In Western democracies, circumcision stands at the crossroads of tradition, misinformation, and human rights, bringing forth pressing ethical dilemmas. As we peel back the layers of this painful practice, we are compelled to confront a profound question: Does circumcision, mainly when performed on those unable to provide informed consent, stand in contravention of our constitutional rights? This article seeks to probe deeper into the constitutional veracity of a practice that, to this day, is still heavily pushed by the medical establishment, societal and cultural pressures, and other medical institutions.
A Constitutional Case Against Circumcision
Exploring the intricacies of the circumcision debate, this article delves into the constitutional concerns surrounding the practice. Sitting at the intersection of personal liberty, child rights, and medical ethics, we need a renewed dialogue on this age-old tradition based on modern legal frameworks.
The Medical Debate: Necessity vs. Ethics
At the heart of the circumcision discussion lies a contentious medical debate over the benefits of circumcision. But the claims of the pro-circumcision crowd, which includes many in the health field, have been debunked by modern science. Proponents of circumcision frequently cite supposed health benefits that include reduced risks of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer. These claims have been proven to be wholly untrue.
Conversely, intactivists and organizations like ours raise concerns about the vastly underreported circumcision risks and consequences, ranging from infections and pain to more severe implications like hemorrhage, tissue damage, loss of function, decreased sensitivity, partial or complete amputation, and, in rare cases, death, nullifying the supposed advantages.
But beyond the tug-of-war on its medical merits, the practice raises profound ethical dilemmas. The most prominent revolves around consent and the right to bodily autonomy. Infants subjected to circumcision are incapable of providing informed consent for a procedure that permanently alters a part of their body. Without a pressing and immediate medical reason, making such an irreversible decision for another person encroaches upon their constitutional right to personal autonomy and self-determination.
Constitutional Rights and Bodily Integrity
The U.S. Constitution, while not explicitly detailing every right, is grounded in protecting certain inalienable liberties. Among these is the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of personal liberty, which the courts have repeatedly interpreted to encompass a range of personal choices and bodily decisions. A cornerstone of this liberty is the concept of bodily integrity—the right of individuals to exercise control over their bodies without interference from the state.
Bodily integrity is seen as a fundamental extension of our constitutional rights, emphasizing the importance of personal autonomy and self-determination. The principle suggests that barring compelling interests, the state should not have the authority to force, prohibit, or dictate actions that intimately and irreversibly affect an individual’s body.
The U.S. legal system has set several precedents to emphasize the importance of bodily integrity. For instance, this principle is rooted in the right to refuse medical treatment, even life-saving treatment. In another context, the landmark case of Roe v. Wade underscored a woman’s right to decide about her body. While these cases don’t specifically address circumcision, they bolster the overarching theme of bodily autonomy protected under the Constitution.
In addition, 41 states have criminalized Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which refers to the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs. This also sets a precedent for protecting boys from Male Genital Mutilation (MGM), any permanent modification of the external genitalia, i.e., the surgical removal of the foreskin, a normal body part with several beneficial functions.
As Marilyn Milos points out in her book Please Don’t Cut the Baby!:
“Even though no bills protecting the bodily integrity and genital autonomy right of male minors have been passed, our Constitution, state laws, and several international documents, including the UN Declaration on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child make it clear that every person has a right to safety of their person.”
Given these legal touchstones, non-consensual circumcision is an infringement upon the child’s constitutional right to bodily integrity. Therefore, the practice raises fundamental questions about the limits of parental decision-making and the state’s role in safeguarding individual rights from birth.
The European Perspective
“Circumcision rates in Europe are generally much lower than in the United States, often below 20%. For example, in the UK, the circumcision rate is estimated to be about 8.5%.” — British Medical Journal
Europe has been at the forefront of many legal challenges concerning circumcision, especially in the context of non-medical, ritualistic procedures on minors. While the practice spans various cultures and religions, its intersection with European human rights law offers a window into the issue’s evolving legal and ethical stances.
Many European countries have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which, among other rights, protects the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). Several cases challenging circumcision have been brought forth, arguing that the procedure, when performed on minors, infringes on this right. Moreover, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union underscores the principle of the child’s best interests. Intactivists and opponents of circumcision argue that the non-consensual removal of a part of a child’s body, especially in the absence of immediate medical need, conflicts with this principle.
Germany notably grappled with this issue in 2012, when a regional court in Cologne ruled that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounted to grievous bodily harm. This decision momentarily made the procedure illegal. Though the ruling was later superseded by national legislation specifically allowing religious circumcision, the case sparked intense debates about children’s rights, religious freedoms, and national sovereignty.
In contrast, Nordic countries like Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have been more consistent in advocating for strict regulations or outright bans on non-medical circumcision of minors. Their arguments often hinge on human rights perspectives and concerns about the child’s well-being.
The European trajectory on this issue suggests a growing discomfort with non-consensual, non-medical circumcision of minors. As these challenges play out in European courts, they set a precedent and offer legal and moral arguments that reverberate far beyond the continent’s borders.
Conclusion: Protecting Rights and Fostering Dialogue
As societies evolve and our understanding of rights and ethics deepens, it becomes imperative to approach age-old practices with a fresh, multidimensional lens. The debate surrounding circumcision now finds itself at the crossroads of constitutional rights, mainly when it concerns the vulnerable—our children. Their rights and protection should be at the forefront of this conversation. Our hope—and one of the things we fight for—is informed consent. We envision a future where the voiceless are no longer subjected to this barbaric, irreversible surgery.
