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Fact checking Routine Infant Circumcision

In Babies and Children, Gentital Intergrity, Vaccine Awareness on September 1, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Ignore the Myths,

Get the Facts

The following cultural beliefs, or myths, are often used as reasons for circumcision. After each myth, some relevant facts are provided to present a more accurate picture of this procedure. Parents should understand the full implications of circumcision before making this irreversible decision for their child.

Restraint board for Routine Infant Circumcision

Restraint board for Routine Infant Circumcision

Myth #1: Circumcision is recommended by doctors and medical organizations

Fact: Circumcision is not recommended by any national medical association in the world. Fifteen national and international medical associations have extensively studied infant circumcision and its effects and found no significant evidence to support this practice. In March 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concluded that infant circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure.1 The circumcision policy statements of the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Academy of Family Physicians have concurred with this position.2-3 The AMA calls infant circumcision “non-therapeutic.”

Myth #2: It’s just a little piece of skin, he won’t miss it.

Fact: The prepuce (foreskin) makes up as much as half of the skin system of the penis.4 It is an extension of the shaft skin that folds over onto itself, completely covering and protecting the glans (an internal organ) and provides the mobility of the shaft skin necessary for frictionless intercourse and masturbation. The foreskin has three known functions: protective, immunological, and sexual. It contains about 10,000 highly specialized nerve endings and several feet of blood vessels. An adult male foreskin, if unfolded and spread out, would be about the size of index card (3 x 5 inches), much more than a “little piece of skin.” Many sexually active men circumcised in adulthood report a significant decrease in sexual pleasure and comfort because of the loss of sensitive nerve endings, skin mobility and natural lubrication.


Myth #3: The care of a circumcised penis is easier than an intact penis.

Fact: For the care of an intact penis, the AAP recommends, “Leave it alone.” 5 No special care is required – an intact child should have the external surface of his penis (and the rest of his body) washed regularly to keep clean. When a male is older and can retract his foreskin (which typically occurs by puberty), a simple rinsing is all that is necessary. 6 Other cultural myths about special cleaning procedures are just that – myth.

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What is lost to circumcision?

In Gentital Intergrity on May 1, 2008 at 7:03 pm

 

What is Lost to Circumcision

Gary L. Harryman

When a baby boy’s natural and intact penis is “circumcised,” this is what is lost forever:

*1. The frenar band of soft ridges–the single most pleasure producing zone on the male body. Loss of this densely innervated and reactive belt of tissue reduces the sensitivity of the remaining penis to about that of ordinary skin.

2. Approximately half of the temperature reactive smooth muscle sheath called the dartos fascia.

3. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, a component of the immune system.

*4. An estimated 240 feet of microscopic nerves, including branches of the dorsal nerve.

*5. Between 10,000 to 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can discern slight motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture. This loss includes thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors called the Meissner’s corpuscles – the most important sensory component in the foreskin.

6. Estrogen receptors the purpose and value of which are not yet fully understood.

*7. More than 50% of the mobile penile skin, the multi-purpose covering of the glans, that shields all of the specialized penile skin from abrasion, drying, and callusing (by keratin cell layering), and protects it from dirt and other contaminants. The debilitating sexual consequences of keratinizing the glans have never been studied.

8. The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa, which may produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme, also found in mothers milk, and plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies.

9. Lymphatic vessels, the loss of which interrupts the lymph flow within a part of the bodys immune system.

*10. The frenulum, the very sensitive “V” shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; usually amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, which destroys its functionality.

*11. The apocrine glands of the inner foreskin, which produce pheromones—nature’s powerful, silent, invisible behavioral signals to potential sexual partners. They contribute significantly to sexuality. Their loss is unstudied.

12. Ectopic sebaceous glands, which lubricate and moisturize.

*13. The essential “gliding” mechanism. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin measures about 15 square inches, the size of a postcard. This abundance of specialized, self-lubricating mobile skin gives the natural penis its unique hallmark ability to smoothly “glide” in and out within itself—permitting natural non-abrasive masturbation and intercourse, without drying out the vagina or requiring artificial lubricants.

14. The pink to red to dark purple natural coloration of the glans, normally an internal organ, like the tongue.

*15. A significant amount of the penis circumference because its double layered wrapping of loose foreskin is now missing making the circumcised penis defectively thinner than a full-sized intact penis.

*16. As much as one inch of the erect penis length due to amputation when the connective tissue is torn apart during “circumcision.” This shared membrane tightly fuses the foreskin and the glans together while the penis develops. Ripping it apart wounds the glans, leaving it raw and subject to infection, scarring, and shrinkage.

*17. Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this dense vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, obviously damaging its natural function and possibly stunting its complete and healthy development.

18. Every year boys lose their penises altogether from botched “circumcisions” and infections accidents happen. They are then “sexually reassigned” by transgender surgery and must live their lives as females.

