The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Circumcision or Male and Female Genital Mutilation

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

See also:

Subsections on this page:

Circumcision Hampers Breastfeeding

Circumcision Leads to Breastfeeding Complications

Need another reason to skip routine circumcision? For over twenty years, studies conducted by medical doctors and researchers have documented a connection between circumcision and breastfeeding complications. According to findings, the newly circumcised infant expresses noticeably decreased responses to a mother's attempts at engaging their attention. This "subdued" behavior has been linked by several researchers in separate studies to a subsequent struggle in the achievement of successful breastfeeding. Research has also demonstrated that following circumcision, infants suffer from "prolonged periods of non-REM sleep," a symptom that would further contribute to inactive and unreceptive tendencies.

Some of the infants observed in one study were supplemented with formula after circumcision—due either to frustration on the part of the mother from failed breastfeeding attempts or because doctors felt the infant was incapable of postoperative breastfeeding. Because infants usually leave the hospital seven to ten hours after the operation (many leave as early as three to six hours post-op) the long-term negative effects of circumcision on breastfeeding is more difficult to determine; however, "the observed deterioration in ability to breastfeed may potentially contribute to breastfeeding failure."

Despite the fact that "circumcision is a painful, stressful, exhausting, and traumatic experience for many infants," as many as 45% of doctors ignore the recommendation by medical authorities to use an anesthetic during the procedure. Because conclusive benefits of infant circumcision are not evident, there is no danger in refusing or delaying the procedure. The Work Group on Breastfeeding of the American Academy of Pediatrics officially discourages "stressful procedures" such as circumcision and promotes breastfeeding as "primary in achieving optimal infant and child health, growth, and development."

Source: Journal of Human Lactation 19(1), 2003.

Other articles about circumcision and breastfeeding

Circumcision - by Marian Tompson, co-founder of La Leche League

Circumcision vs. Breastfeeding - downloadable pamphlet

 "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" - an excerpt on circumcision

Circumcision Leads to Breastfeeding Complications - Mothering Magazine

Breastfeeding saves babies' lives, and circumcision interferes with breastfeeding.  Thus, circumcision is responsible for many deaths each year by interfering with the breastfeeding relationship:

Position Statement: The Effects of Circumcision on Breastfeeding (from NOCIRC)

Breastfeeding and the risk of postneonatal death in the United States.
Chen A, Rogan WJ.
Pediatrics. 2004 May;113(5):e435-9.

In addition to its many known bonding and health benefits, breastfeeding appears to lower the risk of a baby dying during its first year of life, US research indicates.  As many as 720 babies die each year because they weren't breastfed, and about 300 of those can be attributed to circumcision.


Shame on the AAP for now recommending infant circumcision.  The scuttlebutt is that pediatricians started noticing the decline in income from the significant decline in infant circumcisions.

When Edgar Schoen says, "It's a potent preventive health procedure that gives you a health advantage." does he then recommend routine double mastectomy for baby girls?  About 40,000 women die every year from breast cancer.  Every one of these deaths could be prevented through routine infant mastectomy.  And this would be a relatively easy procedure when the breast bud is so small.  Wouldn't this be a "preventive health procedure that gives you a health advantage"?  Sheesh.  If anyone recommended routine infant mastectomy, you'd think they were either insane or criminally greedy.

Yet, somehow, routine removal of functional genital tissue from baby boys makes sense.

I weep for the baby boys who suffer the amputation of healthy tissue because greedy surgeons can't resist one more money-making procedure.

Cock-ups happen [2/6/13] - The serious complications of circumcision are more common than the less serious complications they're supposed to prevent.  For example,
Amputation of the penis. - This extremely rare complication can be minimized by using good surgical technique but is unlikely to be eliminated. Unfortunately, even under ideal circumstances and with experienced surgeons [it] continues to occur.

Commentary on AAP 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement from  DOCTORS OPPOSING CIRCUMCISION (D.O.C.) - Physicians for Genital Integrity

"The AAP, despite its high-sounding academic name, actually is a trade association of pediatric doctors. Its primary duty is to advance the business and professional interests of its 60,000 members who are called "fellows". The interests of its child-patients are a distant second to their primary interest.”

Avoid an Infant Circumcision Mistake
• Are you arguing about infant circumcision?
• Thinking about circumcising your baby boy?
• Want to verify you made the right decision?

Then this circumcision decision-making tool is for you. Just click decide to get the infant or adult circumcision information you need.

Sometimes it boggles my mind that people have a homebirth, decline the eye ointment because it might bother the baby, and then cut off healthy genital tissue.  Sometimes I think they use up all their gumption in standing up to their family around the homebirth issue.  Even client families who haven't been to a synagogue in years will talk about circumcision as a religious issue when it's really a cultural issue for them.

And sometimes it boggles my mind even more that midwives who would bring out the lawyers if a family planned any kind of female cutting will attend a bris and sit by and smile as the boy baby is cut.

As healthcare professionals, I think we have an obligation to give parents real healthcare information about the risks of circumcision, although you'd think it would be obvious that there's a 100% chance that the baby will lose a significant amount of healthy, functional tissue.  They need to know that it's a surgical procedure that can go wrong, and some babies are maimed or killed by circumcision.  (Well, really, technically all babies are maimed by circumcision, since maimed means "physically injured".) And, of course, it interferes with breastfeeding.

As advocates for babies, I think we have an obligation to encourage parents to leave this decision up to the child.  I'm happy to say that I've had three Jewish families who did not circumcise their baby boys, and they've all thanked me for helping them to get to that place. Two of them had lovely home no-cut bris ceremonies for the babies, and I was very happy to attend.

