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Frequent Questions
about Circumcision

Links to Off-Site URLs   Here's What's Lost
   
   Please send your questions to us. 

Aren't you giving medical advice? We do not offer medical advice. The contents of this website are for information only and are not intended to replace consultation with the appropriate medical practitioner. However, whether or not one should circumcise his or her son's normal penis, is NOT a medical question. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics and all the North Dakota physicians we have spoken to agree. This is a question of ethics and law, laws that have failed to protect male children.

How or why did circumcision begin? Read this academic essay on the topic.

Am I circumcised? >What does a foreskin look like? (Italtics and > indicate an off-site link.) Photos: Warning: May be considered adult content. 

Why do you think you can change this social custom? "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  Margaret Mead

Who is responsible for continuing the cutting?
"I have always maintained that even though we are all directly or indirectly responsible for this cultural tragedy, it is the one who holds the knife that is the most culpable; it is they who have the highest degree of responsibility. I have said many times, if I can find the information, so can they. The difference is, as physicians, they are professionally responsible to stay current on medical information and are obligated to protect the interests of their patients. With the abundance of information available over the last 20 years, being behind the curve on this one is simply unacceptable--legally, ethically, morally and professionally. 'No, I am sorry, I just can't let you do this,' is probably the easiest way for a parent to protect his or her child.... For the doctor, it is just as easy to say to a parent who has requested their child be circumcised, 'We don't do them any more. Our license to practice medicine and our malpractice insurance precludes physicians from amputating part of some one's body without consent, even at the request of a parent.'" Jody McLaughlin.

Why do we occasionally refer to circumcision as "mutilation"? "Mutilation ... implies the cutting off or removal of a part essential to completeness, not only of a person but also of a thing, and to his or its perfection, beauty, entirety, or fulfillment of function." Webster's Dictionary of Synonyms, Springfield, Massachusetts: G & C. Merriam Company.

Does circumcision affect penis size? A recent article found that the mean penis erect length was 16cm, i.e., about 6 3/8 inches.  It further found that  the average erect penis length in circumcised men was 3/8" shorter than in normal men, viz:- Richters J, Gerofi J, Donovan B. "Are condoms the right size(s)? a method for self-measurement of the erect penis." Venereology 1995; 8(2):77-81.

Abstract:- "As part of a study investigating the adequacy of the Australian Standard for latex condoms, we arranged for self-measurement of the erect penis by a volunteer sample of 156 men, predominantly Caucasian. The kits contained illustrated instructions and paper tapes which the respondents mailed back to us marked with creases to indicate their dimensions. Mean penile length was 16.0 cm (95% confidence interval (CI) 12.2-19.8 cm) and circumferences were: base 13.5 cm (95%CI 0.7-16.2); shaft just below coronal ridge 12.4 cm (95%CI=10.0-14.8); glans 11.9 cm (95%CI 9.6-14.2). Repeat measurements of 15 men showed intraclass correlations (r) of 0.90 for length, 0.68 for base circumference, 0.87 behind ridge and 0.87 glans. Non-users of condoms were more likely to have narrower penises. In a subsample of 66 men who reported on perceived condom comfort, men with wider penises (base circumference) were more likely to find condoms too tight. Men with longer penises were more likely to complain that condoms were too short. Circumcised men had shorter erect penises than (p<0.05). The paper recommends that the measurement technique described in this study should be applied to other populations, and that condoms should be manufactured and marketed in a wider range of lengths and widths."

Isn't the circumcised penis more normal? Here is a letter in a major medical journal: "Techniques for performing neonatal circumcision." Am Fam Physician. 1996; 53(8):2440.
     To the editor: Over the decades, and particularly in the recent past, perhaps more heat than light has been shed on the issue of neonatal male circumcision.  The recent series of letters offers what can only be viewed as confusing interpretations of normalcy. The language used in these letters is revealing: Dr Reynolds opines that his method "removes the foreskin in an anatomically correct fashion." Dr Taylor boasts of a "superior cosmetic result" and "a more natural appearance of a penis without the foreskin." Dr Philgreen describes a "normal appearance." Dr Hopper claims a "nicer looking" outcome.
  Clearly these writers are basing their interpretations of "normal" on some construct of aesthetics different from one based on natural, unaltered anatomy.  A penis without a foreskin may be seen as "nicer looking" by some persons, but it is in no way natural, and it is hard to think of a situation in which any amputation or surgical scarring can be referred to as "anatomically correct."  Male circumcision has supporters and opponents, but no rational discussion of this subject should include such misinterpretation of "normal" or inject personal taste into a scientific debate.
THOMAS W FILARDO, MD
Evendale, Ohio.  

What is the advice physicians are giving in recent baby-care books? "DECIDING WHETHER OR NOT TO CIRCUMCISE YOUR BABY BOY--This is a decision that many parents face. There are many misconceptions and out-of-date information that parents may read. Here is a summary of the pertinent issues that you should consider when making this decision. Medical benefits - THERE ARE NONE! Do not circumcise your baby because you think there are some medical benefits...."  >http://askdrsears.com/html/1/t012000.asp

But isn't circumcision a harmless procedure? All circumcisions are painful during and/or after the operation, but they all cause losses and many require reconstructive surgery--and some lead to >death.

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