The Circumcision Decision: 24 Parents on How They Made the Choice

I'm giving birth to a baby boy, oh, any minute now. As someone who usually follows social norms, I'm really surprised by how put off I am by the thought of circumcision. Growing up in the U.S., circumcised penises seem normal to me, but I can't wrap my mind around why I'd willingly let a doctor cut off a piece of skin located on the most sensitive part of his male sexual organ. It seems bananas!

With that said, I also don't want him to mature into a teen and realize his penis is different. I don't want him to feel more self-conscious about his body than he probably already will at age 16. Is that a good enough reason to circumcise him? Probably not. And I'm still on the fence about this decision (despite the ticking clock), but here are 24 real-life quotes from moms and dads who either chose to circumcise or chose not to circumcise their baby boys.

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PRO-CIRCUMCISION:

1. "Everyone does it and they come back to you five minutes later as happy as a clam! It's quick and more sanitary. He will THANK YOU when he is a teen."

2. "I knew someone who opted to do it when he was 18 years old and he would tell you first hand to do it in the hospital after birth."

3. "The chances of problems and infections are greatly increased unless carefully taken care of on a daily basis, and that is from a medical opinion working in the hospital. The number of boys who come in with infections is at least doubled with boys who are not circumcised. My sister's son almost had to be circumcised at 2 because of numerous infections. I can only imagine the trauma that would be."

4. "Little boys don't always wash as well as they should, and at some point, we moms and dads can't do it for them."

5. "My theory was that God planned us the way we are ... not to have to get an unnecessary surgery right after being made 'perfect' in His eyes. Having said that ... my husband was strongly for circumcision. He wanted his son to look the way he does and mostly everyone else he will grow up with. I gave in because he wasn't budging, and well, he is a guy, so I thought it was more of a guy decision, if that makes sense."

6. "After having it done, I never thought about it again."

7. "I did it for religious reasons. Also because I read that some parents have to bring their kids to the doctor to get it done with they are older, like 5, due to infections or problems. Also lower STD risk."

8. "A vagina you just wipe. When a penis is not circumcised, the skin has to be pulled back and cleaned underneath. Little boys are not going to do that."

9. "Here is the male point of view. Do it. It is easier for sanitary reasons and also self-esteem. When he gets older and is in the locker room or whatever, people tease for differences, especially these days when everybody is putting everybody's business out there."

10. "My dad had to be circumcised when he was 35 because of health reasons. He said it was the worst pain ever and that he wanted to kill himself for a few weeks."

11. "I once knew a man who was not circumcised and at 30 he went for an operation to do it. He felt awkward as a kid and a man that this wasn't done as a baby. He actually said that he experienced discomfort in the area."

12. "Do it! It's not up for discussion! Your son will resent you if you don't!" -- from a dad

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ANTI-CIRCUMCISION:

1. "I don't have a boy, but my husband and I considered the question before we knew I was pregnant with a girl. After studying the available research, we determined that there was no health advantage to doing so, and there were enough risks to warrant not doing it."

2. "I am only sensitive on one tiny area on the underside of my penis ... Your man might not have a problem like mine but, if he is circumcised, he has been desensitized to some degree. Depending on the tightness of the cut, circumcision transforms between 20 to 80 percent of a male's sexually sensitive tissue into medical waste."

3. "It's not common outside the US (unless you are Jewish or Muslim), and even here, the trend is reversing. The kid can always get it done later."

4. "I don't understand the argument about infections -- this is America. We have body wash!"

5. "It impacts pleasure later on."

6. "In some countries, similar arguments are made to support female circumcision, too. Food for thought."

7. "As for cleaning it -- my son is only 4, and we haven't had to do anything. He sits in a soapy tub and then we rinse. I've heard that some problems occur if you are trying to clean it more than necessary -- forcible retraction?"

8. "I did not circumcise. I couldn’t find a compelling enough reason to do it, and it just seemed like a barbaric thing to do to my son’s most tender part. I also got the sense that the tide was changing, more and more parents were choosing not to circumcise, and he wouldn’t feel out of place later on if we skipped the snip."

9. "So many people aren't circumcising now that about half of his classmates will look just like him. Also, performing surgery on him just to avoid teasing seems a little icky to me. Kids will find something to bully about no matter what, if that's what they intend to do."

10. "Why would I strip my baby of his rights before he has a chance to defend himself and what he wants to do with his own body?"

11. "My two boys were not circumcised. Leave things the way Mother Nature intended them."

12. "You're born intact -- why wouldn't you want your baby to stay intact? Medical science has come a long way since this tradition began."

Did you have your baby circumcised? What's your take on it?


Image via Marie Smith/Flickr

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