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Monday, May 08, 2006

Circumcision: tell me, one more time, why this is a good idea?

The other day, my sister, who is due to give birth to a baby boy any day now, wrote me with a question:

It is a bit strange to e-mail about this, but... Would you feel comfortable telling me your thoughts re: circumcision---we have that decision coming right up.

I can't really imagine doing it....but wanted to know your thoughts....

If she was looking for a concise response, she asked the wrong guy. I could talk about male circumcision all day, and I do, below. Be forewarned that this post gets graphic and if you read it in its entirety, you will have learned so much about my anatomy that you and I will basically have had sex.

First of all...

...I am uncircumcised. My parents were liberal, Europe-traveling hippies, and they couldn't find a good reason to cut off a significant section of their son's genitalia.


...I'm damn glad they didn't circumcise me. True, there was a time I felt out of place in the locker room (I was in a Jewish camp, for Chrissakes); I even went so far as to ask my family doctor about the possibility of getting circumcised as a teenager (answer: no problem). And I'm sure I'd get by if they had circumcised me. But it comes down to this: I know exactly what part would be missing if I were circumcised, and I'd miss the hell out of it. It's the part that feels the best. It's probably my favorite part of my body. I'd sooner give up a finger than give it up now.

Why circumcise?

Here's what I wrote my sister in response to her question:

Thanks for asking.

I used to be 100% dead set against circumcision, and I still lean that way, but I see it as more of a complicated picture now.

In general, the reasons in support of circumcision that people most often have are:

  1. It's normal, at least in the US (in most of the rest of the world, it's actually become rare, except for the Muslim world, where in a few areas boys are circumcised between the ages of 6 and 11--ouch!), so your son will look like the other boys and not be self-concious or different;

  2. It's more healthy, because the extra skin can cause infection;

  3. It's better for his future sex life, because the penis feels less sensation, so he will last longer in bed when he starts having sex; and

  4. Women (at least in the US) prefer circumcised penises.

Let me address each of these briefly.

1) It's true that it's normal in the US to be circumcised. One way this is significant is that the boy's penis will look like his father's when he starts learning what his penis is (assuming dad is circumcised too).

2) There's disagreement over whether it's more healthy or less to be circumcised. The medical evidence actually suggests that, on balance, being circumcised does indeed lower your risk of certain life-threatening diseases slightly, but "on balance" plays a big role here. There are risks unique to each kind of penis, which largely cancel out; and the overall numbers are incredibly tiny either way. The medical consensus used to be that the opposite was true--that uncircumcised penises were healthier. (This fact never penetrated far into the American medical establishment.) Most Europeans still believe this, but recently AIDS and a better understanding of other blood-borne diseases have changed the medical picture.

3) Most guys who have experienced it both ways (having had surgery to get circumcised late in life) say that they have less sensation with the foreskin gone. Now that can be a good thing or a bad thing. Some guys who were premature ejaculators were overjoyed to find that now they could last as long as 15 minutes! (I wish I was kidding.) Circumcised guys can obvioiusly still reach orgasm, so when it comes down to it they're feeling plenty. On the other hand, knowing what the part is that they would cut off, I wouldn't get circumcised now for a million bucks.

And a few guys who got circumcised as adults report that they regret it because they can't feel things they used to.

4) As for women's preference, this one is just wrong. True, many women do prefer one way or the other. But in my experience, they generally don't even notice the difference unless I point it out, because erections pull the skin back naturally, so an erect penis looks more or less the same whether circumcised or not. Female friends have told me they don't like uncircumcised penises, and then on further questioning have revealed that actually, they've just never encountered one.

Why not circumcise?

My letter continues:
Moving on, the reasons people most often cite for not circumcising a baby are:

  1. It's the way mother nature made them. Why mess with that?

  2. The penis feels more when uncircumcised.

  3. It puts the baby in danger at the time of circumcision. (this is incredibly rare, but a tiny number of babies do die after circumcision because of bleeding, shock or infection).

