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CDC should not recommend infant male circumcision

Published: Monday, March 15, 2010

Updated: Monday, March 15, 2010 00:03

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to make a formal recommendation that all infant males in the U.S. undergo circumcision, a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin of the penis.

This comes in light of studies in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda suggesting circumcised men are less likely to become infected with HIV. Infant male circumcision is common throughout the world, with religion and culture serving as a major reason. The World Health Organization estimates that 30 percent of the world's males are circumcised, with two-thirds of them Muslim.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 56 percent of American males underwent circumcision in 2006, though 85 percent were circumcised in 1965.

Most U.S. medical organizations, like the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics, do not recommend newborn circumcision, and the African studies don't seem to be persuading them.

The CDC should not recommend neonatal male circumcision for the same reasons that female circumcision is rejected.  It irreversibly violates a person's sovereignty over his or her own body with dubious benefits.

The African studies' findings may not be applicable to the U.S. CDC researchers reported in the latest issue of AIDS that circumcision makes no difference in HIV transmission among gay men in Western countries.

Circumcision proponents say personal hygiene is easier with circumcision and that uncircumcised penises need to be washed, but this is important whether someone is circumcised or not. Other circumcision supporters claim the procedure decreases the risk of penile cancer, though the disease is very rare.

A potential risk factor of circumcision on U.S. infants is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study by the CDC. Other AMA-reported complications include sepsis, skin bridge formation, scalded skin syndrome and partial penile amputation.

It's not right for the CDC to impose suggestions based on studies in other countries. Males should make their own decisions when it comes to circumcision so they can avoid cultural bias.

There is inadequate data right now about males circumcised as adults, but physiological studies indicate circumcision causes diminished function, including the loss of nerve endings affecting sexual activity, according to a study published in the British Journal of Urology International.

By definition, circumcision of either sex is tantamount to mutilation because it involves permanent removal of body parts.  While people have a right to their own religious customs, every individual also has a right to his or her own body. An unbiased medical institution should not recommend neonatal male circumcision to American parents.

Neil Manimala is a junior majoring in biomedical sciences.

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Tue Apr 6 2010 11:33
"about 56 percent of American males underwent circumcision in 2006"
I'm just wondering who all these people were who got circumcisions all in the same year. Crazy
Thu Mar 18 2010 05:09
"You don't want to circumcise your son, then don't. A recommendation isn't a law. No one's forcing you to. But stop spreading lies simply because you disagree with other people who do want to circumcise their children. And please, stop it with the mutilation thing. It's insulting to the over 600 milion circumcised males around the world who are perfectly happy and healthy."

What a stupid comment. How does "if you don't want to circumcise your daughter, then don't" sound? Here's one of the biggest "lies" pro-circs like to spread "it's a parent's choice." It's a parent's choice HOW? If an appendix has ruptured, there is a decision to be made. The boy has faulty valves, there may be need for surgery. But what is wrong with a newborn boy?

Stop with the mutilation? It insults 600 million men? No one seems to care about the women who've been mutilated. So it's OK to "insult" them?

Circumcision is mutilation. I'm sorry to be the one to tell you your penis is iatrogenically difficient, but it is...

Bottom line, unless there is a pressing medical issue, it's HIS BODY, HIS CHOICE.

Doctors shouldn't even be performing circumcisions on healthy, non-consenting children, let alone pretend like they can give parents this "choice."

Thu Mar 18 2010 02:33
One problem that would arise from the CDC recommending any sort of unnecessary surgery would be the added liability that hospitals incur from the inevitable botched jobs that happen from time to time - not to mention the patients with resulting permanent physical damage (in addition to the circumcision itself). Would the CDC be indirectly held legally liable as a result? I'm guessing not.
Wed Mar 17 2010 22:39
"Wow, JACKIENO , you really did take out time to write an entire thesis on the penal anatomy and the methodical details of male masturbation!"
You suggest this should not be discussed. Not talking about it was one of the main ways circumcision was perpetrated and perpetuated. Now, thanks to the Internet, the men who hate being circumcised (and those who were severely damaged by it) can at last speak out.

