Having two boys meant, I would inevitably have to go through this experience, as it is a standard practice in my husband’s family. It’s something I believe in, and thankfully, it is done as early as is possible, not like the case of holding a grown man down to circumcise him.
When my first son was to be circumcised, it was done in the sterile atmosphere of a hospital’s theatre. My mom was just outside the door, listening to his heart-piercing scream. I was very ill at that time, and was on admission myself at the hospital, so I could not share in the ‘joys’.
He was also an older baby. He was three months old. Their paediatrician strongly advised that until his weight improved and reached the average of babies his age, he should not be circumcised. That was all due to the fact that he was a preemie. My mom, who took him home, said the next three days saw him being extra clingy. He wanted to feel her warmth, but that he healed quite fast.
When his younger brother came, he was a big baby, with a big head that made my Consultant look at me in wonder, as he had engaged the cervix, several weeks before I had them. Anyways, he came, and was circumcised two weeks later. I decided to go the traditional route this time around, and I swear, if I were ever to find myself making such choices, the hospital scene would win hands down.
I had heard rave reviews about this method, and how it was best, from one of my pregnancy buddies. She even gave me the number of the matron, who came to do it in our house, early in the morning. It was like a horror film. My mom and husband couldn’t stand the sight, and I was left alone with the woman, who brought out her instruments and went ahead to circumcise my son, with me holding his legs apart, one nipple in his mouth to calm him down.
That was the day I realised he had a propensity to bleed a lot. I carried him for most of that day, and I was on diaper watch, to ensure he was not bleeding. Towards the evening of same day, my mom checked his diaper, and said we had to call the woman back as he was bleeding. I called and she came, again with her surgical knives, and again, I had to hold my son while this woman looked for what was causing the bleeding. She found it and stanched the flow of blood. Thankfully, there was no reoccurrence and within a week, he was healed and no longer cranky.
You see why I would definitely prefer the hospital to the home service… and if I were to compare the results of the circumcisions, that of the hospital looks better than the home-done version.
Even though it is a subject of debate in other climes, whether to circumcise or not, it is almost a given that male babies would be circumcised, in our part of the world. Some are circumcised on the eighth day, and some when they are approaching puberty. Like it was for my cousin, who was circumcised when he was 13 years old.
Out of the blue, one day, my aunt had said they were travelling home. It was awkward, because it was not during any festivities, and they kids were going to miss school. It was later that we heard that it was the tradition in her husband’s family that as soon as their boys enter puberty, that’s when they are circumcised.
It was a very painful experience for him, and even for us, who had to watch him walk, several weeks, after the procedure, had been done. I was like, why couldn’t they do it when he was a baby, like everyone else, and my dad had told me to respect other’s people’s culture.
Medically, the use of circumcision for health reasons is an issue that continues to be debated. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that the health benefits circumcising a newborn male outweighed the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend it a universal practice.
One of the benefits is that it helps reduce the instance of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, humanitarian agencies are investing heavily in the funding of the procedure in Africa, as it has been proven to reduce the transmission of the dreaded disease.
The procedure may be recommended in older boys and men to treat phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin), or to treat an infection of the penis. The other benefits of the procedure include:
- A reduction in the incidence of neonatal Urinary Tract Infection
- A reduction in the incidence of cervical cancer, as women with circumcised partners have a lower risk of cervical cancer linked to human papillomavirus.
On the other hand, the opponents of male circumcision come with strong arguments including one of the reasons adjudged as an advantage:
- Circumcised men without the protection of a foreskin are at greater risk of many sexually transmitted diseases.
- The process causes substantial pain and leaves the extremely sensitive penis glans open to infections.
- Circumcision removes 50% of penile skin and thousands of specialised nerve endings, fundamental to normal sexual response.
- Circumcision makes orgasm difficult, disrupts sexual satisfaction, curbs male and female sexuality.
- Circumcision is believed to cause behavioural and neurological changes, lower confidence, morale, self-esteem and body image, loss of sexual desire, and often lifelong circumcision-related stress.
You will agree that the disadvantages are quite scary, but having lived with circumcised males for years, I don’t see where all these are coming from at all.
Now, it all boils down to your beliefs and social orientation. What’s yours? To circumcise or not?
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