  4. The baby doesn't have a choice in the matter, so it's a violation of his fundamental rights as a human.

I think, on the whole, that a man can be healthy and happy either way. With that said, numbers 1, 2 and 4 feel to me like very strong arguments. When it comes down to it, there are two choices, and only one of them is irreversible. Most of all, I strongly believe that in a day and age when we appreciate sexual pleasure and don't fear it anymore, if either parent could know what it feels like to still have the part that's supposed to get cut off, they would not circumcise their child.

And so...

Letter continues:
In a nutshell, then, here is what I think:

  • Why mess with nature? If being uncircumcised is good for most men in the world, and it's good enough for mother nature, it'll be good enough for my kid.

  • When it comes down to it, an uncircumcised guy feels more sexual pleasure. A tiny bit more? A lot more, of a vastly different quality? It's impossible to really say, but why reduce it at all?

  • If the baby is circumcised, how do you know he won't wish, later, that he hadn't been? It's not conventional to think of it this way, but he has the right to decide that for himself.

Of course, if you ask a man which way is better, I guarantee he'll endorse whichever way he happens to be. So take this with a grain of salt.


A few comments

A few years ago, a group of American men who were circumcised because that was the default policy of the hospitals where they were born--their parents weren't asked--brought a class-action lawsuit against several hospitals. I don't know what happened with that case, but I'd like to find out. I wonder if one day, a man will sue a hospital that did ask his parents, on the grounds that parents do not have the authority to order medically unnecessary procedures on their children (after all, parents can't legally have their daughters circumcised, or their son's toe cut off, can they?).

It may be that eventually, the magic of the American lawsuit will preempt the need for us to think seriously about the convention of circumcision. This could be much like the magic of managed health care, which is ending the preemptive removal of tonsils and the appendix--all without requiring that anyone spend time wondering why our culture allowed us to be cowed into these procedures (which resulted, like all surgery, in some rate of death) for so long without pushing for more information about their utility.

It's no secret that people cling to all kinds of beliefs without any evidence (and often long after they are shown to be untrue), but it always surprises me when Americans insist, with no evidence but what their friends and family say, that circumcision is by far the healthier option. (Europeans can just as irrationally insist that the opposite is true.) Of course, no one can know the relative risks for certain, but it's astonishing that millions of new parents around the world make such a huge decision every day without first trying to find out what the medical consensus is. I'd be surprised if practically any American parents at all gave the question of circumcision as much thought as they do, say, the baby's name.

This is what interests me most about the question of circumcision: it deals directly with the assumptions and laziness of thought that make up the dangerous side of culture. Cultural relativism is not very popular in America outside universities, but what really justifies mutilating male genitals besides culture? If America didn't do it, and only Africa did, there would be public campaigns in America to end it in Africa which would treat male and female genital mutilation as a single phenomenon, and defenders of male circumcision would be derided as apologists for butchery, as defenders of female circumcision rightly are in the real, non-hypothetical America that my imagination does not, unfortunately, control.

But what does the research say about sensation?

As for sensation, some of the medical literature is against me. One article reports that significantly more men who get circumcised as adults actually report more sexual satisfaction:

Based on a sample of 84 men who'd been circumcised as adults for medical reasons, a 2005 article in Urologia Internationalis found a 61 percent satisfaction rate, with 38 percent saying that penile sensation improved after the procedure, 18 percent saying it got worse, and the rest reporting no change. "No consensus exists regarding the role of the foreskin in sexual performance and satisfaction," the article's urologist authors wrote.
To be honest, knowing what part would be cut off and how sensitive it is, I am baffled by this article's numbers. Maybe there is a strong tendency among men to believe, or at least assert, that their genitals are doing just great, whatever their actual state? Also, in a climate where masturbation is still stigmatized, could lots of men just not have an accurate perspective on their own sexual pleasure?

