Circumcision

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Would you get your kids circumcised or not? Is it wrong to not wait and allow them to choose?

Discuss.

 
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It’s unnecessary genital mutilation. As far as I can tell there is no reason to do it at birth aside from religion.

 
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I’m with Einar. It’s unnecessary – any benefits can be achieved with good hygiene which is a good habit to instil in boys anyway.

 
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I’m going to have to disagree with you guys on this one.

Actually, and this surprised the hell out of me, circumcision is effective at reducing the transmission of female-to-male HIV by about 50%! That means it’s essentially an HIV vaccine (vaccines can be exceedingly successful in the 50% range, especially when given to most of the population). Additionally, it has very few associated risks/side effects. As such, it is gaining a lot of support, especially in Africa or other areas with high HIV infection rates.

 
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HIV reduction is neat, but not really a selling point for me. I’m just pro-mutilation. Sorry, future son — you’ll have to deal with it like the rest of the men in your family.

 
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If you direct your attention here some of today’s most respected have made other theories regarding circumcisions.

 
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I remember reading about that actually: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6176209.stm

There’s a Dr Kevin from the WHO in there with a brilliant surname.

Whilst it does reduce the risk of getting HIV, that isn’t reason enough to do it in a developed country. Perhaps I should add to my previous comment that any benefits can be achieved with an education in how to have safe sex, which is also a good habit. Circumcision is better than uncircumcised unprotected sex, but you should be trying to encourage people to go for the better solution rather than think ‘Hey, I’m less likely than him to get AIDS if I don’t use a condom, so I won’t use one’.

 
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Well, ideally you’d be circumcised and use a condom. I would view it as a vaccine. Yes, you can educate on safer practices, but you can also give them a tool (haha…shush) to help keep them safer. You can hardly argue that education is fully effective since we have plenty of HIV and accidentally pregnancy in the US as well.

‘Hey, I’m less likely than him to get AIDS if I don’t use a condom, so I won’t use one’.

First off, it only works on HIV. It doesn’t stop babies from being made, nor does it stop other STDs (afaik). Secondly, using a condom should reduce transmission of HIV on top circumcision. Thirdly, this is the same (faulty in my opinion) argument people use against teaching sex ed (and teaching abstinence instead). “Hey, if I know how to use a condom I’m pretty safe, so I guess I’ll go ahead and have young, unmarried sex.” They think sex-ed will drastically increase dangerous behavior in kids as opposed to just scaring the hell out of them.

 
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http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/men/reproductive/042.html

But I support it.

It has been shown to reduce risks of UTI in men, reduce the risk of contracting STDs in men, and reduce the risks of the woman in the relationship developing cervical cancer.

There really are not any drawbacks to it, besides the fact that the procedure has to be done in the first place.

Most physicians (obgyns, which is who does it usually, not the paediatrician), say that if done within the first few weeks, preferably first few days, that the nerve endings in the penis have not yet finished developing, and the baby only feels mild discomfort.

One thing I am happy about, is that more recently, doctors have started numbing the area or giving the baby low does of other pain medicine

It is not a procedure to enter into blindly. Expecting parents should research it thoroughly to decide if they agree or disagree.

 
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Just a point on the aids thing, not only does it reduce the risk but there are cells called langerhans cells in the foreskin which actually actively take up the AIDs virus. Although i agree that it would be better to have either protected sex or sex with a parnter who has been tested for STDs than count on your lack of foreskin to keep you safe.

The original reason for circumcision in the eastern countries was that when you peed in the sand tiny particles would bounce back and get lodged behind the foreskin causing infection and irritation. This was also seen as a common event for un-circumcised soldiers fighting in the Gulf war.

Also as a note you can in effect ‘grow back’ your foreskin by stretching the skin on the shaft of the penis so it would have all the physical characteristics of the original as well as moving in the same manner.

Oh and there are the effects on the central nervous system which are currently being investigated – i know this has been in the news at some point so I’ll try and find an article rather than attempting to explain it – ok couldn’t find a news article on it but here is a scientific article about it circumcision and pain

As for my personal opinion, im not sure, partly due to comming from a religion where it is commonly practised.

 
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You can hardly argue that education is fully effective since we have plenty of HIV and accidentally pregnancy in the US as well.

The current level of education is not fully effective.

First off, it only works on HIV. It doesn’t stop babies from being made, nor does it stop other STDs (afaik).

My bad, I still have some trouble using AIDS instead of HIV and vice versa.

Secondly, using a condom should reduce transmission of HIV on top circumcision.

I think the condom should be used as the primary method of reducing transmission, then (perhaps) circumcision.

Thirdly, this is the same (faulty in my opinion) argument people use against teaching sex ed (and teaching abstinence instead).

