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Why Not Circumcise?

The first step to understanding why circumcision is detrimental is to examine what the foreskin is, how it works, and how leaving it intact benefits its owner. The foreskin consists of 60 to 80 percent of total penile shaft skin. It is a continious skin sheath, but not a single layer. It consists of the outer foreskin, which is a continuation of the penile shaft skin. This folds under itself and meets with the inner foreskin, which consists of a mucocutaneous tissue which is unique to the penis. The inner and outer layer meet at a point near the glans (head) of the penis. In babies and children, the foreskin is attached to the glans of the penis, although in adults it is fully retractable, allowing exposure of the glans of the penis. The foreskin is the most densely nerve laden part of the penis. In an adult, the circumference of the foreskin is about five inches. It has 240 feet of nerves and over a thousand nerve endings.

The foreskin is multifunctional and serves many purposes. It is a protective sheath which provides valuble coverage from dirt and abrasion. The foreskin keeps the glans of the penis moist and lubricated, so it stays soft rather than drying out like a circumcised penis does. Smegma, which is the Greek word for soap, is a secretion of dead skin cells and oils which collects under the foreskin and serves protective, lubricative, pheremonal, and possibly bacteriostatic functions. It is clean, not dirty, contrary to popular cultural attitudes. The foreskin provides numerous sexual functions. Skin coverage provides masturbatory functions and aids in foreplay. It also aids penetration and stimulates a woman's "g-spot." It reduces the friction created during intercouse, and since it is so densely nerve laden, it is a major errogenous area.

Circumcision is detrimental to a man's sexuality in several ways. Circumcision removes all of the nerves and nerve ending as described above. Once the penis loses its protective sheath, it dries out and develops a layer of keratin. Keratin is the hard stuff that coats your hail and nails. In addition, the penis develops 12 to 15 layers of corneum, a toughened layer of skin, to coat the penis in order to mimic the protective functions of the foreskin. These things contribute to the desensitization of the penis, which may grow worse the older the man gets. Without the foreskin, the penis has no moveable parts, which means there is no gliding motion during masturbation, foreplay, or intercourse. Circumcision impedes the blow flow through the penis by severing the lymph vessels. Part or all of the frenulum, a nerve laden membrane attaching the glans ro the shaft, may be removed. How much remains determines how much of the sensitivity of the penis remains. Desensitization may be greater in infant circumcision than in adults who were circumcised later in life, since the foreskins has to be forcibly torn away from the glans.

There are obviously many reasons to leave a boy's foreskin right where it is. There are no medical reasons to get a boy circumcised, the disadvantages are clear, and the risks are great. An estimated two to ten percent of circumcisions are botched, according to Billy Ray Boyd's Circumcision Exposed: Rethinking A Medical and Cultural Tradition. There are many complications that can occur during this supposedly simply and routine surgery. Boys may suffer from adhesions on the penis, skin bridges (after circumcision, part of the penis which is still raw reattaches itself to the glans, like a bridge), skin tags, and extensive scarring. The most common complication of circumcision is speculated to be meatal stenosis. This is a narrowing of the urethral opening which occurs almost exclusively in circumcised men. Symptoms include a needle thin stream of urine, discomfort with urination, and bleeding afterwards. Two more serious complications of circumcision are epispadias and hypospadias. Epispadias is when the urethral opening is at the top of the glans, and hypospadias is when it occurs at the bottom. Infection can occur at the site of the circumcision, and if not treated properly, can lead to menengitis or death. A boy can develop necrotising fasciitis, also refered to as "galloping gangrene" from circumcision complications. Other serious complications include impotence, massive brain and kidney damage, convulsions, loss of all penile shaft skin, quadrepolegia, and even death. There are 2 to 3 acknowledged deaths per year in the United States from circumcision, but some estimates put the casualty rate as high as 200 deaths per year in the US. Babies have had the glans of their penises cut off, and there is at least one case of a boy who had his entire penis burned off by an electrocautery gun.

If there are any benefits to circumcision, they are unclear, unproven, and of miniscule proportion compared to the disadvantages and risks. The foreskin is a fully functional organ. Boys and men have it for a reason. Amputating it without a infant boy's consent is cruel, unhumane, and a violation of his absic human rights. For a parent to put his son at risk for disfigurement and death without his permission; to take away an important part of his body without his even knowing why; is an injustice which should not be tolerated. Circumcision is surgery, it is unnecessary surgery, and we as parents -- not to mention as a society -- need to begin to give our childrens' entire bodies the value that they deserve.