It's also easy to conflate phyical sexual pleasure with the overall pleasure of lovemaking, which of course could well be increased by the simple fact that less stimulation allows a man to last longer before ejaculating. Emily Bazelon, writing in Slate (with a great title--"Or ot to Snip?"), quotes a man who was pleasantly surprised to find an increase in the total pleasure he took from lovemaking, due to a decrease in the physical pleasure he took from coitus:

Daniel got snipped as a college sophomore to combat recurrent genital warts and premature ejaculation. "You can imagine my relief when I found that sex could last much longer," he wrote.
(The disappearance of the genital warts couldn't have hurt either.)

The article continues:

"Sex became less exciting but more satisfying," he wrote. Other men reported a similar trade-off. ("Is it better to have a glass of excellent wine, or a bottle of very good wine?" mused one.)
Daniel's sentiment alarms me (though I admit I'd take the bottle). Have these guys ever heard of the revolutionary method known as "taking a break", perhaps to do something sexual other than intercourse for a little while?

One guy has a particularly detailed description of the changes that resulted from his late circumcision:

Boris moved to the United States as a child and "soon discovered that I looked different from almost every other boy." As he grew up, he became more comfortable and started teasing his circumcised friends about their relative lack of sensitivity. Then at 27, he developed phimosis and decided to get circumcised at a doctor's recommendation. Eight months later, he wrote:
If you were to visualize sex as arousal plotted against time, the simplest kind of x/y graph, you would expect to see a line that is rising towards orgasm, where it drops off. I think an accurate way to picture that rise is as a series of spikes—particular moments that are punctuated with especially pleasurable sensation, taking you higher and higher, until the ultimate spike that brings you over the top. The best way I can describe sex without a foreskin is that the very tips of these spikes are shaved off, but the line steadily progresses upwards nonetheless, with the orgasm completely unaffected. Maybe this sounds substantial but somehow it isn't. … Sex is about so much more than raw sensation from one little strip of skin, no matter how sensitive, that pleasure doesn't feel diminished. Who you're with, their excitement, your chemistry together, the sensation of your entire body against another—there are so many things that play into the equation. The marketing slogan would be something like "Hey, it's sex. It still feels really, really good."
Okay, so can everybody raise their hands if they kind of want to have sex with Boris right now?

Anyway, Boris's is a valuable perspective, and it's one thing that makes me feel that maybe male circumcision isn't so bad after all--certainly not as bad as female circumcision, which is usually more gruesome (though being a Muslim boy turning ten in an Uzbekistan village without anaesthetics must be pretty awful, too), interferes far more with the basic ability to have sex comfortably, and, from what I understand, often prevents women from having orgasms, ever.

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Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 09:49:00 AM:
There's one more aspect: the partner's point of view. Sex with an uncut man is much more slippery -- like having lots of lubrication, without the mess. Much less friction of the skinned-knee variety. I definitely prefer it, everything else being equal.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 10:07:00 AM:
I think you have a typo. In your list of reasons to circumcize, you write "# Women (at least in the US) prefer uncircumcized penises". I think you meant "prefer circumcized", no?
Blogger Ben on Mon May 08, 10:24:00 AM:
Thanks for the proofread -- I also had "circumcize" in several places, which should be "circumcise". I have corrected these.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 10:34:00 AM:
I found your article on and found it thoughtful, balanced, and entertaining. One aspect that you glossed over is that, at least for Jews, circumcision is an absolute requirement. Even Reform Jews. In fact, I would go as far to say that it the basis of the entire religion. Many people who write about this topic forget about this requirement, gloss it over, ridicule it, or minimize it. One of the reasons that circumcision won't be banned or sued out of existance is that there will always be a religious exception for the practice.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 10:45:00 AM:
"Of course, if you ask a man which way is better, I guarantee he'll endorse whichever way he happens to be."

I was cut as an infant, and I do not endorse it at all!

I am now in my 30s and have started 'restoring' my foreskin. I have grown maybe an inch of new skin since I started, so when I sit down my corona is covered. My wife has already noticed a big improvement with the new 'sliding' effect (as noted in a comment above), and we are both looking forward to gaining more mobile skin.

