NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF ROUTINE INFANT CIRCUMCISION
by Wayne Hampton

19 November 1994

This document discusses routine neonatal circumcision from the negativepoint of view, because there are no good reasons to subject an infant to this unnecessary and painful procedure.

	"There is no absolute medical indication for routine
circumcision of the newborn."
Report of the Ad Hoc Task Force on Circumcision
Pediatrics, v56 #4, October 1975, p610-611

	"My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another
son would be to leave his little penis alone."
Dr. Benjamin Spock, Redbook, April 1989

	"The ... doctors who still perform circumcision are violating
the first rule of good medicine -- primum non nocere --
first, do no harm. Few ... really understand what they are
doing when they amputate the foreskin, for they have never
studied how the penis develops before birth. Since the penis
is used for procreation only a few times in the entire life
of the individual, sexual pleasure must also be one of its
major functions, and the foreskin is an integral part of that
sexual pleasure."
George Denniston, MD,
University of Washington
School of Medicine

	"Whatever is done to stop the terrible practice of
circumcision will be of tremendous importance. There is no
rational medical reason to support it."
Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author, Birth Without Violence
Therefore, the reasons often given to justify it are mentioned below only with the intention of rebutting them. The onus of proof that such a procedure is justifiable rests on the shoulders of those who propose and perform the surgery. Nonetheless, rather than risk leaving parents uninformed, this paper seeks to show that routine circumcision is not well supported by medical evidence, and that it bears serious risks, and that it can cause long term sexual impairment. The American Academy of Pediatrics says:

	"...the procedure has potential medical benefits and
advantages, as well as inherent disadvantages and risks."
AAP Press Release, March 6, 1989
Note that the benefits and advantages are only "potential", while the disadvantages and risks are "inherent". In other words, all circumcised babies suffer the inherent disadvantages and risks, while some may receive potential benefits. One of those disadvantages is severe pain, which is directly contradictory to the whole notion of birth without violence.

	"...no one is aware of the deep implications and life-lasting
effect (of circumcision). The torture is experienced in a
state of total helplessness which makes it even more
frightening and unbearable."
Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author, Birth Without Violence

	"...(From) the very beginning of life, a child's sexuality is
an integral part of its being. In my opinion, any crippling
interference with childrens' normal bodily functions is a
form of emotional as well as physical abuse."
Mary Calderone, MD, MPH, Fetal Erection and its Message
to Us, SEICUS Report, May-July 1983. p9-10.

	"All that takes place in the first days of life on the
emotional level shapes the pattern of all future reactions.
How could a being aggressed in this way, while totally
helpless, develop into a relaxed, trusting person?"
Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author, Birth Without Violence

	"The consequences for impaired bonding are significant."
Dr. Rima Laibow, MD, Circumcision and its Relationship
to Attachment Impairment, Second International Symposium
on Circumcision, April 1991

	"All of the western world raises its children uncircumcised
and it seems logical that, with the extent of health knowledge
in those countries, such a practice must be safe."
C. Everett Koop, MD, Former Surgeon General of the US
Saturday Evening Post, July 1982
Although the "circumcision decision" will likely be thrust upon new parents in the US, this is the exception, rather than the rule in the worldwide context. Most parents in the world do not have to face this question, and there is growing concern that just asking the question contravenes laws in various states preventing solicitation for unnecessary surgery. The US is the only industrialized nation that still circumcises a (slight: 60%) majority of its baby boys. However it should be clear already from the quotations above that the practice does not enjoy unanimous support from the medical community. In the absence of such unanimity, the best advice for expectant parents would be to go with their hearts in the near universal desire of parents to protect their children from pain and harm, and to not make a permanent mistake with their sons, but rather to react to problems when and if they arise.

However, this paper should not be taken as medical advice. It is only a compilation of facts and opinions from various sources. Medical advice must be sought from a qualified practitioner. Also, this document is about "routine" circumcision of infants and children, that is - without medical indication. While the same risks and problems may occur with circumcisions performed to treat some diagnosed problem, when it is done as a result of medical necessity at least the risks and problems have been offset by some explicitly expected benefit.

