Why I Regret Circumcising My Sons

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I regret circumcising my sons.

Caige and Aaron

Caige and Aaron

There. I said it. No mother ever wants to admit that they did something ‘wrong’ or that they made a misinformed decision when it comes to their children. But, I did. I made the wrong choice when I circumcised my children and I regret that. If I could go back and change what I did, I would. But I can’t. All because I was told by my doctor that ‘It’s common. Everyone does it. It’s better that way’. And I stupidly never asked ‘why?’

I regret my decision for a wide variety of reasons. Mainly, there was no reason, medically, for the procedure to be done. On either of them. There was nothing wrong with their foreskin. NOTHING. And the act of circumcising a child is genital mutilation. Pure and simple.

And sadly, that is the issue with every single newborn circumcision. None. I have listed a few of the ‘reasons’ why people get the foreskin cut off:

1) It’s not retractable at birth—-which is a terrible reason. The foreskin is NOT supposed to be retractable. At all. It’s normal for it to not be retractable till 3-5 years of age.

2) Tradition, the father was cut so he will be too—–really? How often do you all sit around comparing penises? Is that like a guy thing I don’t know about?

3) It helps prevent UTI’s in the first year of life—-a UTI is not life threatening. It’s treated with antibiotics. It’s also preventable with proper hygiene. And you can still get it if you’re circumcised. So….there’s that then.

4) It prevents HIV and other STD’s later on in life—-Ok first of all, those studies were done primarily on men from Africa. And there were issues found with a few of those studies. Primarily, the low number of participants. And, I don’t know if you’ve heard about it or not, but condoms also help prevent the same issues. I’m just saying.

5) Hygiene—-this kinda falls in line with 3&4 but it’s not that hard to wash with soap and water. And, when the foreskin is retractable, retract it and wash. Just. Wash.

But let’s think about what circumcision is. You are REMOVING, surgically, a piece of another human beings body, without their consent, for your own personal reasons, none of which are medically necessary. None. Whatsoever.

Here’s what really get’s me though. Is it’s totally fine for this to be done to a male, but if the same part is removed on a female, it’s ok to call it mutilation. Why is there a double standard? Why is it ok for a baby boy to have his penis cut as a brand new baby boy with no consideration?

Males can get cut later on in life if they want. It’s perfectly fine for that to happen. If they want cut, so they can look like their friends (because penis envy?) then so be it. Cut away. But why do it to a newborn baby?

I made that mistake. I did that to MY CHILDREN. Can you understand how heartbreaking that is to me that I now can look at my sweet tiny innocent babies and realize that I willingly let them be mutilated for literally ZERO reason?

And, the worst part, was that my first son has had issues with it. His circumcision was done wrong. But no one ever really tells you what happens when a circ goes wrong do they? Let me tell you what, it’s awful. His foreskin was removed but not enough of it was taken off, and it fused back on, but in an incorrect way. Which caused an infection. So, when we were back in the office one day, they had to manually, with a gloved finger, retract his foreskin. Because it was fusing over in a way that was not allowing him to use the bathroom properly. And he SCREAMED in pain. I mean SCREAMED. I never want to go through that again. And his little penis is still slightly deformed. And all of this is for no reason. All of the pain, the suffering, the anguish…is for nothing. No medical reason whatsoever. Because I was told by my doctor ‘it’s common. Everyone does it. It’s better’…now after reading this, please, tell me, HOW is this better? How is cutting off a part of a baby, that is fine, normal, and healthy, BETTER?!? Leave me a comment. I want to know what do YOU think?

 

 

49 Comments

  1. I agree that it is mutilation. My husband never had his done, and any sons we may have, (we have two girls right now but want at least two more kids), will not have the procedure done either. If they want it later in life, fine, let them decide. I’ve heard women complain that it is gross that natural way, and blah, blah, blah. I really don’t care. I will leave my child intact because NOT harming him is OUR decision.
    (Not trying to bash, that’s just my take on it.)

