in California).  Contrast this with their strong recommendations for things with stronger scientific support such as immunizations.  

      2) The CDC still currently has no recommendations around the subject.  If this were truly so strongly linked to disease, you think this would get their attention. 

      3) Other parts of the world (like the UK) seem to be doing just fine with an 8-9% circ rate.  I’m not aware of any significant increase in STDs or costs around this subject in the UK. 

      4) It’s painful and still seems unnecessary. 

      I think you bring up some good points about a tendency to ignore science and evidence to support one’s view, but I hope you can see that this is not my aim.  I’m pro-science, but science has it’s flaws.  It’s obvious to me that this isn’t a “perfect science” since different conclusions are reached based on the same evidence.  As a reference, here’s a BBC article with a table in it that contrasts the Dutch stance vs. the AAP stance:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19072761. 

      I didn’t intend for this to be a long comment, but I just want to be clear that not supporting the AAP’s changes in their wording isn’t necessarily ignoring science.     

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I would argue that you have little reason to question the AAP position. It is based on solid science, including epidemiological evidence that the low usage of circumcision in Europe results in an increase in observed medical problems.

        Note that the AAP is not recommending circumcision in their new policy. They are doing what any organization does that bases its position on science: allowing it to change as the science changes. And all that has changed here is that we now have good evidence that the benefits of the procedure outweigh the risks. That is not an endorsement or recommendation. What the report says is that if you, as a parent, choose the procedure for your son, the small benefit he is likely to see is greater than the even smaller risk he incurs from the procedure itself.

        Science does not guarantee truth, but I don’t know of a better way to evaluate things. Can it get things wrong? Of course. But in this case we have a rather substantial consensus of experts, and very little arguing against their conclusions (which again, are about risks and benefits). By all means, do what you think is best. The report itself admits that while the societal benefits are large, the individual ones are small. Not circumcising your son is unlikely to cause him any problems later on. If your own view is that the foreskin serves some useful purpose, keep it. But be honest with yourself about the basis of your decision.

        As I said elsewhere, I’m not talking about the merits of circumcision at all, but about the really poor reasoning and argument tools being used by way too many people here, who should know better.

        • http://twitter.com/GodlessLiving Godless Living

           We obviously won’t agree on this, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable (and one could argue necessary) to be skeptical of an organization’s findings when the results of those findings support the interests of that organization.  As I said earlier the same findings lead SCIENTISTS in different countries to very different conclusions.  I don’t have a lot of trust in the AAP especially in light of the referenced previous compromise around female circumcision.  To me they seem to be compromising once again.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            But the AAP isn’t the only organization taking this position. Skepticism is always justified, but recognizing the value of consensus is very important.

            I am more likely to doubt conclusions reached by European doctors than American ones, however. Most of the mainstream doctors I’ve had occasion to deal with in England, Germany, and Denmark were all very supportive of homeopathic medicines.

            • DealWithItBrah

               The value of consensus doesn’t outweigh the value of evidence-based practice and it seems unreasonable to give doctors ultimate authority by default. This is evidenced by the difference in maternal and infant mortality rates between the US and European countries. In the US the consensus is that women should give birth in hospitals because it is “safer”; whereas in Europe, especially Scandinavian countries, women give birth at home much more frequently with the support of the medical community and their maternal and infant mortality rates are much lower than in the US.

              • m.litho

                Hospital birth has little to do with infant mortality, which is death from the point of birth to one year of age.

                • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

                  And you base this generalization on what evidence? Hospital births in the USA tend to put more drugs in the mothers and what enters the mother effects the infant as well.

                  Hospital births are often done earlier than necessary. The doctor will recommend induction. Infants born early are more prone to death.

                  Your information on infant mortality reporting appears to be wrong.

                • m.litho

                  Please show me cause of death statistics from birth to one year.

            • Sailor

               Which other organizations have come out favor or circumcision?

              • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

                None that I’m aware of, including AAP. All of the relevant American medical associations I’m aware of consider it a matter best left between the parents and their physician, and make no recommendations at all.

            • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

              The WHO and the AAP also identified no substantial harms due to female circumcision .. Yet you’re wiling to believe their claims over the majority of the global conclusion ? Now keep in mind although the AAP came to the conclusion the benefits outweighed the risks, the assessment never explained the risks. It’s like arguing A is better than B without describing to me all that B entails.

        • rg57

           There are more things that go into what a person should do than what the maximal expected health benefits are.

          That’s obvious right?

          There are costs to everything, and they need to be weighed.  One of those costs are rights violations.  It’s one thing to modify your own body.  But to permanently modify someone else’s, on an elective basis, before they can even understand what is happening, is hard to justify.

          While you claim this report doesn’t recommend circumcision, that’s not how it is being reported in other media.

          • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

            I have no control over how the AAP statement is being reported. It is consistent with the position of other American medical organizations in that no recommendations are being offered, only data on safety and epidemiology. The policy is specific that the decision is a matter between the parents and the physician, which seems to me eminently reasonable.

            • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

              In the absence of any good reasons in favor of surgery, the “eminently reasonable” thing is not to perform surgery. No operation should take place if there is no disease. It’s not the other way around like you seem to think.

        • Guest

          I work in biomedical research, and both I and physicians I work with are surprised at the AAP’s new position because it is NOT based on sound science. It is based on cherry-picked findings from Africa showing that, when condoms are not used, circumcision reduces the rate of HIV transmission from women to men during sex. There is no attempt to look at the benefit of circumcision in combination with condom use or, for that matter, the impact of circumcision on condom use. There is also no data showing that circumcision prevents HIV transmission in men who have sex with men, the highest risk group in the United States.

          Meanwhile, there are no systematic studies of the long-term complications of circumcision. We suspect, but do not know, that circumcision increases the likelihood of meatal stenosis, a condition that requires surgical correction. We suspect, but do not know, that circumcision reduces penile sensation as men get older, possibly impacting condom use.

          It is unclear to me why the AAP thinks it can endorse the medical benefits of circumcision as outweighing its risks without systemetically evaluating the latter. I suspect there is some political motivation behind this in the form of insurance companies dropping coverage for the procedure.

          • http://profiles.google.com/julielada Julie Lada

             Thank you. I was struggling to remember where I had heard that the African study that the HIV statistics are based on was deeply flawed. If I recall correctly, the other major issue with the study was that the circumcised group also received additional safe sex lessons and study material that the uncircumcised group did not have access to.

        • disqus_wZT5gEiBmF

          Here’s an effective way to invalidate the AAP statement .. They claim that the fusion of glans and foreskin dissolves around 2-3 months of age. This statement is incredibly erroneous as it’s common medical knowledge (clearly not at all common in the United States) that the diffusion of the glans and foreskin occurs at the median age of 10 years old. The assessment never went into detail about the function and anatomy of the foreskin – they never covered the fact that contains 20,000 fine touch nerve endings, it plays an active role in retaining the sensitivity of the glans (if you refute such a statement you are lying to yourself – intact men have a knee-jerk reaction when their glans rubs against fabric, circumcised men deal with friction against the glans all the time and do not notice any sensation. You tell me that’s not a decrease in sensitivity), the foreskin also released pheromones, provides slack in vaginal intercourse, and the foreskin releases anti-bacterial and anti-fungal enzymes – if you say the foreskin provides no purpose then how substantial are your claims ? Now you mentioned the low usage of circumcision results in higher medical issues – no what would those issues be ? Across Europe for example the HIV occurrence is 3-11 times lower than present in the US (depending on the region of Europe) if infant circumcision provided such an extensive benefit particularly in regards to STI/HIV prevention the observable data would be inverse of what we see today. There’s also the simple fact that New Zealand turned away from circumcision – the procedure was carried out as commonly as it was in the US but today the circumcision rate in NZ barely exceeds 3-5% of adult males and they have a low occurrence of male UTI’s (which are already rare in males and most data concludes that the prevention circumcision provides in relation to UTI’s is roughly 1%. Studies in Australia and Israel oddly enough discovered post-circumcision infant males experienced a high number of UTI infections) and one of the lowest rates of STI/HIV infection across the globe. Lastly I see you mention a cost efficacy in providing circumcision yet are you aware the circumcision industry in the US is a billion-dollar industry – that’s where the cost efficacy comes in. Circumcision pays. The procedure can cost between 300$-2000$ depending on your location (note 18 States no longer cover circumcision – the AAP statement’s purpose was to try to convince insurance companies to refund it), secondary circumcisions are a common occurrence, then there is the distribution of medical devices specialized in circumcision. It brings in quite a bit of cash.

      • Sailor

         Like you it seems to me the AAP have very much overstated their case. The European medical and scientific community has a very different view. The science is far from clear cut and the benefits if you really examine them are rather minimal. I am also rather suspect of an organization that once wanted doctors to be able to perform female circucision: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/07/health/policy/07cuts.html?_r=1

      • Branetrust

        As an anecdotal data point, I, wish my parents circumcised me. Two ex girlfriends were weirded out and that was two too many.

        • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

          They don’t deserve you, assuming you didn’t tell them their breasts were too small or some such. Then you had it coming.

        • eccles11

          Tell them you won’t stick your dick in a vagina who’s clit hasn’t had the chop and labia sewn together. If someone’s criterion is an involuntarily modified set of genitals there s something seriously wrong with them

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Katie-DeLeon/647208103 Katie DeLeon

            To compare female and male circumcision is absolutely idiotic.

            • eccles11

              Thanks for that vacuous statement.

              Because god knows after 7 months, what this comment section needed was someone’s post to be called ‘idiotic’.

        • Amgine

          You could always have the surgery now.

        • ashley

          I’m a chick and I love foreskins.