You can learn about male and female circumcision for religious reasons and about no-cut or low-cut bris ceremonies.

Circumcision (Infant Male) from The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia

“Circumcision removes the prepuce that covers and protects the head or the glans of the penis.  The prepuce is composed of an outer skin and an inner mucosa that is rich in specialized sensory nerve endings and erogenous tissue.  Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death.”

German circumcision ban: Is it a parent's right to choose? [7/12/12] - Apparently it has "always" been illegal to perform circumcision in Germany, but the law hasn't been applied until now.

Circumcision is among the rituals that are used to break the bond between mother and baby.  (Other such rituals are separation of mother and baby, and substitution of formula for breastmilk. Some cultures provide substitutions only for the first few days.)  In addition to a rupture in the baby's sense of safety and trust of the mother, there is also a disturbance in the mother's sense of herself as the baby's protector.

There are some very interesting essays on circumcision as an important ritual in the creation of a warrior class.  We do have some academic research showing that circumcision changes an infant's response to pain . . . [Ed: results in a lifelong change in the response to pain. Somewhat surprisingly, this actually makes the baby more sensitive to pain.  Perhaps this helps to create a more fierce warrior?  Yes, that would make sense.  If they're more sensitive to pain, then a smaller wound would increase their adrenaline more and thus enable them to fight more fiercely, short of a mortal wound.]

Steep Drop Seen in Circumcisions in U.S. [NYTimes-8/16/10] - the rate was down to 32.5 percent in 2009. The female circumcision rate remains low.

NOCIRC has made a new, 20 minute video on circumcision.

In addition, a Circumcision Resource page has been developed for  educators and birth care providers.  Here you will find videos, articles, and pamphlets that discuss various aspects of the circumcision decision, as well as care of the intact child.  Included is "The Prepuce," a video produced by George Denniston, M.D., that discusses in detail the anatomy and functions of the foreskin.

norm.org - A growing number of men who wish they had been left intact (not  circumcised) are benefitting from non-surgical foreskin restoration. 

Doctor and Hospital Settle Circumcision Lawsuit - Stage Set for Men to Sue for Being Circumcised as Infants - Men when they turn 18 have the legal right to sue the doctor and hospital that circumcised them unnecessarily as infants.  One man has already done that and received a financial settlement.  See  

YouTube video about the recent African studies that claim to show that circumcision prevents HIV.  Dr. Dean Edell discusses these studies, and how they relate to our own experience in the U.S.

Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors (2010) -The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) on May 27, 2010 published its policy statement, which states that the circumcision of underage boys should be stopped.   The society says that circumcising boys without medical reason infringes upon the right to autonomy and the right to bodily integrity.

Presently, eighteen states no longer fund non-therapeutic Medicaid circumcisions, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.

Circumcision: dirty little secrets exposed from Gloria Lemay's blog.

The birthing professionals summary page :

A good handout on care of the intact penis is from NOCIRC:

Intact America's handout on care of the intact penis:

Intact America - a new organization is forming to raise awareness of the harms of circumcision, combining and building on the work of the grassroots efforts for the past 30 years.

Intact America’s circumcision information flyer in English

This flyer in Spanish

International Coalition for Genital Integrity

A comprehensive informed consent about circumcision - Full Disclosure: Circumcision Information for Health Professionals and Parents (6 pages) To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information. This document portrays all known issues dealing with infant circumcision including, its benefits, risks and disadvantages.

Mothering Magazine has some circumcision articles online.

A series of articles from mothersagainstcirc.org, including:

The Circumcision Decision: An Overview by Mary G. Ray,©1998

The Case Against Circumcision by Paul M. Fleiss, MD

Is Neonatal Circumcision Clinically Beneficial? Argument Against [Medscape registration is free]
Posted 03/26/2009
Robert S. Van Howe

"Many of the "clinical benefits" lauded by advocates of circumcision include reduced risk of phimosis, balanitis, urinary tract infections (UTIs), genital cancer and sexually transmitted infections (STIs); however, evidence for these benefits are weak or nonexistent, and several alternatives to circumcision are available that are more effective, less invasive, and less expensive."
. . .
"Circumcision removes a complex, pentilaminar, specialized, junctional structure that contains nearly all the penis' fine-touch neuroreceptors. Not surprisingly, the foreskin is the most sensitive portion of the penis. Circumcision can reduce the sensitivity of the glans to fine-touch and vibration.[11,12] No wonder adults who undergo circumcision report less-satisfying sex, reduced sensitivity and erectile function, difficulty with intromission, and increased premature ejaculation.[13] Other commonly reported complications of circumcision include infection (1–3%), excessive bleeding (1–9%), meatitis (20%), meatal stenosis (5–8%), subcutaneous granuloma (5%), balanitis (16%), coronal adhesions (30%), skin bridges (2%), and phimosis (1–2%). Parents also request a repeat circumcision for cosmetic reasons in 2% of cases. Furthermore, circumcised newborn boys are 12 times more likely to acquire community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections than uncircumcised newborns.[14] Other less-common complications of circumcision include septicemia, meningitis, Fournier gangrene, staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, tetanus, herpes simplex infection, empyema, pubic hair strangulation, denudation of the penis, glans amputation, urethral fistula, penile edema, pyogenic granulomas, acute urinary retention with acute renal failure, ruptured bladder, UTI or urine advancing in subcutaneous fascial plains, penile ischemia, pneumothorax, pseudoparaphimosis, pulmonary embolism, unilateral leg cyanosis, gastric rupture, myocardial injury and erythema multiforme.