    Reply
    • That’s how I feel. Honestly if my future sons want it done, then they can do it when they are consenting adults. I refuse to do it to them

      Reply
  2. Blogger Megan is to be warmly congratulated for contronting this once-taboo subject head-on and for having to courage to admit the mistakes of the past.

    Parents who consent to circumcision are overwhelmingly well-intentioned, but naive to the reality of the practice. Parents who go on to discover the truth oftentimes become victims of the business of circumcision themselves.

    As a man who deeply and bitterly resents the removal of an important part of my sexual anatomy before I could speak for myself or defend myself, it is encouraging to see more and more people discovering the truth and protecting the sons’ right to physical integrity.

    One day soon – thanks to couragious and enlightened parents just like Megan – circumcision will be safely consigned to history.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words! It really does mean a lot to me that so many important people in this struggle are backing my post and helping me get my story heard.

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  3. Megan,
    What a fantastic post.

    I commend you for your honesty, and candor. One thing I would add is that I think your should apply some blame for the position you find yourself in at the feet of your Dr. The grief you feel is similar to the grief some women feel when they fail to breastfeed. Your Dr failed you, failed your children and lined his own pockets with the screams of your babies indirectly (if he referred you) and directly (if he carried the mutilation out himself). Let yourself be ANGRY at that.

    Big, BIG LOVE to you xxx

    Reply
    • Thank you for the kind words. And yes I am angry. I was mis-informed and just told to do it. Given no information when I asked for it. And he himself did it to both of my children. I’m very upset. And currently looking for a new doctor

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  4. I am so so happy that we decided against circumcision when our son was born almost 5 months ago. I am however frustrated with the way our nurse practitioner at our peds clinic treated us about it. A couple weeks ago our son was sick (his first ear infection) so he was on antibiotics. His fever lasted 7 days so we were back at the clinic, but his ears looked fine. She said it could be a uti then said “we’ll he is circumcised isn’t he and when I replied no, she said “we’ll than that is definitely what it is!!” (All disgusted sounding :-(. After releasing my baby to her for a catheter, we found out it wasn’t that at all.

    Reply
    • If she inserted a catheter, she definitely forcefully retracted his foreskin, which is very painful and harmful to your baby. Unfortunately the American medical community is shockingly misinformed about the foreskin and how to catheterize intact boys. They make it out like an intact infant penis is this hugely complicated organ and difficult to clean, even though it’s actually easier than caring for a circumcised penis.

      Being an intact boy in America is dangerous. The risk of forced retraction is high, but slowly the medical community is learning. Ironically, boys who have been forcefully retracted are at much higher risk for infections and other medical complications, leading their doctors to recommend circumcision later in life, even in late age. This is why we hear so many stories of “my grandfather had to get circumcised” and “my nephew had to be circumcised at 5 because of repeated infections”.

      If your son was forcefully retracted, this information may be helpful for you:
      http://www.thewholenetwork.org/14/post/2011/08/forced-retraction.html

      Reply
      • you can insert a catheter without retracting the foreskin.

        Reply
    • Oh no! that is AWFUL! And it should have NEVER happened to you. That is just a bitter woman who is grossly misinformed about a whole baby. Major hugs to you!

      Reply
  5. I commend u for speaking out. it’s not easy to admit you made a mistake and to right a wrong by educating others. it Is very brave. the foreskin does not retract until the average age of 10. also, I agree with you. there is no reason to go this to a child’s. none. most of the justifications are for things that might happen much later in life and st an age where the make can make his own informed choices about his body. why take away his choice?? thank you, again.

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  6. Thank you for sharing your story. Your personal experience will help others avoid making a circumcision mistake. Many parents today realize that if they had been given accurate information about circumcision, they would never have let anyone circumcise their baby. When we know better, we do better. People who were harmed and misled by our trusted doctors must keep speaking up and sharing their stories. I am. I was neonatally circumcised when “it was just done” by the hospital in the 1970s. My parents were provided no information. I have endured numerous complications including traumatic corrective meatotomy surgery at age 5 for meatal stenosis.