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      Using the word “mutilation” is exactly the same strategy anti-abortion people use when referring to the procedure as “killing babies”.

      The same strategy would consist of talking about cutting off the penis.

      Circumcision is no more “mutilation” than is a tonsillectomy. To emotionally charge a discussion of a valid and beneficial medical procedure with words like that is intellectually dishonest.

      Neither necessarily is mutilation in and of itself. Both can be mutilation depending on the circumstances. Presenting a false dilemma is intellectually dishonest.

      The science very solidly supports the idea the there is a societal benefit to widespread male circumcision (billions of healthcare dollars saved in the U.S. each year)

      [citation needed] Sounds unlikely. I can only assume you’re mostly referring to adult stuff like STDs resulting from unprotected sex, which is quite irrelevant to the age range under discussion.

      a significant reduction in various infections and STDs

      If memory serves, accidents due to not wearing seatbelts went up after airbags became commonplace. Would infections and STD go down, or would hygiene and safe-sex practices?

      It also makes clear that for an individual, while the benefit is small (but positive), the risks are even smaller, so there is no medical reason to argue against the procedure.

      Medical consensus is not to do operate unless it’s necessary, which is quite similar to how we (as atheists) don’t presume God without good evidence. You seem to have things backwards.

      In all, the medical position is solid and reasonable. Many of the responses to it are not.

      If you’re unhygienic (which is your parents’ fault until you’re old enough) and practice unsafe sex, then there are significant advantages to circumcision. Indeed, Sub-Saharan African countries such as the United States of Africa could really use this. That is what USA stands for, isn’t it?

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Questioning science is not anti-science. That is how science works. Your last two sentences are unfounded.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        No that is not how science works. You’ve oversimplified the matter.

        Science works when experts in a particular area question the results of other experts in that same area. And that is precisely the process followed in this study, and the conclusion stands as a consensus, that the medical benefits of circumcision outweigh the medical risks. Since no action is being recommended one way or the other, this should be absolutely uncontroversial. The fact that it isn’t tells me that something fundamentally irrational is driving the discussion.

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          Yeah, science works when experts in a particular area come to a concensus with the rest of the scientific community in that area. Not just one select group of experts. The AAP doesn’t have absolute authority and for good reason. It isn’t “the experts”.

          You should consider information in proportion to the authority from which it is derived. (Read: consider = question)

          The fact that  the AAP recommends no action while supposedly quantified net benefits makes it all the more questionable.

          • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

            The fact that the AAP recommends no action while supposedly quantified net benefits makes it all the more questionable.

            Exactly. If there were truly such great benefits they should recommend it. Now they just sound like they’re trying very hard not to sound disapproving, even if the logical conclusion of “either way” is “do nothing”.

        • chanceofrainne

          Why must the questioning be done by experts in order for it to be science?  I can do science all by myself in my kitchen by conducting experiments to see what will happen if I do X, and I’m certainly no expert.

        • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

          Equating “questioning experts” with “science denialism” is the oversimplification.

    • Martin

      Sorry,  but a tonsillectomy is mutilation.  Not sure how this is in line with anti-choice rhetoric, as to define a mass of cells as a human baby is a huge step since they don’t define any other mass of cells as a human baby, for instance cancer, which in humans carries the same genetic code of a human.

      No one is saying circumcision shouldn’t be done, they are just saying it should be the choice of the person getting circumcised, not the parents, as it is something they will have to live with the rest of their life, not their parents.  All of the health benefits of circumcision (minus the possibility of a UTI) are factors that aren’t a risk to a child until they reach sexual maturity, in which case they should be able to make the decision.  

    • vexorian

      The problem with conservatives trying to take the scientific high ground is that they tend to do it as badly as this. Thinking that just repeating that the science is solid and the medical position solid and reasonable will make it so.

      BTW. There is no medical position in support of circumcision.

      Even if the reduction in STD risk was such an important risk (And even if condoms didn’t exist). Since babies do not normally have sex (I think there is scientific consensus in this). Then STDs are not a great reason to circumcise babies. So let the adults get circumcised if they want to. There is when pro-circumcision crowd loses it. It seems that you are afraid that if circumcision was an adult choice, few adults would choose to do it. Here is where I get unscientific and start speculating. If you would not find it pleasant now, could it be, that maybe, and I say maybe, babies don’t enjoy it either?

      PS: Isn’t there something sexist about selling circumcision as an attempt to reduce STD risk? It only “protects” the man having sex. The woman would still need condoms to be into place.

      • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

        Don’t you see? Men should be protected from STDs, but those sluts and whores should suffer the consequences of their promiscuous lifestyle with STDs and babies galore.  Don’t forget to tell them all about how condoms aren’t very good at preventing either STDs or pregnancy in your abstinence-only sex ed, and how circumcised penises prevent such consequences by about 60%.

      • Hudson

        Did you red the article it and other sources also say it reduces the abiltiy to spred the virus.

