Thursday, February 10, 2011

Practice presenting "intact facts" from the center, without attachment to outcome

Hi Birth Peeps,
I'm a bit late, have lots of projects on the burners these days. This may be preachin' to the choir, but I said I'd send a few more comments on circumcision.

Just yesterday a friend told me about someone she knew was circumcising their baby for the same reason that has been used for a century, cleanliness and to prevent sexually transmitted disease. My friend knew it wasn't accurate, but didn't know what other facts to offer up. She was quite surprised to learn the following!

Remember, we are changing birth in our culture with kindness, patience, and understanding. If this subject riles you up, return to as centered a place as possible before you teach. If you tend to avoid conflict, and turn to "whatever the parents choose" as a way to reinforce your old agreement, see if you can stretch a bit and find a way to simply talk about the facts--without being attached to outcome (that outcome being to avoid conflict or to prevent the circumcision).

A Few Intact Facts:
• The foreskin is a retractable, double-layer fold of nerve-rich skin—it is the only such tissue on the human body uniquely designed to protect and lubricate the glans (head of the penis) and to provide sexual pleasure.

• When the foreskin is amputated 20,000 nerves are cut, as well as damaging other nerves in the penis.9 In addition, blood vessels are severed, forever disrupting the normal blood flow to the penis.10

• The foreskin on an adult penis is 12 square inches.

• Because the foreskin is the most sensitive part (and the glans the least sensitive), an intact penis has four times the sensitivity of the circumcised penis.11

• When the foreskin is amputated, 75 percent of the total source of pleasure is lost—before the boy will ever experience that pleasure.

The glans and foreskin at birth, and before circumcision
• In the womb, from about 16 weeks gestation, the glans is covered by the foreskin.
• At birth, the foreskin is almost never retractable; it is naturally fused to the glans.
• The fusion naturally dissolves in childhood, the average time is about ten years, but it may take longer (or never retract, and that is normal, too).

Circumcision Complications
The incidence of medical complications, 2 – 10%, ranges from mild to severe. There are twenty different potential circumcision complications, including hemorrhage, infection, permanently altering the length and shape of the penis, and in rare and tragic cases, amputating the penis.
However, keep in mind two complications that affect 100% of circumcised males: severe pain during the procedure and permanently desensitizing and eliminating 75% of sensitivity.14


  1. I don't doubt anything you have written on this topic. I have two sons with intact penises. Circumcision violates our faith in the human body that mother nature knows what she's doing and surgery is reserved for a medical crisis.

    However, my research on circumcision has lead me to conclude that there is no actual difference in the lifespan of a circumcised man and an intact one. That the risks of complication during the circumcision are balanced out by health risks (presumably STDs or infection) caused during a man's life. I realize much of the infection may be cause by retracting a young boys penis and causing small ruptures—which is unnecessary and to be avoided. I also realize that condoms are a far more effective method of preventing STDs than circumcision.

    I am just beginning to mentor parents. I intend to talk with them about this topic. I have great difficulty finding accurate, unbiased information on this topic. I live in NY and many of the parents I mentor will be Jewish. For many them circumcision is not even a topic of discussion. Is it accurate to acknowledge that good, loving, informed parents may make either choice for their son. That his lifespan is likely to be the same either way. The idea that a circumcised penis is less sensitive, is a tough argument for most circumcised men to believe. (not scientific, just a fact of human perception). And there does seem to be evidence that circumcision can reduce contracting STDs. Please offer correct me if this isinaccurate. As I said, it is nearly impossible to find truly unbiased factual evidence.

  2. I too have read an article relating to the STD issue in un-circumcised men. It came from an article on this website:
    It was a study done in sub-saharan Africa and claims that it prevents HIV by 51% in heterosexual males.
    My son is uncircumcised and I have read through as much info as possible and watched a few videos (one that discusses the nerves of the foreskin - great video). My husband and I made the decision not to cut based on this information but I am also astounded at how much confliction information is out there! As for studies - one never knows when reading the internet the background of the study, how it was done, how it was controlled, etc. How, as educators do we share the 'facts' and know which facts are true?