For centuries, the act of circumcision has been woven into the fabric of various cultures as a rite of passage, a religious edict, or a perceived medical necessity. Suppose you take a closer look at its history. In that case, it becomes evident that this practice, which involves the surgical removal of the foreskin from the male penis, has evolved in its justifications over time. Yet, as with many age-old customs, we are starting to witness this practice challenged on a larger scale. Today, more than ever, the debate around circumcision is not merely about its historical significance but also about the influential figures and authorities who fervently advocate for it. This article will explore the voices behind the push for circumcision and how to combat them to keep your child intact.
Authority Figures and Groups That Will Pressure You to Circumcise
1) Medical Professionals
Historically, the medical community has been a significant proponent of circumcision. For many decades, medical professionals in various parts of the world, but especially in the United States, have recommended circumcision, emphasizing a blend of historical precedence and alleged health benefits. Traditionally, these perceived advantages ranged from hygienic reasons to preventing various infections and diseases.
Yet, underlying these medical endorsements, there are roots in historical and cultural biases. In the 19th century, for instance, circumcision was recommended as a preventative measure against masturbation, which was wrongly believed to lead to a long list of physical and psychological ailments. Over time, as this belief was debunked, the medical community shifted its focus to other potential benefits, such as a reduced risk of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and the transmission of certain sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
These claims have been almost entirely disproven, and any risk has been revealed as statistically insignificant. Numerous studies have shown that, with proper hygiene and safe sexual practices, the medical benefits of circumcision do not outweigh the risks. Moreover, the ethical concerns associated with performing a non-consensual procedure on an infant have been brought to the forefront of the debate. If you find yourself in a position where a medical professional is advocating for circumcision, it’s crucial to be informed and prepared to discuss the topic. Here are some ways to approach this conversation:
- Seek Clarification: Politely ask the doctor to elaborate on the specific medical reasons they believe circumcision is necessary for your child.
- Present Counter-Evidence: If you’ve done your research, share studies or medical opinions that challenge the traditional stance on circumcision. The medical community is vast, and views on this subject vary.
- Ask About Alternatives: If the reasoning is centered on hygiene or the prevention of infections, ask about alternative methods to achieve the same results without resorting to surgery.
- Express Your Ethical Concerns: It’s okay to discuss the ethical implications of circumcision, emphasizing the child’s lack of consent and potential long-term consequences. This will help you be more than capable of protecting your son from circumcision.
- Seek a Second Opinion: If you’re feeling pressured or unsure, there’s no harm in consulting another medical professional to get a broader perspective on the issue. Always be firm, and remember, you can say “no.”
2) Religious Leaders
Various religions, including Judaism and Islam, have practiced ritual circumcision for millennia. In Judaism, the “brit milah” (covenant of circumcision) is performed on the eighth day of a male infant’s life, signifying the child’s entrance into the covenant between God and the Jewish people. Similarly, in Islam, circumcision is viewed as an act of cleanliness, often linked to the Prophet Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) covenant with God. However, there are alternatives to physical circumcision that can keep your son intact and still align with your religion. We’ve examined several of them in our article, Circumcision in The Bible if you want to learn more.
Many religious followers are wrestling with the intersection of ancient traditions and contemporary ethical and medical considerations. If you’re among those questioning the religious imperative of circumcision within your faith community, here are some strategies to consider:
- Educate Yourself on Religious Texts: Delve into your religious scriptures and teachings to understand the origins and significance of circumcision within your faith. Understanding the scriptural basis can provide a foundation for your conversations.
- Seek Progressive Voices within Your Faith: Some progressive voices or subgroups might hold different views on traditional practices in many religions. Connect with such groups or individuals who offer alternative perspectives or interpretations.
- Explore Ritual Alternatives: Some faith-based communities have started embracing symbolic ceremonies that honor the essence of the ritual without involving the physical act of circumcision. Research and propose such alternatives within your community.
- Engage in Community Discussions: Foster an environment where members of your faith community can openly discuss the dangers and cons of circumcision, sharing personal experiences, medical evidence, and ethical considerations.
3) Family Members
The familial unit often carries its own beliefs and traditions, steeped in generations of practice and unspoken expectations. Circumcision, for many families, is one such tradition—a ritual passed down from fathers to sons, grandfathers to grandsons.
Consequently, the decision to break away from this tradition can lead to familial tension, especially when older generations view circumcision as an unquestionable norm. Here are strategies to approach and discuss your anti-circumcision, pro-intact stance with family members:
- Empathy First: Understand that for many older family members, circumcision is deeply intertwined with their cultural, religious, or personal beliefs. However, in the end, you have to be firm to protect your child and keep your son intact.
- Share Personal Research: Provide well-researched information on the risks, dangers, and concerns surrounding circumcision.
- Personalize the Discussion: Sharing your reasons and feelings can often be more effective than cold facts. Express your concerns, fears, and hopes for your child’s well-being. Help them see the issue through your eyes.
- Find Common Ground: Establish shared values and concerns. For instance, you and your family want the best for your child. Use this as a starting point for the discussion.
- Stay Calm and Avoid Confrontation: Heated arguments rarely lead to understanding. Even if faced with resistance, try to keep the conversation calm, respectful, and constructive.
- Seek Support: If there are family members who share your views or are open-minded, engage them in the conversation. They can offer support and provide a different voice that resonates with the older generation.