Circumcision has no medical indication during the newborn period, and it is not the first-line preventive for any illness. Very few adult men choose to be circumcised, full disclosure is a rarity, and parental proxy consent for newborn circumcision is not valid.[15] No reason exists that can justify why circumcision cannot wait until the infant is old enough to choose for himself. As a public health measure, newborn circumcision in the US has failed to show a benefit in protecting against cervical cancer, penile cancer, STIs, and HIV."

Circumcision links from BirthLove  [Ed: birthlove.com is not available at this time.]

In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child

Counseling Couples in Disagreement About Circumcision:  A Jewish Perspective
Laurie Evans, M.A.
Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health, 2002 Fall; 17(1):85-94

APPPAH maintains online abstracts.

Circumcision by Marylin Milos [9/20/05] - This has an excellent summary of the history of circumcision.

How Circumcision Affects Sexuality by Marilyn Milos, RN

Weblog for Forced Genital Cutting Survivors -  Project: OUCH! This is a collection of first hand accounts told by victims, survivors, and participants of forced genital cuttings including stories of male infant circumcisions, female genital mutilations, and gender-norming surgeries.

blOUCH! is for the benefit of:
Anyone genitally traumatized, injured, scarred, tortured, sexually deprived, or mutilated.
Anyone forcibly cut in a medical, cultural, religious, or ritual genital cutting.
Men who were circumcised against their will, even if as an infant.
Women who were genitally cut against their will.
Intersexed who were forced to undergo gender norming surgery.
Anyone with an early recollection that may be from a genital cutting.
Parents who regret having cut their children.
Anyone traumatized by witnessing, participating in, or intervening with a forced genital cutting.
Anyone in relationship with someone described above.

dear mamma by Melissa M. Harden - about natural parenting for the first year, with a strong emphasis on keeping male babies intact.

"The foreskin is NOT a birth defect!"  There's an exciting new public awareness campaign - Billboards Across America - organized by NOCIRC You can donate towards renting billboards.

Circumcision and Penile Care Resources for Birth Care Providers

Many expectant parents have questions about circumcision and proper foreskin care of their baby boy.  Over the past twenty years, more research has been done on circumcision, including its immediate and lifelong effects. Parents circumcise less as they learn more. Almost half of American boys, and most Canadian boys, leave the hospital intact, and the number of intact boys is rapidly increasing.

We have compiled a list of educational resources - pamphlets to download, videotapes to watch, and websites to visit. You will find information including medical recommendations regarding circumcision; how circumcision impacts breastfeeding and what La Leche League's founder wrote about it; how circumcision affects lovemaking; discussions about Christian, Catholic, and Jewish points of view; information about adult foreskin restoration; infant foreskin care; and much more.  In addition, we have included information on female genital cutting and resources for parents when a child is born intersexed.

There's a new book, Doctors Re-examine Circumcision.

Circumcised Men Less Likely to Transmit Chlamydia Trachomatis

Female sexual partners of circumcised men are less likely to contract Chlamydia trachomatis infections than are those of uncircumcised men, a
multinational team of investigators report.

Chlamydia trachomatis infection in female partners of circumcised and uncircumcised adult men.
Castellsague X, Peeling RW, Franceschi S, de Sanjose S, Smith JS, Albero G, Diaz M, Herrero R, Munoz N, Bosch FX; IARC Multicenter Cervical Cancer Study Group.
Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Nov 1;162(9):907-16. Epub 2005 Sep 21.

Direction for future inquiry - what would be the effect of amputation of the entire glans?  I'm guessing this would have even more significant effects in reducing the infection rates of many sexually transmitted infections in their female partners.  What the heck . . . Why not just cut off the entire penis, which would eliminate penile cancer in our lifetimes!

And while we're at it, how about routine amputation of breast tissue for all female babies.  This will significantly reduce, if not completely eliminate, breast cancer.

You really have to wonder about any line of inquiry that encourages amputation of healthy tissue.  Why stop with primary or secondary sexual organs?  Think about the primary vector for colds and flus . . . the most recent research shows that these germs are usually transmitted by the hands to the eyes/nose/mouth.  What if we cut off the hands?  That would really cut down on transmission of colds and flus.  This might even be the key to preventing a pandemic of avian flu.

This line of inquiry arises from ignorance about the function of the foreskin in sexual arousal, stimulation and satisfaction.  How can it make more sense to cut off part of the body than to use a condom?

The Prepuce - a new film by Doctors Opposing Circumcision; it's meant for medical students but is good public education as well.

(WMP, streaming) http:

(WMP, download) http:

Circumcision FAQ from notjustskin.org

Study shows circumcision may reduce AIDS risk

I grew up in the province where they did this study. It made me so angry reading about it. More prejudiced scientists making assumption and conducting a study on a (probably) disenfranchised population. I wonder if they even gave adequate informed consent.

I also like to remind people that prophylactic double mastectomy reduces breast cancer rates to almost zero, but I don't see people rushing to do them on newborns.  Having all your teeth removed prevents worries about tooth decay and gum disease, too.  Basically, people need to be helped to learn basic skills for good hygiene.

Regarding the study that shows that circumcising adult males reduces the spread of AIDS, well, so would cutting off the whole penis. Maybe this is just a wild guess, but it seems likely that the rate of all sexual contact is going to be reduced significantly in the days immediately after circumcision, and that is going to reduce the spread of HIV.  But so do condoms!

In response to good arguments that Circumcision is a "nice" phrase that doesn't rightly describe the practice, I have added the phrase, "Male Genital Mutilation" to the title of this web page.  I also maintain some information about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

I had trouble finding pamphlets I could provide my clients to educate them about circumcision.  Some were kind of tucked away in the back pages of NOHARMM  - Order Form for NOHARMM Resources

Intactivism -   If tradition called for your healthy baby girl to be altered in such a manner, would you consent to surgery?