My two sons are intact, and will be staying that way at least until they are 18 and can decide what to do with their bodies themselves.


PS: I believe that Russian Orthodox Jews do not practice circumcision.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 10:54:00 AM:
Excellent post. Why is circumcision an 'absolute requirement' for Jews? Would a well-educated person of the Jewish faith tell you that you are going to hell if you have foreskin? Just because it's tradition doesn't make it infalliable.
Blogger kees on Mon May 08, 11:24:00 AM:
I'd just like to add one more reason not to get circumcized. In some cases, the doctor cuts off too much skin, and the patient experiences some discomfort and/or pain throughout his life. I'm sure the occurence of this is very low, but I have read about actual cases of this happening. Why take the risk?
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 11:41:00 AM:
I was circumcised as a baby, and wish that I wasn't. This was in 1967, though, so I think it was pretty much the default behavior, probably even recommended by pediatricians.

Circs vary: sometimes there is less skin taken off, sometimes more. Mine took off a lot. In fact, the base of the glans has a tight ring of what is essentially scar tissue.

Now, the important part: scar tissue does not move, doesn't "glide," doesn't stretch, like a foreskin does.

One of my earliest memory is going to the doctor with a painfully swollen and red penis. Masturbation in my teens frequently resulted in sores. As far as I understand, uncut men rarely have a problem like this, unless perhaps they have a problem with adhesion, which is easily fixed without resorting to anything as dramatic as hacking off the whole foreskin.

To this day if I get, um, very enthusiastic with my wife, I wind up raw and sometimes with the skin actually rubbed away, leaving a sore. This isn't from making a porn film, just from a few enthusiastic sessions. No fun at all. No fun for my partner.

When my stepson first saw my penis in the shower at a public pool, he said in horror "Dad! Your weiner is gross! What happened to it?" (He is uncut). I explained... he was quite horrified! Sometimes now we (jokingly) say if he doesn't behave we'll get him circumcised... he shapes right up : )

Do the kid a favor and don't multilate him!

And, yes, some baby boys do either die or wind up losing their penises altogether due to this procedure... sometimes they just go ahead and make them into baby girls, but that's not really an ideal solution, as you might imagine : )
Blogger kathaclysm on Mon May 08, 12:27:00 PM:
As a woman, I've been with both types and haven't noticed that big of a difference as far as the skin part of it was concerned. There's a million other things going thru my mind during sex anyhow. As far as I understand, if a Jewish boy's family has a history of hemophilia, he is not required to be circumcised. I am not Jewish and do not know the whole history of the procedure within that religion. I think that would be interesting to know the history behind circumcision in different cultures. My sister is a nurse, and she says that if old guys don't clean out the skin, it can get kinda gross, and hence cause infection. I have heard of various evolutionary reasons for foreskin: it protects the penis (hence men with foreskin tend to have a more sensitive penis), and (I'm not making this up, but I don't remember where I read it) the foreskin acts to suck out any sperm that might be in the female from a previous male. I personally don't think I'd have it done to my son if/when I have one.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 12:27:00 PM:
Great article.
I am uncircumsized and would NEVER EVER circumsize a son when/if I have one.
Don't mess with nature - 2 million years of evolution trump 5000+ years of idiotic cultural tradition.
Interestingly, for the longest time, my foreskin was very tight and prevented me from being able to peal it back over the head of my penis when I had an erection. So my erect penis did look very different than an erect circumsized penis. I didn't even know that this was weird until I was in my mid-twenties. So I set about the task of "loosening" it up. Basically I just masturbated with lots of lube and got it to the point where it slid easily over the tip of my penis (took about a 2 weeks of a "session" or two a day).
After that I was blown away at the enhanced senstivity during sex. It was awesome. And still is.
And I've been with plenty of women - never has one of them had a problem with me being uncircumsized.
Circumcision is stupid - don't do it to your baby boys!
You can still be a good Jew/Muslim/whatever and keep your foreskin. . .
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 12:29:00 PM:
I'm with all the people to leave things natural. However, I'm not really sure we will ever get a real answer on how much a circ affects sensation. A person who has been blind their entire life has increased hearing and taste to compinsate for the loss of their other sense. A person blinded later in life (post-development), doesn't usually experience the same hightened senses. I'm not trying to claim that the body is able to reproduce the full effects of foreskin, but it is probably different and it would probably be safe to assume that your circ-status determines what type of stroke/gliding motion feels best and becomes habitual (head stimulation vs. shaft stimulation). A man that has been uncirc during the sexual development portion of his life would probably have a much more dramatic change in sensation simply because his body hasn't adapted. I'm really interested in this foreskin rebuilding and how painful/expensive it is??
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 12:36:00 PM:
With regard to decreased sexual pleasure, and the loss of nerve endings, one very important thing to consider is that it's not the nerve endings that are releasing happy juice in your brain. It is your brain's interpretations of the aggregate of the signals being sent in.