- Agree to Disagree: There might be instances where no amount of discussion will change deeply entrenched beliefs. In such cases, it’s essential to set boundaries respectfully and make choices that align with your convictions, even if they diverge from family traditions.
4) Mainstream Media
In the internet age, information is abundant but not consistently accurate. The topic of circumcision, too, is not immune to skewed representations, particularly in mainstream media. From movies that trivialize the procedure to news articles that selectively highlight purported “benefits” without providing a holistic view, misinformation is rife. This portrayal often serves to perpetuate the normalization of circumcision, obscuring the controversies and concerns surrounding the practice.
Here’s how to approach the media’s representation of circumcision and discern reliable information from biased narratives:
- Recognize Stereotyping: Media, especially entertainment, often resorts to stereotypes. A circumcised penis might be presented as the “norm” or more “clean,” further perpetuating misconceptions. Recognize these instances for what they are: fictional representations and not factual endorsements.
- Look Beyond Headlines: Sensational headlines are designed to grab attention, not to inform. Delve deeper into the article or news piece to understand the nuances of the discussed topic.
- Diversify Your Sources: Relying on a single source or type of media can provide a narrow view of the subject. Expand your horizons by seeking information from both mainstream and alternative outlets.
- Check for Citations: Reliable articles or news stories cite studies, experts, or research. Take the time to verify these sources independently to ensure they are credible.
- Beware of Confirmation Bias: Media consumers often gravitate towards news and information that aligns with our beliefs. However, it’s crucial to challenge ourselves and seek diverse viewpoints to understand the topic comprehensively.
- Educate and Share: As you gather accurate information and insights, consider sharing them within your network. Counteracting misinformation begins with informed individuals taking the lead.
The Path to Informed Decision-Making
In a world of conflicting viewpoints and powerful voices vying for your attention, it is essential to ground oneself in well-researched, unbiased knowledge, especially on topics as personal, significant, and life-changing as circumcision. Being informed provides clarity and equips parents with the tools to confidently navigate external pressures and make choices that align with their child’s values and best interests.
The advantages of being well-informed are manifold:
- Confidence in Decision-Making: Understanding the intricacies of circumcision, its history, the dangers of circumcision, and the surgical risks of circumcision gives parents the confidence to make decisions free from external pressures or emotional manipulation.
- Ability to Engage in Constructive Dialogue: When confronted with strong opinions, being knowledgeable allows parents to engage in productive conversations, provide counterarguments, and potentially enlighten others about their findings.
- Emotional Preparedness: Making decisions about circumcision can be emotional. Being informed allows parents to feel a sense of peace with their choices, knowing they acted based on sound knowledge rather than fleeting emotions or pressure.
- Protection Against Manipulation: An informed individual is less susceptible to being swayed by misleading narratives or biased information.
To learn more about how to protect your child from circumcision, take a look at Georganne Chapin’s memoir, This Penis Business. Besides highlighting the path that led to her becoming executive director of Intact America and a leader in the intactivist movement, Chapin clarifies the commercial and historical motivations behind circumcision while highlighting its lasting physical, sexual, and psychological repercussions. Revealing shocking practices like the commercial repurposing of foreskins and the pressures placed upon expectant mothers, this book serves as a powerful wake-up call, challenging readers to question and confront the enduring impacts of the multi-billion-dollar circumcision industry.
Most parents do not even realize that circumcision, often referred to and minimized as a procedure, is traditionally a surgery involving a scalpel or surgical scissors that alters a fundamental aspect of an individual’s genitalia. It is an act that has both long- and short-term implications for both health and the ethics of personal autonomy.
“Even my friends were looking away nervously when I described the mechanics of a circumcision—how the doctor swabs the immobilized baby, pries his foreskin from the head of the penis with a metal probe, clamps the foreskin for several minutes to keep it from bleeding, and then cuts away between half and two-thirds of the penile skin. And during the whole thing, the baby is shrieking until he passes out in shock.”
– Georganne Chapin, author of “This Penis Business” (Lucid House Publishing, 2024)
Any circumcision carries risks of infection, hemorrhage, urinary retention, inflammation, glans amputation, glans necrosis, hematoma, excessive removal of the foreskin, adverse reaction to and the potential for meatal stenosis, chordee, skin adhesion to glans, fistula, inclusion cyst, penile rotation, trapped penis, penis amputation or disfigurement, sexual, psychological, and emotional repercussions, and death.
In this article, we will look at the types of circumcision that are done to infants, along with the consequences of this medically unnecessary surgery. Through this exploration, we hope to shed light on a practice that Intact America staunchly opposes, empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their bodies and raising essential questions about cultural norms, medical justifications, and the fundamental right to bodily autonomy.
Types of Circumcision
1) The Gomco Clamp
The Gomco Clamp method, one of the more traditional approaches to circumcision, has been continuously employed for over 70 years in various healthcare settings. Recognized for its standardized procedure, the Gomco Clamp is characterized by its distinctive clamping device, which is central to its technique.
How Gomco Clamp Works: This device consists of a bell-shaped instrument (cap), platform, hooking arm, and screw device. First, the foreskin is clamped by two hemostats, creating an opening down which an instrument is inserted to separate the skin from the glans. Then the skin is cut lengthwise to expose the glans (dorsal slit). It may require probing to break up skin adhesions. Then the bell or cap is placed over the glans, and the penis, foreskin, and covered glans are drawn through the hole in the platform. Turning the screw device forces the cap against the hole and squeezes the foreskin. A scalpel is then used to cut the foreskin around the base of the Gomco Clamp.