    Worldwide, only about 20 out of every l,000 male infants are circumcised— but 18 of those 20 are in the U.S. Tragically, U.S. hospitals stand alone in the developed world in soliciting infant circumcision surgery on healthy newborns. The medical evidence is overwhelmingly against infant circumcision. Today’s parents are educating themselves in every way they can about infant circumcision. This includes watching Internet videos of the surgery and the effect on the babies. They are also thinking about how their adult son might feel about having been circumcised. By not having him circumcised, you can give your son a gentle beginning, the gift of his whole body, and all the sensitivity and feeling that God intended.

    I urge you and other mothers of sons with complications from their circumcisions to contact Attorneys for the Rights of the Child at http://arclaw.org/.

    Reply
  7. It’s human nature sadly, we (I mean everyone) can more easily make decisions that impact someone else than if it impacts us personally. what I mean is if the doctor had said that he recommends remove parts of you genitals immediately you would be like why is something wrong? you’d be far more involved it would hit you more personally, EVEN though you love your sons the impact of the same statement applied to them would be lessened because there is that distance for the parent.

    I’ve tried to talk to my parents on this issue and they honestly don’t believe they did anything wrong. the reason because is they weren’t impacted they don’t see the harm so for me it’s a double whammy of a hurt. they first had it done to me, then they insult it be saying ‘it’s just a flap of skin’ how sick is that… the irony is when my sister was born it was still legal in Canada to do this to girls, they opted against it for her as they thought it was wrong to do to girls… they also fail t see the sexism in that statement.

    Anyway I know you regret your choice and it might not give you solace it might not make your sons feel better IF they end up being upset by this. but I’ll tell you something if they do become upset and they don’t find peace even with your regret, know that atleast you aren’t making it worse by insulting what they had they might not appreciate that but if you told them that it’s not bad to circumcise it’s just a flap of skin, when they’re upset then they’d realize just how got it was given the circumstances that you acknowledge their loss.

    Reply
    • Jeff – so very sorry that your parents won’t/can’t see or take accountability for what they did to you. I’m glad your sister was protected but I’m sorry that you weren’t, as well. You should’ve been. It’s unfair and I hope some day, your parents will finally see and acknowledge the harm physically and mentally that they still are doing. BIG HUGS!

      Reply
    • That is a super interesting perspective- the lessening of the impact due to distance. That is something that might really resonate with people when you’re trying to dissuade them from doing this to their children. Thank you for that.

      Reply
  8. I’m sorry you are living with regret, and that your sons will have lifelong issues, and that doctors and nurses are so ignorant. It’s so commendable that you’re writing about your decision and informing the world about the truth.

    I’m thankful that I chose not to have our son circumcised. One doctor we saw later said he should be circumcised if his foreskin didn’t retract by age five. Of course, I read about the truth on my own and learned that many boys cannot retract their foreskins until adolescence.

    How can so many doctors still recommend circumsion? It must be either ignorance or greed. Those are the only two possibilities. And our boys are paying the price. It truly disgusts me.

    Your words are more meaningful to many people because you made the decision to circumcise and now see that it was a mistake. I think your perspective will have a big impact on those who are considering circumcision, whereas those of us who chose not to are often ignored. It’s their doctors versus us, and it’s much easier to agree with a doctor, unfortunately.

    Keep spreading the word! It will help all the innocent boys out there!

    Reply
    • Some older doctors recommend circumcision because they refuse to admit they were trained to harm rather than help. Older circumcised doctors are the most resistant to change. Some live in denial of their own loss. Some doctors in their 60s and 70s are still practicing.

      Reply
      • Can you imagine being a doctor who has harmed hundreds of boys having to face the fact that he harmed hundreds of children? It’s cognitive dissonance. They must not accept that circumcision is wrong….if they do, how will they ever be able to look themselves in the mirror?