REASONS GIVEN FOR ROUTINE INFANT CIRCUMCISION
BY THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS

The following benefits were listed in the AAP's latest (1989) press release regarding circumcision. It must be borne in mind that the policy statements of the AAP seek to justify an income producing procedure for their membership.

-Urinary Tract Infections(UTI's)-

The AAP noted that a study had been published that found a higher incidence of UTI's among uncircumcised babies. Then they admit the study was flawed. They go on to say that "...in the absence of well-designed prospective studies, conclusions regarding the relationship of urinary tract infection to circumcision are tentative." It makes you wonder why they would mention such a study at all when they themselves admit that the study was flawed and shows only association, not that foreskin causes a problem. In any case, other studies [Altschul, Am Fam Physician v41 #3, March 1990 p817-821] have failed to confirm the results. The bottom line:

	"The diagnoses and [antimicrobial] management of UTI in
infants and children are usually routine and outcome is
generally good. Because the long term outcome of UTI in
uncircumcised male infants is unknown, it is inappropriate
at this time to recommend circumcision as a routine
medically indicated procedure"
George H. McCracken, MD, Options in Antimicrobial
management of UTI's in Infants and Children, Ped Inf
Dis J v8 #8, 1989.

"Submitting your son to the procedure to prevent urinary tract
infections makes only a little more sense than buying
insurance against being gored by a unicorn in Riverside."
Eugene Robin, MD, Stanford University Medical School
San Francisco Examiner, November 5, 1987. p.E-5.
-Cancer of the Penis-

This cancer affects elderly men with a history of poor hygiene, to the extent that the rate in the US is about 1:100000. Unfortunately for those advocating circumcision as a preventative measure, this rate is about the same as the penile cancer rate in Scandinavia, and higher than the Japanese rate. These other countries do not practice routine circumcision, yet most American males have been circumcised. If circumcision was preventative, we should see an improvement over these foreign rates. But we do not.

	"To me, the idea of performing 100,000 mutilative procedures
on newborns to possibly prevent cancer in one elderly man
is absurd."
George Denniston, MD, Unnecessary Circumcision
The Female Patient, p14, July 1992
-Sexually Transmitted Diseases-

Here is the full text on this issue from the AAP's 1989 press release:

	"Evidence regarding the relationship of circumcision to
sexually transmitted diseases is conflicting. Although
published reports suggest that canchroid, syphilis, human
papillomavirus and herpes simplex virus type 2 infection are
more frequent in uncircumcised men, methodologic problems
render these reports inconclusive."
Again we have material presented by the AAP, only to be denied. Why?

Since 1989 circumcision has been proposed as a means of lowering the spread of AIDS. However, letís look at the situation around us. The US has a virtual epidemic of AIDS, in a population that has its majority of males circumcised. What does that say about the effectiveness of circumcision as a preventative for AIDS? People would be better advised to save the money they would have spent on circumcision and invest it for their children to buy condoms with instead.

-Cervical Cancer-

Here is the full text on this issue from the AAP's 1989 press release:

	"Evidence linking uncircumcised men to cervical carcinoma
is also inconclusive, the statement notes. However, an
increased incidence of cancer of the cervix has been found in
sexual partners of uncircumcised men infected with human
papillomavirus.

The strongest predisposing factors in cervical cancer are
a history of intercourse at an early age and multiple sex partners."
Even assuming surgery on one individual to protect another unknown one from cancer made any kind of sense, it is clear that HPV is the culprit, not the presence of foreskin. Again, why was inconclusive research even mentioned? It is kind of like the tabloid trick of using a headline like "Elvis Spotted in Dallas", so you buy it, then you find out that it was a picture of Elvis on some truck dashboard. Misleading, but lucrative.

