Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Big Decision of Circumcision

A contributor who would like to remain anonymous sent us this piece on how she made the decision about circumcision.....


As soon as I saw the first ultrasound picture I knew my little peanut was going to be a boy.  I don’t know how, call it mother’s intuition, but I felt it in my heart.  After the ultrasound tech confirmed we were having a boy in a later ultrasound my first concern was what we were going to name him.  We had a girl name ready to go but no boy name. My second concern was whether to circumcise or leave my guy intact, which I would later learn is the name for uncircumcised penises.  Like any good parent I did my research but what I found was that the literature regarding whether to let my little guy keep his “hoodie” or not was inconsistent.  That didn't make our decision any easier.  After doing all my research I threw in the towel. I told my partner that this was his call.  I didn't have a penis and could not speak from that experience. 

Though not exhaustive below is a list of pros and cons related to circumcision:     

Pros:
-He will look like most males in the U.S.- 60% to 75% are circumcised (so in most cases he will look like daddy)
-He will look “cleaner”
-Reduced risk of STDs, HPV and UTIs

Cons:
-He will look like most of the men in the world- only about 30% of men worldwide are circumcised
-Tissue development of the foreskin is rarely complete at birth
-It’s permanent and irreversible (for the most part anyway- google artificial foreskin and/or foreskin restoration)
-Interferes with parent bonding and breastfeeding
-Risk of infection and/or error involved as a result of surgery
-Increased risk of meatitis (yeah, that’s what it’s really called- it’s the inflammation of the opening of the penis)
-Baby boys are strapped down in a safety restraint that looks like this:




And if it is important to you circumcision is less common among Asian and Hispanic males.  But wouldn't you know it that after we had to make this difficult decision the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement written by the Task Force on Circumcision (put that on your résumé) in August 2012 noting their position, which was subsequently endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  Below is an excerpt: 

“Systematic evaluation of English-language peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 indicates that preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure.”

And then two paragraphs down another excerpt reads…
“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns.”*

So from my understanding, the health benefits outweigh the risks BUT are not great enough to recommend for your average, normal, healthy, baby boy. Oh, and if you have health insurance- it’s covered.

So what did we end up doing?  We decided to leave my son intact because we couldn't imagine our little peanut going through any unnecessary pain.  We’re such wienies!

*The full Circumcision Policy Statement can be read here.

1 comment:

  1. Just in case there is anyone considering circumcision, here is one thing that you can consider. (And please understand I am not saying that you should or should not circumcise. You need to do what is best for your situation and your family, I only mean this as an option for those thinking about it).

    Your baby does not have to be strapped down as in the pictures. You can use a mohel. This a Jewish person trained in circumcision. And no you do not have to be Jewish to have them do it. It is so much more peaceful, the baby is not strapped down and just the whole atmosphere is completely different. One of my sons did not even cry at all, the other one just a little bit. (Way different than having it done in the hospital! We did have one done that way, so I really do know the difference). The two that had it done by the mohel were much better in every way (yes that includes how it "looks"), but more importantly how it was done. This is the only way I would want to have it done. Obviously, just like with a doctor you want to find a reputable one. If you are not Jewish you can call local midwives or birth centers as they may be able to recommend one, since many people who chose this way to birth also use a mohel. A Douala may be a resource as well. Any way just a thought for those considering. :)

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