Graphic Circumcision Post Sparks Heated Debate on What Baby Boys Actually Experience

Baby circumcision

Whether or not to have your baby boy circumcised is an important and private decision between parents. Some feel strongly in favor of it for medical or health reasons, while others refuse to even consider this controversial procedure because they believe it to be genital mutilation. But no matter where you stand on the debate, a graphic post detailing exactly what the process is like has people getting heated because it gives an eye-opening (and possibly exaggerated, depending on who you ask) look at this delicate procedure.

  • The post, which is going viral on Facebook and Instagram, showcases a newborn with his legs strapped as well as a description of what's about to happen.

    The description appears to be a quote from a 2016 Out Front article called "Cutting Through the BullSh*t of Circumcision." The post explains that the infant's arms and legs are cuffed in place to keep him from moving while a doctor slices his genitals. "Then, you coat his penis in antiseptic. The topical is as much medication as the baby will have during the process and it does nothing at all to alleviate the pain," the article's author, Greg Wheeler, wrote. "You can’t sedate babies or give them anesthetics for this procedure -- or most others -- so he’s literally going to feel every rip, tear, yank, and slice as he’s strapped down to a device in an operating room."

    Wheeler goes on to explain that the foreskin's opening is incredibly tiny so doctors need to open it by inserting forceps. "This rips the baby's synechia, the bit of skin that's attached to the head of his penis and the inner lining of his foreskin," he wrote. "This is also where the newborn's screaming becomes so shrill and heart-wrenching, where he screams until his lungs have nothing more to offer so his mouth becomes stuck in a silent, breathless, crimson-faced gape of anguish."

    More from CafeMom: This Mom Followed Car Seat 'Requirements' & Now Her Girl Is Internally Decapitated

    According to Wheeler, a clamp is then attached at the tip of the baby's penis to stop the bleeding. The skin is then peeled back, "revealing the raw and bloody glans (head) of the baby’s penis," and a cap is inserted under the foreskin. Then, the skin is stretched back over it. Lastly, a string is tightened around the skin-covered cap in order to reduce blood flow before the skin is sliced. Wheeler sees this as nothing short of barbaric. 

  • Advertisement
  • Many parents were horrified after reading and some couldn't even finish the post.

    "I almost passed out reading that," one person wrote.

    "O M G my heart is broken! This process is terrible 😢" another user commented.

  • It made some who already had their boys circumcised feel incredible guilty.

    "This broke my heart! Mine are circumcised ... I had no idea. Thank you so much for educating me on this. 😭" one parent commented.

    "Jesus! My son is now 2 years old and his was done when he was 2 days old. I feel horrible because I never looked at how the procedure was done and the first thing I saw was this picture and I'm darn near to tears," another user added. "I feel horrible but I will say after it was done he didn't seem to be any different than prior to having it done and was fine thereafter. But if my next child is a boy (praying for a girl) then I will definitely have to rethink this or be in the room with him."

  • But a few registered nurses chimed in to set the record straight: This isn't how it always goes down.

    "I just became a nurse and was able to watch an MD perform a circumcision, the baby did not feel a thing, it took the MD about 10 seconds to do and it is a very small amount of skin," another person wrote. "I live in CA so maybe in other states they don't use a numbing agent for the baby but here they do, also the next few days this same baby was calm and did not seem to be in any pain at all."

    "When I was in nursing school I got to view a circumcision, it wasn’t nearly as dramatic as this post is making it out to be. The baby boy was properly medicated with Tylenol prior to the circumcising along with a topical numbing agent," one person wrote. "He was also sucking this sugar water concoction from the nurse’s gloved finger ... He looked perfectly content to me, minimal blood loss ..."

    Although Wheeler's description is mostly accurate for one of the circumcision methods a doctor might use, according to, babies feel little during the process. This is because of local anesthetic and the sucrose pacifier that helps reduce newborn distress. "There is very little bleeding after circumcision, no matter which technique is used," the website states. 

  • Still, others believe this is the painful truth that all moms need to read before making a foreskin decision.

    "My son had it done at one month (insurance). His screams haunted me 😥 I immediately went home and looked up the procedure. I was mortified and heartbroken," one parent wrote. "Now I'm due to have my second son at the end of this month and I've been trying SO hard to convince my fiancé that we’re not allowing this anymore." 

    "I decided not to have this procedure done to my son because I see it as unnecessary genital mutilation," another parent wrote.

    "I saw this procedure done in nursing school and I couldn't watch. In my opinion, it's barbaric. Not only that, I researched and found it's not medically necessary," one parent wrote. "My son has not had one, I will not allow for him to be tortured. Neither have any of the men in my immediate family including my husband."

  • No matter what, it's important to do your research, come to your own conclusion, and not shame others for what they decide.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 81 percent of males 14 to 59 years old are circumcised, and a 2014 study found that 77 percent of newborns in the Untied States are undergoing this procedure. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes the benefits outweigh the risks because it can help prevent bladder infections and sexually transmitted diseases. Other benefits included a decreased chance of getting an urinary tract infection as well as a lower risk for developing cancer of the penis.

    However, rare risks for circumcision include infection, incomplete removal of the skin, and damage to the penis. "When your child is having any kind of procedure or surgery, it's understandable to be a little uneasy. But it helps to know that circumcisions are common procedures and complications are rare," KidsHealth states. "A child who has a circumcision typically heals without any difficulty or health problems."

    Ultimately, the decision is up to every parent, and it's important to respect that person's choice. "Shame on anyone who shames another parent for circumcision, it's none of your business!" another user added.