The above are the only circumcision-positive arguments presented in the AAPís 1989 press release under their own headings, all of them refuted to some degree within the very document listing them. The conclusion also mentions circumcision as a prevention for phimosis, paraphimosis, and balano-posthitis. However, these problems involve the foreskin directly, so circumcision prevents these problems in the same way as pulling teeth would prevent cavities. None of these problems are themselves life threatening, and they can often be dealt with in non-surgical ways.

Phimosis, is a condition that occurs when the opening of the foreskin is too small to permit the glans to be uncovered painlessly. This problem cannot be diagnosed in infancy because the foreskin is immovable in early infancy. In Europe, the first treatments involve gentle stretching, sometimes combined with steroid creams. Para-phimosis is a similar problem except that when the foreskin is retracted the opening is tight enough to restrict blood flow to and from the glans. It is treatable in the some way as phimosis is. Balano- posthitis is an infection of the glans and foreskin which is normally treatable with antibiotics. Surgery should be a last resort, not an initial treatment.

OTHER COMMON REASONS FOR CIRCUMCISION

-Hygiene-

Some seem to be frightened about the prospect of cleaning a baby's penis. Cleaning a baby's penis is easy. Just wash the outside, and do not forcibly retract the foreskin. As the foreskin becomes naturally retractable during childhood, rinsing under it will suffice. Boys can be taught to do this themselves before they enter school. Cleaning a circumcised adult penis is slightly easier than cleaning an intact one. And cleaning an intact one is easier than cleaning female genitalia. This is a poor argument for painful surgery.

	"Isn't it insulting to the average male's intelligence to
think that surgery is preferable because he can't be entrusted
with washing his genitals when somehow he manages to brush his
teeth, clean his ears and blow his nose?"
Louanne Cole, Ph.D. Sexologist
San Francisco Examiner, pB-7, August 11, 1993.

"If a 30 year old male began to bathe himself at the age of
five, and, if he spend 20 seconds a day retracting and
rinsing under his foreskin, he will have invested 50 hours
of his life in penile hygiene...This whole exercise has made
me, as a circumcised male closer to age 60 than 30, wonder
just what I've accomplished with my 'gift' of nearly 100 hours
of spared time. Upon reflection, I'd like to think that I've
invested those hours in the writing of this book!"
James Bigelow, Ph.D, author of The Joy of
Uncircumcising! ISBN 0-9630482-1-X
-Cosmetic-

It is not unreasonable that many Health Care Insurers in the US consider circumcision a cosmetic procedure, and refuse to pay for it. Some of the commonest reasons for having it done are: "So he'll look like his Daddy", and "So he won't look different in the locker room." But the most visible difference between a father and son is pubic hair. Should all fathers shave themselves to look like their sons? And in California the majority of newborn boys are not being circumcised, so keeping a son intact would be a safer bet here these days. This argument seeks to save a child from the psychological harm of being different, and perhaps being teased. However there are always differences between individuals, and psychological harm can result from the circumcision itself (below).

Routine circumcision was stopped in Great Britain in 1949. In the few years following, cosmetically generated problems would have had a chance to flourish. Strangely, no papers were published about the traumatic impacts on British youth as a consequence. This problem appears to be overblown.

-Religious-

There are many religions in the world today. Some rejoice in the intact body, for example Taoism and Buddhism. Some require bodily alterations, such as male or female circumcision, subincision, hemi- castration, infibulation, tribal marking, etc. Many require no such payment for membership. Some religions have adapted away from activities that today would seem anachronistic, such as blood sacrifice and sealing a betrothal by intercourse with 3 year olds. Today, there are those within the circumcising religious communities who are looking at circumcision as yet another anachronism. Moslem scholars point out that Mohammed never commanded Muslims to circumcise. Jews sometimes replace brit millah with brit shalom, a bloodless baby naming ceremony.

Membership in a religion is not an immunization from problems resulting from activities like circumcision. The percentage of Jews in the National Organization of Restoring Men exceeds the fraction of Jews in the general population by several times. Religions parents who are concerned about the various negatives surrounding circumcision might seek information from the Circumcision Resource Center, PO Box 232, Boston MA 02133, which specializes in religious issues.