"Why do intactivists think their way is the only way? You don't want to circumcise your son, then don't. ... No one's forcing you to. But stop spreading lies simply because you disagree with other people who do want to circumcise their children."
Not "children", only boy. (There are special laws against doing any such thing to girls, no matter how minor, token, painless and sterile, so nothing like what they do in Africa, and with religion and culture specifically excluded as excuses.) But people who want to circumcise their sons are forcing it on them. And not only as boys, but on the men they will grow up to be. That is why we (and the law) have a right to object.

Donald, there are scientific studies proving that circumcision is harmful too. Any potential benefits of MGC (there are no direct benefits) have to be weighed against the risks and definite harms, and circumcision loses in the balance. But the bottom line is the owner's human rights.

Wed Mar 17 2010 22:20
One thing this article doesn't mention is that the U.S. has the highest rate of circumcision of any modern Western nation, and also a significantly higher AIDS rate than any other modern Western nation, including those in which most of the males are intact (which is most). The recent concept that circumcision somehow protects against HIV acquisition is based on limited studies with flawed scientific methodology and reasoning, whose logical missteps are too numerous to be mentioned here. It's bunk. People who believe this lie are choosing to believe it -- I have read a few articles pushing mass circumcision written by people that I felt had a religious, rather than scientific, interest in the procedure. And some of these also came across as fetishistic, if I dare say. People have different reasons for wanting to slice into babies' genitals, and not one of them is legitimate. Not even a religious one. And especially not one based on a few biased "scientific" experiments that are anything but.
Wed Mar 17 2010 09:15
It is ethically unconscionable for the CDC to be recommending the removal of erogenous tissue for the sake of immunological benefits. The penis is not an organ of the immune system.
Wed Mar 17 2010 04:18
I know this is going to be regarded as an immature comment, but I'm willing to take one for the team:
Uncircumcised penis' are extremely unattractive to me as a female.
However, that could be because in my experience with them they have always smelled very bad, even when the guy was very clean and showered often.
I'm not trying to be rude, just honest. Please make sure you're clean and fresh if you're uncircumcised. If us ladies have to keep up with that then it'd be nice if guys did too.
Tue Mar 16 2010 18:49
"It’s not right for the CDC to impose suggestions" -- I have to agree, anyone that has had a son born in the US already knows the constant badgering from the medical profession. They can make money off the procedure, by the CDC making a recommendation it just gives the medical community another form of coercion to place on parents during a stressful time. My son was born back in 2005, we were ask a total of 3 times before I could get my son safely home (question like "you realize your son hasn't been circumcised yet"). Why were they so interested in my son's penis? I can only think it was the money not the well being of my child.
Tue Mar 16 2010 18:33
We protect our girls, we mutilated our boys.
Genital Protection for girls AND BOYS!

17th Annual Demonstration/March Against Circumcision
March 26th - April 1st 2010
West side of US Capitol
March 30th----- march to the White House 4pm

Stop Infant Circumcision Society

Tue Mar 16 2010 17:09
Wow, JACKIENO , you really did take out time to write an entire thesis on the penal anatomy and the methodical details of male masturbation!

But I have to agree with you about the fact that the foreskin contains thousands of nerve endings critical to the sexual experience - all those circumcised males have no idea what they are missing out on by way of intercoursal/masturbatory pleasure because of their uncaring parents' stupid decision ;)

Tue Mar 16 2010 16:54
Total agree -- anti- circ people don't know what they're talking about.
Tue Mar 16 2010 16:05
Thank you, Neil, for your thoughtful article denouncing the CDC's reckless recommendation for infant male circumcision. Routine infant male circumcision became popular in the English-speaking world in Victorian times as a method to deter masturbation. (As if!) England has long since seen the error of her ways, and circumcision is thankfully once again rare there, as in the rest of Europe. I am delighted that the rate of infant male circumcision has come down in this country since I was born 55 years ago, but it is still far too high. Circumcision is entirely unnecessary as well as being a violation of a person's genitalia. (Interesting that so many of the comments against you are anonymous.)
Tue Mar 16 2010 09:46
The article makes some really good points. However, the Africa studies are meaningless as first world studies do not show any HIV or STD advantages. The sexual issues are understated. Many men that are cut are harmed and many do not know what they lost when parts of their penis were cut off that include main male pleasure zones. This is nerves, blood vessels, protective covering and pleasure zones. The dynamics of the penis is changed for good.

