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Infant Circumcision – Tradition or Necessity?

As parents, there are so many decisions to make when having a baby from what type of health care provider you will choose (OB-GYN or midwife or both) to where you will birth (hospital, birthing center, or home) to what will happen immediately after your baby’s born.  Among genetic disease testing, vitamin K injections, to whether your baby will get a bottle of glucose or be allowed to breastfeed FIRST, and administration of silver nitrate in baby’s eyes (just in case she might get gonorrhea from passing through the birth canal), another decision on the menu is whether or not to circumcise your infant boy’s penis.

It’s basically routine to have the procedure, and in the United States, it’s rather unorthodox (no pun intended) to NOT conclude with the procedure.  So, if you’ve made up your mind that your baby boy will have a circumcision, then just for the sake of understanding why other parents choose not to, then please forge ahead in this post.  If you’re on the fence and you may be considering waiting on the circumcision or not proceeding, then I hope you find the following information helpful in guiding your decision.  Warning: this post is unabashedly one-sided.  I fully and completely disagree with infant circumcision, whether it’s for a male or female.  You’ll very easily hear the pro-arguments from almost any health care provider in a hospital.  You’ll have to search a little harder to find points of view in agreement with me.  However, if you’re one to go along with the crowd, consider that the infant circumcision rates in the U.S. are slowly decreasing.  On the east and west coasts, the rate for circumcision is roughly 50% of newborn males.


I recommend visiting the site for the International Coalition for Genital Integrity which recognizes the inherent right for all human beings to have an intact body.  Without sexual, racial, or religious prejudice, the ICGI affirms this basic human right.  The ICGI created a powerful slideshow on the history of the medicalization of circumcision to show how the hype, generated from skewed study results caused increases in circumcision rates in the U.S., U.K., and the world before “medicine” was indeed scientific in creating objective, unbiased study results.  When further studies indicated health risks caused by circumcision, they were discontinued in the United Kingdom.  But, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself.

Doctors in the English-speaking countries started circumcising babies in the mid-1800s “to prevent masturbation,” which was blamed for causing many diseases, including epilepsy, tuberculosis, and insanity. Other reasons have been given since then, but all of them, including the claim that circumcision prevents cancer of the penis, cancer of the cervix, and venereal diseases, have been disproven. We now know that the foreskin is a normal, sensitive, functional part of the body.–NOCIRC Pamphlet3

Another fantastic resource is the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (a.k.a. NOCIRC)  This educational, not-for-profit organization which is on the roster of the economic and social council of the United Nations serves as a wealth of information in regard to care of normal penile anatomy and it offers information about circumcision and the care of the circumcised as well as the intact penis.  You can access NOCIRC’s educational publications in both English and Español.

For those contemplating infant circumcision, read “Answers to Your Questions about Infant Circumcision“.  If you’ve made the choice to not circumcise your son, you may now have questions regarding hygeine and foreskin retraction.  You’ll find answers to those questions with this NOCIRC informational article.  You’ll also be able to print out pdf versions of these pamphlets for family members who may question your no circumcision parenting choice.

If you choose to proceed with a circumcision, NOCIRC also has a pahmplet which covers what to expect for post-operative care and any complications which may arise.  International NOCIRC affiliate organizations can be found here.

Before our son was born, and before we knew our baby was a he, we read through NOCIRC literature which helped us to confirm our decision to avoid circumcision.  The American Academy of Pediatrics claims,

the foreskin protects the glans penis throughout life.

This directory compiles research and studies regarding complications, risks, and adverse affects of circumcision.  There are studies that exist that suggest that circumcision may help reduce urinary tract infection (UTI) , but the reality is that there is not a significant nor direct correlation.  Nothing comes secondary to providing and eventually teaching your son good hygiene to prevent UTI’s.