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Thursday, June 21, 2012


PLEASE NOTE: This post is surrounding circumcision and my and my partner's personal views on the procedure. It is not a judgement of parents who have opted, or not, to have this procedure performed on their male offspring. I do welcome friendly conversation and/or debate on the topic. Read on at your leisure, but be warned that some of the content is quite strong. Thank you.

If a little girl is born in our great country there is no discussion of genital circumcision. At least there shouldn't be. It's illegal. In fact, the World Health Organization views this procedure on female minors as genital mutilation.

In this country, because it is most prevalent in this country, the decision on whether or not to circumcise a male minor is still part of being a new parent. Sara and I discussed this procedure when I was pregnant with Graisyn. Secretly, I think we were both relieved to find out she was a girl and that this would be a decision that we could avoid.

The decision on whether or not to circumcise came up again when Sara was pregnant with our son, Kazmer. Sure we had researched the procedure before, but Sara's recent OB rotation for her nursing clinical solidified our decision to have our little guy remain intact. Readers who are easily agitated should not continue reading...

Circumcision is no longer the "in thing" to do. In fact, 80% of the world's males are in tact. The United States is just running a bit behind the times with 54% of males being circumcised. And though percentages vary by region, with 75% of males being circumcised at birth in the mid-west, this continues to decline annually. Why?

People choose circumcision for their male children for a variety of reasons. Some do it to promote health. Others for religious reasons. Still more for reasons of appearance so that the male child's genitals mirror that of other males in the home or other males that they will encounter throughout their life. Sara and I researched the health side of the argument and there was just not enough strong evidence to persuade us to circumcise Kazmer. Neither of us has a strong religious following currently, though I was raised Catholic and was well aware of the circumcision beliefs held by the church. We both found the idea of inflicting the immense pain that comes with circumcision on an individual for cosmetic reasons appalling, so this was not ever part of our discussions. Our consideration of the procedure was based on the bias of health and the actual procedure itself.

There isn't enough health related evidence to motivate circumcision. A common theory is that being circumcised helps to prevent STDs and promotes cleanliness. In fact, mature sexual behavior prevents STDs and bathing every once in a while prevents pocket lint. Seems logical to me, so we'll be providing our little guy with age appropriate sex-ed and body wash. May the force be with him.

Knowing that health was not a strong enough factor to base our decision on, Sara and I took time to learn how the procedure is performed. As I mentioned early, Sara was able to witness the procedure being performed during her OB clinical. I found a video of it online and we both did a load of reading. My personal opinion is that if parents were asked to observe the procedure or were given an inkling on how the procedure is performed, that many would not opt to have it done. I could be wrong, but for the sake of making a case, I'll describe it for you. Again, readers who are easily disturbed should not continue reading...

There isn't always anesthetic, local or otherwise, given to the baby during the circumcision procedure. This would mean no numbing of anything. However, the baby is given a sweet, syrup like substance called Toot-Sweet on a pacifier to enjoy while being physically restrained so the procedure can be performed. Fun.

The most common way to perform a circumcision is through the Gomco method, though there are other procedures equally as painful. With this method, the foreskin is gripped with some tissue holders while a tool is inserted between the baby's foreskin and the glans. The tissue holder is then used to pull the foreskin lengthwise so it can be cut lengthwise to create room for the circumcision tool, the Gomco clamp. This clamp is placed over the glans and the foreskin pulled over it. The doctor then checks to make sure the positioning of the clamp is correct before tightening the nut on the clamp and using a scalpel to remove the foreskin. Enjoy your Toot-Sweet, little guy, and make sure to thank your creator for lack of short term memory. Did't get the full picture here? Don't worry. The World Wide Web leaves nothing to the imagination. 

Once the procedure is complete, the baby is understandably traumatized and irritable. Many studies note these babies as inconsolable. Freshly circumcised babies often don't feed well. Many are sensitive to the positions they are laid in and express dramatic reactions to having wet diapers. Of course, all of these side affects will pass as the baby's circumcision heals.

What usually won't pass is the dark ring around the penis. I personally always wondered what the intent of that mysterious ring was only to learn that it is the scar left behind by the circumcision clamp. There are other repercussions that are, in my opinion, up for debate, but that include a decrease in sexual satisfaction on both the part of the circumcised male and their female partner. Believe it or not, the foreskin has a job, people. It is there, like a sleeve, to protect that little unit known as the penis from friction, injury, exposure to foreign bodies, and more. For the ladies, it means good-bye chafing and hello really, really good sex. Now I can't attest to this first hand, but I do know someone who can and research shows that the ladies prefer the ones with the sleeve.

So we're happy that we chose to leave Kazmer intact. If he happens to be upset later in life that he missed out on a little Toot-Sweet, I'll be the first to throw a bottle of corn syrup at him and remind him that the sleeve he sports promises nothing short of an awesome sex life...oh, and, ummmm, that the good Lord created our bodies in the exact way he intended. I'm certain he will be grateful, though maybe not for this blog post.

Curious? Annoyed? Interested in learning more? Here are some of my sources:

"Circumcision Resource Center." Circumcision Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

"How Many Baby Boys Get Circumcised?" BabyCenter. The BabyCenter Editorial Team, n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

O'Reilly, Kevin. "Male Newborn Circumcision Rate Falls to Lowest Level." - N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

Peleg, David, and Ann Steiner. "The Gomco Circumcision: Common Problems and Solutions." - September 15, 1998. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 June 2012. <>.

Hartmann, Wolfram. For the Hearing on the 26th of November 2012 Concerning the Drafting of a Federal Government' Bill: Drafting of a Law regarding the Scope of Child Care and Custody in the Case of Male Circumcision. Rep. Berufsverband Der Kinder- Und Jugendärzte, 26 Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. <>.


  1. LOVE it!!! Thank you for writing it and all the best to your growing family. :)

  2. You rock! My daughters and son are intact since they are not old enough to HAVE a religion and also since their bodies were made perfect as nature intended.

  3. Love this post! I kept my Son intact against my Husband's wishes, but I have no regrets. My Son doesn't seem to mind having a foreskin at all, he's constantly touching his boy parts. ;)

  4. I congratulate you both on leaving your son intact. I did the very same thing, and throughly researched the subjec, only needed to use the info one time with six kids. He is an adult now, asked why a few years ago, and I told him my viewpoint and if he wanted it done, it was up to him. He did not do the procedure.

  5. Good information. Sara linked to this post from Intact Wisconsin Facebook group, and I'm glad that there are more parents in the Midwest coming around, researching and trusting their gut on this as well as their maker.

    As a Catholic, myself, I actually have one thing to point out, which you mentioned in your article. The Bible only requires circumcision for Jews, and it is absolutely not required for any Christian, in fact, in the New Testament letters, it is outright discouraged and called "mutilation" as well. We receive circumcision of the heart, and Jesus blood is all the sacrifice we need for our salvation. Many Christians don't realize this, and even I didn't until I joined a Bible study in my adulthood.

  6. Yay for intact boys in general, but seriously yay for swinging the numbers here in Wisconsin! My two sons (and daughter) are intact (we live in Neenah). Actually, I found out about a year ago, the circumcision rates in the Fox Valley are around 50%! WAY lower than the Wisconsin average around 80% (though that number is from 2009 and I highly suspect it's dropping).