In the case of infants, their brain is still growing and adapting so rapidly that it seems like the only side effect would be a loss of sensory resolution, rather than overall intensity.

For example, although you have *way* more nerve endings in your fingertip than your side, a jab to the side is more intense, and ticking is vastly more effective. But the fingertip has a higher resolution of sense.

(note - I'm just a student that has taken some neurscience courses, not an expert on this subject)

- David
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 03:35:00 PM:
To alec:
Would a well-educated person of the Jewish faith tell you that you are going to hell if you have foreskin?

No, of course not. (Most) Jews don't believe in hell.

However, "The uncircumcised male whose foreskin has not been circumcised, shall have his soul cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.' Genesis 17:1-14"

Basically, in order to be considered part of the Jewish people, a male must be circumsiced. It is considered as the covenent between G-d and the people of Israel.

Too often, this topic devolves into a discussion of the religious merits of the procedure. It is sufficient to say that some religions view it as a requirement.

To Philip:

There is no such thing as a Russian Orthodox Jewish denomination. Under the rule of the USSR, Jews could not practice their religion and circumcicion was forbidden. Some Russian Jews have been circumcised, and others have not.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 04:11:00 PM:
Circumcision is a religious ritual. That's the way that it's described by people who accept it or don't question it.

Much closer to the truth it is a cultural acceptance of genital mutilation, a senseless, shameful imposition of the will of adults over the most vulnerable among us - the newborn. It is an assault upon infants, a violation, an act of brutality, an insane act of domination.

It symbolizes the imprisonment of the newborn into a religion, a culture, a world, where the baby will be conditioned, taught to exclude, taught to hate and taught to imagine superiority over those who are not mutilated. It's a baby's welcoming initiation into a culture of lifelong delusion and, typically, hate as a useful emotion.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 04:40:00 PM:
I am a woman and I vote for cimcumcision.

In my country men are usually not circumcised. I was used to that. But then I came to US and the two guys with whom I have been intimate were circumcized. Oh, I love it. It looks much more beautiful (that little hat is so ugly on a "natural state" member), I feel more inclined to be oral (which I suppose makes my husband a happier man), and it is far more higyenic. If every men knew how to properly wash its foreskin, that would not be a problem, but the sad truth is that lots of women get infections from their husbands because the men are not very careful when cleaning.

Going back to the esthetic issue, I love to look at my husband circumcized member, every morning when he cames out of the shower, every night when we go to bed. It is so beautiful.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 06:35:00 PM:
Choice is an issue, but the bottom line is aesthetics, and everyone has their own. My wife likes it that way and I like her liking it.
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 07:31:00 PM:
To Anonymous (on Mon May 08, 12:29:53 PM):

"I'm really interested in this foreskin rebuilding and how painful/expensive it is??"

