Circumcision Controversy

When we had our son, circumcision was a big debate between my husband and me. Our son had just been through a 4 month battle for his life and putting him through more pain was not what I wanted to do.

After a long debate with both the Pediatrician and our family doctor, I decided it wasn’t necessary and canceled the appointment. Both doctors made the very same points, almost like they had been given the same literature, and were both very passionate about us not doing the procedure. The stats in Canada(according to both doctors) are 50/50.

The United States leads the way in the number of babies circumcised each year. Estimates vary widely, ranging from 50 percent to more than 90 percent of newborn boys circumcised, depending on the region of the country (federal data from 1999 showed hospital circumcision rates of 81 percent in the Midwest, 66 percent in the Northeast, 64 percent in the South and 37 percent in the West) and religion (the Jewish and Muslim faiths traditionally call for circumcision). In Europe, Asia, and Latin America, baby boys are not routinely circumcised, and the circumcision rates here have been dropping steadily over recent years.

“Parents across the country are rethinking circumcision and many, many are deciding against it,” says Dr. Mark Reiss, a retired physician in San Francisco, and the executive vice president of Doctors Opposing Circumcision.

Last month, the National Institutes of Health published a surprising report in The Lancet showing that circumcision reduced a man’s risk of contracting HIV, the AIDS virus, through heterosexual sex by 51 to 60 percent compared with men who were not circumcised. The findings were based on two trials in Africa involving more than 7,500 men and were halted early because the preliminary results were so striking.

Another study, published in the journal Pediatrics in November, followed 510 New Zealand newborns until age 25 and found that circumcision cut the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases by about half.

These studies are just the latest to point to circumcision’s potential health benefits, says AAP president Dr. Jay E. Berkelhamer.

“There have probably been hundreds over the years showing that circumcised males have lower rates of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and a variety of STDs, including HIV,” says Berkelhamer.
It has been long believed that the warm moist area under the foreskin is a breeding ground for infections, but proper cleaning and good lifestyle choices make a big impact on health.
Dr. Thomas E. Wiswell, a neonatologist, researcher, and professor of pediatrics at the University of Florida in Gainesville contends that the Internet is flooded with inaccurate information about circumcision that he says is aimed at scaring parents instead of presenting health information. He’s calling for more obstetricians, birthing instructors, and pediatricians to bring the subject up for discussion and supply parents with both sides of the argument.
Many parents base their decision on tradition, religion, and philosophical beliefs.

I think that the number in Canada has been split down the middle due to cost. Circumcision was once covered under OHIP and now there is a cost of $300 per child to have it done. New parents would rather spend that money on necessities for their baby rather than a surgical procedure that may not be necessary.

Table I
Census Region Northeast North Central South West
Whites 83% 89% 74% 74%
Blacks 68% 52% 31% 54%
Combined 81% 86% 63% 73%

For more information, there are a few sites that is for and against the procedure.

About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!


  • This is something that really bothers me. During my pregnancy Jeff and I decided that we would circumcise if we had a boy. However with Ashton being born four months early I did not want to put him through more pain. It wasn’t until I was told by one of his nurses that there was always the chance of infection if it was done and even death. I never in my wildest dreams thought a baby could die from this! Until this day I still get bothered by some family members saying I should do it. People need to realize that it isn’t necessary anymore. Actually I believe it never ever was necessary but rather people didn’t have the knowledge about it. I watched a video on circumcision on the net not too long ago and it is just cruel. This baby was a healthy term boy yet he was blue! And they say babies don’t feel pain!

  • Circumcision really does seem to be declining. I had both my boys circumcised, but my brother and his wife decided not to circumcise their son. I think as people are becoming more educated about the issue, it is becoming more of a discussed choice rather than just a presumed assumption it will be done. There is an excellent debate about whether to circumcise or not at Experts from both sides weigh in…a really interesting read and some valuable information!

  • I say let the boys be boys when they’re born, and then later, when they’re adults, they can decide if they want to be circumcised. It’s very minor surgery should they want this done, but give them the choice—it’s their body. I happen to love being intact, and friends who are circ’d say they have very little feeling in their glans as it it de-sensitized by constant contact with their clothing. Makes sense to me.

  • I say let the boys be boys when they’re born, and then later, when they’re adults, they can decide if they want to be circumcised. It’s very minor surgery should they want this done, but give them the choice—it’s their body. I happen to love being intact, and friends who are circ’d say they have very little feeling in their glans as it is de-sensitized by constant contact with their clothing. Makes sense to me.

