“Push! Push, I can see it crowning. Don’t stop keep pushing.” The doctor says in a deep but calming voice. “I can see it, I can see it! Here it comes!” says John with tears of excitement in his eyes, as he looks at his beautiful wife Nechelle, who is about to give birth to their first child, will it be a boy or a girl he wonders. “I see its head, one more push here it comes Oh my god it’s here, it’s a boy Yes it’s a boy! We will name him John Jr.”
John shows all the signs of a man who is completely excited about having a newborn son, but the truth is that in the back of his mind there is question, a dark scary question, that John still has no answer to. “Should his son be circumcised?”
To be or not to be that is really and truly the question. Before John can make a wise, educated decision he must first understand what circumcision is, why it is done, how it is done, how it affects the natural functions of the penis, and what the alternatives are.
“Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the skin covering the end of the penis (called the foreskin) is removed exposing the glans (head or tip of the penis)”(Love) The procedure is usually done on infants in the first few days of their life. A doctor does the procedure.
Circumcision is an ancient and widespread practice. Some cultures as wide spread as the aborigines of Australia, to the Kazakh of Russia circumcises their male children. “An Egyptian inscription from around 4000 BC refers to the procedure. Male mummies have been found to be circumcised.” (Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality 118) According to the Old Testament god commanded Abraham to circumcise all males of his household.
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The religious, spiritual and emotional reasons for circumcision differ greatly from a pact with god, to showing your faithfulness to a tribe by having your son publicly undergo the procedure. But are there any medical justifications for circumcision? According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 1971 “There are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period.” Recently however the AAP reconsidered its position. In 1989 it concluded that circumcised male infants have ” potential medical benefits and advantages, after all uncircumcised males have eleven times more urinary tract infections.”(Care)
New studies done by the AAP suggest that circumcision reduce the risk of penile cancer (a form of cancer that is rare in the US).
But, the AAP has actually stopped short of recommending the operation. Instead, it suggests that parents make their own decision after considering medical, aesthetic, religious and cultural factors. (Care)
A survey done by the AAP in February 1999 reports that out of the people surveyed 80 percent of infants borne in America are circumcised, 12 percent of parents discussed this decision over with a physician before delivery. “When asked about the information given out by their physician, more than 80 percent said that their physician was neutral.”(AAP)
“There are three common methods of circumcision. They include use of the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell device and the device it is necessary for the doctor to estimate the amount of Mogen clamp. (Or variations of each device) When using each external skin to be removed; dilation of the preputial orifice so that the glans can be seen; bluntly freeing the inner preputial epithelium from the epithelium of the glans; placing the device; leaving the device in situ long enough to produce homeostasis; and amputation of the foreskin”(AAP updates)
In an average circumcised adult man, the area of skin that is missing because of circumcision would, when erect and unfolded measure approximately three by five inches, or a little smaller than a postcard. That is about half the total skin of the penis. (Anatomy of the Penis and Mechanics of Intercourse 112).
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The penis when in its natural state has five major parts the outer foreskin, the inner foreskin, the frenar band, the glans, the frenulum or frenum. The outer foreskin is a continuation of the skin of the shaft of the penis. The inner foreskin is not properly skin, but mucocutaneous tissue of a unique type found nowhere else on the body.
The frenar band is the interface between the outer and inner foreskin layers. When the penis is not erect, it tightens up to narrow the foreskin opening. During erection the frenar band forms a ridge that goes all the around and about half way down the shaft. The glans (head of the penis) is smooth, shiny, moist and extremely sensitive. The frenum is a connecting membrane on the underside of the penis, similar to that beneath the tongue. (Anatomy of the Penis and the Mechanics of Intercourse 2-8)
When a man is intact and has all of these parts, they all work together in what is know as the gliding mechanism.” The gliding mechanism is when the loose skin slides up and down the shaft of the penis, stimulating the glans and the sensitive erogenous receptors of the foreskin itself. On the outstroke the glans is partially or completely engulfed by the foreskin. This is known as the “gliding mechanism”. (Anatomy of the Penis and Mechanics of Intercourse 53-58) Also, since more of the penis’s loose skin remains inside of the vagina the woman’s natural lubrication is not drawn out to evaporate nearly as much, which makes sex easier by not having to use artificial lubricants.
There are only two options for John to chose from for his son John Jr. Leave him intact. Or get him circumcised. If he does get him circumcised and John Jr. decides he wants to reverse the operation he will then have two choices. One is a set of exercises that are designed to stretch the skin back to its natural length, or a skin graft procedure that consists of a series of procedures that attempt to reconstruct the skin’s original length.
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I myself have one child that is male. I did decide to get him circumcised, but if given that option, I would not make the same choice again. Ultimately it is a personal choice. I feel that the choice belongs to the child, not the parent.