Circumcision: the awkward elephant in the hospital

Lyon Keating:

Yes, I have sent you a penis email in the form of an anti-circumcision video and my own summation.  Yes, haha, get it out, since the content of this email is the word that can make us all laugh ever so much.  Believe me, penis humor has been known to make me laugh pretty constantly and is some of the best humor out there.  However, in all seriousness here, I still can’t quite wrap my head around male and female circumcision as a practice in our country or anywhere for that matter.  Hopefully you’ll hear me out for the next paragraph and my hope of all hopes is that you’ll see beyond your own personal, societal norm beliefs and see the research done here and see how the research in general speaks for itself and acknowledge that this is a totally useless practice (similar to the practice done on little girls and how we view that!) that has no place in a modern, enlightened society, and only brings upon irreparable harm for our boys and men.

Our country is the only modern industrialized country to consistently still participate in this practice.  Areas of the world that also commonly practice and come up 2nd and 3rd in regions that do this are tribal Africa and Islamic Africa/Asia.  Isn’t it nice to know that our hospitals have similar practices to these places?  In the U.S. about one baby dies for every 100,000 circumcisions done (about 5 to 10 die a year).  Other complications and traumatic acts include accidental penis amputation (also very rare) and 50% of circumcisions performed need corrective surgery.  Also, important to note is that hospitals/the medical community are in the business of selling foreskin for personal profit!  Do not use these products — Invitrogen, “Magic Skin” treatment (Apligraf), used in cosmetics for wealthy customers for $1000 a vial for products called Valveta (Intercytex).  Really is this happening?  Really?

The video I sent you below is 30 minutes long.  It is a riveting video (by a guy named Ryan nonetheless) and very information and well put together.  I know most of you won’t watch it because, “hey it’s 30 minutes long Ryan, what the heck.  And by the way, I feel totally confident about my penis or my partner’s and I’ll do whatever I want with my son’s penis!”  Yes you have that right obviously but really it’s not about that.  It’s about doing what’s best for all future boys and growing from ill founded medical practices and breaking traditions that don’t make sense or have any real scientific basis and when practiced can cause irreparable harm.  If you don’t check out the video I’ve summed it below in bullet points in a very organized way and hopefully you’ll at least take a look at that.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is an easy topic to brush off and feel weird about because it is pertaining to a very private, socially sensitive part of the body.  Even still, it needs to be talked about.  We perform this extremely traumatic, am putative surgery on roughly 50% of newborn boys on distorted/loose/false facts.  Can you imagine if any other part of the body were subject to this type of treatment in newborns (like our earlobes or eyelids or fingernails or whatever)?  We would be up in arms and appalled!  It is a tradition in the U.S. and it has long outlived it’s usefulness and function.  One of it’s original intentions was to cure masturbation!  And ya know what?  It actually sort of achieves this because it removes 10,000 to 20,000 nerve endings (major sensitive areas of the penis) in adult males, thus making it harder to be sexually excited (that’s what nerve endings do).  Circumcision has nothing to do with promoting cleanliness.  It has nothing to do with reducing penile cancer, urinary tract infections, cervical cancer, HIV transmission.  The practice needs to end!

WARNING, if you do watch the video there is a minute video of a circumcision performed in it (the speaker Ryan warns you of it so don’t worry it won’t catch you by surprise).  It is morbid and sends chills down your spine at both viewing the shrills of the baby and the ease and relaxation at which the doctor is performing the surgery as if nothing is wrong at all.  However, if you do believe in the practice it seems appropriate that you should watch this at least and see for yourself what you are doing to your baby.