This nurse withdrew from nursing school after observing a circumcision and questioning the medical model that perpetuates newborn mutilation.

This homepage is primarily dedicated to non-violence, and includes a focus on male and female circumcision, especially in the Arab countries.  Written by Fr. Raed Abu-Sahlieh and his brother Dr.Sami Aldeeb.

Dr. Dean Edell's educational Web pages about circumcision, in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics' New Circumcision Policy, as of March 1, 1999.

"Circumcision is not essential to a child’s well-being at birth, even though it does have some potential medical benefits.  These benefits are not compelling enough to warrant the AAP to recommend routine newborn circumcision."

Circumcision Resource Center

Circumcision Information and Resource Pages

Mothers Against Circumcision

Should Our Baby Be Circumcised?  - from "The Marnie Ko Collection" on Nurturing Online 

The aesthetics of the foreskin : Victor Doiteau, M.D from the French site - Association contre la Mutilation des Enfants

33 Photographs of  The Intact Adult Male Foreskin  By John A. Erickson from foreskin.org

There is also a FAQ available from misc.kids which lists reasons for or against circumcision.

C.I.R.C. is an organization fighting genital mutilation for both genders. C.I.R.C. of Washington, P. O. Box 75594, Seattle, WA 98125.

Declaration of the 1st International Symposium on Circumcision

Lots of circumcision articles from P e a c e f u l   B e g i n n i n g s (scroll down about halfway)

Circumcision, Baseball, Mom and Apple Pie by Donald Morgan

Overview of Circumcision Issues - [This treatise is temporarily unavailable pending a re-appearance on Don Morgan's own web site.]


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Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization founded to secure equal protection for, and broaden judicial and public recognition of, children’s legal and human rights to bodily integrity and self-determination.

NOHARMM - National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males - Advocating Against Male Genital Mutilation

Contact Ron Goldman, CRC, POB232, Boston, MA 02133 (617)523-0088 or 617-566-1430 Call NOCIRC and ask for the nearest resource or contact person. The number is (415) 488-9883.

Ted Ledbetter <tedled@earthlink.net> wrote:
TO: All Mothers Eveywhere
FROM:Every Newborn Son
SUJECT: Circumcision

Do NOT do it to me.  Please!  Never!

1)It Hurts Like Hell!
2)Every part of me is God-given and no man or woman has the right to it take away without my informed consent!
3)It's NOT a health issue any more than preventing breast-cancer by cutting off the breasts of newborn girls Aren't you glad no one to cut off any part of you when you were born?  (Even if they did, don't do it to me.)
4)Don't ever believe any man who says he's glad it happened to him...what else can he say without disrespecting the one who brought him into this world?
5)see #1

NOCIRC-National Organization of Circ. Info. and Resource Centers

CIRP-Circ. Info. and Resource Page

Circumcision- the Real Truth

Circumcision: A Medical or a Human Rights Issue?

Parental Rights of Circumcision

Some people argue that it is a matter of parental rights for parents to do what they think is best for their children.

If a parent believes that female circumcision is best for their daughter, why would you oppose that, even if it's harmful? Perhaps there are social benefits that accrue to the child. But if you really believe in parental rights, then it doesn't matter whether or not there are any benefits.  All that matters is that the parents chose it for their child.

You probably know that the AAP does not recommend male circumcision for health reasons, as it carries many of the same risks you list for female circumcision.  Yet many families do it for social reasons.  Some families legitimately do it for religious reasons, but the religious benefits accrue to the mother, not to the child, so they're doing it for their own good, not for the child's good.

If you believe that amputation of healthy tissue to prevent health problems is beneficial to a child, then it would make sense to do routine double mastectomies on all newborn girls in order to prevent breast cancer.  I would be very surprised if you would support a parent's right to request that surgery for their daughter based on parental rights.

Sexism of Male Circumcision

There is a sort of sexism in the circumcision discussion that I find somewhat troubling.

I notice that birth advocates work hard to denounce the practice of episiotomy, which is making a cut through the woman's genital tissue and then stitching it back up after the baby is born.  And many of them also work hard to eradicate female circumcision, also called female genital mutilation, throughout the world.  In fact, female circumcision is now illegal in the United States and in many other countries.

Yet, many of these same people are tolerant of male circumcision or even indulgent of the practice.

Why is it OK to circumcise baby boys, who have no say over the situation, but it's not OK for doctors to perform an episiotomy on a woman who has chosen this doctor, or for young women to choose to travel to another country to be circumcised?

This smacks of overt sexism: a feeling that baby girls, young women and birthing women deserve more advocacy and protections than baby boys.

What's going on here?

Infections from Circumcision

State details safety lapses at Beth Israel - Sloppy cleaning, lax training are cited [4/11/09]

[Ed: Beth Israel is one of the *best* hospitals around, and if they're having trouble with antibiotic-resistant infections, you can bet that your local community hospital is, too.]

Quote: And, on several occasions, the investigators observed worrisome lapses related to circumcisions, including an instance when a nurse didn't change gloves before tending to the dressings of a baby. Of the 19 infants who have become ill with the drug-resistant staph infection, 15 have been boys, according to Dr. Anita Barry, who is overseeing the investigation of the cases by the Boston Public Health Commission.

"I think the circumcision dressing example was one we found particularly problematic," Dreyer said. "You've got examples of contamination that may be in the context of kids with open wounds from circumcision. The danger is spread of infection."