RISKS OF CIRCUMCISION

	"Although hemorrhage and sepsis are the main causes of
morbidity, the variety of complications is enormous. The
literature abounds with reports of morbidity and even death
as a result of circumcision."
Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision,
Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
-Pain-

On November 19, 1987 Anand and Hickey published a comprehensive study of infant pain in the New England Journal of Medicine. Not surprisingly much of the data came from infants undergoing circumcision. The study states that babies do feel severe pain from the procedure, in fact more than older children and adults would. The study recommends anaesthesia and pain management for circumcision, but these recommendations have not been widely implemented due to the added risks. The report also mentions (on p.1324) that even when anaesthesia is attempted, it is not always successful.

In a more recent study researchers comment on the use of Tylenol:

	"The pain of circumcision is too severe to be controlled
by a mild analgesic", they concluded, even though most
circumcisions in the United States are done without
pain killers. Babies do experience great and persistent
pain during and after the surgery, based on crying,
increased heart and breathing rates and other measurements,
which also seems to interfere with breastfeeding in some
babies.
Pediatrics, April 4, 1994
Surely the benefit of this procedure would have to be great to permit such systematic torture of tiny babies! And it is. Doctors can charge up to $300 for the procedure in Los Angeles.

-Hemorrhage-

Excessive bleeding is one of the two most frequent complications, after pain. While usually managed within a hospital setting, it can require transfusions, with the attendant blood supply risks for HIV and other disease organisms. However, sometimes babies die as a result, such as the baby mentioned in the Des Moines (Iowa) Register which reported on November 20, 1982 the bleeding death of an infant following circumcision. Another similar incident was reported in the June 26, 1993 issue of the Miami Herald.

-Infection-

	"Infection occurs after circumcision in up to 10% of
patients."
Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision
Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
Infection is the other of the two most frequent medical complications, after pain. Again death is not common, but it can be the result, as can a range of other problems. For example, in 1986 the circumcision of a baby born in Alaska resulted in severe infection and toxic shock. The baby sustained profound brain damage and kidney damage. He was blinded, and will likely never walk or talk. The legal matters have been delayed because the hospital "lost" his records.

Hemorrhage and infection are the only known physical complications of circumcision that may result in death. When Britain abolished routine neonatal circumcision in 1949, one of the reasons cited was the high death rate. While opinions vary about what death rates might be acceptable for necessary procedures, there is little agreement on acceptable death rates for unnecessary procedures. Some believe in "zero tolerance", while others believe that any practice must do more good than harm (on average). Circumcision has never been shown to do more good than harm, and it is scant comfort to a parent whose child dies as a result of any unnecessary procedure that "on average" it might be beneficial.

	"It is an incontestable fact at this point that there are more
deaths each year from complications of circumcision than from
cancer of the penis."
S Gellis, MD, Circumcision
Am J Dis Ch, v132 #12 December 1978. p1168.
-Surgical Errors-

	"The nature of circumcision dictates that errors of omission
and commission, i.e.: too little or too much, in assessing how
much foreskin to remove are likely to happen, and one of the
commonest complaints is of an unsatisfactory cosmetic result."
Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision
Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
Such errors range from the slipped scalpel that cost a Marin County baby the tip of his penis in May 1993 (as reported July 8th in the Bay Area Reporter), to the two boys who lost their entire penis during circumcision in November 1985 at Atlanta's Northside Hospital, as reported by the East Cobb Neighbor. But those are rare and extreme examples. It is much more common for too much skin to be taken off, ranging from total denudation of the penis which requires skin grafting, to merely chronic painful erections for the rest of the patient's life, and possible bowing and curvatures resulting from uneven pull of the remaining skin. The Williams and Kapila paper is replete with descriptions of surgical mishap. Another good reference with plenty of gory pictures is: Pediatric Trauma, ed. Robert J. Toulakian MD, Yale University School of Medicine, publ. John Wiley & Sons.

