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In Kids & Family

"Motherfest" is a monthly column about parenting in Milwaukee. (PHOTO: Renee Bebeau)

Motherfest: Should boys get circumcised?


Whether or not to circumcise a baby boy is a controversial topic among American parents. For decades, it was practically a given that male children went under the knife a few days after birth, and many of us didn't see our first in-tact foreskin until traveling in Central America or Europe.

"My grandfather got circumcised, my dad got circumcised and I got circumcised. I guess you could call it a family tradition," says Nate Goodman, who decided, along with his wife Jenny, to circumcise their son Mitchell who is now 4 years old.

These days, however, many parents opt not to circumcise baby boys. According to the National Health and Social Life Survey, only 55 percent of all U.S.-born males were circumcised in 2003. However, certain regions in the U.S. circumcise more than others. In the Midwest, some studies show that 80 percent of boys are still getting circumcised, while on the West Coast, it's as few as one in four.

"Why cause him so much pain for something that's done just for aesthetic purposes?" asks Emily Smith, the mother of three uncircumcised boys.

Unlike Europeans and Latinos, Jews and Muslims routinely practice circumcision, but many parents who don't have racial or religious reasons feel that it's an unnecessary procedure.

Today, most physicians agree that there are few -- if any -- medical reasons to circumcise, and that a lot of pro-circumcision beliefs originated when people didn't bathe regularly. (Even though it's possible that uncircumcised males are prone to penile infections, the overall occurrence is still very low.)

Hence the decision to circumcise is based on religious, cultural and aesthetic preferences. One of the most common reasons is because dads want their son's penis to look like their own. Another common argument is that uncut kids will get teased in the locker room.

In many parts of the country, locker room embarrassment is less likely because having the whole enchilada is more commonplace, but because circumcision stats are still high in the Midwest, such an argument might hold water in Milwaukee.

"It's tough enough being a kid, why add another thing that could make life even tougher?" asks Goodman.

Smith says her sons, two of whom are old enough to change in locker rooms, haven't experienced any teasing. "If anything, I have noticed people MY age glancing at them, but not in a disapproving way. I think a lot of American women are just curious what one looks like," she says.

For whatever it's worth, neither of my sons is circumcised. Our oldest, born in Guatemala, came to us uncircumcised at 9 months old, so we the decision was more or less made for us. However, we opted not to circumcise our biological son to spare him from the pain, but mostly, so it was something he and his brother had in common, rather another thing that was different.

Am I concerned that they'll get teased in the locker room? Sure, I've thought about it, but I hope to arm my boys with information and swift comebacks. For instance, if anyone tries to give 'em crap about not being circumcised, I fully intend to teach them to say something like, "Why are you checking out my package, anyway?" or "Every Superman needs a cape."

Talkbacks

Sigismond | May 1, 2007 at 10:07 a.m. (report)

Experimental proof done: circ lops off the most erogenous! John Taylor http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/taylor already did the anatomical, histological proof, in 1996. But the formidable article by Sorrells & al. (2007) gives experimental evidence that circumcision mutilates the most erogenous part of the penis : http://www.icgi.org/touch-test/touch-test-article.pdf Cordially yours, Sigi

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OMCreader | Oct. 26, 2006 at 9:51 a.m. (report)

Sigismond said: Case won! Thank you to all those who allowed it by sending NOCIRC a few $ to pay for the experts' fees. Within love, Sigi

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OMCreader | Oct. 22, 2006 at 10:48 a.m. (report)

Glen Powell said: Are we also going to start pulling our infants teath out so he will not get cavities? It has been proven that circumcision has no medical benefit. Removes alot of sexual pleasure and if it does prevent any disease it is such a small percent it should not be considered.. parents please dont circumcise

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OMCreader | Oct. 5, 2006 at 12:20 p.m. (report)

Kurt said: My Dad was intact, and I was intact until I was in 5th grade. By this time my parents were divorced, and my Mom had me circumcised just to avoid the "locker room trauma". At that time I was VERY glad to finally "be normal", as about 98% of my peers [I was in Jr & Sr high school in the 60's] were circumcised. I feel that it IS important for a boy to fit in. Nowadays though, with a lot of guys being NOT circumcised ... I guess you could go either way.

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OMCreader | Sept. 29, 2006 at 1:31 p.m. (report)

Melissa T. said: I would never even think of circumcising a son. I have been with both, and no question that men with their foreskin get more out of foreplay and intercourse. The circumcised men are so much rougher, and you have to be rougher when you stimulate them or they don't get anything out of it. The intact men I've been with...no comparison! Circumcised men don't know what they're missing and I feel bad for them as it wasn't their fault they don't know what could have been.

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