How 11 New York City Babies Contracted Herpes Through Circumcision - An ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual is found to cause neonatal herpes infections in newborns in New York City, prompting health officials to encourage parents to consider the health risks of the practice.
By Alexandra Sifferlin | @acsifferlin | June 7, 2012 |

The report is sure to reignite a long-simmering debate over public health and religious liberties: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Thursday that 11 baby boys in New York City were infected with herpes between Nov. 2000 and Dec. 2011 following an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual called metzitzah b’peh — or oral suction — in which the mohel puts his mouth directly on the newborn’s circumcised penis and sucks away the blood.

Deaths from Circumcision

Circumcision: dirty little secrets exposed - Gloria Lemay's blog has a list of publicized Circumcision Tragedies: Known Circumcision Deaths, Botched Circumcisions, and Unauthorized Circumcisions.

I'm going to start adding more recent death reports here, as these are unlikely to be included in the summary articles below:

Nine week old Celian Noumbiwe died as a result of a circumcision.

Deaths from Circumcision - a comprehensive article on the subject.

December 1978.

This article states, "It is an uncontestable fact at this point that there are more deaths from complications of circumcision than from cancer of the penis."

Search the internet for web pages about "deaths from circumcision".

Recent Papers on Circumcision

Canadian Journal Reviews Studies on Circumcision

Critique of Canadian Journal Reviews Studies on Circumcision

Circumcising baby boys 'criminal assault'
Ethicist says society must consider ban Friday 17 October 1997, Sharon Kirkey, The Ottawa Citizen

Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, California, says routine circumcision can significantly reduce the risk of urinary tract infection, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV, and penile cancer.

Ed Schoen is a well-known circumcisionist whose rantings have been largely dismissed by every medical association in the industrialized world. Not only is his opinion biased it's also untrue, as the latest study reported in the NEJM shows an INCREASE in STDs, particularly chlamydia, in circumcised men. Oh and least we forget Schoen's atrocious poetry he loves to write on the subject of what penes (penis-es) look like? The man has a serious problem.

Much as prophylactic mastectomy would prevent breast cancer??
Actually the incidence of penile cancer many times less frequent than breast cancer, and is most often linked to tobacco usage.
On what studies are these claims based? The risk of penile cancer is as great as the risk of death from circumcision.
Oh, it's just Schoen at it again. He feels he doesn't need anything but his opinions.
The studies that I reviewed that claimed correlation between intact status and STD's, UTI's, and other "penile problems" were methodologically weak and not without significant bias.
This is why no major medical association will support these claims--they just don't hold up under scrutiny.
Be careful what you counsel your clients on if you haven't read the research for yourself.
Search the CIRP cite for more up-to-date research and statements by the Australian and Canadian medical associations.
sighing and shaking my head that we are so arrogant to think that we can improve upon nature.
Exactly, the burden of proof is on those who propose altering the normal state of male genitalia.

The first is the long awaited appearance in the British Journal of Urology (1) of the John R. Taylor article: The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. This article discusses anatomy and histology.

The second is the appearance in the British Medical Journal (2) of an important letter from John Warren et Al. regarding the circumcision of children.

The letter says, "It cannot be ethical for a doctor to amputate normal tissue from a normal child."


1. Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ; The prepuce: specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision. British Journal of Urology (1996), 77, 291-295

2. Warren J et al., Letter: Circumcision of Children, British Medical Journal Volume 312, 377, 10 February 1996

Circumcision Complications

The circumcision wound portal-of-entry can allow the development of severe infections:

Staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome. A complication of circumcision. [Full text of case reports] [Related Articles]
Annunziato D, Goldblum LM.
Am J Dis Child. 1978 Dec;132(12):1187-8.

Numerous complications have been reported as a result of neonatal circumcision. We describe here three cases of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome that were thought to be due to infected circumcisions. A review of the literature failed to disclose descriptions of staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome as such a complication. In spite of recent American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations against routine circumcision, it will continue to be a common procedure. Careful preoperative and postoperative screening and guidance are urged to prevent staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome and other complications.

Neonatal staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome: massive outbreak due to an unusual phage type. [Full text] [Related Articles]
Curran JP, Al-Salihi FL.
Pediatrics. 1980 Aug;66(2):285-90.

A massive outbreak of the staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome due to an organism with an unusual phage pattern, occurred during a 115-day period and involved 68 newborns. Generalized exfoliative dermatitis was seen in 24 babies, and Staphylococcus aureus was isolated from 23. Fourteen isolates were phage typed, with 13 reported as the epidemic strain 29/79/80/3A/3C/54/75. Eight babies had generalized scarlatiniform eruption without exfoliation (staphylococcal scarlet fever). Cultural data were available from six, all positive for S aureus. Four organisms were typed and reported as the epidemic strain. Of 34 infants with bullous impetigo 20 had cultures that were positive for S aureus, and four were phage typed, revealing the epidemic strain. Illness was mild in all patients; there were no deaths and no invasive forms of staphylococcal infection. The male to female ratio of generalized exfoliative disease was 5:1. The concept of a neonatal staphylococcal scalded skin syndrome, comprised of a triad of skin disorders induced by an exotoxin elaborated by certain strains of coagulase positive S aureus, is confirmed.

Impetigo in newborn infants associated with a plastic bell clamp circumcision. [Full text] [Related Articles]
Stranko J, Ryan ME, Bowman AM.
Pediatr Infect Dis. 1986 Sep-Oct;5(5):597-9.

Postcircumcision urinary tract infection.
Cohen HA, Drucker MM, Vainer S, Ashkenasi A, Amir J, Frydman M, Varsano I.
Clin Pediatr (Phila). 1992 Jun;31(6):322-4.

