Circumcision is More Than a Choice

Recently a client became upset with me because I revealed I am an intactivist. I feel strongly that couples need to make an informed decision regarding this far from benign decision. This article may make me unpopular, but if  one hundred babies died in the United States by another procedure, I would be writing about it. Did you know that stat? It is interesting- folks will get the Vitamin K shot since hemorrhagic disease- something that can occur “The incidence of classic vitamin K deficiency bleeding ranges from 0.25-1.7 cases per 100 births,”  because what if their baby was one of those babies. But did you realize that circumcision is risky too? What if your son is one of the 100 who died?

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I have hesitated to post on facebook or elsewhere too strongly on this issue since I was afraid it may cost me business. And it did this week.  But I felt it was time. Time for me to share my personal feelings in print.

I have written articles before on this subject:

I have shared research my students have done- Newborn Procedures

But I have to say I am alarmed at parents that do not do the research on this procedure and base it mainly on how the dad looks or feels. I hear women say, it is a father’s decision. Dads want their sons to look like them, right? But when is a boy going to look like his dad? Puberty and perhaps even a bit longer- so who is sitting around comparing penises when they are 17 years old?

And what happened to the doctors’ oath of do no harm? Cutting off a healthy piece of a baby’s body is certainly doing harm. And yes in 2012 the American Academy of Pediatrics made a determination that the benefits outweighed the risk- but guess what it was based on studies in AFRICA- a third world continent who have health risks that we can avoid by safe sex and healthcare advantages. HIV and STDs can be curtailed by the use of condoms. And penile cancer rates are really low. Lung cancer is higher- so should we remove one of our son’s lungs? Of course not! But insurance covers it most of the time. But the doctors are making on average more than $300 to do the procedure. Are you concerned about a cosmetic procedure increasing your healthcare cost?

And with more information and consideration, the rates are declining each year. “In the United States, those rates have declined today to about 55%, from a high of almost 80% during the 1970s and ’80s. In Europe, only 10% of boys are circumcised.” And the rates vary based on the level of education and income too.  Here are the stats per state. “Circumcision rates are 24% higher in states where Medicaid covers the procedure, according to a brief produced by the Health & Human Services Department’s Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project.” So if you want your son to look like everyone else- there is a strong chance he will look like at least half of his classmates anyway. And I hear the comments in the locker room now not being an issue- especially since it is more concerning in a homophobic way- “Why are you looking at my penis ” retort.

I support parent’s choices in labor, birth and parenting- but removing healthy tissue that this study confirms the importance of the foreskin for penile sensitivity, overall sexual satisfaction, and penile functioning, should that be his decision, not the parents? 

By circumcising an newborn you can also interfere with the bonding and breastfeeding. The adverse impact is documented. So if breastfeeding is an important issue for you, you may rethink circumcision
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So yes, I am an intactivist. I support an adult male deciding to have his foreskin removed, but I understand some parents will gather information and still decide to do it. I will choose to look the other way. There, I have said my peace. This is my opinion and not a company stance. If you do not like my opinion on this matter, I get it. We can still work together on your birth preparation and you labor, because they do not do this procedure while I am around anyway! Just as you are entitled to your opinion, I get to have mine. But I did want to make sure you are fully informed on this subject. It is a much bigger decision than does my son look like his father.

And I am not alone in my opinion- here is an agency that has hopes of giving you the no circ side of the decision. They even offer some videos for you to be able to know what is done during this surgical procedure.  Click on the picture above and it has a decision making ap to help you in your decision.