More readers share their stories:
My heart goes out to your reader. We opted not to circumcise our son, only to have him develop the same non-retraction problem at age three. We tried a variety of topical treatments and visited a number of doctors. We were told that the problem might resolve with time, but if it didn’t, we’d be looking at circumcision of an even older child. That seemed untenable to us, so we went ahead with the procedure, which required a visit to an outpatient facility, general anesthesia, and several hundred dollars out of pocket.
He’s now almost seven and doing just fine, but it was a sad experience for all of us. To this day he talks about the time “when Mommy was crying so hard.” I’d tried to put the antibiotic ointment on his incision and he ran away screaming. I was emotionally worn out and worried about infection but also hoping and praying that he wouldn’t get a complex from having a wound on his penis that his parents had to slather with ointment several times a day.
As much as my husband and I couldn’t stomach the thought of a newborn undergoing this procedure, what our son experienced was more traumatic. Would we have done it differently had we known? Probably, but that’s the problem – there’s no way to know ahead of time if your child will develop this issue.
Another got his penis sliced much later than age three:
Having read about your reader’s dilemma regarding his child’s circumcision, I’d recommend that he go ahead and do it. I had issues with phimosis in adolescence and actually needed a circumcision, but I had to wait until I had health insurance to get one. I remained a virgin through college because I was too afraid of something bad happening during sex, which I will forever regret, even though I am happily married now.
One of the first things I did after getting healthcare coverage through a job was to get a circumcision. I was 24 then, and I can attest as to how terrible it is. Imagine getting multiple shots of local anesthetic on your johnson, feeling the sutures being sewn because the anaesthetic is wearing out, and having the whole thing witnessed by four nurses, presumably because of the sheer novelty of an adult circumcision. The recovery is equally horrendous, with painful mid-sleep boners and the skin of my glans getting chapped and flaking off. I took three days off work when I was told one would suffice.
When all was said and done, I had a scarred dick that lost a lot of its sensitivity, but that was mitigated by the lost fear of actually using my penis.
So having experienced circumcision as a grown man, I can attest that it is a barbaric experience. Performing it on a newborn child does not change that. I do not plan on having my children circumcised, if I have any. Still, if it is an issue of medical necessity – which it can be – the sooner it gets dealt with, the better. Once puberty hits and shame becomes inevitably correlated with private parts, a lot of damage can be done.
Another suggests a novel solution:
Why do stories on circumcision never discuss the “dorsal slit” procedure, which leaves the foreskin intact? This simple procedure combines the health benefits of circumcision with all the pleasure of remaining intact. While I do not advocate routine mutilation, this neatly resolves the issue for anyone with retraction problems. Those seeking middle-ground might consider this compromise.
A colleague of a reader seems to have done just that:
The image that came to me when I read your post was when I was working in a very busy neonatal unit. The head of the department did the circumcisions if the child did not have a pediatrician yet. I came on to work one morning and was so shocked when I pulled back the diaper to reveal something – to my eyes – that was horribly wrong. It looked like a mutilation, and I have seen lots of circs (performed by the pediatricians on their patients – this was the first one I saw that the neonatologist had performed).
I immediately went to find him and asked him to come and take a look. I thought he would really want to know – thinking that there was swelling or infection or some thing gone awry. He made a rather sniping comment – that I had been to Paris and seen the best or something to that effect. What I learned about this doctor is that he did not like to do circumcisions and so he performed a “mini circ” – essentially just nipping a bit off. Everybody is happy.