The possible association of urinary tract infection (UTI) with ritual circumcision on the eighth day of life was studied by analyzing the epidemiology of urinary tract infections during the first year of life in 169 children with UTI (56 males and 113 females) born in Israel from 1979 to 1984. Forty-eight percent of the episodes of UTI occurring in males appeared during the 12 days following circumcision, and the increased incidence during that period was highly significant. The median age of the males at the time of the UTI was 16 days, compared with seven months in females. Ritual Jewish circumcision as practiced in Israel may be a predisposing factor for UTI during the 12-day period following that procedure.

My client had her son circumcised at 15days after birth. Little boy was born premature but a very mellow and easy going dude. Well it seems that since the procedure he is more all around more sensitive. He gets really mad if he is hungry or if his diaper is being changed ... Mom is a child psychologist and has a theory that the boy's trust has been scared and the high sensitivity is a result of the procedure. It makes sense to me but I couldn't really give her any more insight. Does anyone specifically have information on this aspect of the procedure.

Yes, some of the earliest research on the emotional effects of circumcision showed that the boys were changed for life so that they were emotional more fragile.


and specifically:


I'd start here and use some of their references/works cited pages.  This mother is right on. I lost track of the number of nursing issues I saw b/c of circ. "He just stopped eating." or "He was fine yesterday and today he's lethargic and not eating." or "Now he cries all the time but he won't eat."  I'll always remember the one client where I put two and two together and since then I've seen it enough to know that babies are really smart and they know that nursing leads to peeing, so to help heal that wound, many won't eat. Some go into a sort of shock where they sleep a lot (and some parents mistake this for a good thing) and others just cry inconsolably.

Birth Professionals and Circumcision

Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.)

Nurses for the Rights of the Child

Nurses Refuse to Participate in Circumcision

Doula Advocates Against Circumcision

Responding to an Invitation to Attend a Ritual Circumcision/Bris or Brit

I have been invited several times by parents to attend the (religious) circumcision of their baby.  I accepted the first invitation and it was a very difficult experience for me, because I felt that I was witnessing an act of harm (though not intended) which I could not support.  The next two times I was invited, I told the parents that I had another obligation that day and was not able to attend.  I felt bad for being untruthful. I know that it is a very meaningful event for the parents and that it is an honor for me to be included with the family.  What have others done in this situation?

I have also faced this dilemma.

As much as I want to avoid ruffling feathers and hurting feelings, I think that worrying about hurting the feelings of someone who is about to do physical harm to their child is setting the wrong priority. (This ignores the issue of whether it's "bad for business.")

This has happened only a few times, but when I've been invited to a bris, I ask if it's going to be a symbolic ceremony or if they are really going to amputate the foreskin.  (There's a group of Jewish people who advocate doing a non-amputation ceremony.)

If they're actually going to cut the baby, I explain that after putting so much energy into working towards a safe, gentle birth for this baby, I can't stand by and watch them cut him.

I once had a Jewish homebirth client who actually changed her mind about circumcision.

But even if it doesn't change anyone's mind, my conscience will be clear that I did what I could to try to preserve genital integrity for this baby.

I sincerely hope that the day will come when nobody would ever think to invite me to watch them amputate healthy tissue from their newborn baby.

An OB Comments on the Pain of Circumcision

I usually notice the first blood curdling scream when the nurse straps the little guy's legs down on the circumstraint. (Does that come from the restraint or fear of his circumcision?)

I always thought the worst cry came with the cold betadine wash.

Regarding risk of injury to the penis with a block; those reports are using lidocaine with epi. When I was taught and when I teach residents/interns and colleagues how to do this block - the emphasis is to always use plain lidocaine. I don't know of any reason plain lidocaine would cause distal injury. There is no vascular spasm even with intravascular injection. And, after you do a few circs with local block and see the difference in the baby's behavior, you will never again do it without a block. During the injection, I use a 30 gauge needle, inject very slowly and only 0.2 cc (1% lidocaine) at 10-11 and 1-2 o'clock. Some babies barely respond to the block itself; some cry a little, but nothing like the blood curdling scream you get with the circ and no anesthesia.

[and a parent and nurse comment on pain]

our son was born in a hosp and needed to stay 5 days for observation. we opted instead to bring sage into the hosp every day to get checked. during that time, we were present for a handful of circumcisions. this guy (looked and dressed like capt. kangaroo) came into the nursery and did it right there. at least he had the courtesy of closing the window blinds first. my husband and son and I were in the nursery, in a closed room waiting to see the pede each day. the first time there was a circ, the piercing cries and screams of the baby made us all cry. we were not able to watch but the sounds were heartbreaking and haunting. the next time we requested a radio to block out the cries of the baby but that baby did little more than squeak after the initial screaming and before it was over the baby was red faced and obviously terrified. his mouth was open but no sound came out. all we could do each day was hold our son tightly and gape at each other. there is no way I would ever subject any child of mine to such horror and pain. I could not imagine doing that after carrying him in my body for nearly a year, loving and nurturing him in every way. his penis is his and not mine. my children are gifts to me and I took care to grow them as well as I could in order to give them bodies and minds that will serve them perfectly for the length of their lives. I cannot justify altering them because of my opinion of how they should look.

Your description is very accurate. I have assisted with about 200 and I have seen sleeping babies not wake up as I gently strapped them to the table. One even slept through the betadine and that is cold stuff. So it is not the restriction that is the problem. They take a metal probe - similar to the one the dental hygienist scales teeth with - and separate the foreskin from the glans. Babies scream so hard that they end up with their faces red and mouths wide open with no sound coming out. I had to hold their heads to the side because some vomit from the pain. I always had to get close to their faces and stroke their cheeks because they would stop breathing. The doc puts a bell over the foreskin and slides a sterile safety pin through a hole and then through the skin. He cuts with a blade for what seems like an eternity for this baby and deposits the skin o the sterile tray. The penis is RAW - I often thought it must feel like a 3rd degree burn with alcohol being poored over it.

