Monday, November 21, 2011

Should We Circumcise Our Son?

When we found out that baby #3 was a boy, we had to ask ourselves this question.  

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis.  Studies do show some benefits to doing this, however, not enough for a formal recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics.  So at the end of the day, it is up to the parents.

In a nutshell, here are some reasons to circ or not to circ:

Reasons to circumcise:

  • A slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). A circumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life; an uncircumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 100 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life.
  • A lower risk of getting cancer of the penis. However, this type of cancer is very rare in all males.
  • A slightly lower risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Prevention of foreskin infections.
  • Prevention of phimosis, a condition in uncircumcised males that makes foreskin retraction impossible.
  • Easier genital hygiene.
  • May be tradition because all the other men in the family are circumcised or may have religious or cultural reasons

Reasons to not circumcise:
  • Fear of the risks. Complications are rare and usually minor but may include bleeding, infection, cutting the foreskin too short or too long, and improper healing.
  • Belief that the foreskin is needed. Some people feel the foreskin is needed to protect the tip of the penis. Without it, the tip of the penis may become irritated and cause the opening of the penis to become too small. This can cause urination problems that may need to be surgically corrected.
  • Belief it can affect sex. Some feel that circumcision makes the tip of the penis less sensitive, causing a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life.
  • Belief that proper hygiene can lower health risks. Boys can be taught proper hygiene that can lower their chances of getting infections, cancer of the penis, and STIs.


  1. Since we're including a Christian perspective, I find it important to note that circumcision is not required for Christians as it is for Jews. Only metaphorical circumcision of the heart is required for Christians.

  2. Today, most Christian denominations are neutral about biblical male circumcision, neither requiring it nor forbidding it.

  3. Nevertheless, circumcision played an important role in changing Anglo-American attitudes toward Judaism. It prepared us for the recent theological emphasis on the significance of the body. Christians are exploring Jewish practices they once despised. Sabbath rest, particularly, has benefits that bridge the spiritual and the physical. So does biblical thinking and practice about sex and food. The current debate on circumcision is an opportunity to explore the sanctification of the body and to think about the things that connect Christians to—and disconnect them from—the physical children of Abraham.