  • As an uncircumcised male I can speak from my own experiences. The area under the foreskin is moist and protects the glans. Yes – it can be an area where germs can breed – but also the same with the mouth.
    If one never brushed ones teeth then there would be a riot of yeast infections, bacteria etc.
    However there is a very simple and effective solution – cleanliness.
    For myself – it is a 5 second action in the shower. Soap the pubic hair, retract the foreskin, soap there, rinse, and then push the foreskin back. Done in seconds and I can say that I have never had any issues etc.
    Lets consider the logic re that circumcised males are less likely to get some veniral diseases. Ladies – your hands are soft, and if you handle planks you will get splinters. However is you develop a thick layer of callose on your palms then you will not be bothered by splinters so much.
    I am sure that you do not want to have callosed hands just on the offchance that you will be handling splintery wood.
    Likewise with the glans. It is very sensitive, supple, protected by the foreskin. In essence it is an internal part of the penis and generally exposed only for sex (and occasionally for urination)
    But remove the foreskin and it looses its protection. The skin becomes keritonised (like a callose) and much less sensitive.
    Likewise with the foreskin itself. Stretched out it will cover quiet and area. It is filled with sensitive nerves, and even helps during intercourse.
    And a final note – to quote “Is it ain’t broke – then don’t fix it’. We Ohh and Ahh about the barbaric practive of female circumcision, but then close out eyes and mind when it is done to me. Let give equal oppurtunity a chance and sa no to mutilation of either sexes genitalia, until the owner of said genitalia is of an age to decide what THEY want to do.
    Take Care

  • I greatly resent been circed as an infant.

    I would rather have a complete body.

    My glans is very insensitive. I feel very little when having sex with a condom.

    A few years ago there was a study that found that the 5 most sensitive parts of the penis are in the foreskin. That doesn’t surprise me at all. In the 1800s the aim of circumcision was to deaden and desensitize.

    Please forget all about infant circumcision.

  • nobody , not even jewish religin have right to take away part of someone body… but jewish and muslim people are very stubborn

  • Any discussion of supposed benefits of circumcision is moot. There are “medical reasons” to do a lot of terrible things like chopping off breast tissue from young girls to prevent breast cancer. A few adult women choose mastectomy for themselves as a preventative measure, but nobody has the right to force such an unnecessary mutilation upon a child. The same goes for circumcision: it is unnecessary and wrong to mutilate a child’s healthy penis.

    His Body
    His Choice

  • By the way, a recent study shows that over 100 boys die every year from circumcision in the USA alone! More than SIDS.

  • Yepp – there’s also a dramatic reduction in the spread of HIV which you anti-circ people forget to report. I’m eternally glad I was done as a baby and had no probs during life with it. I also had no qusetions arranging it for my son either on the basis of my experience and what the other side says about the benefits. In any case God was happy for the Jews to do it and (even though I’m Christian) that says to me that He would not have subjected mankind to anthing that would affect him deliteriously. Just my cents worth. Ryan

  • I’m circumcised. Being a native Brit, it’s not the common way, but I’m grateful to have had it done.
    My college roommate who wasn’t circumcised, would regularly shower at least once a day, and the ‘smell’ would still be present. I’ve talked girls I’ve dated and have agreed with me that there is an unleasant odour with an uncircumcised male that isn’t present in a circumcised one.
    There are also other benefits such as the ones mentioned above. And also a lot of people don’t seem to mention the injuries that can and do occur often during sex to the foreskin.
    My girlfriend told me about her ex who used to flinch at times when she was being horny and frisky during sex-time.
    We don’t have that problem.
    As far as sensitivity goes? If I was any more sensitive it would be a negative effect for me as I’m really sensitive (during the right moment) so the pleasure is great during sex activities.
    The deaths from circumcision one comment mentioned above, is firstly due to the procedure, not circumcision itself. And also these were mostly during the 70s an 80s before the modern “clamp” like device used on infants today.
    If a circumcision is carried out in a clean safe condition such as a hospital it’s a very rare occurance that something will go wrong. According to current studies, complications only arise in 1 in 400 patients. It’s extremely rare.
    To conclude I’m more than happy to be a circumcised male, and my young son had no complications during his procedure, or after care, either.
    There’s a lot of misinformation out there on the internet. Don’t even take me on my word. Talk to your GP about the benefits.

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