    • anon101

      An answer to you is
      relatively easy. There are other medical association (in other
      countries) that dare to differ. Of course in the usual American
      imperialistic world view if the US says so the world has to bow down
      an gasp in awe but that is just one perspective. ,-)

    • Zob

      The “decreased rate of HIV” is based on a bullshit study loaded with flaws and moral issues (white people be testing STDs on people of color again).  It also only looked at male disease rates.  When they conducted a similar study and started finding that circumcision INCREASED the rate of transmission to female partners of HIV positive men, the study was cancelled.

      The statement by the AAP is either political or lazy, but probably both.

    • chanceofrainne


      Using the word “mutilation” is exactly the same strategy anti-abortion people use when referring to the procedure as “killing babies”. Circumcision is no more “mutilation” than is a tonsillectomy.”

      Actually, if there was nothing wrong with my tonsils and you strapped me down and forcibly cut them out, I think I pretty damn much WOULD call that a mutilation.  Try again.

    • raavequeen

      Tell that to my boyfriend who feels that his penis was mutilated before he was old enough to consent. I would rate cutting off a normal part of an infant’s genitals for no good reason (even those listed are shit reasons in my opinion; far too weak for what people would actually try to use them to defend) as a form of mutilation. No, it is not the same as FGM, but I’m not talking about FGM. 

      I mean, really. If we found out giving girls mastectomies eliminated their chances of getting breast cancer, would that be okay to consent to for them? Or, conversely, if a clitorectomy or a labial cut could be done painlessly/humanely and somehow magically eliminated risks of STDs- would that justify it?

      It seems to me that if these benefits are really that important to you fine. When your kids are old enough to consent to something like that, explain to them the reasons. Tell them to their face what you think and why and let them decide. Most could do it before sexual activity began.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

      STOP MAKING SENSE!!  :-)  Best reply in this thread.  Thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/CommonCormorant Corvus Marinus

      It’s mutilation, I’m fucking mutilated! It’s not an attempt to politicize by using loaded language. It’s mutilation and it’s a human rights violation and the AAP is wrong. This isn’t about science and you’d know that if you weren’t appealing to emotion.

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    The benefits of circumcision are nothing that a condom can’t do better, and without the medical risks, complications, and ethical problems associated with routine infant circumcision.  One day the United States will catch up with other developed nations on children’s rights issues.  In the mean time there will be sex discrimination regarding whose genitals are protected under our laws.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      Any failure to mention condoms makes me distrustful of a sex study.

  • Richard Hughes

    Science – It gives no shits about being convenient to your political allegiance to any given cause! And that’s why we love it.

  • Amy Quinkert

    Here is my analysis of the AAP statement: “the benefits outweigh the risks” means that they can justify doing the procedure AT ALL. If the converse were true, that the risked outweighed the benefits, NO ONE would be allowed to circumcise and there would be LOTS of angry people. I see this as a CYA statement allowing parents to make whatever choice they want as well as trying to minimize adverse events and pain for the infant: A neutral stance on this hotly contested issue.

    My personal feeling is that all children should be genitally intact and have bodily integrity as long as they are healthy. And if they choose, as adults, to undergo cosmetic surgery (because let’s face it, male circumcision is cosmetic and has no DIRECT medical benefit), then by all means, do to your body what you want to do.

    The issue of male circumcision is tied, in my mind, to the issue of intersex. I feel the need to bring it up even though it’s not directly relevant to the current conversation. For those who don’t know, intersex is a general term for people with disorders of sexual development and include people born with ambiguous genitalia. The medical community does not have a good history when dealing with this patient population. And historically the general protocol in these situations was convince or coerce the parents into “normalizing” surgery as soon as possible (generally to cut down a large clitoris or small penis)  and never tell the patient what was done to them. I know that these days, the lying is officially frowned-on, but there is still a push from some sectors toward unnecessary cosmetic surgery as early as possible. It is my brush with this issue that has shaped me opinions genital surgery. I believe that ALL genital surgery should be put off until meaningful assent can be obtained and ideally until the person in question is an adult and can fully consent.

  • Sfd4304

    In the US many people seem to approach the topic
    with the assumption that circumcision is the norm and they need proof that circ
    shouldn’t be done.  When I was pregnant with my son seven years ago, I
    decided that the default position should be that he would be born with an
    intact penis and I needed good, concrete evidence to cut off a part of his
    body.  I did not find convincing evidence for this, and as the debate
    flares thanks to the AAP’s new-ish policy, I still cannot find evidence for the
    routine removal of part of my son’s body.  All of the pro-circ points are
    things that can be easily avoided with condoms, the HPV vaccine, and good hygiene.
     