Consoling is impossible. They shake and their eyes are wide open with panic. Yes, I felt horrible every time. I never got used to it. Each procedure looked as barbaric as the next. Many too much skin was taken off or too little (not worth all that torture). I have seen infections, too. The risk of any invasive procedure even with sterile fields.

I get calls from moms who had no problems with breastfeeding and suddenly have trouble. If it is a baby boy, I try to remember to ask when and if he was circumcised. Many of my consults are a result of trauma from the circs. The babies state of homeostasis is so messed up from the stress that they are no longer able to suck. Every IBCLC (lactation consultants) that I know will tell you how circumcision is a major source of feeding problems in the days following.

It is simple. If I had not seen circumcisions in person I would have done it. Even after all those circs - I thought I would do it except with anesthetic. I thought there was a health benefit and it was pleasing to me aesthetically (now I think intact is more pleasing to the eye - my husband even wants his back!) When we decided to research the topic when I was actually pregnant - we also learned of the functions of the foreskin and the health benefits. It was enlightening. Two weeks after my son's birth we made our final decision. We took our time - we were pretty objective and we are both very capable of determining the validity of studies. It doesn't take a person well versed in statistics to read the information anyway. Reviewing the evolution and history of circumcision, studying the function of the foreskin and witnessing at least one is enough to cure ANYONE of believing in the procedure. I am sorry you had to see that in the nursery. I can still feel it in my stomach.

Circumcision and Religious Issues

Jews Against Circumcision

Beyond the Bris: Questioning Jewish Circumcision - "Shalom. I’m Israeli, I’m Jewish and I’m an Intactivist, which means I strive to end male circumcision performed on infants and children in Israel and around the world. . . . For the first time in my life, I felt a strong urge to take a public stance. To make a change. To help parents who do not want to circumcise but are too afraid to even consider leaving their sons intact. To protect children from damage to their bodies; from pain, and suffering, and risk."

Eight Reasons Why An Intact Penis Is Better Than A Cut Penis - The video is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Click the small captions button on the bottom right corner of the film to turn on the English subtitles.  BONUS - this guy has a sense of humor!

Brit Shalom Celebrants - Brit Shalom is a non-cutting naming ceremony which replaces Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) for newborn Jewish boys.

Jewish Movement … to Abolish Circumcision – Web Resources from Peaceful  Beginnings from Rosemary

Circumcision and Religion from NOCIRC

Counseling Couples in Disagreement About Circumcision:  A Jewish Perspective
Laurie Evans, M.A.
Journal of Prenatal & Perinatal Psychology & Health, 2002 Fall; 17(1):85-94

APPPAH maintains online abstracts.

From the British Medical Journal:

Maimonides, a famous Jewish sage and a physician, wrote in the 12th century about circumcision "that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. ... for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment; ... It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him"[12]. He also wrote "that some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man's formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the fore-skin to that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man's moral shortcomings. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired"[12].

Maimonides does not take circumcision lightly, "for circumcision is not like an incision on the leg, or a burning in the arm, but a very difficult operation"[12]. His serious attitude probably stems from the fact that no modern medicine was available to save the little victims from the "accidents" of circumcision.

Even the parents who cut for religious reasons are beginning to reject the concept of a God who requires a blood sacrifice.

Being Rational About Circumcision and Jewish Observance

Alternative Bris Ceremonies

Helen Bryce
PO Box 1305, Capitola
CA 95010-1305
(408) 475-3313

Moshe Rothenberg
715 Ocean Parkway  #2K
Brooklyn, NY 11230 -1134
(718) 859-0650

Circumcision Resource Center
Ron Goldman
P.O. Box 232
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 523-0088

Alternative Bris Support Group
Natili Bivas
248 Ventura Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94306
(415) 424-9855

NOCIRC, National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers. P.O. Box 2512, San Anselmo, CA 94979.

NOHARMM, National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males. P.O. Box 460795 San Francisco, CA 94146.

Alternative Bris Support Group, c/o Natali Bivas, 248 Ventura Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306, 415-424-9855. (Alternative Bris is a naming ceremony only, with no circumcision)

From a NOHARMM pamphlet:

".....Jewish men themselves are highly active in the anti-circumcision movement....Most people don't know it's not circumcision which confers upon one their Jewishness. While circumcising an infant son might arguably make a parent (not the child) a more observant Jew, Jewishness itself comes (except for converts) simply from having a Jewish mother. The circumcision most American Jewish males receive from a doctor doesn't satisfy religious requirements. Moreover, some Jews reject ancient practices that violate human rights and have adopted more humane Bris ceremonies appropriate to both sexes. Alternative Bris support groups exist here in the United States.

We impugn no religion, but assert that an intact body is a universal human right. Indeed, we affirm the rite of circumcision for religious purposes when the participant himself willingly chooses it. We as circumcised men of all religions have experienced genital abuse against our wills. We have the right and duty to speak out against a practice that we feel has harmed our violated us, even if it confronts religious tradition. We affirm the universal human right to be free from genital alteration and we support men in their efforts to educate their respective cultures about this issue."

I hope this helps. Please email me and let me know what responses you get from my forwarding your letter, and let me know if you have any other questions - I'll try to help in any way I can. Jenna

Jewish Support Groups for Intact Babies:

Circumcision Resource Center, P.O. Box 232, Boston MA 02133, (617) 523-0088.

Helen Bryce, Alternative Bris Support Group, (408) 475-3313.

Moshe Rothenberg, 715 Ocean Pkwy #2K, Brooklyn, NY 11230-1134, (718) 859-0650.