19. Every year many boys lose their lives from the complications of medically unnecessary circumcisions. The cause of these deaths are a fact the billion dollar per year circumcision industry willfully obscures and conceals.

*20. Although not yet proved scientifically, there is considerable new evidence that an incomplete penis loses its capacity for the subtle electromagnetic “cross-communication” that occurs only during contact between two mucous membranes, and which contributes to the perception of sexual ecstasy. In other words, medically unjustified foreskin amputation of boys ultimately diminishes the intensity of orgasms for both men and women!

Gary L. Harryman,
14 February 1999
glharryman@aol.com

Caring for your intact son

In Gentital Intergrity on May 1, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Newborns:
Care of the
Uncircumcised Penis

Guidelines for Parents

American Academy
of Pediatrics


Summary: Care of the uncircumcised boy is quite easy. “Leave it alone” is good advice. External washing and rinsing on a daily basis is all that is required. Do not retract the foreskin in an infant, as it is almost always attached to the glans. Forcing the foreskin back may harm the penis, causing pain, bleeding, and possibly adhesions. The natural separation of the foreskin from the glans may take many years. After puberty, the adult male learns to retract the foreskin and cleanse under it on a daily basis.

At birth, the penis consists of a cylindrical shaft with a rounded end called the glans. The shaft and glans are separated by a groove called the sulcus. The entire penis – shaft and glans – is covered by a continuous layer of skin. The section of the penile skin that covers the glans is called the foreskin or prepuce. The foreskin consists of two layers, the outer foreskin and an inner lining similar to a mucous membrane.

Before birth, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. The foreskin is firmly attached – really fused – to the glans. Over time, this fusion of the inner surface of the prepuce with the glans skin begins to separate by shedding the cells from the surface of each layer. Epithelial layers of the glans and the inner foreskin lining are regularly replaced, not only in infancy but throughout life. The discarded cells accumulate as whitish, cheesy “pearls” which gradually work their way out via the tip of the foreskin.

Eventually, sometimes as long as 5, 10, or more years after birth, full separation occurs and the foreskin may then be pushed back away from the glans toward the abdomen. This is called foreskin retraction. The foreskin may retract spontaneously with erections which occur normally from birth on and even occur in fetal life. Also, all children “discover” their genitals as they become more aware of their bodies and may retract the foreskin themselves. If the foreskin does not seem to retract easily early in life, it is important to realize that this is not abnormal and that it should eventually do so.

 The Function of the Foreskin: The glans at birth is delicate and easily irritated by urine and feces. The foreskin shields the glans; with circumcision this protection is lost. In such cases, the glans and especially the urinary opening (meatus) may become irritated or infected, causing ulcers, meatitis (inflammation of the meatus), and meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urinary opening). Such problems virtually never occur in uncircumcised penises. The foreskin protects the glans throughout life.]Infant Smegma: Skin cells from the glans of the penis and the inner foreskin are shed throughout life. This is especially true in childhood; natural skin shedding serves to separate the foreskin from the glans. Since this shedding takes place in a relatively closed space – with the foreskin covering the glans – the shed skin cells cannot escape in the usual manner. They escape by working their way to the tip of the foreskin. These escaping discarded skin cells constitute infant smegma, which may appear as white “pearls” under the skin.Adult Smegma: Specialized sebaceous glands – Tyson’s Glands – which are located on the glans under the foreskin, are largely inactive in childhood. At puberty, Tyson’s Glands produce an oily substance, which, when mixed with shed skin cells, constitute adult smegma. Adult smegma serves a protective, lubricating function for the glans.

Foreskin Hygiene: The foreskin is easy to care for. The infant should be bathed or sponged frequently, and all parts should be washed including the genitals. The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean. No special care is required! No attempt should be made to forcibly retract the foreskin. No manipulation is necessary. There is no need for special cleansing with Q-tips, irrigation, or antiseptics; soap and water externally will suffice.

Foreskin Retraction: As noted, the foreskin and glans develop as one tissue. Separation will evolve over time. It should not be forced. When will separation occur? Each child is different. Separation may occur before birth; this is rare. It may take a few days, weeks, months, or even years. This is normal. Although many foreskins will retract by age 5, there is no need for concern even after a longer period. [1984 version only: No harm will come in leaving the foreskin alone.] Some boys do not attain full retractability of the foreskin until adolescence.

Hygiene of the Fully Retracted Foreskin: For the first few years, an occasional retraction with cleansing beneath is sufficient.

Penile hygiene will later become a part of a child’s total body hygiene, including hair shampooing, cleansing the folds of the ear, and brushing teeth. At puberty, the male should be taught the importance of retracting the foreskin and cleaning beneath during his daily bath.

Copyright © 1984, 1990. American Academy of Pediatrics