circumcision

To snip, or not to snip? That was my question.

squidThe boy, being like his father, is running a little late. This is a common occurrence for most new parents so nothing to be worried about for the time being. It does however, give me more time to ponder, should the boy be even more like his father…

As mentioned in my previous blog Sex & Score, I touched on the confusion regarding male circumcision. Not so confusing for some who know straight away what they’d be doing. When I first told my Mum that it was a boy, her first comments weren’t ‘a grandson, oh wow, that’s wonderful’, but were in fact ‘Well, you know what you have to do then?‘. Huh? That took me by surprise. Umm no, what do I have to do then? I had only just mentioned it was a boy and suddenly I seemingly knew what I was supposed to do. I must admit this ‘you’ll know what to do’ or ‘you’ll work out as you go’ advice, does appear to be the favourite approach in many baby matters, but in this case I pushed on. Mum without hesitation continued ‘Well, you are done, and your father was done. The boy should be done too.’ Well that settled it, in that I finally knew what Mum was talking about, not that I was to circumcise my boy. That decision required some more advice than ‘because I am’.

helmetI actually found this topic rather interesting to research, there were many facts and opinions I would never have guessed. As a child, there was a little bit of pointing and so forth ie. he’s a squid & he’s a helmet, but no real bother from either sides. Strangely, later chatting to girls and mothers, the poor ol squid’s appearance seemed to get the short end of the stick…I guess squids aren’t known for their looks. But this purely aesthetic reason, was still not a reason to snip, so I looked a little further.

One thing I found out, as all you squids would know, is that what is cut off, the foreskin or prepuce, is not just a bit of skin, but a double-layered fold of smooth muscle tissue, blood vessels, neurons, skin, mucous membrane, and finally skin, that covers the glans (head). Wowsers I thought, no wonder lubricant was unnecessary for a self satisfying squid. A good friend proudly confirmed this was the case. So it’s a cost saver. I was now leaning towards keeping it but still I needed more advice.

Strangely, getting a yes or no from the professionals in the medical field was impossible. At each appointment, their line was that it’s an unnecessary operation in most cases but your choice, whether it be a religious one or not. This unnecessary operation idea is perpetuated by the fact that our public hospital does not provide the service. It was up to us to get a doctor and pay the cost (approx. $250-$400). I did find through my own social circles a recommended doctor, but another thing I noticed, was that a lot of medical types that I knew, decided against circumcision for their own children (or squidlets, my partner’s term, not mine). Stating again, that they saw it as an unnecessary operation, but of course it is your choice. So it’s a cost saver, costs to get removed, and appears to be an unnecessary operation. I was getting very close to making my decision, but why unnecessary?

My partner is from the UK and of Portuguese descent. She found my interest in the matter quite amusing and odd, as circumcision is rare in Europe. It is much more prevalent in Australia, Africa ( partly due to a clinical movement to try and combat HIV ) and USA. Certain religious beliefs such as Islam and Judaism internationally circumcise, but if not for religious reasons, it is uncommon in Europe. I did find some research that stated the ritual came from people that inhabited sandy regions, as it was a way to prevent inflammation from sand that would stick. It really does get everywhere! I found this to be very interesting, as I am always of the belief a tradition starts somewhere, and usually it’s for a sound reason. Australian aborigines circumcised, the middle east circumcised, parts of Asia circumcised, Europe…not so much. Also it should be noted, this tradition started along time ago ( it has been suggested that it is the world’s oldest planned surgical procedure ) and our standard of living and cleanliness was not as it is today.

2008-01-11_2007-WHO-prevalence-of-circumcision

Anyway, like I originally said, it’s quite an interesting topic to research, and well worth looking into if you’re involved with making such a decision. The main pros & cons for circumcision I’ve come across are the following. You can get such advice from sites like kidshealth.org or Circumcision Australia Organisation.

Pros

  • Less likely to develop Urinary Tract Infections. UTIs are about 10 times more common in uncircumcised males than circumcised infants. However, even with this increased risk of UTI, only 1% or less of uncircumcised males will be affected. Therefore it fixes a problem that has a small chance of occurring in this day and age.
  • Circumcised men also might be at lower risk for penile cancer. This disease is rare in both circumcised and uncircumcised males. Some studies indicate that the procedure might offer an additional line of defence against STD’s like HIV. The foreskin provides a better environment to linger in and be transmitted.
  • Easier to keep clean, as an unwashed foreskin can lead to inflammation and infection.
  • Some research is linked to the foreskin carrying the Human Papillomavirus which can cause penile cancer and cervical cancer (for female partners). This is something to look into much more closely than I have, but there is research out there.

Cons

  • It requires an operation, so therefore there is a small chance of complications.
  • It is painful ( not that I can remember ).
  • It is permanent.
  • The glans/head can become desensitised due to no protective covering (this can also be seen as a positive…).

Basically, in summary, there are potential benefits to circumcision but not enough evidence to make it mandatory. For some boys, it may be necessary anyway due to a problem with their foreskin, too tight etc.

As you can see, the more you look into it, the more questions arise and the more confusing it becomes. I have flipped flopped (pun intended) many times in what to do. In the end, it is a choice, and most likely, whatever you decide to do, it will be the right choice. At least you have given it some thought.

Personally, at this stage, I have decided not to circumcise, unless it is necessary. I know Rory will look different, and cleaning will need to be taught, but I look forward to this question of difference, so I can explain to him that such differences don’t make us any less human. I envy the people who just know, like my Mum, but I always think it is best to question the notion, ‘because it was done before’.

Tip of the Ice-Blog #3

Practice drills are great. With the birth just around the corner, I really enjoyed the comfort of knowing how to get the baby carriage from ground, to stroller, to car, out of car, and back in stroller. The last thing I want when it comes to taking him home is not knowing how to do the basics. Also, have bags packed with the items, your partner, baby, and yourself need for the big day / night. It could happen any moment now ! Remember that phone charger, and is there enough space for photos?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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