    I thought it might be especially interesting to view the debate from the
    European perspective, as circ rates are much lower there, and it appears to be
    a non-issue there.  I also considered it from the perspective of disease
    prevention, and cannot find, outside of the circ debate, any articles or
    studies that promote routine infant circ as disease prevention.  
    I can’t
    help but think that if it wasn’t the norm here in the US to circ, and it was
    never popularized by religion and as a masturbation cure, that the idea to cut
    off part of a baby boys penis just ’cause would be ludicrous.

    • Sfd4304

      I will correct myself on one point, I did find one article separate from the circ debate promoting circ as a way to reduce HIV/AIDS in high-prevalence areas, however the same article notes the problems with the studies used in these areas, and that is that the men who opt for circ also get testing and sex ed along with the circ.

  • onamission5

    My thoughts, as a non-foreskin haver but a parent to three sons–

    I can’t get behind prophylactic circumscision. If a male infant or child has problems from the foreskin that only snipping will solve, then sure, but most uncut boys don’t have UITs or other complications, so I see no reason to force an infant to undergo surgery on a principle of “just in case.” We don’t remove appendixes or tonsils at birth just because they sometimes cause infection, and people frikkin’ die from ruptured appendixes.

    The adult benefits outlined are the same benefits one gets from good hygiene and using a condom. Again, why solve something through surgery when another, less invasive option is available? I also have concern that there are males (particularly young males, thanks to AOE) out there who will read these stats and think, “hey, I’m cut so I don’t need to use a condom,” when nothing could be further from the truth. Cut or uncut, condoms are still the best disease prevention measures we have.

  • Gus Snarp

    I have some issues with this, the biggest being that ideology seems to trump science on both sides of this issue. The doctor likening circumcision to vaccination seems to be seriously exaggerating the case, as do those comparing it to female genital mutilation. I’m opposed to routine circumcision of infants in general, and I base that opposition on this: would any of these studies have been done, would anyone have come up with the idea of cutting off the foreskin for medical reason if the religious practice hadn’t been wanting justification? All of this is seeking medical justification for a religious practice that has become a cosmetic procedure. That said, if the benefits were strong enough, it might trump my opinion on it. The problem with the benefits is that they don’t seem all that great from my perspective. So here’s my breakdown:

    HPV: We now have a vaccine for that. Is it ethical to recommend surgery to reduce the risk for something when there’s a simple vaccine that will reduce the risk even further, and which can be given to both sexes?

    Other STDs: Reducing the risk 60 percent may actually be dangerous. I have concerns about people thinking that being circumcised reduces their risk, so they don’t have to practice safe sex. Safer sexual practices, including testing, knowing your partner, reducing your number of partners, and using condoms can virtually eliminate the risk, but we’re advocating surgery on infants to accomplish less risk reduction? Look, if this is such a great benefit, can’t we just wait until the child is old enough to make the decision themselves? The fact that we can’t strongly suggests that this is not the real reason people are promoting circumcision, or they’re afraid that very few grown men in possession of a foreskin would opt to have it cut off over wearing a condom.

    UTIs: This is the biggest number, and the one that sounds most like a reason to practice routine infant circumcision, but what’s the initial risk of UTIs in male infants? I think it’s pretty low. That matters. What’s the further risk of suffering serious adverse effects from that UTI? Is it easily treatable with antibiotics and does it rarely cause any serious problems? That matters too. One other thing that matters, is it really the circumcision reducing the risk, or is it the administration of antibiotics to babies who get circumcised? Again, I don’t know, but that matters too. Certainly if it’s the antibiotics, then it seems odd to recommend surgery when you could just give a course of antibiotics. But what if there are concerns about administering antibiotics just to reduce the already low risk of UTIs due to potential allergies and side effects? If that’s the case would not the surgery raise even more concerns?

    • guest

      “Other STDs: Reducing the risk 60 percent may actually be dangerous. I have concerns about people thinking that being circumcised reduces their risk, so they don’t have to practice safe sex. ”

       this is also an argument against the HPV vac, birth control pills, and condoms.

      • Gus Snarp

        No, because the HPV vaccine, birth control pills, and condoms are far more than 60% effective. 

  • Gus Snarp

    So I’m pretty curious about the UTI data, and I found this study: 
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18316994 , and it had pretty interesting results. What’s interesting here, to me, is that rates of UTI seem to be quite a bit lower in female babies than in uncircumcised male babies. Note that these are not the actual rate of UTI overall, but the rate of UTI in infants with a fever. So the question that’s interesting here is, why do women in general have 20 times the rate of UTI of men, but males 0-3 months with a foreskin and a fever have more than twice the rate of UTIs of females of that age? Am I reading this abstract correctly? I’d love to see some of the underlying data, charts, and caveats. Anyone with full journal access to this feel like breaking it down? It’s also a meta-analysis, and I’m not sure that all the inclusion criteria are noted in the abstract.

    • Sfd4304

      My question to this statement, ”  Uncircumcised male infants less than 3 months of age …had the highest baseline prevalence of UTI” would be, were the parents educated on proper hygiene of an intact penis?  