Consequences and Dangers: Watching the surgery on an infant is not for the squeamish. The Gomco Clamp has faced scrutiny regarding potential complications, such as issues related to the placement and removal of the clamp, causing too much skin to be removed from the shaft of the penis. As with all circumcisions, there is the danger of excessive bleeding and infection, and there is no question that it results in discomfort and potential trauma for an infant.
2) The Mogen Clamp
Designed by Rabbi Harry Bronstein in 1954, the Mogen clamp is the most commonly used by mohels for ceremonial circumcision.
How the Mogen Clamp Works: The Mogen Clamp is a surgical instrument with a flat, shield-like base and a hinged, circular blade. To perform a circumcision using this method, the operator first separates the foreskin from the penis glans in the same way that preceded the Gomco Clamp method. The Mogen Clamp is then placed over the glans, with the foreskin securely held between the blade and the base. Once in position, the clamp is closed, severing the foreskin that extends beyond its edge.
Consequences and Dangers: This technique and device are considerably quicker than the Gomco Clamp procedure, although still traumatic and painful for the baby, even with an anesthetic. Many medical professionals and advocacy groups have voiced concerns about the potential for uneven cuts and inadequate removal of the foreskin, which may result in complications such as skin bridges and the need for corrective surgery.
3) The Plastibell Method
Introduced in the 1950s, the Plastibell Method is recognized by its distinctive plastic ring device that adheres to the penis until falling off in 10 to 14 days.
How the Plastibell Method Works: The Plastibell Method involves using a specially designed plastic ring with a groove running around its circumference. As with the Gomco and Mogen Clamp techniques, the foreskin is first clamped and cut. The Plastibell ring is then inserted over the glans and foreskin, with the foreskin protruding through the ring’s groove. A ligature or string is tied around the groove, compressing the foreskin and causing it to lose blood circulation, with the tissue withering away, exposing the glans.
Consequences and Dangers: Although this technique does not require the removal of the foreskin by surgery, there are still complications, and it is visibly uncomfortable. The most common complication is delayed separation of the ring, followed by bleeding, excess mucosa, infection, disposition, and hematoma.
One baby after another was circumcised, and parents didn’t have a clue about what their babies were experiencing during the procedure. I began providing accurate information so that when parents signed a consent form, they were truly informed. Due to my sharing what I was learning, other nurses were doing this, each in their way.
First, I would ask what the mother knew: for example, I would say, “I have a consent form here for your baby’s circumcision, which you will need to sign. May I ask why you have decided to have your baby circumcised?”
The answers varied somewhat, but often it was, “Because it’s cleaner and healthier.”
If that were a mother’s response, I would ask, “Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics says that soap and water offer all the advantages of circumcision without the risks of surgery?”
“Circumcision is surgery?” the mother would invariably ask.
When I said it was, a mother often asked about anesthesia. I would tell the truth—babies were not anesthetized for circumcision. Even today, after the harmful effects of pain and trauma to the baby’s developing brain and body are well documented, about half of the babies in the United States still are circumcised without anesthesia.
Marilyn Milos, Please Don’t Cut the Baby!, 2023, Lucid House Publishing
Male circumcision, a surgery deeply rooted in cultural traditions, religious rites, and medical fallacies, is often performed without sufficient consideration or a science-based understanding of its profound effects. Under the surface of this routinely practiced medical procedure lies a tapestry of risks and ethical dilemmas, which has led to growing opposition against medically unnecessary circumcision.
In this article, we will explore aspects of circumcision that are often overshadowed by tradition and convention. Our goal is to illuminate why circumcision is increasingly perceived as a form of male genital mutilation, challenging long-held beliefs and practices. Join us as we present compelling reasons to reevaluate this pervasive procedure, advocate for informed choices, and preserve bodily integrity.
Reasons Not to Circumcise
1) Medical and Health Considerations
Lack of Medical Necessity
Understanding the lack of medical necessity is a compelling reason to reconsider circumcision. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision is not medically imperative. This elective surgery, often performed shortly after birth, does not address any urgent medical conditions in newborns.
“Parents who choose not to circumcise their children have reasons, including the fact that it’s not medically necessary.” — WebMD
The foreskin, which is removed during circumcision, is not a redundant or unnecessary part but rather serves several natural and protective functions. It contains a high density of nerve endings, contributing to sexual sensitivity and pleasure. Additionally, the foreskin plays a mechanical role during intercourse and acts as a natural barrier, safeguarding the glans from external irritants and infections.
Risk of Complications
The surgical nature of circumcision inherently carries risks and potential complications that are often downplayed or overlooked. Immediate surgical risks include pain, bleeding, and the possibility of infection at the operation site. Improper technique can also result in more severe issues, like penile damage, scarring, or an aesthetically undesirable outcome.
In addition to these immediate risks, circumcision has long-term health considerations. The removal of the foreskin may lead to decreased penile sensitivity, affecting sexual pleasure and function. This has significant implications for sexual health and overall quality of life. Furthermore, as with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of developing scar tissue, which can cause complications such as painful erections or the need for corrective surgery later in life.
The lack of medical necessity combined with the risks and potential complications associated with circumcision raises valid concerns about the practice. It underscores the importance of considering the natural functions and benefits of the foreskin and carefully weighing them against the dangers of an elective surgical procedure.