-Healing Problems-

The healing process does not always go smoothly. Commonly reported problems with the healing of circumcisions are:

	skin tags - irregular bits of left over skin at the scar site.
skin bridges - which occur when the raw edge of the cut
foreskin joins up with the glans. This can occur because
when the foreskin is peeled away from the glans during
circumcision, the glans surface becomes one large open
wound, which permits the raw edge of the foreskin to
join with it. The results range from aesthetic problems
to painful erections and bowing and curvatures.
prominent scarring - which result from keloid formations at
the incision. This is the most common physical
complaint.
stitch tunnels - can arise when sutures are necessary to
control bleeding, or when circumcision occurs after
infancy. Small holes and loops of skin are a common
result.
glans pitting - as the foreskin is peeled away from the glans
preparatory to the circumcision, sometimes bits of the
glans come off, leaving indentations in the glans.
miscellaneous - Other problems such as iatrogenic phimosis,
and granulomas and cysts (small benign tumors which are
sometimes painful caused by foreign matter getting into
the incision during the operation) have been reported.
-Aesthetic Problems-

Men have reported dissatisfaction regarding the appearance of their circumcisions in a landmark survey "Awakenings" published by NO HARMM in 1994. A common complaint is the ugliness of the scar area itself which is often characterized (in Caucasians) by a dark brown ring created by the crush of the circumcision clamp. Other men complain that circumcision itself is unnatural by world standards of appearance, and that they have therefore been disfigured. However aesthetic problems, and dissatisfied "customers" are not usually recognized as complications by the medical profession. Nonetheless parents should not assume they do their children a favor on this score.

-Psychological Problems-

	"Any surgical interference with the child's body may serve as
a focal point for the activation, reactivation, grouping and
rationalization of ideas of being attacked, overwhelmed, or
castrated."
Anna Freud, The Role of Bodily Illnesses in the Mental
Life of Children, Int'l University Press, 1952. p75.

	"Institutionalized child abuse like circumcision, which in
this country legitimizes the sexual abuse of about 60% of male
infants, is in my opinion, one of the primary causes of
unconscious male rage and violence."
Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D., Male Privilege or Privation?
ReSource, Summer 1992, p1.

"The most important influence on violence is experience. The
way in which people are treated in infancy and childhood has a
great deal to do with how they treat others."
Dorothy Otnow Lewis, MD, A Touch for Evil
Boston Globe Magazine, July 7, 1991. p12.

"Circumcision is perceived by the child as an aggressive
attack on his body, which damaged, mutilated and in some cases
totally destroyed him. The feeling of 'I am now castrated'
seems to prevail in the psychic world of the child. As a
result he feels inadequate helpless and functions less
efficiently."
Cansever G, Psychological Effects of Circumcision
Br J Med Psychology 1965, #38 p321-331.

"...immediately after the anaesthesia wore off, he said over
and over: 'They cut my penis. I wish I were dead'. The rest of
the day the patient never left the mother's side. Thereafter
his previous temper tantrums developed into destructive rages.
During the treatment he played numerous killing games, in
which his father was the principle victim. The operation
represented a castration by his father."
Levy D M, Psychic Trauma of Operations in Children
Am J Dis Ch January 1945, 69 (1) p7-25.

"(Sexual) abuse seems to be a biology altering experience. It
changes the brain's stress response system." Putnam said, and
Teicher added that brain wave differences between abused and
non-abused are as significant as "between normal people and
those who have Alzheimer's disease or schizophrenia."
USA Today, May 24, 1994.
There is a wide range of reactions males can have as a result of their circumcisions. Many men choose to ignore it. Many men cannot. The Levy study quoted above conclusively linked circumcision to suicidal thoughts and feelings. We'll never know the rate of suicides successfully completed in response to circumcision.

The incidence of psychological harm has never been scientifically researched, despite the clear indications of possible harm, and the ongoing creation of new victims each and every day.

