An Introductory Summary of Circumcision

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Contents

Introduction

Physical integrity and the fundamental right to ones own body, is a right that was repeatedly violated with the implementation of mass industrialized, non-consenting, non-therapeutic male infant circumcision in the United States.

History

Many Americans are surprised to hear that circumcision (the surgical removal of the foreskin) is uncommon in the western world. Foreigners are often shocked when they first hear that the practice of circumcision even exists in the United States. Circumcision was first introduced in the United States by an anti-sexual Victorian initiative which began during the 1830’s. Numerous publications from the 1830’s to times even as late as the 1970’s had advocated for circumcision as a means to prevent masturbation, and to permanently desensitize, denude, and immobilize the penis. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

From Historical American Female Circumcision medical papers


Circumcision advocates quickly moved on to manufacture a number of outrageous health claims. These claims were tailored to the fears and anxieties of the day. Circumcision has been claimed to cure epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, eczema, bed-wetting, hip-joint disease, fecal incontinence, rectal prolapse, wet dreams, hernia, headaches, nervousness, hysteria, poor eyesight, idiocy, mental retardation, insanity, strabismus, hydrocephalus, clubfoot, cancer, STD’s, UTI’s, ect. [12] Doctors were eager to claim that they could prevent and cure many of these aliments, conditions and diseases because there were no treatments available then. Even though all of these claims have been throughly discredited, circumcision has remained a solution in search of a problem ever since. Many Americans are surprised to find out that female genital cutting (FGC) shares a strikingly similar history in the United States. [4] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] FGC was even covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield until 1977. Nowadays, many forms of FGC are now considered forms of female genital mutilation (FGM), which are banned in all western countries.

What Medical Authorities Say Today

Perhaps the most shocking fact is that circumcision continues to be practiced in the United States even though no official western medical organization in the world recommends it. The Royal Dutch Medical Society, The British Medical Association, the Canadian Pediatric Society, and the Royal Australian College of Physicians have all made official policy statements against circumcision. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Urological Association all do not recommend circumcision, and are in agreement that there are no proven benefits.

Behavioral Consequences

For some reason this information is not making it to parents. Studies have shown that doctors provide parents with almost no accurate or useful information about circumcision. One study showed that 40% of parents believed that their doctors failed to provide enough information, 46% reported that their doctors failed to give them any medical information at all, and 82.8% of parents regretted their decision they made within the first six months of their son’s life. [19] Another study found that physicians were less likely to circumcise their own sons. [20] This suggests that doctors are very well aware that circumcision is a non-therapeutic surgery (in short, a ritual); but they do not appear to share this knowledge with parents. A busy physician can supplement their income by as much as $60,000 per year from circumcision surgeries alone. [21] This incentive can cloud a physician’s judgment when it comes to providing parents with information about circumcision.

Horror of Circumcision.


Many parents are surprised to hear that anesthetics are used in only a minority of cases. [22] The use of local anesthetics significantly drives up the costs of surgery. When anesthetics are used, they can only reduce the pain. Infants can not be given general anesthesia because of the medical risks involved. In the recent past, anesthesia was rarely used, if ever. Because of this, circumcision has always been an extremely traumatizing experience causing an array of short and long term behavioral and developmental problems [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] , including altered perceptions of pain [34] [35] [36] , post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) [37] [38] [39] [40] , and a possibly of adult self destructive behavior [41] [42] [43] . Many circumcised men, some of whom are doctors, experience a strong denial of loss which in turn fuels an emotional compulsion to repeat the trauma to normalize their loss. [44] [45] [46] [47] [48]

Complication Rates

A wide range of surgical complications occur in 2-10% of the cases. [49] Since there are approximately 120 million circumcised men in the United States today, it stands to reason that there are millions of men who suffer daily from the effects of these botched circumcisions. Perhaps worst of all, more than 117 [50] to 229 [51] infants in the U.S. die from circumcision every year.

What is the Foreskin?

