The penis advice columnDear Marilyn:

I am having a boy this summer. My sister-in-law is a nurse and she insists that I should circumcise my son. She says it will be easier for me and for him to keep his penis clean and prevent infections. She adds that it is particularly gross when men grow old. I’m thinking that she may know what she’s talking about because she’s nurse who has cared for elderly patients for years. Do you think she is right?

— Barbara, Dan Diego

Dear Barbara:

As a registered nurse myself, I’m astonished at how little my colleagues know about the normal penis. Intactivists know that the foreskin protects the glans penis when a boy is in diapers. We know that the foreskin preserves the sensitivity of the glans penis when the boy grows into a man. We know that infections occur in both cut and intact men. As for the cleanliness of an elderly man’s genitals, nurses in countries that keep their babies intact do not have issues caring for men (or for women, of course) as they age.

Your sister-in-law is spreading a common myth about circumcision. Would she recommend pulling off a baby’s nails because he may not be able to keep his fingernails clean when he grows old? Probably not. Please keep your baby boy intact. He’ll thank you for it one day.

— Marilyn