The oldest documented evidence for circumcision can be found in ancient Egypt where circumcision was common among ancient Semitic people. The earliest roots can be traced back to sub-equatorial Africa, where it is still performed on adolescent boys, to symbolize their transition to warrior status or adulthood.
Circumcision began in English speaking countries in the mid-1800s for medical reasons, such as, to prevent masturbation (masturbation was thought to cause epilepsy, tuberculosis, and insanity). Today infant circumcision has been abandoned in Britain and New Zealand, and is now much less common in Australia and Canada. The practice never spread to the European countries because the arguments for it were considered ‘erroneous’. (Some) Modern women are told that circumcision will prevent cervical cancer and AIDS. The reality is that circumcision prevents none of these things.
Infant male circumcision is the most routinely performed surgery in the USA. Surgically removing part of a baby boy’s healthy penis is far more than a “snip.” The baby is strapped into a restraint board. The doctor attaches two hemostats to the foreskin and inserts a metal instrument under the foreskin to forcibly separate it from the glans (head of the penis.) The doctor slits the foreskin to widen its opening for the insertion of the Plastibell. The foreskin is crushed against the Plastibell and cut off. The surgery, without anesthesia, takes up to 15 minutes.
The amount of skin removed from an infant is the equivalent of 15 square inches (the size of a 3 x 5 index card) in an adult male. The foreskin is the most sensitive area of the penis. There are 20,000 nerve endings in the foreskin and the frenulum. A study published in Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies, estimates that more than 100 US baby boys die from circumcision complications each year. Others suffer mishaps (Oops!), infection, hemorrhage, and excruciating pain. Many cultures circumcise girls; our culture condemns the practice by calling it genital mutilation. As with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) there are many styles of circumcision. Part or all of the foreskin is removed; the frenulum may be removed as well as stitches used. There is usually scarring.
Articles from medical journals over the last 200 years proclaim that circumcision cured clubfoot, wet dreams, masturbation, Syphilis, Epilepsy, paralysis, bed wetting, curvature of the spine, blindness, deafness, muteness, urinary and rectal incontinence, and nervousness. Circumcision purportedly prevented TB, penile cancer, STDs, AIDS/HIV, urinary tract infections, and cervical cancer in women… Today, NO professional medical association in the world recommends routine circumcision. There is no conclusive link between circumcision and STD prevention. The wound from circumcision may increase the risk of AIDS/HIV. The American Academy of Pediatrics has NEVER recommended circumcision in its 75 year history.
The care of an uncircumcised penis is easy. Let it be. The foreskin may not retract till the child is 4, 6, or 14. It’s O.K. It will. Do not try to retract it. Do not force it. LET IT BE. Before amputating the most sensitive area of your son’s anatomy, please consider letting your son have the right to choose and consider why circumcise?
Image Credit: Janice Fransisco