What is the foreskin? is a question that many Americans would have trouble answering. Information about the foreskin is virtually absent during discussions of anatomy in biology classrooms, and yet, the foreskin provides a well-documented set of crucial sensory, protective, immunological, hygienic, and sexual functions. The foreskin is a double fold of skin that is twice as big as its appearance. It can make up to 80% or more of the penile skin covering, and includes around 12-20 square inches of skin (the size of a 3x4 or a 4x5 index card). [52] [53] , and in turn includes a specialized sheet of dartos muscle which can produce sustained contractions of great force that stimulate not only the foreskin but also the glans. [54] One of the functions of this mobile skin system is to glide up and down the shaft of the penis in order to facilitate non-abrasive stimulation during sexual activity without any need for artificial factory made lubricant. This frictionless gliding mechanism is the principal source of stimulation for the intact penis and facilitates non-abrasive intercourse. [55]

Sensory Function

Fine Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis.

The neuro-anatomy of the penis has been rigorously studied by respected anatomists of all kinds. The component tissues that comprise the foreskin are richly innervated with the greatest quantity and variety of sensory nerve endings than any other part of the penis; the foreskin can discern the slightest pressure, the lightest touch, the smallest motion, the subtlest changes in temperature, and the finest gradations in texture. [53] [56] [57] [58] [59] [60] [61] [62] [63] Many people are surprised to discover that the glans or “head” of the penis is actually the least sensitive part and is insensitive to light tough, heat, cold and even pin-pricks. [53] [62] [63] Permanent unnatural exposure of the penis further desensitizes the glans, the foreskin keeps the glands healthy, clean, shiny, warm, soft, moist, and sensitive; without the foreskin the glans are scared, dry, cracked, and pitted. Most notably, circumcision drastically reduces the glans sensitivity to vibration. [64]


To no surprise, this information was corroborated in a 2006 study which measured the sensitivity of all the parts of the penis. Researchers used an extremely sensitive pressure sensing probe while each test subject, whose view was blocked with a screen, reported a sensation of touch. To demonstrate precision they took each measurement multiple times. The results were statistically significant (P<0.05). They concluded:


"Five locations on the uncircumcised penis that are routinely removed at circumcision were more sensitive than the most sensitive location on the circumcised penis[...] The glans in the circumcised male is less sensitive to fine-touch pressure than the glans of the uncircumcised male[...]The most sensitive location on the circumcised penis is the circumcision scar on the ventral surface [...] When compared to the most sensitive area of the circumcised penis, several locations on the uncircumcised penis that are missing from the circumcised penis were significantly more sensitive." [63]

Immunological and Hygienic Function

The foreskin, like the eyelid, also serves an important set of protective and immunological functions. The foreskin protects the delicate glans of the penis and puts the urethra at a distance form its environment, protecting it from foreign contaminants of all kinds while simultaneously shielding the penis from injury. The foreskins inner fold and the glans of the penis are comprised of mucous membrane tissue. These are also present in your eyes, mouth, and all other bodily orifices including the female genitals. These mucous membranes perform many immunological and hygienic functions. Certain components such as Langerhans cells [65] , plasma cells [66] , apocrine glands [67] , and sebaceous glands [68] , collectively secrete emolliating lubricants [69] rich in enzymes such as lysosomal enzymes, chymotrypsin, neutrophil elastase, immunoglobulin, cytokine [70] , cathepsin B [71] , and langerin which kills the HIV virus [72] , all these substances function to sequester and “digest” foreign pathogens. The foreskin is also responsible for the production, retention, and dispersal of pheromones such as androsterone [73] . In time we will discover even more information about the foreskin and its functional components.


The intact penis is naturally clean and maintains a level of hygiene that is optimal when compared to a penis that has been altered by circumcision. In fact, a myriad of rigorously controlled studies performed by objective researchers among racially and socioeconomically homogeneous study groups in developed urban settings have shown that circumcision is often associated with an increased risk of bacterial infections, viral infections, and major STD’s, or no significant difference. [74] [75] [76] [77] [78] [79] [80] [81] [82] [83] [84] [85]


Needless to say, circumcised men have been denied normal bodily functions associated with anatomically correct genitalia.

References

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