2) Psychological and Emotional Impact
Trauma and Post-surgical Pain
Circumcision is more than just a physical procedure; it carries profound psychological and emotional implications, particularly related to trauma and post-surgical pain. The immediate effects involve the infant’s exposure to pain and distress during and after the procedure. Contrary to common misconceptions, infants are highly sensitive to pain. The trauma of undergoing a surgical procedure in such a vulnerable state can result in long-lasting psychological effects. Research indicates that the intense pain experienced during circumcision may lead to heightened pain sensitivity and increased stress responses later in life.
The long-term psychological impact of circumcision is an area of growing concern. Evidence suggests that circumcision can give rise to feelings of loss, grief, and anger as individuals come to terms with the irreversible alteration of their bodies without consent. This sense of violation can contribute to a complex range of emotional issues, spanning from diminished self-esteem to difficulties in relationships.
Impact on Mental Health
The mental health implications of circumcision warrant our attention. For some men, the realization that they underwent an irreversible procedure without their consent can generate feelings of powerlessness and a violation of bodily autonomy. These emotions can manifest in various ways, including depression, anxiety, and issues related to body image and sexual identity. Personal accounts from circumcised men often reveal a profound sense of loss or incompleteness, significantly impacting their mental well-being.
“Studies of men who were circumcised in infancy have found that some men experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger, and intimacy problems that were directly associated with feelings about their circumcision (Boyle, 2002; Goldman, 1999; Hammond, 1999).” — Psychology Today
Studies have started to explore the psychological effects of circumcision, revealing a correlation between non-consensual circumcision and an increased incidence of certain mental health conditions. The trauma of early-life surgery, compounded by societal taboos surrounding discussions about male genitalia and circumcision, leaves men without an outlet to express their feelings and seek support. This silence further exacerbates the psychological impact, leaving many to grapple with their experiences in isolation.
3) Ethical and Human Rights Considerations
Consent and Bodily Autonomy
At the core of the anti-circumcision perspective lies a crucial ethical debate: the issue of consent and bodily autonomy. Performing a permanent and irreversible procedure on infants who are unable to provide consent raises significant ethical concerns. Infants are subjected to a decision that permanently alters their bodies without the ability to comprehend or agree to the procedure. This practice is increasingly being questioned regarding respecting an individual’s right to bodily integrity and personal choice. The ethical dilemma becomes even more complex when considering that circumcision is typically unnecessary from a medical standpoint and could be reasonably postponed until the individual is capable of making an informed decision for themselves.
Cultural and Societal Pressures
Circumcision is intricately woven into various cultural and religious customs, making it a topic of sensitivity. In many societies, it is regarded as a rite of passage, a religious duty, or a tradition upheld for generations. However, the real challenge arises when these cultural and societal pressures overshadow individual rights and freedoms. The pressure to conform to social norms can perpetuate a practice that might otherwise be reconsidered or rejected based on personal beliefs, ethics, or health considerations.
This delicate balance between cultural practices and the growing recognition of individual rights presents a complex landscape. It necessitates a nuanced understanding that respects cultural traditions and advocates for the fundamental rights of individuals, particularly minors, to bodily autonomy and informed consent. Consequently, the movement opposing circumcision challenges individual families and practitioners and seeks to transform deeply ingrained societal perceptions and practices.
4) Sexual Health and Function
Impact on Sexual Experience
One of the most significant concerns surrounding circumcision is its impact on sexual health, particularly regarding sensitivity and pleasure. The foreskin is a highly sensitive part of the male genitalia, rich in nerve endings, and plays a crucial role in sexual sensation. When circumcision removes this part of the skin, it can potentially lead to a decrease in sensitivity.
For some men, this reduction in sensitivity may result in diminished sexual pleasure or an altered sexual experience. Personal testimonies from circumcised men often highlight these changes, and research findings support the notion that circumcision can fundamentally alter the sexual experience. Studies indicate that the removal of the foreskin can cause a thickening of the skin and a decrease in the fine-touch sensitivity of the glans.
Relationship and Intimacy Concerns
Circumcision has implications that extend to intimate relationships. Changes in sensitivity and potential alterations in sexual function can impact the dynamics of these relationships. Some circumcised men report difficulties in achieving the same level of sexual satisfaction, which can affect their intimate connections. Additionally, there are widespread misconceptions about circumcision’s role in hygiene and STD prevention. While proponents often argue for improved hygiene and a reduced risk of certain infections as benefits of circumcision, these claims are increasingly contested. Comprehensive sexual education and proper hygiene practices can effectively address these concerns without the need for a surgical procedure. It is crucial to address these misconceptions to make informed decisions about circumcision and understand its potential impact on sexual health and relationships.
Alternatives to Circumcision
When discussing circumcision, it is essential to emphasize the existence of viable and less invasive alternatives, particularly for addressing perceived medical issues. One common argument for circumcision is the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and hygiene-related concerns. However, these issues can often be effectively managed through proper hygiene practices, eliminating the necessity for surgery.
Providing education to parents and caregivers on the appropriate care of the intact penis can significantly reduce the risk of infections and other complications. In cases where specific medical conditions, such as phimosis, are a concern, less-invasive treatments like topical steroid creams or gentle stretching exercises can often serve as effective solutions, eliminating the need for circumcision.
Education and Awareness
Education and awareness play a crucial role in moving away from routine circumcision. Informed decision-making by parents is vital. They should have access to unbiased and comprehensive information regarding the risks of circumcision as well as its potential impact on their child’s health and well-being. This knowledge empowers parents to make choices that align with their values and their child’s best interests, rather than being driven solely by cultural norms or medical traditions.
