Weighing the Pros and Cons of Circumcision

by , 01/20/11

Image © dantada via morguefile

When we posted on the proposed circumcision ban in San Francisco, 1,000+ of you, our readers, were very invested in the circumcision debate. You voted, you debated and you left comments – all about circumcision. Most readers expressed passionate dedication either for or against circumcision. Still, some readers noted that more information about the pros and cons of circumcision would be useful, so now let’s take a look at both sides of the circumcision debate.

Where do you stand on the circumcision debate?

  • 162 Votes I think circumcision is a good idea. I would probably have my son circumcised.
  • 290 Votes I’m anti-circumcision – I would not have my son circumcised.
  • 35 Votes I haven’t made up my mind yet. If I had a baby boy, I’m not sure what I’d do.

View Results

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Image © diggerdanno via morguefile

What Families Say About Circumcision

Circumcision is a highly personal issue and some families base their decision to circumcise or not to circumcise on personal conviction or opinion versus research. You hear many arguments both for and against circumcision from all kinds of families. Some of the non-research based reasons why people do or don’t choose to circumcise include:

  • Parents want their son to look like dad. For example, if dad was circumcised, a family might also circumcise their son.
  • Some families believe that circumcised penises are easier to clean.
  • Many families don’t circumcise simply because it’s “Not natural” – basically, why cut any body part off if you were born with it?
  • In the United States, the practice of female genital cutting (FGC) on anyone younger than 18 years of age is illegal, mandated by federal law. FGC is a felony punishable by fines or up to a 5-year prison term. Many argue that if this is the law for females, why isn’t male genital cutting also against the law.
  • Some families still circumcise for religious reasons, although, this is a sub-debate among circumcision supporters and non-supporters. Still, circumcision is common enough within the Jewish and Islamic faith, and some families do choose circumcision because they feel it’s aligned with their religious views.
  • Sometimes families hear that circumcision will enhance or detract from sexual pleasure for men and/or their partners. This is a mostly non-evidence based reason to circumcise or not, because quantifying sexual happiness, for any reason, circumcision included, is sketchy at best.

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4 Responses to “Weighing the Pros and Cons of Circumcision”

  1. David Llewellyn says:

    As a lawyer who regularly represents the victims of botched circumcisions and who has deposed pediatric urologists and has found out the number of repairs they do annually, I can state with confidence that the risks of a botched circumcision with lifelong damage are far greater than ever has been reported in the medical literature. Medicine does not like to publicize its mistakes and it does not like to discourage a procedure that makes its practitioners so much money, even though it is needless and sexually damaging. For good information see http://www.cirp.org.

  2. Hugh7 says:

    You call the Bollinger study “faulty” but the scandal is that we have nothing better, and no idea how many babies do die annually from circumcision. Their deaths are easily swept under the carpet, because neither doctors nor parents are willing to accept the blame. Haemorrhage, for example: a baby’s body can lose only two tablespoons full of blood before he is in danger, there is a tiny artery near the foreskin that is easily cut, and modern gel-flled diapers can easily conceal this amount.

    Christakis et al. did not include complications that did not require medical treatment, such as unaesthetic outcomes, complications that appear many months or years later, like meatal stenosis, or complications that can be ignored until puberty, like removal of too much penile skin. Counting them in easily swings the case away from circumcision.

    But the bottom line is human rights, which you do not mention. Whose body is it? Some hundreds of thousands of men so resent being circumcised that they are restoring their foreskins, and they will be only the tip of the iceberg – several times as many must be suffering in silence. They have every right to object to what was done to them.

  3. hugh7 says:

    You call the Bollinger study “faulty” but the scandal is that we have nothing better, and no idea how many babies do die annually from circumcision. Their deaths are easily swept under the carpet, because it suits both doctors and parents to blame something else. Haemorrhage, for example: a baby’s body can lose only two tablespoonsful of blood before he is in danger, there is a tiny artery near the foreskin that is easily cut, and modern gel-flled diapers can easily conceal this amount.

    Christakis et al. did not include complications that did not require medical treatment, such as unaesthetic outcomes, complications that appear many months or years later, like meatal stenosis, or complications that can be ignored until puberty, like removal of too much penile skin. Counting them in easily swings the case away from circumcision.

    But the bottom line is human rights, which you do not mention. Whose body is it? Some hundreds of thousands of men so resent being circumcised that they are restoring their foreskins, and they will be only the tip of the iceberg – several times as many must be suffering in silence. They have every right to object to what was done to them.

  4. Robbb says:

    This whole article seems to subtly pointed at preserving the opinion of those that are still for the practice of male genital mutilation. From what I see on the subject the main body’s representing the medical profession are meekly stating the obvious but don’t have the balls to trifle with a procedure that is still bringing in a lot of money for the original mutilators, those that do the repairs both medical and psychological and they even have a market for amputated prepuce in the cosmetics industry. The majority of the worlds men are not circumcised and have no problem with it. while there is a good trade in repairing botched circumcisions

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