The CDC is reviewing their recommendations for male circumcision. The number of parents opting for their sons to have this elective surgical procedure in the United States are dropping. Approximately 56% of boys in America are not circumcised. Around the world in most developed countries the procedure is illegal or at the very least discouraged unless medically necessary.
As you weigh your options for your new baby boy do your homework to make a thoughtful decision for your son.
How it All Got Started
The practice of Circumcision roots itself in the Old Testament of the Bible. God asks Abraham to circumcise himself as his commitment to God. This act of loyalty shows up many times in the Old Testament. Its religious practice remains to have a hold in the Jewish and Muslim communities but what about for the rest of the population? Why has the practice taken hold regardless of religious belief? The answer goes back to the early 1920s. John Harvey Kellogg ( physician and brother to the Cornflake King W.K. Kellogg) he believed that circumcision would help keep boys from masturbating. To be fair, he also believed that girls should have carbolic acid dropped on their clitoris for this same reason. Male circumcision removes the foreskin and exposes the head of the penis. By doing this the head becomes desensitized and therefore diminishes a man's sexual experience. He'll still enjoy sex, but the head just won't be as sensitive as it would have been had it remained protected beneath the foreskin. In an uncircumcised penis, the head only becomes exposed when erect. They only really look different in their unaroused state.
Thankfully we did not fully embrace the female circumcision that Dr. Harvey prescribed. Unfortunately we held on to the practice of male circumcision. To the point that it became routine without question as to why. The pendulum is starting to swing back the other way. Now our country has an almost even split with 56% of parents opting not to circumcise their children after asking the necessary question why?
The Hygiene Myth
Many believe the uncircumcised penis to be unhygienic. Because of the natural lubricant of the head beneath the foreskin, it is believed that this is somehow dirty. However, much like the folds of a vagina and the natural lubricant of a vagina, the lubricant of uncircumcised penis aids in health and pleasure of the sex organ. Just like we teach little girls to clean themselves, we should also teach a boy how to keep himself clean. This doesn't even come into play until puberty. The foreskin of an uncircumcised penis does not retract to expose the head immediately after birth. Every child is different, but some fully retract by age four while others will not retract until puberty. Until then, the foreskin is connected much in the same way a fingernail is. Forcing retraction can cause injury and/or infection. It's best to leave it alone.
The Functions of Foreskin
Not only does the foreskin aid in sexual pleasure by protecting the sensitive head and offering more lubrication during intercourse it also protects the penis for non-sexual reasons. It protects the urethra from contamination, and protects the sensitive head from injury. The foreskin also aids in conception by creating a seal against the vaginal wall to help hold semen close to the cervix.
The Issue of Consent
The biggest issue with circumcision is one of consent. The superficial preferential surgery is one that is performed without the male's consent. Many parts of the world consider this a human rights issue equal to the issue of Female Circumcision or what is been come to be known as Female Genital Mutilation. Without Consent the child has to live with the decision of their parents'. As an adult you can choose to be circumcised, however if you were circumcised and wish you weren't there is no solution for you to reverse the procedure that was forced on you.
The CDC recently looked at the rates of HIV infection in circumcised and uncircumcised males In Africa. The CDC states that men who are circumcised are less-likely to contract HIV. They used this information to recommend and inform men of the surgical benefits. However, they stop short of recommending circumcision and recognize that it is a personal decision for everyone, one that requires consent. The problem with their findings is that here in the United States we have easy access to condoms to prevent the spread of STDs and STIs. Condoms are a much less invasive option to surgery and is preferred for preventing disease spread.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WriterBonnie for more great info on Raising Kids.