The NO HARMM "Awakenings" survey found the following statistics among men who had asked NORM for foreskin restoration information. This sample does not represent American society at large, so results are only indicative for this group of men. However, they reveal the character of the undercurrent.

        Feeling         % of Survey
---------------------------
dissatisfaction 69
resentment 60
anger 54
frustration 53
betrayal 33.9
mutilated 62
rights violated 60
"raped" 49.5

Percent claiming some form of emotional harm: 83%.
Another unofficial circumcision poll taken on the Internet the Fall of 1994 found 21% of its approximately 100 respondents complaining of some form of harm. Presumably these men are unhappy with their circumcisions.

Another survey undertaken by Journeyman Magazine in 1992 found in an open, but self-selected survey:

 Status        Glad    Dissatisfied
------ ---- ------------
Circumcised 38% 20%
Intact 78% 3%

Circumcised men who had conflicting feelings about what had been
done to their genitals: 41%.
There is ample reason to be concerned about the effect of circumcision on the minds of its recipients.

DISADVANTAGES OF CIRCUMCISION

Disadvantages consequential to neonatal circumcision may be evident at various times in life. The following problems can occur within the first few years of life.

-Bonding Impairment-

	"Neonatal bonding affects every male infant, while penile
pathology affects few."
Dozor, Robert, MD, Routine Neonatal Circumcision
Am Fam Physician v41 #3, March 1990, p820-822
	"Circumcision performed in the neonatal period is associated
with marked behavioral changes that may last up to 24 hours.
... Allied to this is a change in sleep pattern with prolonged
non-rapid eye movement sleep. This change has been interpreted
as consistent with a theory of conservation - withdrawal to
stressful stimulation."
Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision,
Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
A layman would say that the babies just "pass out". An unconscious baby is not in a bonding situation. And the lingering pain can have other effects as well. Imagine what happens when a new mother picks up her newly circumcised baby, perhaps to breastfeed. The baby's wounded penis, perhaps with a disposable clamp still attached, is pressed between himself and his mother. He screams in pain. Association of mother with pain is not the kind of bonding that serves us well.

-Meatal Stenosis-

	"Meatal stenosis is generally a direct consequence of
circumcision that is seldom encountered in uncircumcised men.
...The incidence of meatal ulceration following circumcision
is from 8 to 20%."
Williams and Kapila, Complications of Circumcision,
Brit J Surg v80, Oct 1993, p1231-1236.
Meatal stenosis is the narrowing of the urinary opening as a result of ulcerations at the opening, which are made possible by the removal of the protective foreskin. The ulcerations can cause considerable discomfort to the baby, and serious stenosis may require surgery to reopen the meatus.

-Non Specific Urethritis-

Since the opening to the urethra is exposed by the removal of the foreskin, it is easier for irritating chemicals, such as soap, to get to the sensitive urethra, causing pain. This affects males and females of all ages, but circumcision makes it worse for males.

Later in life the sexual disadvantages of circumcision may become apparent.

-Excessive Tightness-

Being circumcised too tightly was the second commonest physical complaint mentioned in the NO HARMM survey. It affects the sexual enjoyment of both men and women. Some men with this condition suffer from bent erections. Some men circumcised too tightly report painful erections and painful intercourse with bleeding from the scar site or tears elsewhere. Women complain of painful intercourse due to what they interpret as insufficient lubrication. However as a gentleman recently pointed out on the Internet:

> Message-ID: < CyAHyw.3Dt@news.cis.umn.edu>

> My gf prefers my uncut penis to the other, cut peni that she's made the
> acquaintance of, because, as she puts it "It works better. It's
> easier to bring you to orgasm, and it's a lot less hassle." This is
> because the foreskin acts as a linear bearing (why yes, I'm an
> engineering geek, how did you guess? :) ). It simply works as a penis
> should, as it evolved to work, and hacking bits off doesn't improve on
> the original design.

