Mama in the City

A blog about raising my family in downtown Vancouver

There Goes The Foreskin

I believe in circumcision the same way that I believe in foot binding for girls in China. I think infant male circumcision is an archaic procedure that needs to be given up. When I gave birth to a baby with a penis it was not even in our parental discussion to make the decision about having him circumcised. My husband and I had talked about this topic before babies even came on our radar and we both thought that circumcision was an unnecessary tradition that needed to go the way of total extinction.

In my job as a maternity RN I have been the assistant to a MD for a total of one circumcision and through the 3.5 years working with babies I have been on shift for a total of 4 circumcisions. It seems there is not so much foreskin cutting going on in the hospital these days. It is not standard or routine practice for all baby boys like it was back in the day. Most of the time the circumcising parents ask if they can leave the room during the procedure and hand the baby over to you and cover their eyes and run to the door. I always found this so odd and I still do not understand this reaction. Why would you agree to have your newborn child have a totally elective procedure, where they scream bloody murder, while you hide your eyes? If you make the informed decision to have your baby son circumcised you should be right there with them and not leave them to experience the wrath of your choice.

Apparently there is a decline in the rate of circumcision and there are more intact boys growing up. When do we totally trump tradition and stop mutilating our boys? People are generally outraged about FEMALE CLITORAL circumcision so why is this different? There seems to be a struggle between the rights of the parents versus the rights of the baby. The truth is that circumcision is truly going out of fashion, at least in Canada. Go Canada! Soon uncircumcised baby boys will grow into men and foreskin will dominate and it will be more taboo to be a circumcised man.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia stand by this statement: 'The matter of infant male circumcision is particularly difficult in regards to human rights, as it involves consideration of the rights of the infant as well as the rights of the parents. Also, the Canadian Association for Genital Integrity has this to say: Infant male circumcision is an irreversible surgical operation. It is not medically required. Performing an irreversible, medically unnecessary operation on a minor is generally viewed as a breach of medical ethics. Medically unnecessary surgery on female genitals is expressly prohibited by the Criminal Code of Canada.

My intention is to educate, discuss and share my own opinion about male infant circumcision. For the record, I also do not believe in stoning people to death for things like having premarital sex (click here). An archaic and disgusting practice much like circumcision.


Guest said...
Twitter Reader said...

YES and more YES. Wonderfully written article about this hot topic. It is something people should review before signing up for it just because hubbys penis is free of foreskin or because they are Jewish and that is the way things are done. HERE! HERE Mama! You go!

September 2, 2009 at 8:39 PM  
Auntie Glyn said...

Although I don't support the idea of genital mutilation of either sex, people always bring up the hygiene issue and often I hear reports of circumcision reducing the spread of HIV. Also there are terrifying stories of males having to have the procedure later in life... I've heard about age 5 and age 15 stories.

September 2, 2009 at 8:58 PM  
Twitter Reader said...

'Auntie Glyn'- I think that mutilating infant boys is totally wrong and sayin that will help keep their penis clean is a weak argument.... this is where a parent can teach their son about hygiene. I don't know the stats but I am really doubting that many 5 and 15 year olds are actually going for circumcision. - Theresa

September 2, 2009 at 9:08 PM  
Mama in the City said...

In public health home visits it is now standard practice to teach parents not to do anything in cleaning or caring for their newborns intact penis. It USED to be custom to teach the parents to retract the foreskin and clean. This proved to cause scarring and actually did cause more boys to have late circumcision because of problems with scar tissue and the foreskin not moving up or down directly related to this build up of scar tissue. So, having parents practice the hands off approach should help reduce some medical circumcision. The first person to retract the foreskin is the person who owns it. I also hate to get on the high horse here but the real thing that decreases HIV is condom use. Foreskin or not.

Aren't you glad you have a nurse for a sister ;)

September 2, 2009 at 9:16 PM  
Auntie Glyn said...

Oh I totally agree that it's a weak argument, I'm just playing devil's advocate. I'm sure that not many boys have to have the procedure later in life but these are the kind of horror stories people use to get you to think it's better off done at birth. Thanks Nurse Andrea for for the medical perspective!

September 3, 2009 at 12:38 AM  
Mark Lyndon said...

You might also want to check out the following:

Canadian Paediatric Society
"Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed."
"Circumcision is a 'non-therapeutic' procedure, which means it is not medically necessary."
"After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions."

September 3, 2009 at 5:18 AM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks Mark! You also win top points for being the very first guy to comment on this blog. Besides my husband but you know what I mean! Thanks :)
The only doctors who do 'do it' where I work is an OB and a GP. None of the peds will and will openly discourage it.

September 3, 2009 at 7:59 AM  
Beverly White said...

