Let’s talk: Is this controversial practice ok?

It’s a controversial procedure that has fallen in and out of favour over time, but some are arguing for circumcision
Let's Talk

It’s a controversial procedure that has fallen in and out of favour over time, but some are arguing for circumcision to make a comeback.

If you’ve had sons you’ll probably have an opinion on this issue.

Routine circumcision reached a peak in the 1950s with more than 80 per cent of baby boys getting ‘the chop’. Since the 1960s though, circumcision has fallen steadily with the majority of boys keeping all the parts they were born with.

Today around 15 per cent of parents still go through with this surgery, although most do so for religious or cultural reasons.

Many GPs encourage parents to arrange “the kindest cut” because of all the health issues associated with it.
Brian J Morris from the University of Sydney and Alex Wodak, from St Vincent’s Hospital, Darlinghurst, says there are sound medical studies that show benefits of circumcision.

These include the reduction of childhood urinary tract infections, which are common, painful and often cause permanent kidney damage, and protection against many common, as well as not so common, sexually transmitted infections, including the epidemic of cancer-causing types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital herpes, genital ulcer disease and HIV, among others.

“Circumcision also helps protect against penile candidiasis (thrush), inflammatory skin conditions and inferior penile hygiene. It can help those with physical problems, such as a tight foreskin that interferes with passing urine, and an inability to return the foreskin after it is retracted. It virtually eliminates the risk of penile cancer that occurs in one in 1,000 uncircumcised males over their lifetime. And there may also be some reduction in the risk of prostate cancer,” write the professors.

The benefits extend beyond the mere male to their women partners, who are provided some protection against cancer-causing HPV and cervical cancer.

Let’s talk: When you had your sons, what was the attitude towards circumcision? What did you decide and were there any regrets? What would you say if your child told you your grandchild was going to have “the chop”?

  1. Dianne Evans  

    I have one son and he was born circumcised. I was going to have it done as my Father said in the war uncircumcised men had awful problems and he felt it was a safer thing to do while a baby. Prevention of some bad problems later in life.

    • Jen  

      I have two sons and to this day I am pleased we had them circumsied and so are they which is more important.

  2. Chris  

    It took my 14 years to fall pregnant. At 36 years of age, when my doctor asked to do a pregnancy test because I was feeling unwell – he told me the wonderous news that I was indeed pregnant! I had an awesome pregnancy. I felt better than I ever have. Then came time to go in to hospital to bring my baby in to the world. Well – everything I read that could go wrong – went wrong. I had a terrible time of it all and now, 21 years later, I still remember everything in detail! 40 hours after my water broke, my son was brought in to the world via forcepts delivery. My husband and I were asked if we had decided what to do in regard to circumcision and we said no, not for our son – especially after all the trauma he’d been through trying to get out into the world!. Actually, all the nurses and doctors in the theatre, congratulated us on doing what we thought was best for our son and not what the ‘norm’ was. I have asked my son if he would have liked to have been circumcised and he said definately not.

  3. Maz  

    I had 4 boys all were circumsised it just seemed like common sense to me. My first husband and I had a friend who had not been circumsised and developed an infection that caused him a lot of problems so the Dr advised a circumcision at age 25. After visiting him in hospital and seeing the pain he was in confirmed my resolve to make sure my sons had the chop. I have 5 grandsons only two have been done. My daughter, a nurse, wouldn’t even listen to my reasons and didn’t have him done even though his father was and wanted it done. I pray that my grandsons who haven’t been done don’t have any problems in the future.

  4. My doctor refused to do it for my son when he was born saying we should wait until he was at least 6 months. I didn’t agree with waiting but had no choice as we lived it the country and only had one doctor. Consequently at 6 months I thought it would be much harder on the baby and it was not done. My husband wishes he had had it done as a baby because at 45 it is a lot more stressful and painful.

  5. Jill Austin  

    It’ an age old discussion.We had it at our childbirth class 34 years ago-the group took less than 5 mins to dicuss all voted no.As far as I know none have had problems.It is a barbaric process when done on newborns without anaesthetic.Poor kids.I realise there are people who have religious convictions but I believe they look after the health of the child at that time.
    Yes I agree being older it is more painful but being taught to clean yourself properly is not difficult.

