Wednesday, November 4, 2009

To Circ or not to circ, that is the cutting question (October 13, 2009)

To Circ or not to circ, that is the cutting question
It's a t(ouchy) subject
By Zach Dunkin

If you’re the kind of guy who winces at the thought of having your male parts sliced or one who objects to the discussion of the male genitalia in public you might want to take a pass on reading Page 9. And maybe skip the rest of this column, too.
Noblesville resident Krista Bocko, who “enjoys thoughtful parenting and questioning the status quo,” uses her Page 9 opportunity to ask the question: to circ’ or not to circ’ – to have your newborn boy circumcised or left “intact,” as she puts it. She is the mother of four children, including two boys, who are intact.
Bocko told me she felt compelled to write about circumcision in response, candidly, to a commentary another of our columnists wrote a couple of weeks ago, a commentary Bock said “quite frankly contained quite a bit of misinformation about circumcision,” a topic she has researched quite extensively.
However, after editing the piece, which attempts to set the record straight about circumcision, I realized Bocko had not answered the question I had about circumcision: is there any research which shows what adult male and females prefer aesthetically? What do they prefer “it” look like?
She had an answer.
“What I have found,” Bocko told me, “is that for the most part it’s very much dependent on what you have always known. So, in the U.S, where it was way more common to be circumcised, that’s what people thought was more appealing because they had rarely seen an intact male. In other parts of the world (like the U.K.) where the vast majority of males are intact, a circ’ed penis looks quite bizarre.”

As it turns out, circumcision rates vary even within the U.S. depending on where you live, with the Midwest leading the way. According to figures released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 75 percent of newborn boys born in the U.S. in 2005 got the scalpel. The West had the lowest rate at 31 percent, the Northeast, 65, and the South, 56.
Bocko’s next column, by the way, will be on hoopdancing as a way of keeping fit. Troublemaker!

Should I circumcise my son?
There is a lot of misinformation out there about circumcision. After extensive research of my own and discussion with other parents who have also given much thought to this issue, this is what I have discovered:

Fiction: most baby boys are circumcised, so in order for a boy to fit in, he should be too.
Fact: once upon a time, most baby boys were circ’ed, but no longer. According to my children’s pediatrician and my midwife, 50-60% of baby boys now are intact, with that number only expected to climb.

Fiction: My son won’t fit in if he’s not circumcised.
Fact: see above. If that is a concern, leave your son intact. (Do boys really go around comparing their penii in locker rooms? Curious)

Fiction: my son needs to look like his father.
Fact: he won’t ‘look like his father’ for a very long time. And again, see above. Kudos to those dads who are circumcised and then do the research and the parents choose to leave their son(s) intact.

Fiction: it’s cleaner.
Fact: an intact baby’s penis is easy to clean, certainly no more difficult than cleaning a girl. Rule of thumb: only clean what is seen.

Fiction: it’s better to circumcise when they are babies and won’t remember.
Fact: is there really a good time to remove a functional body part? The foreskin is not simply an extraneous flap of skin. If it’s there on their body, it probably serves a purpose.

Fiction: there is no risk to the procedure.
Fact: there is risk to every medical procedure. Risks include infection, excessive bleeding, or in rare cases, death. Be informed.

Fiction: it’s medically necessary.
Fact: it’s cosmetic in most cases.

So let’s reframe the question to: should I leave my son intact?

Krista Bocko enjoys thoughtful parenting and questioning the status quo. She and her husband and four children live in ‘Old Town’ Noblesville in a historic home. She can be reached at or via her blog:

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