Saving Them the Pain of a Later Circumcision

Written by Mandy on July 6th, 2012

Activism, Intactivism

When it comes to the topic of circumcision, an argument often touted is that the parent wants to save the child from the pain of a possible circumcision later on in life. They then follow this by the fact that they know someone who had to have a circumcision as an adult. They just want to save their child that pain. The logic of this line of thought is lacking.

Let’s assume that they actually do know of a person (maybe even two) who did legitimately need a circumcision as an adult, despite the fact that medical evidence shows that circumcisions, except in extremely rare cases, are not done for legitimate medical reasons. What about the hundreds of men they know who did not need to be circumcised? Why base a decision on something that happened to such a small group?

Back to the assumption that the person’s son might actually need the procedure sometime later in life, having it done now isn’t saving your child from any pain. In fact, it is causing more pain. An adult male who makes the decision to be circumcised has access to adequate pain medication, which can be altered if he deems that it is not working well enough. An adult male’s foreskin is not still attached to the glans of his penis, unlike an infant’s, which must be ripped away from the glans. An adult male is not sitting in a diaper with urine and feces next to his open wound, increasing chances of infection and pain. And then, of course, is the fact that children die every year from complications of circumcision. Circumcising an infant child does not save him from pain. Will he remember having the procedure done as an infant? Probably not, although there is new evidence indicating that infant circumcision may cause emotional damage to children, but it definitely doesn’t lessen the pain any.

Rewritten from a previous post at Living Peacefully with Children.


About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

7 Responses to Saving Them the Pain of a Later Circumcision

  1. June Park  

    Thank you! I could not have said it better myself.:)P.S. I do know men who hate certain people and do not know why, then it turns out the person held them during the bris or was in the room when they were circumcised so I think they remember on a very basic level if nothing else.

  2. Kelly

    This article seems to be just an opinion without a lot of facts. And since I can’t look at the study you cited, I’m not sure exactly what the situations were. Take a look at information on the benefits of circumcision. If a circumcision is done by a trained person on or around the 8th day (that’s when vitamin k comes in), any complications should not include death. Here’s just one article that I found that gives a good overview. By the way it points out that babies die from UTI due to not being circumcised.

    • Mandy

      I have looked at information in favor of circumcision. Prior to having children, my husband and I extensively researched the topic (along with many other topics), digging into actual medical journals and looking at data and information. The fact is that no health organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision. While studies do indicate a higher incidence of UTIs in intact males vs. circumcised males under the age of 3 months and a slight rise in infants between ages 3-8 months, it only amount s to an absolute risk increase of 1% increase, with many studies showing an even lower increase. Studies in older males show that proper hygiene, something I would hope everyone wants for any child of theirs, significantly reduce the risk of UTIs. Studies on the incidence of UTIs in intact versus circumcised females also show a higher incidence of UTIs in intact females versus their circumcised counterparts. Despite the fact that females have a much higher incidence of UTIs than males, routine infant circumcision of females is not recommended and is in fact illegal in the United States. UTIs in girls are treated as an infection, as they are treated in males in most other parts of the world.

      There are many surgical procedures which could prevent problems. Routine removal of the appendix at birth would prevent a person from later having appendicitis. Removal of breast buds and tissue would prevent possible breast cancers, which has a much higher rate – resulting in almots 30% of all cancers in American women. We don’t do these things, though. We treat disease or conditions when they occur rather than removing healthy tissue at birth.

      • Kelly

        “Systematic evaluation of English-language peer-reviewed literature from
        1995 through 2010 indicates that preventive health benefits of elective
        circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure.

        Benefits include significant reductions in the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life and, subsequently, in the risk of heterosexual acquisition of HIV and the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections.

        The procedure is well tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions with appropriate pain management. Complications are infrequent; most are minor, and severe complications are rare. Male circumcision performed during the newborn period has considerably lower complication rates than when performed later in life.”

      • Dionna  


        The Abstract states on page 585 that “health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns . . . .
        The 1999 Statement studied 40 years’ worth of research, and the 2012 studied only selective research since 1999. Only 1031 of 1388 studies were accepted to look at. Balance might have been found in the 357 studies that were omitted, but the AAP was not seeking balance. The AAP statement goes on ad nauseum about alleged “benefits”, to the point of fear-mongering that something will go wrong if an infant isn’t circumcised. It’s a high pressure sales pitch to try to get the American public to buy the circumcisions that AAP and ACOG doctors are selling. This is in direct contrast to Europe, where circumcision is uncommon and the health of European children equals or surpasses that of American children.
        No studies on the anatomy and functions of the foreskin were included. This is surprising, since it would seem like common sense to consider what the functions of any healthy body part are before amputating it.
        In contrast to the AAP, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP) has stated: “…the association between having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) – excluding human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and being circumcised are inconclusive… most of the studies [of the effect of circumcision on HIV] …have been conducted in developing countries, particularly those in Africa. Because of the challenges with maintaining good hygiene and access to condoms, these results are probably not generalizable to the U.S. population”.”

        The task force asserts that current evidence that the health benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks, but has failed to produce any sort of analysis to support that conclusion. Previously available cost-benefit studies do not support that conclusion….
        Recent evidence shows higher rates of HIV infection among circumcised men as compared to non-circumcised men in numerous population groups, however the task force did not choose to report this information.
        The 2012 task force, in its zeal to promote male circumcision, has resurrected the UTI myth, which was partially debunked by the 1999 task force.31 Furthermore, Chessare (1992) showed, even if the claims about UTI were correct, that the complications from circumcision exceed the benefits from prevention of UTI.
        The AAP has been concerned about state Medicaid agencies stopping payment for unnecessary circumcision because its doctors get less money. The protection of the source of the money is so important to the AAP that a section on financing newborn circumcision by third-party payers has been included in this so-called medical position statement.”

      • Katrina

        Even *if* it lowered the risk (cannot PREVENT any of these things), it is unethical to perform this procedure on an unconsenting minor who is not allowed adequate pain medication (during or after). It is unethical, period, because it is violating the individual rights and freedoms of another person by FORCING an unnecessary cosmetic procedure on someone else without their consent. It is that simple.
        It *might* lower risk in third world countries, but it does NOT in developed nations. The HIV African studies are also done on consenting adults, NOT the routine procedure on infants. So to compare those studies with routine infant circumcision is completely and absolutely irrelevent. Also, there are recent studies that show the exact opposite effect of circumcision and HIV rates. So, to say that it lowers the risk for certain, is not an accurate assumption.
        Like mentioned, the risk of UTI in women is significantly higher than in men. The perscription should be the same. The personal rights and well-being of both sexes should equally be protected.

  3. Jessica P.  

    I’ve never understood how circumcision is such a popular thing. How does mutilating your own child sound like a good idea??