Unfortunately, the main risk of circumcision is fully ignored. There is 100% chance that circumcision will damage the male genitals as to function and pleasure. Not mentioning this fact is tantamount to spreading misinformation. This surgery takes away main male pleasure zones including mechanisms that help gain and maintain an erection.

The foreskin is not just skin and does not just protect the glans (head). Circumcision is now known to ablate the most sensitive parts of the male genitals. This surgery takes away main male pleasure zones with about 20000 fine touch and stretch nerve endings amputated. The foreskin has several parts including the ridged band that is great for ones pleasure (that is why nutters like Kellogg wanted to chop em off, to curtail masturbation), Masturbation is important for a mans physical and mental health. The ridged band directly contacts the vagina for very great pleasure all around. The dynamics of sex and the actual mechanism of the penis are drastically changed by circumcision. The foreskin can normally be slipped all the way, or almost all the way, back to the base of the penis, and also slipped forward beyond the glans. This wide range of motion is the mechanism by which the penis and the orgasmic triggers in the foreskin, frenulum, and glans are stimulated. The only touch organ possessing as rich erogenous innervation as the foreskin is the clitoris. Circumcision deprives man of 2/3ds of the main erogenous zone constituted of the foreskin and the glans.

BTW, the other risks (besides loss of sexual function, ED, PE and loss of PLEASURE) include curved or misshapen erection, painful erection, botches of all sorts (many requiring redo) and death. Boys DIE each year in the US from this sick practice.

Tue Mar 16 2010 05:30
The statistics are skewed, done by individuals who are highly biased by their own religion.

Circumcision didn't prevent HIV in the 1980's and 1990's, when about 85% of males in the USA were circumcised, so why would it work now? Seems like some individuals are being much less than honest about their reasons for attempting to promote circumcision. HIV rates are much lower in Europe, Scandinavia, South America and most of Asia----where males are rarely circumcised.

Circumcision is a fraud and a hoax.
A foreskin is not a birth defect; it is a birthright.

Tue Mar 16 2010 00:28
Has America really gotten to the point where people would rather chop off part of their baby's penis instead of teaching them about condoms at home or in the classroom? The AIDS argument only applies for unprotected sex, which people shouldn't be doing in the first place.
Mon Mar 15 2010 20:59
I was circumcised at birth. I wish my parents had not decided to alter my natural body. I dislike being circumcised so much that Iam restoring my foreskin. As I slowly regain some of what was taken from me by circumcision, my resolve grows to speak out against the harm caused by circumcision.

My penis is my sex organ. It is not my parents. I am the one who uses my penis, not my parents. It is my decision if I wish to alter my body, not my parents.

My Body, My Choice.

Mon Mar 15 2010 20:44
Sorry. Not all men are happily circumcised. They are millions like me who are disgusted that this was forced on them and angry at the "medical" community that encourages it.
Mon Mar 15 2010 18:00
God put it there, leave it there! We think we must be in control. But why tamper with perfection?
Ron Collins
Mon Mar 15 2010 17:54
Male circumcision is a form of permanent body modification, like tattoos and genital piercing. Intactivists believe that every person has a right to decide what permanent body modifications are done to his or her own body.

If an adult wants to tattoo, pierce, or cut his own genitals, more power to him. It is HIS body. It should be HIS choice. However, no one has the right to tattoo, pierce, or cut the genitals of a child.

Mon Mar 15 2010 16:34
crap americans obsessed with their penises.. don't you all folks have other, more serious things to fight about?

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