Equally important is the provision of resources for further information and support. This can include educational materials from pediatricians, access to online resources and support groups, and guidance from healthcare professionals who can offer balanced perspectives. By increasing awareness and knowledge, parents can make more informed decisions that factor in the full range of implications associated with circumcision.
Join the movement with Intact America! Discover the vital conversation around genital autonomy by diving into our insightful reads, “This Penis Business” and “Please Don’t Cut the Baby.” Get informed, get involved, and help make a difference. Click here to learn more and become a part of the change!
Circumcision has long been debated. However, amidst this ongoing discourse, a group that is rarely discussed is the “Regret Moms,” mothers who grapple with profound grief and guilt after choosing to circumcise their sons. This article aims to shed light on their emotional journey, exploring these women’s experiences and challenges. Through their narratives, we are prompted to reflect on the broader implications for society and culture and to raise important questions about informed consent, bodily autonomy, and the need for open dialogue on this sensitive topic. Join us as we look into these thought-provoking stories, raise awareness, foster understanding, and look to end male circumcision.
The Decision to Circumcise
“One tactic to perpetuate circumcision is to scare nervous new parents into having their infants, who are vulnerable and too young to resist, circumcised. The solicitation of the procedure by doctors and hospitals is ubiquitous across the USA.” — Yale Law School
For many mothers, the decision to undergo circumcision is often rooted in long-standing family or religious traditions that have been passed down through generations. Others may seek guidance from medical professionals, considering potential health benefits or cultural norms prevalent in their society. These personal narratives from diverse mothers shed light on their unique journeys, emphasizing the significance and weight of this decision. It is important to acknowledge that, despite careful consideration, there is typically a lack of comprehensive information and understanding regarding the full implications of the procedure. To make an informed decision, gathering as much knowledge as possible and engaging in open and transparent discussions with healthcare professionals and trusted sources is crucial. By doing so, we can empower ourselves and advocate for informed choices.
It’s important to operate assuming that most mothers want what is best for their sons; however, the facts are often deliberately concealed.
Did you know:
- The circumcision procedure can lead to scarring around the surgical site, which may be aesthetically displeasing to some individuals.
- Some individuals may experience psychological distress or negative feelings related to their circumcision experience.
- Complications such as skin bridges or excess skin removal (we argue that any skin removal is excessive and is an assault on the individual and the natural penis) can occur during the so-called healing process.
The Aftermath of the Circumcision Decision
The decision to circumcise a child can have profound long-term consequences for both the child and the mother. During this critical period, infants endure physical discomfort and distress, including pain, swelling, and bleeding, which can be unsettling for both the baby and the mother. Additionally, the emotional toll on the mother, encompassing feelings of guilt, anxiety, and sadness, cannot be underestimated. The mother may face challenges in tending to the wound and ensuring proper healing, further complicating the situation. Moreover, complications or unforeseen outcomes, such as infections or scarring, can intensify the mother’s regret and unease.
“Since I became involved in the movement to stop the genital cutting of baby boys, I have heard many maternal remorse and child anger stories. Mothers have called into radio programs where I was a guest, sobbing from grief and regret about having allowed their baby to be circumcised; some of these have been the mothers of toddlers, but many are recounting stories from 15, 20 or even 40 years earlier. For every one of these mothers, there is a son – a boy or man living with the consequences of a decision he did not make but that is imprinted on his body and in his brain forever. And I have talked to hundreds, maybe even thousands, of such sons.” — Georganne Chapin, Voices Column
Marilyn Milos, the “mother of the intact movement,” has said that of all the questions she has been asked about circumcision, the most difficult one to answer is how to heal from making the decision to circumcise a son and later regretting it.
“Mothers consent to circumcision out of the best intentions and the worst kind of ignorance. Circumcision is a cultural practice; most doctors do not provide adequate information to give informed consent, and no one talks about it, so we don’t even know enough to ask the right questions. When we find out what happened to our precious baby behind closed doors, most mothers feel deep regret and profound sorrow.”
Emotional Trauma and Grief of Regret Moms
The emotional trauma a mother can endure after her son is circumcised often stems from the intricate interplay of societal pressures, cultural norms, and personal beliefs that pressured her into making that decision.
Feelings of regret and loss experienced by these mothers are common. They may grapple with deep sadness, mourning the loss of their child’s intact body. Furthermore, their immediate surroundings’ lack of support and understanding can intensify these emotions, leaving them isolated and alone.
Educating themselves and others about circumcision has become a crucial aspect of the healing journey for many regret moms. By equipping themselves with knowledge, these mothers can make more informed decisions in the future and advocate for their choices with confidence. This newfound understanding empowers them to challenge societal norms and promote a more inclusive and compassionate approach to circumcision.
Ultimately, this journey of coping and understanding can be a pivotal step in processing their emotions and finding a path to healing and acceptance. It is a testament to the resilience and strength of these mothers as they navigate the complex terrain of parenthood, guided by their unwavering love for their children and their commitment to making choices that align with their values and beliefs.
Finding Support and Healing as A Regret Mom
From an anti-circumcision standpoint, discovering support and healing is a vital and transformative step for Regret Moms. These incredibly brave mothers navigate a complex emotional journey and yearn for understanding and solace. Fortunately, numerous resources and support systems are available to assist them on their path toward healing.