      Fortunately we have an intact friendly pediatrician who has been helpful in educating us.  We also used the Diaper Free method, so my son’s penis had very little contact with the cause of most UTIs, E. Coli (poop, something frequently found in the diapers of babies under 3 months of age).Since UTIs are still rare even for uncirc baby boys, circ boys also get UTIs, and a UTI is easily treated, I do not consider this to be a convincing reason for routine infant circ.

  • Bo Tait

    Health benefits from circumcision just goes to show Jews are the Chosen People.

    What a nice thing for God to do. This is like when your dad gives you a beer for helping with the car. Or finding a Ninja Turtles ring at the bottom of the stupid Shreddies box.

    • pete084

       Chosen people? He bans them from eating bacon and orders them to slice up their kids dicks, sounds more like this god dude was bearing a grudge.

      • Bo Tait

        Like I said. Like a father and son scenario.
        Not eating bacon would be like working on a car. And him giving you a beer is like having a great looking, impervious penis. 

  • CanadianNihilist

    Personally I’m extremely glad that my parents made the decision for me when I was new and barely cognizant of my own existence if at all.

    I don’t want to think about how much it would have hurt to have it done when I was old enough to make the decision myself.

    Besides all the benefits mentioned in the article, as I’ve mentioned before, the ladies love it. I’ve never heard an ewww you’re circumcised. But I have heard women talk about how gross they find uncircumcised ones.

    • Gus Snarp

      Man, that is the worst argument for circumcision ever. You know what? I’ve never heard: “eww, you’re not circumcised!” either. The only place I’ve ever heard or seen anyone express that repugnant opinion is on forum and blog posts arguing about whether we should circumcise. And frankly, I think most people claiming it have very little to no experience with uncircumcised penises. What I have found is that women find flaccid penises, circumcised or not, generally unattractive. Erect penises are another story, but you would be hard pressed, without close visual inspection to say whether you were seeing a penis with the foreskin retracted or a circumcised penis.

      Meanwhile, I put any woman who’s grossed out by the fact that a penis is uncircumcised in the same group with men who can’t handle labia or clitorises that look slightly different from their idealized porn star.

      • Miss_Beara

        “I’ve never heard: “eww, you’re not circumcised!” either.”

        I never have either. My first and current bf’s were/are uncircumcised because they are British. No big deal. 

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          I’ve seen it on blog comments both ways.  Denigrating both men who either or are not circumcised.  My response is that the only woman’ opinion I care about is my wife’s.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    No time for 123 comments right now, so I’ll just have to paste what I said on FB last night:

     I don’t see an argument for having it done at infancy. People say “it’s better that he won’t remember”. But it hurts the same. The important difference to me is that you can’t explain it to a baby, so they not only have the pain, and the restraint, but the stress and fear and confusion. Even by puberty a boy can at least know what’s going on, and it might hurt, but they won’t think they’re being killed (or whatever concept a baby is capable of).
    There’s also the issue of safety. As safe as the procedure is, it’s more dangerous on an infant. I haven’t seen the death rates verified, so the 1-200 death/year is suspect, but no surgery is without risk. I’d rather my 13 (or better yet 18) year old need antibiotics than my 2 week old. And I’d rather my 2 week old not have a severe blood loss.

  • Antinomian

    Some years back, I had the opportunity to ask my biological mother why she had me and my brothers circumcised back in the 50′s Her answer was a mix of health recommendations from the doctor and asthetics.

    I’m sort of curious and want to ask those that like their significant other to have a penis; what their preference, if any, would be for asthetics and pleasure.

  • http://twitter.com/GodlessLiving Godless Living

     Thank you for sharing my comments in your post Friendly Atheist.
    I’m honored that you read it. I know there’s a lot of controversy
    surrounding this topic, but for me it was just about a couple of parents
    trying to make a good decision for their son. Thanks again for
    sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/moother moother

    We all know what would happen if we waited for informed consent for vaccinations.

    I’m quite happy with my little Darth Vader and happier still that I cannot remember the procedure or of having to endure it as a teen/adult.

    • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

      When your children grow up, they stop getting vaccines?

      It’s nice that you were able to avoid any memories of the procedure, but maybe if you are going to make a rational decision about it it is better to remember what you’re doing.

  • Sailor

    Given that we have been practicing surgery on  baby’s penises for thousands of years, it is extraordinary how little literature there is on its effects, and of those studies that are,  how many of them are tiny groups of subjects. I did my best to find out what we know it does not seem to be a hell of a lot.
    There is a good natural reason for a foreskin, it is not like an appendix. It makes penetration much easier and provides lubrication and also protection, beside being sensitive in its own right. In the short term (up to two years) when adult men are circumcised there is no evidence of deterioration of sexual pleasure or function. Over a lifetime there is rather thin evidence (because there have not been enough studies) that circumcised men are more like not to be able to get an erection.
    For some unknown reason circumcised men masturbate more and are more into a variety of sexual practices.
    The health benefits are very marginal – anyone who relies on circumcision to avoid STDs is in for a big shock! Condoms are many times more effective. The claims of the AAP, who previously, by the way, wanted to be able to do female circumcision (google it), are very selective and do not take account of data like Europe (where few people are circumcised) Vs the US (where many are) that show the US has higher HIV rates.
    Maybe this is being very cynical, but why is it that the US where they have procedural based profit method of medical care are all gung-ho for it, where Europe, with a socialized medical care system, think it is a terrible idea?

