Recently I watched a documentary on Netflix called “American Circumcision.” It was disturbing to watch because it was yet another example of how sheep-like the American people have become, myself included. I was raised Jewish so it’s not surprising that I went along with the tradition of circumcision without questioning the practice. However, after watching this program, it hurts me to think that I had a perfectly healthy part of my son’s anatomy surgically removed without a good reason, without his consent and worse of all, without anesthesia.
I learned in the film, “American Circumcision,” that in ancient time, a small portion of the foreskin was removed. Over time it became a radical surgery that involves removal of virtually all the foreskin. At some point, maybe in the 1950’s, it became common place for American boys, just a few days old, to undergo this procedure before leaving the hospital. Welcome to earth, little guy!
The foreskin is supple, loose skin that provides a protective layer of skin over a very sensitive gland. The body is not like a battery pack, where God said, “Remove this tab before use.” People are not born with extraneous parts that require removal for optimal functionality. The human body is pretty perfect as is. Most Americans would agree that female circumcision seems barbaric. It is often referred to as female genital mutilation. Why is it any different when it is done to boys? Maybe the difference is that some people think a circumcised penis looks better than an intact penis. Is that really enough reason to make it okay?
It turns out the foreskin is not a superfluous skin tag. It serves some important functions.
- The foreskin is loaded with sexual sensitivity, so much so that stimulating the foreskin with a finger can lead to orgasm. In fact, the most pleasurable part of the circumcised penis is the scar area where the foreskin used to be.
- Without the foreskin the sensitive surface of the penis can get dry from exposure and irritated from continually rubbing against clothing. Sometimes this can lead to a thickening of the skin called keratinization. This can make the penis even less sensitive to sexual stimulation. Is it any wonder why so many men have sexual dysfunction?
- The foreskin design allows the penis to glide in and out of itself requiring less lubrication, less effort, and more closeness with a partner during the sex act.
- Removal of the foreskin is a delicate and precise operation that can easily be botched causing permanent disfigurement and/or dysfunction.
So there are many reasons why an intact penis is better than a circumcised one. In addition to that, what about the trauma to the new born baby? Contrary to what was believed in the past, babies are very sensitive to pain, both physical and emotional. Strapping a baby’s arms and legs down and cutting his delicate skin is excruciating and cruel. Even if he is too young to remember, it can damage his psyche. There is no telling how this early experience might affect the boy and the man as he grows up. Some of the men interviewed for the documentary reported feeling very angry at their parents. They felt betrayed that something so personal and invasive was done to their body without their consent. A growing number of men are undergoing a process to stretch and regrow the foreskin. It takes a long time and the results are probably not as good as the original but it is better than nothing. A story was told about a man that decided to go through with the restoration process because he had so little sensitivity that he was unable to reach orgasm and he and his wife desperately wanted children. Once his foreskin was restored the sensitivity came back and they were able to conceive. Needless to say he was thrilled. He thought it was well worth the effort.
So if you are planning to have children, think about this decision carefully. Don’t believe everything that is said about the perils of keeping the foreskin. Do the research. There are plenty of perfectly healthy, intact men in Europe and other parts of the world where circumcision did not become the default procedure. Don’t do this to your son just because most Americans are doing it. He trusts you to act in his best interest. Don’t let him down.