Circumcision: Does It Matter?

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So, you’re pregnant with a boy. Brace yourself for a question you will get a lot after delivery: Will your son be circumcised? I swear anytime any medical professional came into the recovery room after I gave birth they asked me this question.  Barring religious reasons, does it really matter whether or not your son gets circumcised? Here are some of the most common factors people consider when they decide whether or not to circumcise their sons, and why it may not matter either way:

Preventing Infection

The AAP reports that circumcised boys have a lower chance of getting a potentially serious urinary tract infection during their first year than uncircumcised boys do (1 in 1,000 vs. 1 in 100). That means for either option, there’s a 1% chance or less of a UTI. Additionally, “1 to 3 percent of circumcisions will result in minor complications, such as extra bleeding or infection.” So either way, your son could get an infection.

Ease of Cleaning

If your son is not circumcised, they will have their penis cleaned when they bathe. The reason they will need their penis cleaned is because “normal secretions accumulate beneath the foreskin, requiring the foreskin to be retracted and the secretions to be gently removed.” Some may argue that circumcision is a lower maintenance choice, as their sons won’t have to worry about that. Either way, if your son does get circumcised, you will have to clean his penis until it heals.

Medically Necessary

In some cases, circumcision is medically necessary. “As your child grows and begins getting normal erections (typically by age 1), the foreskin gradually completely retracts. The foreskin is usually completely retractable by three to four years of age. Rarely, the foreskin does not retract or actually tightens, which obstructs the flow of urine. In this case, a circumcision is medically necessary.”

In other cases, choosing not to circumcise is also necessary.  “Baby boys with hypospadias (a condition where the opening of the urethra, the tube that empties urine, is in the wrong place) should not be circumcised, because a surgeon may eventually use the boy’s foreskin for a reconstructive procedure.”


Sexual Pleasure

Yes, you read that right.  Some argue against circumcision because the penis will have less sexual sensitivity (which is different than satisfaction). However, it’s impossible to study the difference in sexual sensitivity for men who are circumcised at birth, because how would they know anything different? The few studies that have been done are when men are circumcised as adults, and the results are inconclusive:  “some find intercourse better afterward, some describe it as worse, and the vast majority say it is pretty much the same as before.”

So I guess that doesn’t matter either.

Social Acceptance

Some people worry that their son will feel ostracized if his penis is different from all of the other boys in the locker room. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, “Across the 32-year period from 1979 through 2010, the national rate of newborn circumcision declined 10% overall, from 64.5% to 58.3%.” Assuming the trend continues downward, this means that it could be a 50/50 split pretty soon.  Not to mention the fact that “the increased proportion of black and Hispanic births in the U.S. affects rates, because these groups are less likely to circumcise.”

Either way, your son is probably going to be different from some others in the locker room.

Matching Daddy

As my husband and I were asking around for reasons why people choose to circumcise their sons or not, the ultimate factor was that they wanted their son’s penis to match daddy’s. Which makes sense, because the dad has probably been satisfied with his penis, whether it was circumcised or not, and he would like his son to have the same experience.

But isn’t it weird to think that this “tradition” is passed down when maybe a generation or two back there was a break in the chain because of medical necessity? Or maybe generations back the decision was based on a religion with which the family no longer affiliates? And honestly, how many times is your son going to be comparing his penis to his dad’s? I’m thinking the only time it’s going to come up is during potty training.

If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of circumcision, I found the following articles helpful:

What do you think? Barring religious reasons or the statistically small “medically necessary” reasons listed above, does it really matter whether or not your son gets circumcised?