See also Cultural and Religious Issues

Information about Judaism and Circumcision can be found in the combined FAQ for soc.culture.jewish.parenting and Soc.Culture.Jewish: Part 12: Jewish Childrearing Related Questions

Why Christians No Longer Circumcise

From the letter from Paul to the Galatians (Galatians 6:12-16): "Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. NEITHER CIRCUMCISION NOR UNCIRCUMCISION MEANS ANYTHING;(emphasis mine)what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who fallow this rule, even to the Israel of God."

See, God said it! Circumcision means nothing to him! Don't use Him as your excuse. Inform yourselves, before you speak of His will.

Moses Maimonides was a twelfth century rabbi and philosopher whose works rank with the greatest and most respected Judaic writings of all time. Here is what he has to say about circumcision, in his oeuvre, "The Guide of the Perplexed".

With regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible.

The perfection and perpetuation of this Law can only be achieved if circumcision is performed in childhood... the parents of a child that is just born take lightly matters concerning it, for up to that time the imaginative form that compels the parents to love it is not yet consolidated. For this imaginative form increases through habitual contact and grows with the growth of the child. Then it begins to decrease and to disappear, I refer to this imaginative form. For the love of the father and of the mother for the child when it has just been born is not like their love for it when it is one year old, and their love for it when it is one year old is not like their love when it is six years old. Consequently if it were left uncircumcised for two or three years, this would necessitate the abandonment of circumcision because of the father's love and affection for it. At the time of its birth, on the other hand, this imaginative form is very weak, especially as far as concerns the father upon whom this commandment is imposed.

--courtesy Geoffrey T. Falk [gtf@math.rochester.edu], http:

(excerpts from Circumcision section of November 95 issue of The Fathering HomePage)

--Robin Verner, The Fathering HomePage

[from a doula] When I do have Jewish clients I will muster all the courage I can and offer them information the same as everyone else, just more. I don't believe there is any harm in offering information. I will offer the info as early as possible in the pregnancy so if they are offended so much so that we can't go forward they'll have the opportunity to find someone else, if it came to that.

The info I would share (at this point) would be chapter 25 in the book "Say NO to Circumcision: 40 Compelling Reasons" By Thomas J. Ritter, M.D. and George Denniston, M.D. and provide them with the information they need to find the info referenced at the end of that chapter. If they don't decline circ. for this baby, maybe the next baby they will feel differently about it after they have experienced one circumcision? Doubtful, but perhaps.

I often tackle this topic right from the start and have even sent information out to people who are only inquiring about services. I feel if I teach them nothing but about circumcision I have done a good job. :-)  I usually use "What I wish I had known", and the 10 minute VCR tape that nocirc distributes, Just like daddy.

I think one of the best points to make is to teach them that there is not a covenant for the removal of so much skin as is done routinely today.

"I would do anything not to hurt you, my parents, except hurt my child." --Jewish mother who refused to have her baby son circumcised. From It's a Boy! (video), by Victor Schonfeld

Circumcision and Sexual Satisfaction

Male Circumcision and Sexual Function in Men and Women [Medscape 1/22/12] - Our study shows hitherto unrecognized associations between male circumcision and sexual difficulties in both men and women
I wish more women would have the opportunity to make love with intact males to see what a gigantic difference a foreskin makes.  I was circed at age 20 when a Jewish girlfriend convinced me that our lovemaking would dramatically improve.  It did not.  The dryness, soreness for both of us, yeast infections, and pain were more than I would have ever thought possible.  If only women realized that the foreskin helps so much with intimacy and slow love.  No foreskin means you have to thrust like crazy and tear both partners to shreds for orgasm.  In manual stimulation, my girlfriend used to be able to bring me to orgasm with little effort, now 20 years later my wife has to work like crazy since there is no extra skin for movement and the nerve endings have been clipped.  The glans is a dull color (not bright purple any more) and there is no more natural lubrication.  Why do women insist on causing themselves more pain during intercourse by cutting all their little guys?

Care of the Intact Penis

Foreskin care - Parents can relax, knowing they can care for their natural son using this basic information, and that he will be healthy, safe, and happy from

Penile hygiene for intact (non-circumcised) males

Female Circumcision / Female Genital Mutilation

AAP Retracts Controversial Policy on Female Genital Cutting - the board writes: "The AAP does not endorse the practice of offering a 'clitoral nick.' This minimal pinprick is forbidden under federal law and the AAP does not recommend it to its members."

I feel exactly the same way about male circumcision as I do about female circumcision.

I used to think male circumcision was no big deal.  After learning more about how much of the genital nerve endings are destroyed and after seeing a baby soon after having "the procedure" done, I realized how traumatic it really is.

Male circumcision is no more "civilized" than female circumcision. If you support male circumcision for religious reasons, then you must support female circumcision for the same reasons.

It is absurd to cut off healthy tissue in the hope of preventing a rare disease, such as penile cancer. Why not do double mastectomies on all young girls to prevent breast cancer?  Do you know how many women die of breast cancer every year?  Why not just cut off all that potentially cancerous tissue?

I'm reminded of the times when women had to point out the misogyny of routine episiotmy.  Male OBs used to think it was no big deal . . . you just make a little snip, and then you sew it back up . . . good as new, right?  And they weren't even removing any tissue!

Now I see female midwives shuddering at the thought of female circumcision but happily passing along the name of someone who does "gentle" male circumcision.

When I became a midwife, I made a commitment to protect babies from being cut out or yanked out of their mother's bodies, having their bonding and breastfeeding disrupted, and having their bodies mutilated.  I feel as strongly about this commitment to boy babies as to girl babies. I would like to think all midwives do.

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