It’s hardly the same argument. Are you saying abstinence is to condoms/pills as condoms are to circumcision? One promotes no sex, another a knowledge of how to have sex safely, the last either makes boys (slightly) more confident that they won’t get HIV.

 
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Sorry, I wasn’t trying to correct your use of AIDS/HIV. I was trying to point out that people use condoms for more things than just HIV prevention, so I don’t think it would lead to less use of condoms.

Also, yes, I’m saying that, metaphorically, those are the same. The idea is that if you give someone some form of protection then they are more likely to act in an unsafe manner. I don’t think this is necessarily a safe assumption. It was admittedly an odd metaphor.

I guess my point is, what’s the problem with circumcision? Why not get it if it has a strong benefit and low risks?

 
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I actually have heard that it lowers the chances of getting other diseases such as herpes.

I read once (oh, dear internet, please shelter me, the anonymous teenager) that circumcision lowers the chances of getting this

 
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I guess my point is, what’s the problem with circumcision? Why not get it if it has a strong benefit and low risks?

Well some people think that you are taking away the rights of the child to choose. Personally i think that if you are going to see it as taking away their rights then you also must not get them vaccinated, bring them up as any specific religion or send them to school – all of which could potentially have harmful effects on the childs physical and/or psychological state. Part of being a child is that you are not yet fully informed enough to choose some things, your parents or guardians must make those decisions for you, they might not always be the best decisions but for the most part they are made with good intentions in mind.

 
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Sorry, I wasn’t trying to correct your use of AIDS/HIV. I was trying to point out that people use condoms for more things than just HIV prevention, so I don’t think it would lead to less use of condoms.

Fair point.

Also, yes, I’m saying that, metaphorically, those are the same. The idea is that if you give someone some form of protection then they are more likely to act in an unsafe manner. I don’t think this is necessarily a safe assumption. It was admittedly an odd metaphor.

I think it is a pretty safe assumption. Promoting safe sex if you have sex would lead to more people having sex than if you were promoting abstinence (free condoms, partners less likely to have a disease…). Whether or not it would lead to a rise in STDs is another matter, and I agree that would not be a safe assumption.

I guess my point is, what’s the problem with circumcision? Why not get it if it has a strong benefit and low risks?

The benefits it gives are easily achievable by other means, and these means have other benefits which would be more difficult to achieve if they had been circumcised. There’s also that it is an irreversible (not sure how far bobo’s technique can work) procedure, removing part of their body without their consent. That doesn’t happen with vaccines.

 
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That doesn’t happen with vaccines.

No but there are difficulties with vaccines and the possibility of permemant damage.

 
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I think it is a pretty safe assumption. Promoting safe sex if you have sex would lead to more people having sex than if you were promoting abstinence (free condoms, partners less likely to have a disease…).

Ok, “fair point” right back at ya. :) I do disagree with teaching abstinance, but you’re right that sex education will likely lead to an increase in overall sex, though likely also a decrease in total unprotected sex.

There’s also that it is an irreversible (not sure how far bobo’s technique can work) procedure, removing part of their body without their consent.

Well, you get your umbilical cord cut as well (I realize that’s somewhat grey, but it was the best example that came to mind). Studies have shown little to no loss (and sometimes improvement) in sexual performance due to circumsicion. You might lose some sensitivity near the glans, but that’s about it. It’s not much of a loss, and in my mind anything that can help prevent STD transmission with low risks of side effects is a good move. If all males got this procedure done, I think we’d have a decent chance of completely wiping HIV off the planet within a few generations.

EDIT: Ok, no – I forgot that HIV is transmitted through non-sexual means as well. If it were only an STD, then my claim might hold. However, it would severely reduce the spread of the virus and could significantly help contain it.

 
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Honestly, I think circumcision + a condom would be about as effective as just a condom w.r.t stopping the spread of STDs. After all, the area that circumcision affects is entirely covered by a condom during sex.

Anyway, I disagree with the idea that we should cut something off just because it might possibly prevent complications if the child decides to be stupid later on in life. Should we perhaps lop off their middle fingers, so they can’t flick people off?

 
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Should we perhaps lop off their middle fingers, so they can’t flick people off?

Oh, that’s not even close to the same thing. :-P

The tip of the foreskin has little use besides some sensitivity, which the rest of the skin around there should maintain just fine. If this causes almost no negative side-effects, why defend it so much?

 
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No but there are difficulties with vaccines and the possibility of permemant damage.

True, I was more getting at that whoever has a circumcision will (not might) have had part of their body removed without their consent, and it will be irreversible.

Well, you get your umbilical cord cut as well (I realize that’s somewhat grey, but it was the best example that came to mind).

