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The Circumcision Dilemma

To snip or not to snip, that is the question.

The moment the ultrasound made it obvious that we were having a son, my husband and I both knew that we had some thinking to do. Would we circumcise our baby?

I had always assumed that I would go ahead with the surgery if I had a little boy, adopting the common attitude that we wouldn't want his eyes wandering in the locker room to discover that he was different from all the other boys or to fall victim to taunts.

It appears that the boys' locker room is actually starting to look very different these days; circumcision rates are on a decline in the U.S. According to data from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of newborn male circumcision decreased from 58.4% in 2001 to 54.7% in 2010.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that circumcision has both risks and benefits, and that parents should be given all the information available to make an informed decision. According to their website, "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision."

So, what are the parents of little boys in Athens choosing for their sons? How common is it to find an au natural boy in this town? After talking to many moms, I believe that it's becoming more and more common for parents to keep their sons intact.

One local mom, Carrie McGarry, didn't come to the decision lightly. "We researched it quite a bit and went back and forth and of course wondered about not looking like his dad," she said. "After many hours of researching the horror that your baby goes through for such an unnecessary procedure, we decided that we were not going to do that to our son, and I have no regrets."

Kelly Piazza chose to go ahead with the procedure for her now 10 month old son, but in hindsight regrets that choice.

"We just didn't do a ton of research on it. Our conversation basically ended after we decided we didn't want him to look different from other boys," she said. "I now know that's not even a valid reason, considering how circumcision rates are decreasing everywhere. It's possible he could be in the minority soon."

Yet, plenty of parents still prefer to go ahead with the procedure and are pleased with their choice. Their reasons vary from religious beliefs, an aesthetic preference, and to avoid health issues in the future.

For Kathy Placek, another Athens mom, the choice to circumcise was very personal. "My husband was not circumcised at birth, however, he did end up having to have the procedure done when he was 10, and it kind of traumatized him," she said. "We didn't want our son to have to go through that as well if he was similar to his father in that way."

The complicated issue is one that all parents must face for their sons. With the wealth of information and education that has been made readily available, it seems that many parents are making informed choices instead of immediately opting to give their boys the snip.

In the end, we elected to keep our sons intact. After seeing the statistics and talking with other moms, my hope is that the locker room won't be such a strange place for my boys to encounter after all.

What is your stance on the practice of routine newborn male circumcision? Please leave your experiences and opinions in the comments.

Mary Jessica Hammes September 30, 2011 at 10:58 PM
If it ain't broke...
Cassie Brown October 05, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Laururen, I agree with you. Since a baby cannot make the decision, then it is up to the parents. My boys have never complanined about it. Neither has my husband. I would choose it again.
Thomas Tobin October 05, 2011 at 07:25 PM
Would you choose it for your daughter? Wouldn't the fact that he can't choose it for himself, cause you to act cautiously, and leave his choice options open? If he has a foreskin, he can always be circumcised, if that's what he wants. If he is circumcised, and wants to have a foreskin, he's out of luck. It's pretty easy to choose for someone else. How would you feel if someone else chose to remove a considerable amount of skin from your genitals?
Ryan Griffin November 13, 2011 at 06:11 AM
I tuned in to Athens Patch after this article was written. Thank you so much for writing it! I left my son intact. My ex's entire family tried to convince me that my son's penis was deformed and necessitated circumcision. When he was 2 weeks, we took him to the doctor, and I acknowledged that his penis was in fact deformed, and I was ready to have him circumcised. How many uncircumcised baby boy penises had I ever seen? Apparently, none. The doctor looked me straight in the eye and told me that my son's penis looked exactly the way it was supposed to look. My son is 8 and has never had any problems with his body. I have taught him to pull his skin back each time he bathes so that clean water washes away any body fluid or bacteria. I have also heard of boys having problems if they wash with soap in that area, so I was careful to teach to only rinse with clean water. Kudos to you Leigh for writing this article to raise awareness, and kudos to all parents who break tradition and do not unnecessarily involve their baby boys with knives and blood to their private parts.
Thomas Tobin November 13, 2011 at 11:23 AM
You brightened up my day. That doctor did exactly what he or she was supposed to do...and that is rare. Thanks, Ryan.

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