Intact love,




General Facts

  • 500 to 1 mil done each year, about 1 death occurs every 100,000 circumcisions done
  •  horrible complications from recovery and correcting circumcision surgery, accidental amputation of the penis does occur

–50% require corrective surgery due to a bad first surgery

  • male and female both have foreskin (name for part of clitoris and penis)
  • soap and water on a regular basis are just as effective as circumcision at preventing problems
  • foreskin is a protective tool/function and has a purpose for babies, meant to be attached to penis at first and not retractable and protect from infection or penis abrasion
  • –keeps skin moist and healthy and safe


In Adults

  • foreskin is 12 to 15 square inches, most erogenous part of human male (10,000 to 20,000 nerve endings)…studies on intact and circumcised males show circumcised males have an enormous decreased sensitivity

–though this study doesn’t show it specifically, thought of as a reason as to why condoms might not be used as much by circumcised males (condom adds another layer of de-sensitization)


Details of Circumcision Surgery

  • removes a healthy, unique, functioning organ part
  • not used as treatment (thought of as pre-emptive)
  • social, cosmetic surgery performed on minors…child’s rights come to mind

–promoted on boys, illegal on girls

  • lifelong function loss (foreskin has functions and nerves)
  • foreskin used for commercial purposes


Commercial Foreskin Use

  • used for research and sold to companies
  • companies include Invitrogen, “Magic Skin” treatment (Apligraf), used in cosmetics for wealthy customers for $1000 a vial for products called Valveta (Intercytex)


Where it’s done

  • In the U.S. it’s done the most, 2nd most is tribal youth in Africa and third most is Islamic youth

— It’s our medical practice compared closely to their tribal/religious practices

–U.S. is only modern industrial country to perform surgery consistently


Medically why it was done and what it was suppose to prevent/cure from 1860s to mid 1900s (all of which have been disproven since)

  • masturbation, epilepsy, phimosi, paralysis, hip-joint, disease, digestive disorders, spinal curvature, dementia, clumsiness, bet-wetting, rheumatic disorders, asthma, syphilis, constipation, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, insomnia, night terrors


Medically why it is done now and what it is thought to prevent/cure today (all off which have also been disproven)

  • appearance and easier to clean?

–cosmetic surgery is a matter of choice and opinion (who is to say what looks better but is that really the only reason to put your baby or anybody through a traumatic surgery?)

–soap and water (only water in the beginning when baby can’t retract it’s foreskin) have proved to be just as effective at keeping the penis clean rather than removing the foreskin


  • circumcision reduces penile cancer

–American Cancer Society does not support this

–rate of penile cancer is 1 in 100,000 which is the same rate for average death caused by circumcision surgery.


  • circumcision reduces urinary tract infections

–study done in 1986 was flawed.  The procedures used gave the people in the study urinary tract infections by improperly taking care of the penis.  Results did not represent a realistic situation pertaining to proper use of soap and water


  • circumcision reduces cervical cancer in future women partners

–study in 2002 was flawed.  Authors concluded that HPV found in women (which can cause cancer) was caused by men with foreskin in the study

–upon further review, the overwhelming figures showed that the HPV carried by the man was different than the one carried by the woman with cancer so the cancer could not have come from the original man from the study


  • circumcision reduces HIV (Aids) transmission

–trials performed in Africa (randomly circumcised half of a group of men and watched to see who got HIV in 3 month period)…study said intact men were 60% more likely to get HIV

–Circumcised group were given twice as many condoms and safe sex devices/contraceptives.

–Because of the surgery the circumcised group physically could not have sex for the first 6 weeks of the 3 month testing time

–and something to ponder…The U.S. has the highest circumcision rate and highest HIV rate (would think this wouldn’t be if circumcision actually reduced HIV transmission)


Why parents go along with circumcision in hospital

  • parents trust physicians
  • complications and severity not mentioned and trivialized
  • foreskin functions and importance not stated or mentioned
  • ethical questions are not mentioned or discussed
  • conflict of interest

–hospitals make a profit off the surgery and from selling the tissue of the foreskin as gone into detail above


Question: Why don’t we have to make other cosmetic surgery choices when a baby is born?  Why is circumcision the only yes or no choice?


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