The definition of circumcision, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “is the surgical removal of the foreskin, exposing the tip of the penis.” Successful Black Parenting magazine conducted a poll on Twitter last month to see how many of our parents were pro-circumcision and how many were not. This is what we found:
Circumcising is a personal decision. For the Jews, circumcision is sanctioned by religion but how are we justifying this ritual as Black people?
Circumcising is a personal decision. For the Jews, circumcision is sanctioned by religion but how are we justifying this ritual as Black people? Is this residual slave-mentality or are we trying to be something we’re not? In the U.S., “only about 56 percent of newborn males are circumcised.” The comments from our poll showed that parents are concerned about cleanliness. Let’s dig deeper into that concern.
There are a lot of myths surrounding circumcision. One of the myths is that you can’t keep an uncircumcised penis clean. The fact is that regular bathing and showering keeps uncircumcised penises clean. It is not recommended to pull back a baby’s foreskin to clean it. According to Psychology Today, that is equal to using a cotton swab to clean an infant girl’s vagina every diaper change.
There seems to be an association of lower urinary tract infections (UTI) in circumcised boys during the first year of life, up to a 90 percent less chance of a UTI. Infections and STDs later in life can be prevented by regularly bathing and using condoms, just as circumcised males should do anyway.
There are also claims of reduction in sensitivity at the tip of the penis with circumcision. But how do you know if you don’t have anything to compare it to?
Infants do experience pain with circumcision but a trained professional should use some form of analgesic to numb the area where they will make the incision. Most circumcisions go well and heal. There have been some incidents in the news where circumcision went wrong, like the baby in Riverdale, Georgia whose penis was severed when a midwife botched his circumcision. His parents were awarded $31 million in a lawsuit because the tip of the baby’s penis was cut off. These incidents are rare.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
• Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, and the benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it.
• Male circumcision should be performed by trained and competent practitioners, by using sterile techniques and effective pain management.
• Analgesia is safe and effective in reducing the procedural pain associated with newborn circumcision; thus, adequate analgesia should be provided whenever newborn circumcision is performed.
• Parents of newborn boys should be instructed in the care of the penis, regardless of whether the newborn has been circumcised or not.
Circumcision is a personal decision for Black families. It’s not based on religious beliefs. Ask yourself why you want to do it, and research your apprehensions. If more and more parents are opting not to circumcise, then a non-circumcised penis will be the norm in the future and a circumcised penis will look strange.