        Reply
  9. Wow, what a great post. Huge respect to you, mom, for having the guts to write it. Not many people would. A lot of parents could learn from you, if only they’d be willing to set their pride and denial aside. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Reply
  10. Megan, it takes a lot of courage to admit a mistake and to bear the resulting guilt. But keep a close and open relationship with your boys. Always be truthful about what happened, with details appropriate with their age when they start questioning you. They will understand, and also at the appropriate time, should they regret being circumcised, you can mention that non-surgical foreskin restoration is a working solution.
    When our son was born in 1965, my wife and I were convinced by the ob/gyn that our baby would die of penile cancer if we did not agree. The worst of it is that doctors are not completely responsible: in the U.S., the medical schools still do not teach the anatomy nor the physiology of the prepuce, not even that the foreskin is fused to the glans and does not retract spontaneously until the teenage years; the AAP refuses to look at the fact that about a hundred baby boys die each year from circumcision, many are forced to undergo a sex change following partial or total penile amputation, and countless are left with botched a circumcision which prevent a normal sexual relationship. My son had never mentioned problems with being circumcised, but three years ago, I finally got the courage to apologize. He graciously accepted my apologies, and is now restoring. But the guilt still last, and the only positive action I can take now, is to become an intactivist.
    Thank you for posting such moving and educating thoughts.

    Reply
    • I’m hoping that by admitting my mistake to them and helping through any upset feelings they may have one day, I’ll be able to make a difference. Because I don’t want them to be upset with me because of the decision I made, but be proud of me for trying to remedy the situation by educating others.

      Reply
  11. Thank you! Thank You! It takes a very special person to admit they made a mistake. I may have been in the same shoes if I had not met the most important man in my life, who happens to be uncircumcised and it led me to my own research. In college I did a slideshow presentation highlighting the same points you also wrote about in my public speaking class. I compared removing the foreskin to the removal of the clitoral hood on the female. I gathered quotes from real men who had done their own research and were deeply upset that this had happened to them at the most vulnerable time of their life. I also delved a little bit about bad female attitude regarding the poor judgement of uncircumcised men and called out their hypocrisy in the fact that they too do not want to be judged harshly on their natural bodies. I got some great feedback afterwards, I felt good that I educated at least a small group of people on the subject.

    Reply
    • So far I’m getting some pretty decent feedback so far! It’s great to know that people are listening! I’d love to educate as many people as I can on the dangers of circumcision and how unnecessary it is

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story first off, your a brave mom to admit the wrong decisions you made but what’s done is done and your boys will be fine, it’s okay. :) My husband was cut but we decided to leave our baby boy uncut and when I asked my husband what he will tell our son if he asks why they are different he replied, “I’ll tell him that he had a choice but I didn’t.” I love that.

    Reply
    • That is an amazing way to put it! That’s how I think I will word it to any future sons I have. Because I want them to remain intact.

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  13. <3 Thank you so much for speaking out. That is what will make all the difference in the world.

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    • I hope to make a difference to at least one boy!

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  14. Well done, apart from agreeing with me, I predicted this is the reason most parents of no religious background have their sons butchered.

    One slight issue, my foreskin remained attached to my glans until about 10. There is no hard and fast rule that says the foreskin must be retractable earlier on, and the only person who should retract it is the boy himself.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for the kind words and info. I’ll be updating with the info about it not retracting until closer to adolescence. Because I feel people need to know this info. I’d love to change just one person’s mind about this. And save just one baby.

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  15. You are very brave to have written this. Such an open and honest piece filled with facts. Thank you for writing this.

    I was thankfully left intact after my older brothers had been circumcised at birth. I am so glad my parents wised up and left me whole.

    I don’t recall first retracting until about 12 years old. I believe it varies widely. The boy should be the only one to retract. The penis is self cleaning until then. Personally, I have never had a UTI or any other issue.

    Keep up the peaceful intactivism!

    Reply
    • Thank you for the info! I’ll be updating this with that info about retracting later toward adolescence. It needs to be known! I’m glad you were left intact. Any future sons of mine will be as well.

