Friday, October 22, 2010

Explaining circumcision

As a Mom/Baby nurse, it's my unfortunate duty to ask parents if they want their boys to be circumcised. The "circ trays" are prepared during the night shift, so we need an accurate count so we can be ready, and the docs know how many need to be done.

I do not believe in the circumcision of infants. I don't believe in doing cosmetic surgery on a person without their consent. So this part of my job kinda sucks.

I found myself in an interesting situation with some parents who were Indian. From what I've seen, most people from India don't circumcise. But these two had no idea what I was talking about; I don't think they'd ever heard the term.

So I tried to explain it as unbiasedly as possible: "Circumcision is the removal of the skin at the tip of the penis for cultural or cosmetic reasons." Nice and simple. And judging by the looks on the parents' faces, completely horrifying.

You could see the question in their eyes. "Why would someone do that?!"

I then went on to say that most Indian parents choose not to circumcise, and they looked relieved and said, "No, I don't think he will be wanting it."

Just another day in the life....


  1. We do get little boys in the ER with UTIs because they are not circumcised and very dirty in there. (I've never seen one in a little guy who was.) I think it's most important to teach the parents how to clean in there - I show them and they look at me like it's the first time this has been done! Yikes!


    1. Never ever retract the foreskin, that's what will CAUSE those infections because it's SUPPOSED TO BE FUSED TO KEEP BACTERIA OUT. If intact, don't retract, wipe like a finger (outside only) and if necessary give a warm bath to soak in.

    2. Are you serious? You are NOT supposed to clean under a young child's foreskin - medical organisations around the world, and even pseudo-medical organisations like the AAP make this clear. You are obviously lying too, as all of my family have our whole penises and we never had UTIs. You're only supposed to clean underneath when the boy can naturally retract his penis - forcing retraction can cause pain and damage.


    3. No, you should never retract the foreskin of an infant or small child. THE FIRST PERSON WHO SHOULD RETRACT THE FORESKIN IS THE BOY, HIMSELF. It is fused to the glans and can cause injury to the glans and foreskin if forcefully retracted. Please stop doing this to little boys, and do your own research on how to care for the uncut penis. You have been giving irresponsible, dangerous advice to parents.

  2. This is a sore subject with me. I have been meaning to blog on it for a while and actually have a blog entry sitting in the wings.

    North America (apart from societies for religious reason) is the ONLY place circs are done wholesale.

    No matter what "incidents" quoted by those nurses in ER that see UTIs...that STILL is not a reason to do a wholesale circ.

    Likewise, there should be no "cleaning" under the foreskin done until the skin seperates on its own - which can mean up to 5 yrs of age. Many infections occur because some well-meaning grandma *tries* to clean under the foreskin by forcing its retraction. Pushing the foreskin back too early can damage it and cause scar tissue to form. Use soap and water on the outside until it seperates on its own.

    We don't lop off children's ears just because they don't clean them and they get ear that argument doesn't hold water.

    I have heard MDs tell the moms that it doesn't hurt the baby when a circ is done. That is an outright lie. A baby is a human being and any type of surgery will hurt.

    I know an MD that botched so many circs the Medical association finally sent him somewhere to learn how to do it.

    There are risks after surgery - and bleeding to death, although uncommon, is possible. I know of several instances in my province.

    There is nothing wrong with the uncircumcised penis. North America has to get used to that thought. Europe was smart when they turned down America's attempt to have them follow suit with circs way back when...

  3. At my hospital, it's definitely not done as a matter of course. We ask mom and dad if they want it done. If they say no, we mark it in the chart and that's the end of it. If they say yes, we mark it in the chart and put it on the list of circs to be done.

    Granted, my hospital has a very multicultural patient population, so I'm actually seeing more people skipping the circ than having it done to their sons.

    Makes me happy :)

    1. I'm in Northern Ontario and we were never told about the procedure or offered it before or after our son's birth. And hospitals will only circumcise baby's if there is a health need.
      My husband wanted our son circumcised so I looked into it (I'm white but didn't know what circ. was).
      Needless to say I told hubby no and made him educate himself as to what happens (and happened to him).
      Our baby boy has a normal penis and he loves it! Well, I guess he isn't a baby anymore but he's my baby! Lol!

    2. If it makes you happy when it's not requested, presumably it bothers you when it is requested and a poor little boy is strapped down against his will and his penis is mutilated for money, so why do you take part in it? Why not speak against it?

    3. If the parents are on the fence, I try to counsel/educated them against it as best I can without sounding like I have an agenda. But most parents have made up their mind quite firmly by the time they get to the hospital. I have never participated in the actual procedure, and I never will.

  4. Why ask at all!? It seems to me that if you want your baby butchered, you should have to request it. It shouldn't be offered to you in a manner that seems a bit too close to "would you like fries with that?"

  5. It's not just Indian parents who don't circumcise. Eevery single country in the world, with the sole exception of the USA, doesn't routinely circumcise unless they're a Jewish or Muslim country.