First off let me start by apologizing to our male readers... we understand this could be a painful discussion especially since we (Mama K and Mama T) don't have the parts that would be snipped. But carrying around a baby for nine months and then delivering it is no walk in the park either. I just had to put that out there. Tee Hee

Okay so back to the topic of circumcision. The day after our son was born the doctor came in and spoke with us about the procedure and asked what our thoughts were about it. To be honest, T and I had discussed it briefly prior to our son arriving. During the doctor's visit he told us the pros and cons of the procedure and we asked him how it would be done.

We had heard horror stories of little boys being strapped down to the table with no pain medicine being administered. That was not something that made it enticing to us in the least bit for obvious reasons but on the other end of the spectrum Mama T has had several people tell her stories of men and or teenagers having to get it done because of penile cancer and other issues that have developed. We had heard that the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and urinary tract infections were common too in uncircumcised boys and men.

On the plus side, circumcised infants are less likely to develop urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in the first year of life. UTIs are about 10 times more common in uncircumcised compared with circumcised infants. However, even with this increased risk of UTI, only 1% or less of uncircumcised males will be affected.

Circumcised men may also be at lower risk for penile cancer, although the disease is rare in both circumcised and uncircumcised males. Some studies indicate that the procedure might offer an additional line of defense against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV.

Penile problems, such as irritation, inflammation, and infection, are more common in uncircumcised males. It's easier to keep a circumcised penis clean, although uncircumcised boys can learn how to clean beneath the foreskin once the foreskin becomes retractable (usually some time before age 5).

Some people claim that circumcision either lessens or heightens the sensitivity of the tip of the penis, decreasing or increasing sexual pleasure later in life. But neither of these subjective findings has been proved.

We weighed the issues and asked for the doctor's opinion which he really didn't say one way or the other. But the interesting thing he did say to us was that it was considered cosmetic and not necessary. He did tell us though that he does use pain medication and that it is a routine procedure. Our son would be in the majority because 80 percent of all adult men in the United States are circumcised.

The discussions that Mama T and I did have prior to our sons arrival were very thoughtful and productive on the issue. Our main point to ourselves besides the health benefits was that he is already going to be different because he is going to be raised by two moms why put him at a further disadvantage by not circumcising him. We just didn't want him to be in the locker room being picked on by other boys because he looks different, not that he would know the difference I guess unless someone explained it to him at some point.

So we decided to have it done. Let me just tell you we didn't make the decision easily, there was some hesitation because we didn't want our little guy to experience pain like that, but in the long run we knew it was the right decision to make for a number of reasons. The biggest one for us was his health and safety and it is nice to know that there is a probability that sometime in the near future that it will be recommended that all boys will be required to have it done after birth for health reasons. According to the latest research if a boy is circumcised it decreases the risk of spreading STDs and can reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS from women to men by up to 60 percent.

Three large studies in Africa have shown that male circumcision can reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS from women to men by up to 60 percent. This has led the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to consider promoting circumcision of infant boys in this country. Such a tactic makes sense against a virus that infects more than 50,000 Americans each year.

The Boston Globe

As a side note... This does not mean that circumcised men should not wear protection though and it does not seem to assist gay men in the prevention of further spreading HIV/AIDS. The studies conducted though in Africa revealed that there was a 50 percent decrease in the spread of HIV/AIDS among circumcised men. That is an astounding decrease and one worth noting.

As another side note... my mom made an excellent point. The reason why most of the men in the 3 largest studies conducted in Africa are circumcised is because they are of the Muslim faith. I wonder why they don't mention that in any of the articles I have read on the subject. Things that make you go hmmm...

In looking at both sides of the circumcision coin these days... I can see all points of view on the subject, but one thing I don't understand is the folks who argue that the infant doesn't have a right to elect not to have the surgery. That is kind of a crazy argument to me... would they then say that babies should not have their vaccinations or go to daycare while their parents go to work to provide for them because they would not choose to be there if they were given the choice. Whatever happened to parents knowing what is best?

This is one that I may come back to as the debate begins to heat up around the country. All I can say is that hopefully our son will understand that we made the decision we did for health reasons and because we thought it was the right thing to do.

Reasons parents may choose circumcision

There are a variety of reasons why parents choose circumcision.

  • Medical benefits, including
    • A slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). A circumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life; an uncircumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 100 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life.
    • A lower risk of getting cancer of the penis. However, this type of cancer is very rare in all males.
    • A slightly lower risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
    • Prevention of foreskin infections.
    • Prevention of phimosis, a condition in uncircumcised males that makes foreskin retraction impossible.
    • Easier genital hygiene.
  • Social reasons. Many parents choose to have it done because "all the other men in the family" had it done or because they do not want their sons to feel "different."