Peruvian Men Aren't Circumcised
Tatiana and I both want our newborn son to be circumcised. I told the head pediatrician of the clinic they're both in as much, who seemed to think our request out of the ordinary. "Peruvian men aren't usually circumcised," she said. "It generally stopped back in 1980, when it was deemed unnecessary."
As I research this subject, I'm actually learning a lot about circumcision, the reasons behind it (both original and contemporary), it's prevalence in various regions of the world, and where the trending of such things is on the rise, or decline.
Compared to much of the rest of the world, it seems that I have a culturally antiquated opinion on male circumcision. There are so many out there denouncing the practice, I really wonder if my attitudes towards the subject need more thought. Then again, I'm a guy that likes to listen to his gut and back up his opinions with facts, and there are lots of persuasive statistics and figures out there that reinforce my current wishes.
I knew the USA was a heavily circumcised country, and had the idea in my head that developing countries often didn't practice such things, but I didn't realize that the line wasn't as clearly drawn between First World, Second World, and Third World. In fact, what I'm seeing in World Health Organization statistics is that some two-thirds of the world's male population is uncircumcised, and that many First World countries that aren't practicing such things, while Africa—the only continent I personally consider to contain "Third World" countries—has an overabundance of cut-jobs. Interestingly, an estimated two-thirds of the world's circumcised men are Muslim.
Curious about why Africa had such a propensity to circumcise, I discovered that it's HIV prevention related (for heterosexual men). "There is conclusive evidence from observational data and three randomized controlled trials that circumcised men have a significantly lower risk of becoming infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)," says the report 'Male circumcision - global trends and determinants of prevalence, safety and acceptability', produced by World Health Organization, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNFPA ,ANRS and the World Bank. The document has some great historical insight and statistical information regarding the subject.
Moving back over to the U.S., I dug up this block of text:
Statistics from different sources give widely varying estimates of infant circumcision rates in the United States.
Data from a national survey conducted from 1999 to 2002 found that the overall prevalence of male circumcision in the United States was 79%. 91% of men born in the 1970s, and 83% of boys born in the 1980s were circumcised.
Figures from the 2003 Nationwide Hospital Discharge Survey state that circumcision rates declined from 64.7% in 1980 to 55.9% in 2003. The western region of the United States has seen the most significant change, declining from 61.8% in 1980 to 31.4% in 2003. Part of the decline in the western region has been attributed by some experts to an increasing percentage of births to immigrants from Latin America, who have been shown to be less likely to circumcise then other parents in the U.S.
I was actually quite surprised with the results from the UK (who I figured would be closer in tune with the United States):
A national survey on sexual attitudes in 2000 found that 15.8% of men or boys in the United Kingdom (ages 16-44) were circumcised. An estimated 3.8% of male children in the UK in 2000 were being circumcised by the age of 15.
Outside of Africa and a few Asian countries, there seems to be massive global withdrawal from male circumcisions. But I'm really starting to think this has to do less with religious, cultural, social, and medical reasons, and more to do with the financial aspect of paying for what is now considered an elective surgery (not covered by health insurance companies).
Australia seems to reinforce this notion. A survey of Australian men conducted in 2001-2002 reported that 58.7% were circumcised. But these numbers seem to be dropping significantly, as the Sydney Morning Herald reported that the infant circumcision rate in Australia was 12.9% as of 2003, likely as a result of public hospitals no longer providing circumcisions for non-medical reasons. On December 9, 2007 the Australian Medical Association backed a ban on circumcision, although they do recognize that there are rare situations when the procedure needs to be carried out.
Tatiana and I were quoted a staggering US$200 price tag to have Aidric circumcised by a urologist, inquired on our behalf by the clinic. Her jaw hit the ground about as hard as mine did. We'd be passing on what seemed to be an excessive fee, in a country where Tatiana tells me you can get a top-class nose job (in Lima) for US$150.
I'm not in any huge rush. Such a thing doesn't need to be done this week, but we're going to have our same doctor ask around with some of his colleagues to see if he can get us a friendly price from an experienced scalpel-wielder.
Food for Thought
- The foreskin is home to 10-20 thousand nerves that are uniquely designed to pleasure the male during sex. During circumcision, these nerves are removed along with the foreskin, leading to reduced sensitivity. It curtails the broad range of potential pleasure that a man may experience during sexual activity.
- In about 96% of children aged 4 years and below, the foreskin is conjoined to the penile head in a manner similar to the fingernail being attached to the finger. Circumcising an infant may cause infections, which could lead to even kidney damage.
- Increases erectile dysfunction rates.
- If too much skin is removed in circumcision, it can make the penis smaller since the penis needs some skin to expand during an erection
- Penile cancer, phimosis, paraphimosis, balanoposthitis, glans inflammation, and other penile problems can be effectively treated with circumcision.
- Several studies have documented greater incidence of cervical cancer in women who have enjoyed the company of at least one uncircumcised partner.
- Rate of penile cancer is 3 - 22 times higher in men who are uncircumcised than in men who are circumcised.
- Circumcision decreases the risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD)
- Circumcision is believed to provide better hygiene. An ‘intact’ foreskin is a hot bed of microbes.
- Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is ten times greater in boys who are uncircumcised compared to circumcised ones.
Mass circumcision: Cornflakes magnate vs. masturbation