  • Art

    I have zero problem with voluntary circumcision. It’s your body; do what you wish with it, and from the study there are real benefits if you are a sexually-active male who doesn’t use condoms.

    I just think that circumcising a newborn to MAYBE prevent an STD he MIGHT get from the condomless sex he MAY have 15 years later is not a very good reason to do it.

    • Sfd4304

      Actually the studies I found said that any possible benefit was lost if condoms were not used.

      • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

        Condoms can be biased for better use with circumcised people.

  • Sfd4304

    Someone brought up in the Facebook comments that the AAP was pro FGM for a short time, I found that interesting so I thought I’d throw it into the mix here:

    http://spectator.org/archives/2010/05/25/aap-gives-fgm-an-aok 

    http://bigthink.com/focal-point/aap-on-female-genital-mutilation-lets-not-and-say-we-did 

    http://www.equalitynow.org/search/node/aap

    The AAP quickly withdrew the statement, tho.ugh

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    Wow… 189 comments as of right now.  I’m not going to read them and am going to just click to the next blog entry…

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    I’m siding with the experts on this one — circumcision is of the good, and the risks are so minimal as to be negligible.

    HOWEVER.

    I would stipulate that ALL circumcisions, whether done for religious reasons or other reasons, be performed by a trained and licensed medical professional in a sterile environment.

    Any religious hoo-hah that “needs” to take place can be done prior to (or after) the surgery.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Shorter menz: “WAAAH WAAAAH MY HOLY AND SACRED PENIS!!!! WAAAAH”

    Seriously, STFU and stop obsessing. The benefits of circumcision, both to the individual and society, outweigh your whiny bleating about your precious phalluses. Grow up and get over it, or drop the fuck out of society.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      Oh fuck you.  Seriously.

      The rest of this comment I’ve had to delete because if I didn’t I’m pretty sure it would have been flagged and removed.  I sure as hell hope I never meet you in person.

      • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

        Excuse me for not having any sympathy for whiny men whose only “problem” is that they’re missing a bit of skin.

        Get back to me when mohels are routinely chopping off the whole penis.

        • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

          I take it you also lack sympathy for type 1 female genital mutilation. What a lovely person you are.

          • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

            Type I FGM involves removal of the clitoris, and is in no way analogous to the removal of a tiny bit of skin off the male member.

            • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

              Fair enough — at least insofar as type 1 FGM can mean the removal of the clitoral hood as well as the removal of the clitoris itself. I should’ve said type 1a.

              • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

                Also, male circumcision takes place in a sterile medical setting.

                FGM, on the contrary, often involves holding the girl down and scraping her bits away with a dirty bit of glass.

                I, for one, am just tired of hearing men go on and on and on about their peens, like the peen is some kind of holy object that will be “broken” if anyone even looks at it wrong. You’re not oppressed, you’re not harmed by male circumcision, so STFU and stop trying to make it out to be some godsawful horrible mutilation.

                • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

                  Also, male circumcision takes place in a sterile medical setting.FGM, on the contrary, often involves holding the girl down and scraping her bits away with a dirty bit of glass.

                  Well, I suppose all the women whose clitoral hoods were clipped in sterile medical settings will be thrilled that you can only sympathize if at least the entire clitoris was cut, or if it was cut with unsterilized glass.

                  I, for one, am just tired of hearing men go on and on and on about their peens, like the peen is some kind of holy object that will be “broken” if anyone even looks at it wrong.

                  I, for one, am tired of people trying to hijack the topic. If the topic is FGM and men start whining about their penises, by all means have at them.

                  You’re not oppressed, you’re not harmed by male circumcision, so STFU and stop trying to make it out to be some godsawful horrible mutilation.

                  Did anyone say it was worse than FGM? I didn’t think so. It’s not a zero-sum game, you know.

                  And let’s try your argument against you: as an American woman, you’re not harmed by FGM, so SFTU and stop trying to make it out to be some godsawful horrible mutilation.

                  Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it?

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Never asked for your sympathy.  People talk about cutting off ‘bits of skin’ I don’t think about mine, I think about my son.  I can’t stop you from talking shit about him, which is why I hope I never meet you in person.

  • EtithiPi

    I don’t think this is scientific. I’m not aware that urinary infections are 10 times more frequent in Europe (or Asia, or South America for that matter), nor do we have more HIV infections than the US. 