I don’t think these are really comparable. Your umbilical cord falls off anyway, and the reasons for cutting it are nothing like to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by 50%. I’m not sure if you can walk around (or whatever newborns do) with an umbilical cord + placenta attached until it falls off, but it is going to come off, and practically you might as well cut it off.

Studies have shown little to no loss (and sometimes improvement) in sexual performance due to circumsicion.

That’s no reason for being circumcised.

If all males got this procedure done….it would severely reduce the spread of the virus and could significantly help contain it.

It would in Africa (presumably where condoms are not freely available), but elsewhere?

What’s so bad about encouraging condom use alone? It helps to a far greater degree than circumcision, and even overrides the effects of circumcision (I’m going to need a shorter word for that). Circ is unnecessary and involves irreversibly removing part of someone’s body without their consent, without any need.

 
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Actually, circumcision isn’t irreversable. I saw an online blog, I can’t remember where, that showed by taping the foreskin stretched as far as possible, after 6 months you could have a fully grown foreskin. It was weird, and probably uncomfortable, but it worked.

 
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Yeah, that was on an episode of Bullshit.

Man, that was more penis than I ever wanted to see in half an hour.

Anyway:

Oh, that’s not even close to the same thing. :-P

Sorry, I meant the tip of the middle finger. You’d be pretty much as dextrous, but you couldn’t properly flip people off. Sure, you’d be a bit less sensitive, but that just makes it a better comparison.

A different example: why not just remove everyone’s appendix and tonsils? They’re pretty worthless, and it’s possible that in the future these structures will become infected. Instead, we usually wait until something actually happens.

I suppose it just depends on your view of surgery. Should things be cut off just because they might cause problems later, or should they be left and only removed if they do cause problems?

 
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Sorry, I meant the tip of the middle finger.

I think the comparisom was more aimed at the fact that flipping someone off is nothing like contracting aids/getting phimosis/etc.

As for the tonsils, oh don’t even start on that quagmire of conflicting opinion! :p Adenoids used to be taken out as routine, then it changed to taking them out if you snored, then only when you had tonsilitis and we are now at the stage where the majority of doctors will refuse to take out tonsils even in the face of repeated infections.

True, I was more getting at that whoever has a circumcision will (not might) have had part of their body removed without their consent, and it will be irreversible.

Ok fair point but it’s still a risk and what about preventing/forcing your child to do other things? Although this may be one of the only ways parents chose to physically permenantly alter their child what about all the psychological ways?

Another point to consider is fitting in. Say the boy is born into a Jewish family, now if he is not circumcised then he can not be barmitzvah….so do you get the child circumcised at 8 days old or wait until he is at an age of 13, a time where many young boys are highly concisous of their genetalia and embarassed by people (doctors) looking at it let alone cutting bits off of it. Plus at 13 he is going to go through a lot more pain and a rougher time healing than at 8 days old.

Ok a little story, a friend of mine actually had to have a circumcision for medical reasons at the age of 20. Now the older you are the more difficult it is to heal as with any operation for the simple reason that your body is not as hot at keeping up with things as it was when you were little. So he has his operation at a very good hospital by a very good doctor and ended up with complications. As a result he had to sit his final year exams of his university degree in a separate room and be allowed extra breaks as he was in so much pain. He had to explain to the examiners that the reason he kept touching his crotch was due to the pain of the material rubbing on him. He developed infections, because when you are an adult it is a lot harder to keep an area such as this clean, you can’t walk around in the nude all day, you have commitments, you get sweaty – even with twice daily showers and regularly changing your underwear and dressings as often as possible you are still at a greater risk of infection.

So taking in all the stress, pain, embrassment and unfortunate timing of all of this would it not have been better for him to have had it done when he was little, could heal properly and the operation would not have caused any disruption to his life (i.e. you dont go to school, work or take exams or really have any commitments at all when you are a baby) not to mention the fact that he wouldn’t heve ended up with the problem which caused him to need the operation in the first place.

Oh and recreating the foreskin is a very viable and fairly common practice and results in a structure which is physically almost identical to the original, although i do admit you can not grow back the extra nerve endings however by strectching an area of skin which is already full of nerves you do get a good approximation of the sensations.

 
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why not just remove everyone’s appendix and tonsils? They’re pretty worthless, and it’s possible that in the future these structures will become infected. Instead, we usually wait until something actually happens.

Surgery inside the abdominal cavity is significantly more dangerous and expensive, ruling out the appendix. The tonsils are actually part of the lymphatic system, and thus part of the immune system’s fight against infection.

 
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The tonsils are actually part of the lymphatic system, and thus part of the immune system’s fight against infection.

er…the langerhans cells in the foreskin are actually part of the primary immune defense, which is why they cause such a problem with the aids virus.