	"Circumcised males sometimes need an additional lubricant
(e.g. Lubrin suppository, KY jelly) for non-irritating
intercourse. The sheath within a sheath of the normal penis
obviates such a need."
Thomas J. Ritter, MD, Say No to Circumcision!
ISBN 0-9630482-0-1
And it gets worse later in life.

	"Certainly atrophic vaginitis secondary to estrogen withdrawal
is the most important factor in the production of dyspareunia
(painful intercourse), but one would be foolish to discount
the circumcised man's immobile penile skin sheath as
contributing to abrasive vaginal discomfort."
Thomas J. Ritter, MD, Say No to Circumcision!
ISBN 0-9630482-0-1

"The foreskin of the male has a very definite physiological
function which is more apparent to the man over fifty. At some
time after this age, depending on his sexual equipment, the
erection is not so rigid as it was in the earlier years. After
45, the vaginal secretion in the wife is never so abundant as
it was before the climacteric. Under these conditions the
foreskin acts as an introducer which definitely facilitates
intercourse."
David S. Hillis, MD, Concerning Circumcision
Archives of Pediatrics v57. p525.
So women should not blame themselves for insufficient lubrication, but rather the doctors of their circumcised males.

	"I became obsessed with the idea that my boyfriend should be
circumcised. We were very happy together, and much in common,
and best of all we were very compatible in bed. But I refused
to get married until he was circumcised -- and he gave in.

That little operation completely destroyed our life together.
Before he had fabulous staying power, but after the operation
he would have an orgasm in five minutes and leave me high and
dry. To make things worse, sex became very painful to me.
Twice I had to see a doctor due to minor infections from the
chafing. Our beautiful sexual togetherness became a nightmare
of staying creams, lubricants and frustrations

He says he will never forgive me, and we no longer speak to
each other...but I cannot forget what a stupid mistake I made
which altered the life of a lovely person."
Carolyn LaRoc, letter to Playgirl, February 1975
This letter alludes to another benefit of foreskin. An intact male with a sufficiently loose foreskin can glide in and out of his own sheath more or less during intercourse by varying the length of his stroke. The foreskin provides less stimulation, so a man can extend the time taken during intercourse by such a technique, generating greater and longer pleasure in the female.

-Insufficient Sensitivity-

There are two sensitivity problems for the circumcised man. First he has lost the nerves in the foreskin itself.

	"Much of the primary erotic stimulus comes from the skin . . .
two types of erogenous zones exist in the skin: specific and
nonspecific...the non-specific regions perceive simply an
exaggerated form of tickle...it is the specific regions
when one speaks of erotic sensations originating in the skin.
The specific type of erogenous zones are found in the
mucutaneous regions which include the prepuce. This anatomy
favors acute perceptions. The rete ridges are well formed
and more of the organized nerve tissue rises higher (than in
other skin-type regions). In the prepuce the mucocutaneous
end-organs extend from the distal margin (tip) of the prepuce
down to the site (on the shaft) at which the hairy skin
begins, at which point they diminish and disappear."
R. K. Winkelmann, The Erogenous Zones: Their Nerve
Supply and Significance, Mayo Clinic, 1959
And his exposed glans has thickened from years of abrasion, dramatically reducing sensitivity. This was the commonest form of sexual impairment noted by respondents to the NO HARMM survey. Again the effect is more pronounced in older males, although loss of pleasure occurs at every age.

	"During a boy's growth the foreskin protects the sensitive
glans. Normally the surface of the glans is composed of a
smooth, glistening membrane only a few cells in thickness. The
surface cells are alive, and the naked nerve endings are
distributed among these cells. After circumcision, when the
glans is exposed to soiled diapers and rough clothing, this
membrane becomes ten times thicker, and the free nerve endings
disappear. The surface becomes covered with an adherent layer
of dead cells, rough, dry and insensitive."
John M. Foley, MD, The Unkindest Cut of All
Fact, 1966
Sexual studies have not been able to discover a significant difference in time-to-ejaculation between circumcised and intact males, in a clinical setting. However, with the differences in sensitivity cited above, it follows that even in such a contrived situation the uncircumcised man feels more, and therefore obtains more pleasure.