Dedicated online forums provide a secure and empathetic space for ‘Regret Moms’ to share their stories, connect with others who have undergone similar situations, and receive invaluable emotional support. These forums create a sense of belonging and serve as a collective healing and empowerment platform.
In addition to online forums, support groups offer a more intimate setting where ‘Regret Moms’ can engage in face-to-face discussions and connect on a deeper level. These groups allow mothers to express their emotions freely, seek guidance from experienced individuals, and find solace in knowing they are not alone.
Counseling services specializing in post-circumcision, regret, and grief play a pivotal role in healing. These professionals offer personalized guidance and therapeutic interventions to help Regret Moms process their emotions, work through their grief, and find a path toward acceptance and healing. By providing a compassionate and nonjudgmental environment, these counselors empower mothers to embrace their experiences and embark on a transformative journey of self-discovery.
Ultimately, the power of community cannot be underestimated in the healing process. Online forums and social media groups dedicated to Regret Moms offer a supportive network where mothers can share their experiences, find validation, and receive emotional support from individuals who truly understand their struggles. These communities become a source of strength and resilience, enabling Regret Moms to navigate their emotions, find acceptance, and embark on a journey toward healing.
Raising Awareness and Advocacy
To spread the anti-circumcision perspective, raising awareness and advocating for educating parents about the potential implications of circumcision are vital. Activists and organizations are deeply committed to sharing comprehensive information highlighting the procedure’s physical and psychological impacts.
There is an increasing demand for healthcare providers to offer transparent and comprehensive counseling sessions, equipping parents with the necessary knowledge to make truly informed decisions.
Moreover, ‘Regret Moms’ voices resonate strongly as they share their experiences with new or expecting parents, providing invaluable firsthand insights and guidance. These collective efforts aim to foster a more informed understanding of circumcision and its potential consequences, ultimately empowering parents to make thoughtful choices for their children’s well-being.
As Milos says, “We can’t take back our grievous mistake, but we can do everything in our power to protect our sons in the future. We can apologize to our sons and end the wounding in our families. When parents become informed, they will spare future sons from the pain and trauma of circumcision. Tell your story to anyone and everyone who will listen.
Circumcision trauma is a deeply personal and often unspoken aspect of many individuals’ lives, impacting their relationship with their bodies and their ability to navigate the delicate dance of intimacy. What deepens the trauma of circumcision is that many individuals who suffer from it are not even consciously aware of or educated about how it may have affected them. As a life-altering surgery, it has been normalized to the extent that most victims of it never question why it was done in the first place. The circumcision was done so early in their lives (without their consent) that living without a foreskin is all they have known.
It is essential to foster discussions on informed consent and ethical considerations surrounding this procedure and push to end this medically unnecessary surgery altogether.
This article is a compassionate exploration of circumcision trauma, unraveling its impact on adult sexuality and guiding those seeking to heal and reconnect within the realm of intimacy.
Understanding Circumcision Trauma
What is circumcision trauma?
Circumcision trauma refers to the emotional, physical, and psychological distress experienced by specific individuals following circumcision, a surgery involving the removal of the foreskin from the penis. Circumcision trauma symptoms may manifest during childhood or later in life, arising from the circumcised individual’s loss of a natural part of their body or the circumstances surrounding the circumcision.
Georganne Chapin points out in her book This Penis Business, in a chapter aptly titled “What’s Sex Got to Do With It?” something so obvious, how could anyone miss this vital result of medically unnecessary circumcision?
“How could cutting off a sexual body part not affect the mechanics and quality of the victim’s sex life, sexual relationships, and psyche?”
Marilyn Milos likewise notes in her book Please Don’t Cut the Baby! that:
“Babies have erections naturally in utero. After birth, when someone else stimulates the baby’s penis to erection, as the nurse [would do as] prep for the circumcision, it is the baby’s first shared sexual experience. Sadly, in the case of circumcision, the pleasurable sensations are immediately followed by excruciating pain. Every sexual experience a circumcised male has from that moment forward is on a neuronal background of pain. Even when a man doesn’t consciously remember the experience, his body remembers.”
Prevalence and recognition of circumcision trauma
The issue of circumcision trauma has gained significant recognition in recent years, bringing attention to the emotional struggles faced by individuals who have undergone this procedure. By shedding light on this topic, we aim to raise awareness and advocate for those affected by circumcision trauma.
“An article in The Journal of Health Psychology notes that studies have linked circumcision with a range of negative emotions and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with some circumcised men describing their current feelings in the language of violation, torture, mutilation, and sexual assault.” — SageJournals
Research published in 2020 on Heliyon studied a sample of over 600 men to examine how the plasticity of the neonatal central and peripheral nerve systems and receptors can cause the pain of circumcision to have long-term consequences for adult behavior.
Both Chapin and Milos report that several men have given anecdotal evidence of recovered memories, through hypnotherapy or psychotherapy, of their circumcisions as infants that have led to a complete understanding of their emotional, psychological, and physical issues, especially in their interactions with a sexual partner.
Psychological and emotional effects of circumcision trauma
Those who have endured this trauma may grapple with a range of powerful emotions, including grief, anger, and a sense of betrayal. Body image issues and a profound sense of violation can also emerge, as the procedure involves the removal of a part of their body without consent.
“A study from the National Institutes of Health found that without appropriate pain management, 20-60% of circumcised neonates exhibited prolonged, vigorous crying and increased heart rate during and after the procedure.”
