Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Are We Still Cutting Our Sons?

All three of my boys are circumcised. I'm sure they'll thank me years from now for letting the world in on this. Don't circumcise your son. Please, don't.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, in 1999, published an article in AAP News that simply states that there is not enough evidence to warrant routine circumcision. I had my first son in 2005... I'm not shirking responsibility for mutilating my sons, however, if the AAP published this, why is it taking so incredibly long for it to become illegal? Why was I even given the choice? Like many people, we were on the side of "he should look like daddy." The argument when something like this: "Why???" "Because I want him to look like me." "Why???" Icy glares...for months this went on. I finally stopped talking about it. The day after my son's birth the nurse came in and asked us if we wanted him circumcised. I turned to my husband and said, "it's your call." He made it. I figured after the sight of the freshly mutilated penis would prevent him from requesting to have it done to the rest of our boys. Nope. I could have fought more. I pretty much win every argument we get into...or just fight until he gives up. I am not really sure why I didn't this time. I think maybe I wanted to give my husband a voice. I just about chose the names of our children. I got to carry the children, choose their clothes, paint the rooms, etc. I had my hand in everything. And while that's a given, the husband may or may not really care about those things. What the father-to-be does care about is the potential manhood of his sons. So, why would one want to suggest to mutilate it? Cosmetic reasons? Seriously...are we even going to go there? Cleanliness? Assuming we are competent parents, our children will learn how to wash themselves. Infections? Same thing.
Lastly, "On November 19, 1987 Anand and Hickey published a comprehensive study of infant pain in the New England Journal of Medicine. Not surprisingly much of the data came from infants undergoing circumcision. The study states that babies do feel severe pain from this procedure, in fact more than older children and adults would. The study recommends anesthesia and pain management for circumcisions, but these recommendations have not been widely implemented due to the added risks. The report also mentions (p. 1324) that even when anesthesia is attempted, it is not always successful."
We are the only country in the entire world that offers routine circumcision. We, as a nation, claim to be leading the way...
Female circumcision is a horrible crime that is almost unheard of in the United States, unless it's on Oprah or The Tyra Banks Show. I found this article about female circumcision in Indonesia. As horrific as bringing your small child into a school room on a special circumcision day complete with gifts and milk, what I found more disturbing was one of the discussion comments afterward. One woman is horrified at the circumcision of these girls, but plans on circumcising her sons. She asks if that's hypocritical and then adamantly states that she does not want to be present during the circumcision.
I have no more words...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article. It's sad most people (in the US) still believe the "hygiene" myth associated with circumcision.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the AAP statement - my guess is that they just want to cover their asses by not recommending a procedure that could earn any pediatricians a malpractice suit. Nevertheless, they don't recommend against it… which they should, considering it's unnecessary surgery. The full policy statement is available here.

I've heard of circumcision often being performed these days by OBGYNs or other hospital staff - sometimes even interns or even medical students - who aren't otherwise permitted to perform surgical procedures on children, to my knowledge.

As for the study on pain, the AAP policy cites a few studies. One was published as far back as 1976. There are also studies on the use of analgesia for circumcision, but there are still plenty of doctors these days who don't use any.

Best strategy I've heard to prevent more people from doing this is to get insurance policies to stop covering circumcision. As sick as it sounds, to many hospitals it's just another way of padding the bills - and if more parents had to pay, they'd be more likely to question it.

bugsboysandbooboos said...

Anonymous - The hygiene myth is one that really stumps me. Do people really think that parents will stumble on how to clean their children? Do they think children will falter somehow? I'm pretty lucky if I can manage to get my children to brush their teeth...I'm more worried about that!
z726 - The AAP suggests keeping children in rear-facing carseats until the age of 2...I think more people are apt to do that than listen regarding circumcision. My OB with my 3rd son did his circumcision. Apparently, it was a "beautiful circ"...I didn't and still don't know what that means.
I have heard that some insurance companies call it cosmetic surgery so they will not cover it. Perhaps you're right and there should be more of a push for insurance companies to not cover it. I've heard people think that it'll go underground...but I really can't see that happening too much. But, you never know what people will do...

Anonymous said...

I had my son 19 years ago and allowed him to be circumcised. To this day, I will never forget when the nurse brought my baby boy back into my room after the cutting. There he was, swaddled and lying in the corner of the bassinet with the most heartbreaking "stunned" look on his little face. 19 years, and I still can't forget that look!

I will NEVER allow another son of mine to be cut!

Anonymous said...

This is a thoughtful blog. I posted a link to this blog on my site

Dr. D. Savage