To Circumcise or Not?

No pictures for this post. You can google it if you want.

You may remember that my wife and I had a son. That brings with it the heady decision of whether or not you will circumcise your boy.

Here in Europe, it’s not really a common practise, but in the US where I’m from it’s done routinely. It is also common in many of the world’s religions, particularly the Jewish and Muslim faiths, and to a lesser extent the Christian faith which is based from Judaism.

I was on the fence about this for quite a while, and my wife was as well. She told me that she’d support my decision either way, so I had to do a lot of research.

I consulted a priest friend of mine, and he said that there really isn’t any religious reason to do it, and the Catholic Church is ambivalent towards the practise – they do not provide guidance in either direction. While I’m not practising myself, I thought I’d still try to find out what their stance was but since they haven’t got one I’d had to do more research.

I started to look at potential health benefits. Most of the major literature suggested (until recently, more in a second) that there was very little health benefit to it, but there were some minor hygienic benefits. However, more recently, “meta-studies” (studies which examine the data from previous studies to draw conclusions) have started to show that there may be some health benefits as well. These include slightly reduced risk of transmission for STIs/STDs, and also reduced incidences of penile cancer in men and HPV-related cancers in the man’s female partners.

However – the data was still not that much in the way of a difference, and still only based on meta-studies. If I had to put it at a ratio of additional benefits to the possibility of no additional benefits, I would put it at roughly 51/49 in favour of doing it. Add to that any aesthetic benefits (not for us obviously, but for him and possibly others in the future) and the minuscule risk of something going wrong during the procedure, I came out in favour of doing it.

We had it done here at home with Dr. Malik, whom we highly recommend.

It’s been four days now, and while the little guy still has a day or two to heal, he wasn’t in any real pain (he found being held down more discomforting than the actual procedure). My wife and I were there during the procedure, and actually assisted. The method used, Plastibell, requires some work on our part (salt baths twice a day) but it will be a clean and healthy result.

It really was a tough decision – but given what I’ve learned about the possibility of slight health benefits I know it was the right decision. It’s tough to think about surgical procedures for your children, but if it gives him even the slightest advantage in the future it is worth it.