These emotional wounds can persist into adulthood, affecting self-esteem, relationships, and sexual well-being. Recognizing the depth and complexity of circumcision trauma is crucial to providing the necessary support and guidance for healing and reclaiming a sense of wholeness in the intimate aspects of life.
Navigating Circumcision Trauma in Intimate Relationships
Communicating with your partner about circumcision trauma
Effective communication serves as the fundamental pillar of any healthy and fulfilling intimate relationship, especially when it comes to addressing circumcision trauma. It is of utmost importance for individuals who have experienced circumcision trauma to openly communicate their feelings, fears, and concerns with their partners. Sharing their experiences and emotions lets deep understanding, empathy, and emotional closeness develop between partners. Creating a safe and non-judgmental space for such conversations is crucial, as it allows both partners to feel supported and secure. This enables the circumcised individual to express their needs and boundaries while providing an opportunity for their partner to offer empathy and validation, which play a vital role in the healing process.
Seeking support and therapy for healing
Healing from circumcision trauma often necessitates the invaluable guidance and support of professionals. Those who have endured trauma associated with circumcision can significantly benefit from seeking therapy or counseling. A skilled therapist can assist them in exploring and processing their emotions, developing effective coping strategies, and addressing any enduring psychological distress. Couples therapy can also be valuable, fostering open and productive discussions, strengthening emotional bonds, and navigating intimacy challenges together.
It’s essential to seek out resources like books, workshops, or support groups dedicated to sexual wellness and healing from trauma. These valuable tools can guide us in reclaiming a positive and fulfilling intimate life. With the proper support and a commitment to self-care, we can gradually restore our sense of wholeness and experience the joys of intimacy on our terms.
Intimacy and Sensuality Exercises
Exercises for fostering trust and emotional connection
Intimate exercises that prioritize emotional bonding can encompass a range of activities, such as engaging in guided meditation or practicing mindfulness together. These practices deepen the connection between partners, creating a safe and nurturing space where vulnerabilities can be shared, and emotional support can be provided. Additionally, open and empathetic conversations centered around desires, boundaries, and concerns can fortify the emotional bond between partners, enabling them to navigate the unique challenges posed by circumcision trauma together.
For example, try some of the following exercises to develop intimacy and build trust in the bedroom and your partnership:
- Eye Gazing: Spend several minutes sitting across from each other and looking deeply into each other’s eyes without speaking. This can create a profound connection without the need for words.
- Synchronized Breathing: Sit or lie down facing each other and synchronize your breathing. One person leads, and the other follows, then switches roles. This can enhance mutual attunement and connection.
- Gratitude Sharing: Take turns expressing what you’re grateful for about each other. This could involve physical aspects, emotional support, or little things they do that make you happy.
- Non-Sexual Touch: Engage in non-sexual touch, like cuddling, holding hands, or hugging, without progressing to sexual activities. Focus on the comfort, warmth, and safety created by the touch.
- Vulnerability Exercise: Share a fear, hope, or dream you’ve never shared. Creating a safe space for such disclosures enhances emotional intimacy.
Techniques for increasing pleasure and reducing anxiety
Circumcision trauma can have a profound impact on intimate experiences, often causing anxiety and unease. However, there are ways for couples to counteract these challenges and cultivate a more pleasurable and relaxed connection. By embracing mindfulness practices that emphasize being present in the moment, both partners can fully engage in the sensual journey without any distractions. Additionally, exploring relaxation techniques like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can alleviate anxiety and enhance comfort, leading to more fulfilling intimate moments.
To increase pleasure and reduce anxiety, try:
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR): Before engaging in intimate activities, take a few minutes to tense and then relax each muscle group, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. This helps in releasing tension and grounding yourself.
- Mindful Breathing: Focus on your breath. Breathe deeply and slowly, concentrating on each inhalation and exhalation. This calms the nervous system and keeps you present.
- Positive Affirmation Exchange: Share positive affirmations or compliments. Hearing affirming words can boost self-confidence and reduce self-consciousness.
- Guided Imagery: Together, envision a place where you both feel most relaxed and happy. This shared imagery can create a relaxed atmosphere in the bedroom.
- Mirror Exercise: Stand in front of a mirror and appreciate each other’s bodies. This can help in fostering body positivity and reducing body image-related anxieties.
Enhancing intimacy through touch and communication
Touch and communication are at the heart of intimacy, and for those recovering from circumcision trauma, they can be powerful tools for reconnecting. Intimate exercises that prioritize touch, such as sensual massages or cuddling, can help partners rediscover the physical and emotional closeness the trauma might have impacted.
A Final Note About Circumcision Trauma in The Bedroom
We wholeheartedly urge individuals who have gone through circumcision trauma to seek support and therapy. Recognize that professional guidance plays a vital role in the journey towards healing and recovery.
As we wrap up this exploration, we extend an unwavering message of encouragement and hope. To those who have endured the weight of circumcision trauma, we want you to know that healing is achievable. It is crucial to find the support and resources that resonate with you. Remember, you are not alone on this transformative journey. By embracing open communication, empathy, and self-care, individuals and their partners can create an environment where healing and intimacy coexist harmoniously.
For those seeking further guidance, resources, or support in addressing circumcision trauma, we highly recommend connecting with organizations like Intact America. They are dedicated to advocating for genital integrity and can provide invaluable information and assistance on this deeply personal journey toward healing and empowerment. Together, we can strive towards a world where everyone’s intimate experiences are characterized by wholeness, understanding, and respect.