I circumcised my son. I didn't think about it as mutilation. My husband was circumcised and just assumed that it would happen if we had a son. It did. I guess I did not think through all the reasons at the time. I plain ol' did not think it through. I am not for or again circumcision but, now in retrospect, I wish I had at least researched about it and educated myself instead of just allowing it to happen.

September 3, 2009 at 8:09 AM  
enithhernandez said...
Restoring Tally said...

Nice, thoughtful article. Many men are finding out that being circumcised at birth is not all its cracked up to be.

Many men are finding out that they miss their foreskin. They, like myself, are restoring their foreskin to regain what was taken from us at birth. See to read stories of men who wish they had never been circumcised and are doing something about it.

Not only do the men benefit from having a foreskin, but their wives and girlfriends also benefit. My female partner used to get sore from sex and we needed lubricant. Now, she does not get sore and we don't need lubricant. We both enjoy sex a whole lot more now that I have a restored foreskin.

Circumcision is a barbaric practice. We need to stop doing this to our babies.

September 3, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Janissa Brown said...

Thank you for the insight and for sharing your personal opinion. I had a huge fight with my DH because of this very topic. HIS parents circumcised him as a baby and so he felt it was natural to get it done for our DS.
Now the thing I find interesting is that if his parents never did circumcise him..we would not of had the debate to circumcise our own son. See where I am going here.
His Mother said she wasn't even given the choice and it was routine standard in the hospital he was born. So, what makes my DH think he is right?
Sorry for the long blurb. I really do not agree with circumcision but wanted to respect my husband and we ended up getting our boy cut. I cried through the whole horrible thing and my husband felt so guilty afterwards.

Janissa in North Carolina

September 3, 2009 at 6:28 PM  
Stephanie K. said...

I think it is much nicer to be intimate with a man who is circumcised. It is probably what I am used to but I think it is cleaner overall.

September 3, 2009 at 6:31 PM  
Guest said...

Lance is your new biggest fan! He says, "Right on, sister."
- Krista

September 3, 2009 at 6:42 PM  
Joanne in Vancouver said...

Wonderful post and so insightful. I am against circumcision but not in any over the top way. Just something I wouldn't choose to do. I think I would like to hear more comments from people who are FOR and can argue their side. Anyone out there?

September 3, 2009 at 7:48 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks for all of the comments everyone. I have been enjoying reading each one and am thankful to hear your opinion too. Feel free to have a different opinion than me!

September 3, 2009 at 8:24 PM  
Katherine said...

Well Mama you have hit it on the head. If you compare circumcision to foot binding to stoning to death, it makes you look at it in a horrific way. I would never pay someone to have my daughters feet bound. It makes you think.

September 3, 2009 at 8:28 PM  
GAMZu said...

We circumcise for religious reasons. I fail to see why anyone whose religion doesn't require it would choose to do it, though.

September 6, 2009 at 5:04 PM  
Kristen said...

Andrea, Very well written. I hope you don't mind but I just linked it to a message board that was debating this very topic.

September 10, 2009 at 12:45 PM  
Guest said...

I was passed to this blog after discussing the HUGE decision of having my baby snipped. I am 20 weeks pregnant and always thought I would have a girl. I found out last week he is a boy (yay!!! ) and it hit me last night and now I am freaking out.

I am wanting to say no- but its such a big choice.

Before reading anything on here, I immediately thought of female circumcision and have heard it referenced many times.

I guess I will speak to my husband tonight and see his point of view... Wish me luck...

September 10, 2009 at 1:38 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Thanks Kristen and thanks for coming by and reading the post too.

September 10, 2009 at 8:02 PM  
Mama in the City said...

Congrats on your baby BOY. You are so right, it is a HUGE choice. Good luck talking with your husband and hopefully you will reach a decision where you both feel good, since it is a permanent decision for your son. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy!

September 10, 2009 at 8:06 PM  
cmom said...

I am SO SO SO happy that women are finally taking a stand on this subject! I had my first son circumcised and I don't even know why! I just automatically thought it was done and I had such horrible guilt afterward, especially when he had trouble with it. I swore if I ever had another boy there is no way I would do it again. I went on to have two more sons and boy did I take a lot of flack for leaving them intact, but I don't care, I stood my ground. My husband wanted it done, stating "I'm done, they should be done." Well, that's about the stupidest reason I have ever heard; everyone has to have matching penises now? Whatever. Anyway, I was told by family (mostly his) that it was going to be gross, I would have to teach them to clean it, etc., etc., etc. Well, my sons, (and daughter) are grown up now and ya know, it's NEVER been an issue! Their pediatrician always told me to just leave it alone and it will take care of itself, and it has. TOTAL NON-ISSUE! I'm so glad that more and more parents are choosing not to mutilate their sons. The procedure is archaic, barbaric, and it's time to end it. I said all of that to say: Thanks so much for your very well-written and inspired entry, especially since you are mother to a son.

September 11, 2009 at 11:17 PM  

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