    • Sandy Williams  

      Yep agree teach your sons hygiene and there are no problems. If you use the hygiene argument to justify circumcision how come the female circumcision is considered barbaric. Poor hygiene in females cause many problems as well and some smell like an old fish factory. If it is clean no problems. Many women I know want boys circumcised for asthetics alone. Tight foreskin can be rectified.

    • Sanra Lea  

      It is not a barbaric custom – babies’ nerve endings are not as developed as when they are older. It heals very rapidly and virtually ensures that when the boys grow, they don’t get horrendous infections and genital ulcers, smelly penises – it ‘s much more sanitary, / cleaner and I think it actually looks nicer – seeing a sheath dropping over a smelly penis, then pulling it back to reveal an ugly red infected skin is revolting.

    • Sanra Lea  

      It is not a barbaric custom – babies’ nerve endings are not as developed as when they are older. It heals very rapidly and virtually ensures that when the boys grow, they don’t get horrendous infections and genital ulcers, smelly penises – it ‘s much more sanitary, / cleaner and I think it actually looks nicer – seeing a sheath dropping over a smelly penis, then pulling it back to reveal an ugly red infected skin is revolting.

    • Sanra Lea  

      It is not a barbaric custom – babies’ nerve endings are not as developed as when they are older. It heals very rapidly and virtually ensures that when the boys grow, they don’t get horrendous infections and genital ulcers, smelly penises – it ‘s much more sanitary, / cleaner and I think it actually looks nicer – seeing a sheath dropping over a smelly penis, then pulling it back to reveal an ugly red infected skin is revolting.

  6. i have two sons my side of family had all the boys done i looked at it this way their father isnt circumsised so i didnt see the need for it to be done because they were born with foreskin so it was there for reason they havent had any problems so far and they are 31 &25yrs

  7. Anita  

    Had both my sons done as soon as they were born. They have never had any problems it is cleaner and healthier for those that have had it done. They are now both in their fifties.

  8. Maureen Mealings  

    Depends what your beliefs are.having held held many babies thru this procedure they stop crying as soon as the procedure is finished.
    My reason for having my son a circumcised was having worked in radium theatre and having specialists saying time and time again when treating cancer of the cervix if they had circumcised sexualartners this would never have happened. These with Jewosh faith pr similar the females never suffer Ca of the Cervix.However that was 40years ago.I would welcome anyone who has to date theories on this subject,

  9. Sheila mitchell  

    When I had my son 40 years ago I asked my doc for his opinion all he would say was if I wanted it done he would do it if I didn’t that was fine too I decided to have it done and I could here my new baby screaming but when they gave him to me and I put him to my breast all was ok but I’m sure I suffered far more than he did Would I do it again? I don’t think so

  10. My husband was not circumcised at 59 he was diagnosed with kidney failure. Life changed forever, very sad .

  11. Lyn  

    My only son is 43 and was circumcised at six days old, as were the vast majority of boys born at that time. Of my five grandsons, three have been circumcised – all good except for the stress, worry, expense, ridicule etc my daughter and son-in-law were subjected to, mostly from friends, medical receptionists etc. when trying to arrange this for their three boys as babies. Once done, no problems at all ever since. One other grandson whose mother said no, even though the father (my son) wanted it, has had numerous urological problems for 10 years. I worked for a GP for years and he always said that the only kids who had problems in that area that he saw were uncircumcised. As the article above says it is not just the boys who have the extra protection from many problems because they are circumcised, it is their partners later in life. I also believe it is quicker, less traumatic and heals faster if done in the first week of life, before the mother and baby come home from hospital if possible. I have seen children and adults having to be circumcised in later life and it is more traumatic and risky the older they are.

  12. Susan Bell  

    This is the same as female genital mutilation.

    • Maree Le Fevre  

      Rubbish. You obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Please educate yourself.

      • MrPhysio+  

        Yes, I agree with Maree. As a circumcised health professional, I am glad to have had the surgery done as a baby. The medical argument wins over the emotional argument, in my opinion. Male circumcision is not performed to decrease sexual function for cultural reasons, it is done for hygiene, the opposite occurs with females.

    • Lyn Black  

      What !!! You are in the dark ages madam. So many reasons for having it done.I suggest you do some reading.

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