As a mother or father, the decision of whether or not to circumcise your son is a difficult one. You'll hear a lot of different voices, all of them loud and all of them claiming different things. Some people believe that all baby boys should be circumcised. These people may claim health benefits, or they may feel that the circumcised penis is somehow more desirable or attractive. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who feel that routine infant circumcision is a barbaric practice which introduces unnecessary surgical risks and lessens sexual satisfaction later in life.
No one can tell you what you should do as a parent. The choice of whether or not to circumcise is an intensely personal one which involves societal, religious and health considerations. However, if you know some of the facts about circumcision, it may make it easier for you to make an informed choice.
It is fairly common to hear circumcision advocated because it is healthy. While it is true that circumcision does have some health benefits, these benefits are fairly limited. The World Health Organization has stated that circumcised men who have unprotected vaginal sex are less likely to be infected with the HIV virus than uncircumcised men. However, this is no magic solution. Casual, unprotected sex is always dangerous, even if you've been circumcised. The uncircumcised man who uses condoms and safely selects his sexual partners will be much safer than the circumcised man who is not similarly careful.
Another commonly cited benefit of circumcision is better penile hygiene. It is true that an uncircumcised penis requires more care than a circumcised penis, and it is also true that poor penile hygiene can sometimes lead to health issues. However, care of the uncircumcised penis is not overly difficult either. Doctors recommend that uncircumcised men retract their foreskin and wash under it once a day. This simple act, performed in the bath or shower, will solve almost all problems.
Circumcision proponents sometimes make claims that the circumcised penis looks more masculine or more attractive. This sort of argument merely shows the particular aesthetic preferences of the person speaking. People who are more used to the appearance of the circumcised penis may think that it is more attractive, but there are also a lot of people who prefer the appearance of the uncircumcised penis too.
It is also common for circumcision advocates to claim that uncircumcised boys will be teased because they will be different from the other boys in their class. While it's true that the majority of American men are circumcised, circumcision is actually by far the minority if you look at it globally. The World Health Organization estimates that about two thirds of the world's men are uncircumcised. Even in America, circumcision numbers seem to be falling. In 2010, the CDC stated that the American circumcision rate had dropped to 33%. So, even if circumcision was the norm in your locker room, it may be an anomaly in your son's.
There are also a lot of strong voices crying against circumcision, too. Some argue that it causes unnecessary pain and suffering to small children. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees: There is significant evidence that newborns who are circumcised without analgesia experience pain and physiologic distress. Making sure your son's doctor uses anesthetic can help to minimize this pain.
Opponents of circumcision also claim that circumcision can reduce the sensitivity of the penis. In the uncircumcised male, the foreskin covers the head of the penis whenever the penis is at rest. This provides a buffer between the sensitive head of the penis and scratchy or irritating fabric. In contrast, the circumcised penis is in constant contact with clothing. Opponents of circumcision argue that this constant rubbing and chafing causes a toughening of the penile skin which results in a reduced sexual sensitivity. However, the scientific community remains divided as to whether this is actually the case.
There is no easy answer as to whether or not you should circumcise your son. At current, accurate scientific information on the exact results of circumcision is hard to come by. You will need to decide whose arguments you trust and what you really think will will be best for your son.