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  16. Hugs to you, I could have been you. I know its hard to find out the truth. I feel the guilt just for planning to do it to my boys had insurance covered it. My intact partner would have let me cut my first son. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for helping to save future sons.

    Reply
    • Thank you for your kind words!I hope to change at least one person’s mind about this.

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  17. I am right there with you. I can’t believe I let my baby go through that. I will never be okay with it. I feel so horrible about not researching it ahead of time, even though I really didn’t want my newborn to have surgery and I didn’t understand why it was so necessary according to everyone. Our pediatrician didn’t even talk to us about pros or cons or anything, which is so typical. Thankfully I learned about everything you discussed in time to prevent this from happening to baby boy #2 who will be here in a few months, but I can never take it back for my oldest son. My heart aches.

    Reply
    • It’s hard to not feel bad once you find out the truth. But now you know and you are fixing it by not doing this to number 2! I wish I would have known all of this before I had Caige, but I understand you about the doctors not discussing anything with you. It’s TERRIBLE. I never heard anything except ‘that’s just how it’s done’ which just isn’t ok.

      Reply
  18. Dear Megan,
    I’d like to invite you to check out the Nurses for the Rights of the Child website: childrightsnurses.org. There are still many in the medical professions who are not motivated to educate themselves about the unethical and harmful practice of neonatal genital cutting, but I’d like to introduce you to some of us who have. It is a sad commentary on our profession that it is the well-informed lay person who knows more about many issues of unconsenting surgery on helpless baby boys and who braves offending the cultural norm by daring to add your voice to the growing efforts to eradicate this shameful assault on the bodies of helpless infants. You have not only kept your child whole, but are speaking out loud and strong so that others may be informed and will protect their precious children from this horrible practice. Thank you so much!

    Mary Conant RN
    Co-founder, Nurses for the Rights of the Child

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! I’d very much love to check this group out. I find it so sad that there are so many healthcare professionals who are making parents feel guilty for not circumcising, or just flat out not informing parents correctly. I’m glad to see a group working to correct that. Thank you for the info and I’m glad there are so many out there fighting this good fight.

      Reply
      • You may think I didn’t read your blog, but I did. I erred when I said you kept your child whole. Sorry. I got carried away. I do know your next son will not be harmed.

        Mary

        Reply
  19. Thank you, Megan. I pray that many mothers-to-be will read your article. It is educational and also full of feeling. So sorry you got trapped in that “gotta do it” thing that the medical world and society pushes on parents. Thanks to articles like yours, the number of boys being cut is diminishing all the time. I pray people will come to their senses and stop it altogether in the very near future. I am confident that many boys will be saved due to your awakening experience, as painful as it has been. Love from Patricia – a circumcised woman who ‘forgot’ what had happened to her and then remembered and now understands why her life was so weird… and who works to save boys from the same fate.

    Reply
  20. Well said, Megan! In my area of the country, circumcision is still very much the norm. Our families and friends were appalled when we informed them that we would absolutely not be circumcising our son. My husband’s circumcision back in 1982 was very much like the one you described your son having, with regrowth and scarring and infection. He developed adhesions and severe itching for many years afterward. He was, naturally, quite onboard when I informed him while we were dating that if we had any sons together, they would be left whole and intact. Our only son (three girls) turned 4 this past August and he is whole and happy. Hopefully posts like this will help parents avoid the same tragedy your son encountered. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  21. As a pediatric med assist and also a surg tech, I can tell you that RIC is in fact 100% NOT necessary whatsoever. I also worked two years as a urology med assist. I still repeat: RIC is in fact 100% NOT necessary.

    As a student, I had to assist the md with circumcisions on non-consenting minors in the o.r. Luckily, those were under anesthesia, and the patients were given pain medication afterwards. I ASSURE you, the circumcisions were just as horrible as you assume they are… and mine didn’t have the screaming and in-shock baby fighting and and then finally, having no air, strength, or will left, succumbing.

    As a mom to an intact son, I can tell you therr is no special care necessary, unlike a circumcised penis.