I have been using a skin tensioning device to stretch my remaining shaft skin, which is quite cheap but takes a lot of patience. It can be painful if I over-tension the device by mistake, but I release it immediately and have had no lasting damage.

Apparently there are also manual methods to stretch the skin. These are supposedly also quite effective, and free, but again require a fair bit of patience to see any progress.

The idea is to encourage the skin to grow (like on a person steadily gaining weight) without getting stretch marks (like many pregnant women get).

You can find more about this process at websites like

Hope this helps,
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 07:42:00 PM:
To Anonymous on Mon May 08, 03:35:22 PM:

I am sorry, but these two sentences together do not make sense to me:

"Basically, in order to be considered part of the Jewish people, a male must be circumsiced."


"Some Russian Jews have been circumcised, and others have not."

According to the first sentence, you cannot have uncircumcised Jews.

According to the second, some Russian Jews are uncircumcised.

Either those uncircumcised Russians cannot be Jews, or circumcision is not required in order to be a Jew.

Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 08, 10:32:00 PM:
Concerning the Jewish requirement for circumcision, it is a physical prodecure used to satisfy a spiritual covenant.

When a circumsized man has sex, he should look down and remember that his organ is part of a holy covenant and that he should use it for holy purposes. (This doesn't mean procreation only though, at least as far as Judaism is concerned. In Judaism, a primary purpose of sex is to increase the intimacy, both physical and spiritual, between husband and wife.) Circumcision reminds men (in a very obvious way!) that they are spiritual beings as well as physical ones.

Regarding the comment about "why mess with what G-d gave you?", why pierce or tattooo your body then, or even wear clothes? Sometimes what G-d gave you isn't perfect and should be "improved".

Another point: there is no comparison between male and female circumcision. Female "circumcision", or rather, mutilation, is done with the express purpose of limiting a woman's sexual pleasure so that she will remain faithful and a virgin for as long as possible, since sex is horribly painful for her. Male circumcision does not cause lifelong pain.

Last, there are different kinds of circumsicion, and it does not necessitate complete removal of the entire foreskin. Just a little bit can be removed to satisfy the biblical covenant. A long time ago, rabbis upped the amount taken off when hellenestic Jews began pulling their foreskins forward to hide the fact that they had been circumcised, and the rabbis did not feel that being Jewish was something to be ashamed of.
Blogger Anna on Mon May 08, 10:32:00 PM:
With regard to the health benefits of circumcision (health being my field): until recently you would have been right about disagreement within the medical establishment. It's been difficult to conduct good epidemiological studies on circumcision because there is always confounding. Who gets circumcised and who doesn't is not even close to random, so comparing circumcised men to uncircumcised men may produce differences unrelated to the procedure itself. To use the classic example, it used to be thought that circumcision prevented penile cancer, but the study on which that research was founded was conducted on an African population among whom all the circumcised men were Muslim. The Muslim men had fewer sexual partners, therefore fewer STDS, therefore a lower risk of penile cancer later in life. That created the false impression that circumcision was beneficial.

However, last year the first randomized clinical trial of circumcision was conducted to investigate its power to prevent HIV transmission. Two groups of adult male volunteers were assigned at random to be circumcised or not, and then followed. The circumcised group got 60% fewer HIV infections--which is astounding. The person who came up with a 60% effective vaccine against HIV would get a Nobel Prize.

It will be interesting to see what other research along these lines turns up with regard to other infectious diseases. But in general, there is a correlation between the amount of contact with the partner's sexual fluids and your risk of infection. That is why women are at greater risk from a sexual encounter than men; ejaculate remaining in the vagina for hours is more likely to infect than vaginal or anal secretions remaining briefly on the outside of the penis. Uncircumcised penises retain those fluids longer than circumcised ones.

So you see, the health considerations are not trivial. My own assessment is that the health benefits outway the miniscule risk of injuring the baby during the procedure.