ETHICS

It is clear that no baby in history, female or male has ever consented to their circumcision. "Informed consent" is a meaningless term for them. And by their screams they tell us as eloquently as they can to stop it.

Some people have trouble with "ethics", beyond what they learn in Sunday school. But most people can recognize certain values when they hear them. Let's look at some in a special way that highlights what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance" -- when the mind and reality do not match up -- as they relate to circumcision. Nearly everybody will be able to relate to the ethical principles below, while understanding what happens in real life that violates the principles:

"We hope our baby doesn't have any birth defects."
except for aposthia (lack of foreskin) which we would sort of like.

"We'd never submit our baby to a surgical procedure without a diagnosis."
except for circumcision, which doctors let us decide about.

"It is not OK to hurt babies."
except when they 'have to be' circumcised.

"We'd never unnecessarily place our baby at risk of infection or injury."
except to get him circumcised.

"We'd never permit healthy tissue to be removed from our baby."
unless it is his foreskin.

"It is our job to protect our baby from pain."
except from his circumcision.

"We must aid and comfort our baby when he is injured."
except during his circumcision which we'll pretend doesn't hurt.

"We'd never take the easy way out of caring for our baby."
unless it is a boy. Then we'll have his penis altered so we
won't have to take care of the great unknown: foreskin.

"We'd never allow anything to impair our baby's bonding with his mother."
except for the pain of circumcision.

"We want our baby to grow up happy with his body."
but we'll jeopardize his self-esteem by cutting the center of
his male body image: his penis.

"We'd never let our child feel robbed of something if we could prevent it."
except for his foreskin which we hold to be worthless
(and we don't care what he might think).

"We'd never place our child at a disadvantage where he could be ridiculed."
except we'll alter his penis so it doesn't look like or function
like the vast majority in the world.

"We wouldn't want our baby to doubt our commitment to him."
but we'll let a stranger cut off his foreskin, and we'll let
him grow up knowing that we couldn't or wouldn't protect him
from this invasion of his body.

"We'd never do anything to make our baby doubt our love."
except we'll have part of his body destroyed by circumcision.

"We'd never do anything to our baby just because it was done to us."
except we'll circumcise him so he'll be just like his Daddy.

"We don't hold with tribal markings just to make children feel part of a clan as they do in primitive cultures."
except we'll circumcise our boys in the (vain) hope that they'll
all look alike in the locker room.

"We would not compromise our baby just to bend to societal pressures."
except we'll circumcise him because the grandparents expect it,
and what would the neighbors say?

"We'd never impose our will on our child against his future wishes."
except we'll rush to circumcise him before he can even
formulate his wishes.

"We'd never compromise our baby's future happiness."
but we will remove an erogenous part of his body.

"We'd never make an irreversible decision to alter our child's appearance in a way he might one day regret, such as tattooing."
unless it is to alter the appearance of his penis in a way -we- want.

"We want our baby to grow up a -human- being."
but we'll teach him, by circumcising him, that human rights
don't amount to much.

"We'll love our baby in all his glory."
except for his foreskin which we'll have cut off and thrown
in the trash.

"God made our baby with love, care and wisdom."
except for his penis which needs to be 'fixed'.

"We hold that all parts of our baby's body are sacred."
except for his foreskin which is ours to alter as we will.

"It is wrong to deprive someone of a healthy part of their body."
unless it is the male foreskin. And, if you live in North
Africa, a girl's clitoris and labia minora.

As you can see, circumcision breaks a lot of "rules" and generally accepted principles. Let's stop breaking them. Ethics had better supersede "Big Medicine" or we are all in big big trouble. Without ethical prevention, nothing prevents the introduction of female circumcision or any other intrusive thing that comes along that looks like it might prevent disease.

	"It is high time that such a barbaric practice comes to an
end."
Dr. Frederick Leboyer, author, Birth Without Violence

Circumcision Issues Page | Foreskin Restoration