Circumcision is an American anomaly. Worldwide, only about 20 out of every l,000 male infants are circumcised—and 18 of those 20 are in the United States alone. You, too, can do what 980 out of 1,000 parents do: just skip making a decision altogether, and your child will be perfectly healthy and happy. You won’t be alone, the past four years, the U.S. circumcision rate has plunged to 54.5%.1
Our expert panel’s consensus, after an extensive review of the literature, is that the only possible justification for circumcision is to treat boys or men with penile diseases or disorders—never as a preventive measure. It is our learned opinion that the foreskin is a vital, functional part of the male genital anatomy, and that it is not a birth defect. Therefore, if there is not an absolutely urgent reason for removing it, it should remain intact—for ethical, psychological, and sexual reasons. The boy himself, when he is old enough, is the only person who should make any decision affecting the looks and function of his penis.
However, if either or both parents-to-be are considering circumcision, they need to research this life-changing procedure to learn just what happens during a circumcision, and what the unexpected complications could be. They should do this before their son’s birth. It is too late once a maternity-ward physician or nurse inquires whether they want their son circumcised. At that moment they might have difficulty saying “No,” or might make a hasty decision that they could later regret. Circumcision is completely optional, but disfigurement and potentially severe injury are permanent. Extremely important, also, is the fact that no matter how well-meaning, parents simply cannot know or predict how their son will later feel about being circumcised.
This information has been reviewed by our panel of experts and other trusted advisors, however, it is not a substitute for professional medical, legal, or spiritual advice.
- CDC. Trends in in-hospital newborn male circumcision—United States, 1999-2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2011;60:1167-1168. ↩