By the way--holy hell there are a lot of comments on this post. Touched a nerve, there, Ben, well done.
Blogger Anna on Mon May 08, 10:33:00 PM:
That pun was totally unintentional, sorry.
Blogger Mike Mongo on Mon May 08, 11:08:00 PM:
A million dollars?

I'd cut off a small finger or toe for a million dollars! Is someone paying this kind of money for foreskins now?!
Anonymous Anonymous on Tue May 09, 12:39:00 AM:
Is this all you have to fixate on? SWEET JESUS, GET A LIFE!
Anonymous Anonymous on Tue May 09, 04:27:00 AM:

Reason: cleaner, looks better and doesn't act as a urine catcher every time a guy goes to the toilet.

Were I female I wouldn't put my mouth anywhere near an uncircumcised one. The term "dick cheese" is a purely uncircumcised occurrance.

There is also the decreased transmission rate with circumcised versus uncircumcised (although safer sex is a far better solution, but well.. what harm does it do to give the guy less chance of catching something, think of it as like innoculation).

For those re-creating their foreskins: get a life.. If you're blaming not enjoying sex on that then you're kidding yourself. But then again: placebo "works" for a lot of people too (but I can't help but think there's a better placebo out there that doesn't involve stretching). Perhaps if you aren't enjoying sex with your partner there's other reasons. Try getting her to do pelvic floor exercises if you want more stimulation.

For those claiming it mentally scars the children for the rest of their lives: bullsh*t, plain and simple. You're too young to remember any of the operation and if so then I think the birth experience itself would be far more traumatic.

For the "some kids lose their penis from circumcision": more end up with issues from not being circumcised or due to infection due to poor hygene.

Short answer: airy fairy reasons aside the cleanliness issue is enough to justify it.
Anonymous Anonymous on Tue May 09, 06:32:00 AM:
Pro Circumcision? Hey, you are one sick cookie. Can't bring yourself to say M U T I L A T I O N ? Sure, you can say it MUTILATION ! You need to invoke the Latin terminology, derision for the opinions of others, fantasies of comparative hygiene and even insist that mutilation is a personal fashion statement in your attempt to justify it but in the end all you achieve is the arrogance that so unashamedly have learned to freely display.
Anonymous Anonymous on Tue May 09, 08:51:00 AM:
I am 28 and not circumcised. Around 2 years ago I converted to Islam. I was very much NOT a virgin before I converted and I am now married to a muslim born woman and live in the UK (im english). Because of the country she comes from (a very strong muslim country) I am very much pressurised to get circumcised, however i have to say i am quite scared about it! My biggest fear is that I will lose part of the sensation in my penis and so lose some of the sexual pleasure i currently can have.

I know Islam STRONGLY recommends circumcision but I would like to know if there are any muslim converts out there that are not circumcised or have been since they converted? I'd love to hear from you, email me at
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon May 15, 12:09:00 AM:
I think you're wrong about the 10-13 age of circumcision for muslims. I can't claim to be up on the the rules, laws and whatnot, but everyone I know (including me) was circumcised at birth. Perhaps you meant North Africa, or Arab, or Persian, or Malaysia/Indonesia, rather than "Muslim". A lot of these things tend to vary by region/culture rather religion or even sect. Something I wish the media at large noted more often.
Blogger Ben on Mon May 15, 03:37:00 AM:
It seems like you're right about Muslim circumcision -- Wikipedia says:

"The timing of Muslim circumcision varies. Some Muslim communities perform circumcision on the eighth day of life, as with Jews, while others perform the rite later. Turkish, Balkan, rural Egyptians and Central Asian Muslims typically circumcise boys between the ages of six and eleven and the event is viewed communally as a joyous occasion and is celebrated with sweets and feasting. In contrast, Iranian Muslims are typically circumcised in the hospital at birth without much ado. Urban Egyptians, as with many industrialized countries such as the USA, perform the procedure at a hospital."

