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The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its guidelines on circumcision for the first time in more than a decade. And, despite an overwhelming move toward skipping the procedure, the new language actually sounds a little more positive toward it. As a mom of both a boy and a girl, I am happy about this change.
The AAP hasn't completely gone over in support of circumcision, but the old language sounded a little more neutral. Now it says essentially that the health benefits to the procedure are much more compelling than the risks. Sounds very close to an endorsement, though, no?
Personally, I think it's about the time. The "intactivists" may have some points when it comes to the natural state of a boy's penis. But they have no point when it comes to health. Circumcision wins every time.
Whether or not to circumcise was one of the hardest decisions of my life as a mom. From the moment I found out I was having a boy, I struggled. I live in an area where very few mothers choose to circumcise their sons, and as a mom whose decisions are (mostly) on the "crunchier" side -- long term breastfeeding, co-sleeping, slings over strollers -- I struggled with the question. Even though my cultural tradition was to circumcise, was it a good idea?
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In the end, the decision was a cultural one, but the medical reasons really pushed my husband and me in one direction. Now, it seems the AAP supports that.
Infants who are circumcised (and later men who are) run a much lower risk of urinary tract infections, HIV, and penile cancer. Circumcision also may help stop certain STDs like Herpes and HPV. Sure, some of the benefits are for their future sex partners, but we also know that there are benefits for them as well. In fact, avoiding circumcision may add over $4 billion in U.S. health care costs. This is for all of us.
Look, this is a personal choice. There are so many opportunities for women to fight over these kinds of issues, but I am glad to see that the AAP is standing up for sound medical reasoning and not being cowed by the bullies who want to trounce over other people's rights to make their own decisions.
Do what is right for you and your family and your son and then shut up about it. Please.
Do you like the new AAP language?
Image via babybizcakes/Flickr