Circumcision: One Parent's Decision


Ultrasound PictureWhen we found out we were having a boy, the decision about whether or not he would be circumcised didn't cross my mind until my doctor asked me about it.

I Googled circumcision (bad idea) and was completely flooded with information. Whether or not to circumcise a child is widely discussed -- it's an extremely controversial topic.

I read pages of information circulated by parents and professionals who oppose circumcision, but I didn't see as many arguments presented by parents who chose to have their children circumcised, with the exception of those who decided to do it to honor their religious traditions.

So my husband and I talked about it at length, and by our next appointment, we had come to a decision.

We considered the medical benefits and risks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, circumcision has some health benefits associated with it along with surgical risks, but the procedure is not considered medically essential. We also didn't have strong religious influences to weigh our decision one way or the other.

When we talked about our options, I went back and forth a few times on my decision, but my husband's feelings remained consistent: The men in his family had all been circumcised. He felt it would be strange to have a son whose body looked different than his own. I could respect that. What every other boy looks like in a locker room when he gets to be a teenager didn't impact my decision, but while he's young and learning about his body, I didn't want him to feel different than his own father.

Maybe I would feel strongly one way or the other if I had a penis, but since I don't, I relied heavily on my husband's thoughts and feelings on the matter.

So it came down to this: While it wasn't medically necessary, long term, it wouldn't cause him any harm. Yes, I know it's painful for a baby in the moment, but so are a lot of other things in life. We weighed our feelings about family against any possible medical ramifications and decided to do it.

This is a deeply personal issue and I know many people will not agree. While I don't think anyone who chooses not to circumcise is making the wrong decision, I think the criticism that is meant for parents who do make this choice is over the top.

How do you feel about circumcision? Did you choose to circumcise your baby boy? Why or why not? 


Image via jen_rab/Flickr

baby development, baby first year, baby health, circumcision


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Jeann... JeannieMS

I honestly think circumcision is wrong. I wouldn't do it to my daughter and I didn't do it to my son. I would no more permanently alter his body that way than I would tattoo him. I know many do it for a variety of reasons -- including my sister -- but it is not for me and my family.

466mom 466mom

New York Magazine had a great piece on this last year (, and it stated there were significant health benefits, related to reduced rates of STD (both getting and transmitting). I know people feel really strongly about this, but I was convinced after reading their coverage, which had both pro and con angles presented (as well as discussion of sensation, by someone who had the procedure as an adult!). I also think that comparing it to female circumcision isn't really fair - the anatomical analogy doesn't really hold at all.

nonmember avatar Mike M

I first learned about circumcision from my sixth grade teacher (in '93). To me the information she provided us seemed to make it sound as though there was about equal weight between the pros and cons (I've since learned a lot more by doing my own research). My first concern after hearing about circumcision was whether or not I had part of my penis removed without my consent (physical appearance was not an issue for me - I've since learned that it is a concern for many men who are circumcised and since we live in a country where most men are circumcised they feel that is the most attractive; I disagree - I feel that what nature gave us is what is the most attractive... and even so, we're talking about the penis here - it's not a part of the body that is often on display, and even so one can always be taught to accept themselves the way they are instead of feeling as though they should conform to the desires/expectations of others) - I felt that my penis was normal and the thought of it not being normal and fully functional (meaning natural) scared me far more than the health risks (which can be reduced through good education and treated if anything occurs - there's no need to fix something that isn't broken, especially at such an early age and without the consent of the individual). Later on my mom (who gave birth to me at home [and which I'd recommend]) informed me that I had not been circumcised [which was a relief] and that all I needed to worry about was cleanliness.

tempe... tempest26

We circumcised our first son 15 years ago, because honestly? It never occured to us not to. I'm expecting another boy in a month, and this time around we're not doing it. Since there's no medical reason for it, why do it? I never really understood "looking like his father" argument. Don't they look different in other ways anyway? It seems like it could be something easily explained. I don't judge anyone who chooses it - my sister circumcised her baby boy this year - but I'm choosing not to this time.

RanaA... RanaAurora

Yes, my son is. I see it as a choice much akin to vaccinations, where two people can read the exact same info and feel quite differently about it, so it's up to them to make the choice they feel most comfortable with -- free of attacks.

Kimberly Virga

Its obviously a personal choice. My son is circumcised. I didn't give it more than a second thought. It seems to be the norm and I don't take any issue with it. There is a huge difference between a female circumcision and a male circumcision, by the way... I wouldn't go comparing the two.

tjuhm... tjuhmylove

its a personal choice that each parent has to make for their child. We didn't circumcised our little boy b/c DH is not and its not something that is done in either or our culture.

Freela Freela

It's obviously a personal choice.  We chose not to have our son circumcised.  I was not sold on there being any notable medical benefit, we had no cultural/religious reasons to do so (it's not practiced in dh's culture.)  Having a surgical procedure that we deemed unnecessary never really crossed our minds... our whole conversation was "Do you want to circumcise if it's a boy?"  "No." "Good, me neither."  My intact son is now eight years old and has never had an issue.  We had a talk about circumcision earlier this year- he overheard another mom talking about complications that her son had during his circumcision.  Later on ds asked me what the word meant, and when I explained he said "Why would anybody want to do that?"  I think that in our province the 'norm' is changing... supposedly the rate of circumcision is about fifty-fifty in our province and I know more parents who are leaving boys intact than who are circ'ing.  But I do feel it's a 'to each their own' kind of thing- but I am one hundred percent happy with my decision.

Susannah Wallace Naglee

The look like dad reason is not valid. There is difference in size and the hair. My son is not and it is cruel and could kill him. A baby died two days ago from circ. He bled to death and went into cardiac arrest. The foreskin has a function and many nerve endings. Don't do it. More complications come from doing it than not if you treat the natural penis with the proper care. Never retract. Just clean the outside like a finger and it will retract gradually on its own by puberty. Infection and death happen during this elective surgery. 120-240 deaths from circumcision in the USA per year

qrex912 qrex912

I just thought I would pit this out there, to the woman who said the "look like dad" argument is invalid. My husband and his brother were not circumcised, and their father  was. The brother saw the dad's penis as a child, and was pretty insecure about it, and embarassed for him! He thought there was something wrong with it, until they got to high school and they were the only uncircumcised guys in the locker room. My Brother In Law ended up having a voluntary circumcision at age 17, and my husband had his at age 18. They were uncomfortable with they way they looked, and the way women felt about them. They hated it, and they changed it.

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