So it may be small regional minorities that circumcise at puberty, or this may be a few years before puberty. My apologies for using a blanket statement. Thanks for the fact check.
Anonymous Anonymous on Fri May 19, 10:31:00 AM:
>> groups of adult male volunteers were assigned at random to be circumcised or not, and then followed. The circumcised group got 60% fewer HIV infections <<
- - - - -
Those men were NOT at all randomly selected. The circ'd group included the men who were willing to be circ'd and no men who were not willing. Duh. A lot of the men who were willing ot be circ'd were Muslims.

The "scientists" - like Bailey - performing these Mengele-esque amputation experiments on human subjects have long histories of trying to justify circ. Frankly, I don't trust them not to lie.

Circumcsion does NOT prevent AIDS. 1000s of US men who were cut at birth have died of AIDS.

HIS body, HIS decision.

-Ron Low
TLC Tugger, Inc.
Anonymous Anonymous on Tue May 23, 11:16:00 AM:
Hi Ben -
As a fellow Jew who was also uncircumcised (until mid-adulthood), I'd like to make a few points - maybe too late for your letter, but for you to keep in mind.

1) Jewish circumcision differs from hospital circumcision in technique and result.

Basically, Jewish circumcision preserves the sensitive inner lining of the foreskin. Only a portion of the outer layer of skin is removed (this is a lot easier to explain to a fellow uncut guy!) The pinkish inner layer of skin gathers in folds behind the head of the penis, and may cup it like an acorn cup. This skin accommodates erection and continues to fulfill its sensory function.

This is in sharp contrast to most hospital circumcisions, in which everything is removed. These are the guys with the same colored skin all the way down to the head. As some posters here have mentioned, often this leads to tightness, torsion, or friction.

So not all circumcisions are alike.

2) Israel has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Soviet emigres, and as a result tens of thousands of adults underwent (Jewish style) circumcision. Israeli doctors used this opportunity to ask the sexual pleasure question - they sent follow-up surveys to several thousand men who underwent circumcision.

The results split evenly into thirds:

1/3 said "now it's better"
1/3 said "now it's worse"
1/3 said "no significant change"

Immediately the pro- and anti- circ forces set out to prove their point using this study.

So the doctors went back and correlated between the response to this question and the reason given for circumcision.

The "now it's worse" group contained almost all the men who were circumcised for external reasons - pressure from peers or girlfriends.

The other 2 groups contained mostly men who were circumcised because they themselves wanted it.

So the nerves between the ears are at least as important as those between the legs...

Shalom and best wishes -
Blogger Marilyndrew on Tue May 30, 01:18:00 PM:
WOW that was a lot of information. And actually made me kinda horny, at work.

I'll never have kids that I'll need to make this kind of descion myself, but I hope that more people consider these types of opinions when it comes to their own sons.
Blogger LavaLady on Thu Feb 15, 03:02:00 PM:
Thanks for a great post. I will be directing the curious to it [as I am the mother of two 'intact' boys and will share my opinion when asked] for a better (and more hands on) understanding of the issues surrounding circumcision!
Anonymous Anonymous on Mon Jan 07, 01:20:00 AM:
Hi, I'm a 23 year old white male in the US. My parents decided not to have me circumcised on recommendation from the nurses at the hospital (it was the early 80s, still some hippies.) Growing up, all of my friends were circumcised and I felt like a bit of an outsider, I was always nervous as hell that somebody would notice while I was peeing at the urinal. I was too worried about letting a girl see it during high school to have any serious relationships (after all, I had heard plenty of girls say how disgusting uncircumcised penises are, even though 99% of them had probably never seen one.) When I did finally get the balls up to tell a girl I was hooking up with, she said that she didn't know the difference, and she has never seemed to mind. Sex is phenomenal, no problems with premature ejaculation (she has multiple orgasms every time we make love) and I am extremely happy that my parents left the decision up to me. In my opinion, if there was no cultural stigma about the whole procedure, there would be no issue. I have never had any problems with infection, odor, or any of the other health problems listed by pro-circumcision advocates who are trying to defend a pointless procedure. Just my two cents.