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      The US has more HIV infections (per capita) than Europe if I’m not mistaken. Also, again if I’m not mistaken, urinary infections are somewhat more frequent in South America and Asia than in Europe or the US.

      It would seem that the most important factors are hygiene and safe sex, or Europe would be worse off than the US instead of equivalent to better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    Saw this on the news. My mom didn’t understand why anyone would argue against circumcision or a parent’s right to have their child circumsized. I was circumsized at birth and quite happy with it, but I can understand why people would object. But when I explained to my extremely religious mother that people object because its done without the child’s consent, all she could do is give me a weird look and reply with “so is abortion.”

    facepalm.

    Wrong on so many levels…

  • EtithiPi

    I agree. I think (Western) Europe and the US are comparable when it comes to health issues. Therefore, if circumcision had real health benefits, we should see differences in favour of the US, where circumcision is much more prevalent (probably by a factor of 4 or 5).
    The fact that we don’t see that, shows that the American Academy of Pediatrics is biased or pandering to the religious (I understand that the jewish community is very powerful in the US).

    • http://twitter.com/Frenzie Frans

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a pretty big correlation between teen pregnancy and spread of STDs, both of which stem from flawed sexual education if not flat-out lies.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Teenage_birth_rate_per_1000_women_15–19,_2000-09.svg

      The conclusion should be obvious: copy Dutch sexual education because judging by results it’s the best in the world (paired with South-Korea; you can copy them if you prefer).

      All this talk about circumcision helping against STDs is a bunch of self-justifying nonsense to protect tradition, which is not the least bit relevant in regard to babies regardless of its validity or lack thereof.

      As for the Jewish lobby, it’s well-organized and has a fair amount of influence for its size; if you fail to realize that the Jewish population consists of a little over 2% of the US population, you could easily start saying things that sound antisemitic. Protestants represent the biggest group, Catholics the biggest single denomination.

  • pagansister

    Some think that the baby boy shouldn’t have this decision made for him.  Not a male obviously, but as an adult male would you want to make that decision?   Wouldn’t it be more painful?   My husband was circumcised and so is my son.  My grandson (2 1/2)  was also, as my son and daughter in law consulted several doctors to ask their opinion—all said yes.  One doctor has 3 sons and he recommended it. My husband and son don’t seem to have suffered any mental or physical problems due to what was decided when they were 2 days old.  

  • pagansister

    I know I just posted a few minutes ago, but I, as do others,realize that this discussion has been going on for longer than most of us have been alive.  It will continue long after we’re gone from this mortal coil.    I understand that some in the Jewish community are even questioning the tradition of their faith. 

  • eccles11

    If you are feeding your infant cigarettes then it might be relevant.

  • eccles11

    Sounds like a horrible thing to evolve. Too bad your claim is just bs.

    Fleiss et al. (1997) report that the foreskin provides various immunological functions:

    a generous blood supply to fight infection.
    a preputial sphincter that keeps contaminants and pathogens out of the foreskin and away from the urethra.
    antibacterial substances in the sub-preputial moisture.
    protection against breaks, tears, microfissures, abrasions, and lacerations through which infection may enter.
    Langerhans cells in the epithelium that provide a barrier against infection, including HIV

    It is also important in sexual function, as the circumsised penis after exposure to the elements keratinises, That is to say it callouses.

  • http://www.circumstitions.com/ Hugh7

    The policy is heavily loaded towards circumcision, virtually instructing doctors to browbeat parents into doing it:
    “Parents who are considering deferring circumcision should be explicitly informed that circumcision performed later in life has increased risks [FALSE - they give no evidence for this claim] and costs. Furthermore, deferral of the procedure also requires longer healing time than if performed during the newborn period and requires sexual abstinence during healing. [The word "condoms" never appears in the policy.] Those who are already sexually active by the time they have the procedure lose some opportunities for the protective benefit against sexually transmitted infection (STI) acquisition, including HIV; moreover, there is the risk of acquiring an STI if the individual is sexually active [without condoms] during the healing process.”
    (No mention that if it’s not done at all there is no cost, no risk, no healing period and very little greater risk of STDs, if any.)
    The policy fails to consider the structure or functions of the foreskin, a normal healthy body part, only the cutting of it off. The erogenous value of the foreskin has been known for millennia, even to its enemies. (Shakespeare called it “my sweet ounce of man’s flesh.”)
    The policy claims benefits of circumcising outweigh the risks without ever numerically comparing them.
    It exaggerates benefits and minimizes risks and harm.
    It ignores major complications and death from circumcision.
    It discusses one circumcision clamp without mentioning that its maker was driven out of business by lawsuits arising from botches caused by the clamp.
    Bottom line: HIS body, HIS choice, when he is old enough to make one. The AAP admits that he will almost always choose to keep it all.
    The policy is badly flawed and should be withdrawn. For more detail see
    http://tinyrul.com/aapanno

  • pr biorbyt

    Shared information are really very helpful. 


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