    SAY NO TO ROUTINE INFANT CIRCUMCISION. BRING YOUR WHOLE BABY HOME. THEY ARE BORN PERFECT…KEEP THEM THAT WAY.

    Reply
  22. I completely understand how heartbreaking this is because I have been there. My first 2 sons were circumcised because of ignorance, passivity, lack of asking questions, trusting the doctors, etc. Why do parents have to somehow know the right questions to ask in order to avoid this atrocity? ALL the risks of circumcision should be disclosed, ALL the benefits of the foreskin should be discussed, as a standard!
    NONE of this was initiated by our doctors or midwife.

    My sons also had the complication of adhesions, the fusing of the skin, (though not so bad that it prevented urination.) At a “well baby” visit for my 1st baby, the bastard doctor ripped the skin back with no warning and my baby screamed and bled. By the time my 2nd baby got adhesions I read that ripping adhesions was the wrong thing to do, so I opted to avoid doctors and left it alone. His adhesions let loose on their own after several months.

    But tragically my 2nd baby developed a buried penis at a couple months old (likely too much skin was removed during his circ.) His penis pulled inside his body, and completely disappeared behind a fat pad in the groin area. When he was potty training, he had to stand in the tub, he couldn’t stand at a toilet & aim because the pee would just dribble down his front. It stayed that way until he was 2.5 to 3 years old, when he was a little thinner it resolved itself. But now that he is 7 years old and chubbier, his penis has become buried again. My god, the regret I feel is so powerful, it hurts.

    People say circumcised penises are cleaner, but I had the complete opposite experience. My 2 circumcised sons always had lint and stuff getting stuck in the area between the exposed glans and what bit of skin was left around the scar. But my 3rd son, who is intact, is EASY & always clean because nothing ever gets inside the foreskin. His penis is protected. My 1st two sons also got really bad infections on their glans at the same time (when my first son was 3yrs and my second was 1 year old. )That would not have happened if the glans would have been protected by a foreskin.

    Besides the complications early in life caused by circumcision, I am haunted by what we have changed for them for the rest of their lives. It kills me that my 1st two sons have been altered without their consent and will forever be missing an important part of their anatomy. They will never know the pleasure of normal, INTACT sex.

    I would do anything to give their intact bodies back to them. But I can’t.

    All I can do is help inform other parents and professionals to help protect future babies from circumcision.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing, Jenny. The details of all 3 of your sons, I’m sure will potentially help save some lives and keep a boy out there whole. Letting us know your experience and differences of your boys from the youngest and intact one, to the older ones will keep many parents informed.

      Reply
  23. WOW… What a powerful story… But I believe the guilt should be placed solely on the medical profession they are the ones responsible for informing people about the procedure, when my son was born in 88 I was lucky enough to have my mother who was a nurse and a wonderful Dr Green who informed thousands of people that if you are making the decision for cleanliness also remove their tonsils, appendix just incase of infection and cut their ears off as well so they don’t have to wash behind them… Why should it be left up to parents to feel the shame when the medical profession could stop this barbaric procedure immediately… Good on you for sharing your story… I hope it changes the views of the misinformed people…

    Reply
  24. Megan – from a man who has suffered in this way, you are totally forgiven. You were led astray by evil and lazy doctors and others in the medical profession. Now you have researched and learnt from what happened, and you can contribute to this fight and stop other little boys suffering.

    It’s just as simple as this: holding your hand up and saying you made a mistake. I’m sure you sons will forgive you as well. And who knows, by the time they will become sexually active, who knows what medical advances may have been made to help with restoration.

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  25. Wow, powerful story. I never thought much of this issue, but now I can see how detrimental a decision it is to do that. Thanks for the valuable information here.

    Jeremy

    Reply
  26. Would you be interested in letting us feature one of your blogs on Triad Moms on Main as a guest blogger? We’ve seen a couple of your posts that we’d love to share, and we can link back to your blog. Please let me know! ~ Katie@TriadMomsOnMain.com

    Reply
    • Yes I would love that! Thank you!

      Reply

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