by Mary Fischer
According to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics, circumcision rates for newborn boys have dropped by six percentage points over the past three decades. Annual hospital discharge data of between 7,000 and 12,000 baby boys was examined, and interestingly enough, the biggest dip in circumcisions occurred in western states in the U.S. as opposed to other areas of the country.
And I guess the data really isn't all that surprising considering how controversial the subject of circumcision has become, particularly in the last few years or so. It seems like more and more parents are becoming opposed to the idea -- something which I can't fully understand.
When my husband and I had our son seven years ago, the decision over whether or not to have him circumcised wasn't even a question. Our pediatrician performed it in the hospital the day after he was born, and not once did the thought of whether or not it was the right thing to do cross our minds.
First and foremost, we knew we wanted it done for hygiene reasons. It's so much harder to keep that area clean if the procedure isn't performed -- and we believed it would leave him more prone to infection if he was not circumcised.
Second, and I really don't care how stupid or cliche this sounds, we didn't want him to get teased in the high school locker room because he was the only boy who hadn't been circumcised. Seriously, have you ever seen an uncircumcised penis? I have. Once. While I was working in the toddler room at a day care center when I was 18 and had to change the diaper of a little boy who hadn't been snipped. It looks ... well ... different. Noticeably different. (And there was no way I was going to let my kid be the dude with the weird looking penis.)
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Lastly, we worried about how being uncircumcised might affect his sex life down the road. What kind of parents would we have been to put a damper on things in that department? We feared that it wouldn't be as pleasurable for him, or that it might be a turn off for a lot of women, which could be pretty humiliating. (I know I'd want to hop out of bed and run if I saw all that extra skin staring back at me.)
Yes, I understand why some parents are opposed to circumcision. I'll admit that reading about some of the horror stories that have occurred with the procedure are pretty scary. I can see where it might sway someone's decision as far as their baby boy is concerned.
But I'm just not sure that the decline in how many newborns are being circumcised is a good thing. Sure, every parent is entitled to his or her own opinion on the subject, and what they choose to do when their baby arrives is up to them. But hopefully before deciding not to go through with it, they'll do their research to ensure they're making the best decision for their child. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, and that recommendation combined with the other three reasons I listed is more than enough to convince me to do it again if I ever were to have another baby boy.
Is your baby circumcised? Why or why not?