January 11, 2008

Peruvian Men Aren't Circumcised
Lima, Peru

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

Circumcision disadvantages:

  • 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

Circumcision benefits:

  • 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

Comments:

Brodie

January 16th, 2008

I would recommend against it. If he wants to get circumcized later on then that is his choice and it can be done at any time. Undoing circumcision (via encouraging the foreskin to regrow) is difficult, takes years and doesn't replace the nerve endings that were originally there.

Teach the kid basic hygiene and you eliminate a lot of the problems that you cite. Lots of guys don't clean their knobs properly which helps lead to the problems that you mention. In my opinion circumcision is wielding a bloody big hammer for something that can be fixed with training.

Anonymous

February 15th, 2008

Just a few thoughts…

I was circumcised at age 23 - some 15 years ago. I consider it the best money I have ever spent. Despite what the almighty internet may tell you, my degree of sensitivity has increased dramatically - a matter of night and day compared to my previously foreskinned state.

There is a strong argument for leaving the lad until he's old enough to decide for himself. Fine. Just be aware that any surgery performed after infancy almost always leaves a higher rate of scarring and almost never heals as well as infant surgery. My urologist told me beforehand that I wasn't going to end up with a sleek looking penis - "it'll looked a little chopped" he said. If you're considering circumcision from an aesthetic point of view (which I personally don't think you should but I know a lot of people do), this is worth thinking about.

Just thought I'd share.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

February 15th, 2008

Thanks for your thoughts, much appreciated.

lordpasternack

March 4th, 2008

To the anonymous poster - were you circumcised for a medical complaint? Might that be the reason circumcision has helped?

Beyond that, I must state that all of the three studies into circumcision and HIV infection were done in Africa and only one was actually completed. So far as I'm aware, at least one of them was rigged. They took the circumcised group and gave them specific advice about avoiding unsafe sex, which they didn't give the uncut ones. It seems more a matter of corrupt quacks looking for something to provide to justify the procedure. It doesn't deserve a fraction of the endorsement it's getting.

In fact, circumcision has been purported and promoted to cure more ailments than any other single piece of surgery in recorded history. It was originally promoted in the US primarily to prevent "masturbatory insanity"… and now it's "AIDS". It definitely seems to coast along on top of current health-scares. Why do people need to keep creating new "reasons" for it? Because they're too rational just to do it for tradition or religion, like the vast majority of those who like to cut bits off female bits do. They need a "PROPER" reason to get the knife out.

As for smegma and cancer, or smegma and smell, or any of the other arguments to do with that: WOMEN GET SMEGMA TOO - and if they can manage to survive it without having their genitals cut, then why can't boys?

And the inner foreskin is is mucuous membrane just like your eyelids. If you're going to state that one is an immunological hazard, you may as well be saying the same about the other.

You might be wondering why people would want to keep trying desperately to find reasons to promote the cutting of infant genitals (but not the baby girls, never the girls, just the boys) - I do too. I suppose with some people the motive is religious ("God said so, so it must be good"), or for secular so-called "cultural" reasons. People aren't as rational as all that. They want to justify their prejudices more than they want to know the truth.

You may also wish to tap "penn teller circumcision" into a YouTube search box.

Anonymous

August 15th, 2009

I find that there is no need for circumsision. To me circumscion is barbaric, having a child circumsized without it knowing, like come on. When the child is older and has a better understanding about what getting circumsized mean. LIKE LET THE CHILD DECIDE FOR ITS OWN! plus dont you think its a bit nasty to cut off the foreskin of the penis? Thats like deciding to cut your thumb off! do you think it would look right that way? Also think of animals. no animal is circumsized and they turn out pretty fine and do you think we are to different from animals ?

I am circumsized and every night I wish I wasnt. I always think to myself, "Well… I am circumsized does it mean that I Have A Penis or just a fraction because My foreskin is gone.

Just do not circumsize, and let him decide when hes older. and teach him to clean his penis.

Are Animals So Different From Us Humans ?

Anonymous

December 2nd, 2009

well, i am from Lima. i'm 23 and yes. as far as i know peruvian men aren't circumsized, probably just a very little percentage. i'm not circumsized and i'm so relieved that i'm complete! if my parents would have done that to me i think i would be mad at them for quite a long time. every person is unique and have rights, so who are we to decide to cut a part of the body of someone who has no idea what's going on?

i understand that you want to do it because you think is the best for your child's health but still it's not like he is going to be in great danger if he doesn't get circumsized. in my 23 years in this world i' ve never had any kind of issues in that area so it's just a matter of teaching your baby how to keep that area clean.

…i think i read in the first post something about a top-class nose job for $150 in lima. are you serious?! that is so false! if there are places offering nose jobs for that price i would think more than twice before doing it.

The United States

Erik Stone

February 11th, 2010

1. Anyone who cuts body parts off of a baby or a child is one, sick, F*ck*r!

For you retards out there, let me make this clear.
Fact: Cutting a female child's breasts off significantly reduces her risk of breast cancer as well as several other infections.
Fact: Cutting a male child's balls off significantly reduces his risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
If you think that these facts justify an atrocity like mutilation, see rule number 1.

The United States

Eric

September 30th, 2010

Finally, did you get a good surgeon to circumsize your baby? if so, where?
I have family friends who are living in Peru, and their baby boy is due soon. The doctor who operated on their first son is retired now. So they are on the search. any info?
Thanks,

The United States

KRIS

October 19th, 2011

I WAS THINKING ABOUT ABOUT GETTING CIRCUMCISED BUT THEN I HAD A FRIEND REGRET DOING IT AS HE FELT A PART OF HIM WAS LOST THAT HE WONT BE ABLE TO GET BACK, AND I DONT WANA LOOSE ANY NERVES THAT WOULD LOOSE ANY SEX SENSATION, AS WELL AS MASTURBATING WITH FORESKIN IS A MUST LOL

The United States

Henry in NYC

December 26th, 2015

If you want your son circumcised you have every right to make that decision for him. Don't listen to what all these strident "intactivists" say. Do what you think is best for your child, and do it now. Circumcision is far more complicated and carries much greater risks for older children and adults, so saying he can make the choice for himself when he's older is significantly increasing the possibility that he'll experience complications, including sexual dysfunction. Do it when he's a baby, preferably during the first few days after birth. He and his sexual partners will thank you for it.

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