To Circumcise or Not?


To help end the mommy wars, I plan to keep creating an honest conversation through Whimsicle where as long as children are healthy and loved, all parents’ opinions will be respected.   No name calling.  No shame. Only support and lifting up. Go to the Similac Facebook page and share the one thing you will do to help end the mommy wars.

Parenting is stressful today.  Every time you pop online there are a thousand Facebook posts, blog posts and Pinterest pins telling you how you should do things differently as a parent. Everyone has an opinion from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, cloth diapers to disposable, circumcision vs. non-circumcision.

There was a moment in each of my pregnancies where I hoped that the baby growing in my belly would be a girl and not a boy – for no reason other than if it was a girl, I wouldn’t have to make the decision about circumcising.  It terrified me to go against the norm of all the other men in our family and not circumcise.  But it also terrified me to have my newborn son get a part of himself cut off.  

When we found out our second child was a boy, I attempted to calm myself down by saying, “JoAnn.  Millions of boys are circumcised.  It’s just something that has to be done.  The procedure will be quick. Get over it.”   Then I did what crazy, anxiety-filled me does in times of panic.  I turned to my very rational husband who I knew would calm me down about this medical procedure.

“I don’t think we should have him circumcised,” he replied.

“Wait, WHAT?!? But everyone else is circumcised.”

“I just think its an unnecessary surgery,” he responded

Hubby did not help calm my fears at all.  At that time, I was stuck between two contrasting positions.  One of the majority of US society that you should circumcise a newborn boy and the other of my husband who thinks not.  

Seriously, this was one of the most stressful parenting decisions I’ve ever made.  I wanted my child to be healthy.  I wanted to make the right and responsible decision.  I didn’t want people to judge me.

However, the last statement is an impossible wish, because either way I was going to be judged by someone.  So I read everything I could about circumcision.  The articles pro-circumcision, the anti-circumcision and everything in between.   I had four major concerns:

But isn’t everyone circumcised?  

I found out NO.  Where in the US about 75% of men are circumcised, only 8.5% of men in the U.K. are.  Circumcision is not a common procedure in Europe unless your religion practices it.   

Won’t he get laughed at in the locker room?

Yes, teenage boys can be jerks.  But, first, boys behave a little different than girls.  As my husband puts it, if other guys want to harass you, they are going to find a way.  Foreskin or not, junior high can be a miserable place  Plus, the rates of circumcision on newborns are declining in the US, so there will be more guys who look like him.

Will he be at risk for STD’s and Cancer when he gets older? 

Some studies say yes.   However, most of these diseases are usually related to either poor hygiene or unprotected sex.

Won’t the procedure be unbearably painful later on?

This was my biggest concern if I chose not to circumcise my son.  I fast-forwarded 18 years in the future to a boy so unhappy with having a foreskin and completely furious with his parents for not having the procedure done when it would be blocked from his memory.  However, the one account I found of an adult getting circumcised described the recovery as minimal.  And he didn’t hate his parents, so yay!

We decided not to circumcise.

It was an unpopular decision with some family members and friends.  One person handed me a Science News article about a research study done in Africa where circumcision reduced the spread of AIDS.  Thankfully, this person respected our decision and hasn’t mentioned the issue since.

After my son was born, I was changing his diaper at a friend’s house and my friend remarked how “different” it looked down there.  And that’s ok.  I know its just an observation.  I can’t say that I don’t question our decision when I hear the judgement of others.  However, I am confident that we made the right decision for our family and if new research emerges or my son starts having problems, we can re-evaluate at that time.  

It’s good to ask questions.  It’s good to discuss and wonder and examine.  The fault lies when we internalize our own opinions as fact and not accept other people’s viewpoints.  Similac’s Sisterhood of Motherhood aims to bond us together as parents.  We may not agree with each other, but we do support each other.  

Similac has created another excellent video called, “Real Parents, Real Judgement” Do any of these parenting concerns sound familiar to you?

Real Parents, Real Judgment | Similac®

What are you going to do to help end the mommy wars? Visit the Similac Facebook page and share the one thing you will do to help end the mommy wars.

Simliac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood program.  As part of this program, I received compensation for my time.  Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words.  Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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  1. This is a really interesting topic. We have a boy, and we knew we wanted to circumcise. We went ahead and did it in the hospital after he was born. After that, he had a terrible time getting started breastfeeding—he was really groggy for a few days which led to scary amounts of weight loss.

    I think there is a reason that the Jewish tradition waits 8 days to circumcise. Even though we aren’t Jewish, I think if we have another boy, we may hire a mohel (hope I spelled that right?) to do it a few days after we get home.

    1. It’s crazy to me how different the opinions are in the US vs. Europe! Pediatricians can do the procedures in their offices as well. I know that was an option for us.

  2. It is so nice to not feel like the only one who went through this same emotional struggle! My son is almost 10 now and so far it hasn’t been an issue! I feel like I know more about circumcision than any mother should. Your words were my thoughts exactly. The final deciding factor was seeing that the rates are declining so that there must be more moms like me and he won’t be the one uncircumcised child in the locker room. I still feel like I have to be ready to defend my position at any time though and I shy away from mentioning it with other mom friends…feeling like I’m not alone will help with that though. Thank you!

    1. I’m glad I could help Brianna. I agree with you that I feel like I have to defend my position a lot too.. many times to myself. In just researching this post, I found new articles and research touting the benefits of a circumcision and the dangers of not circumcising. Reading the headlines made me feel like a bad mother who was risking the health of her child. However, on further reading of each article, I was reminded about why I made my decision. Glad to hear its not an issue at 10. That makes me happy 🙂

  3. My husband and I discussed this before pregnancy. I was anti-cerc, he was pro. Lucky for us, our one and only is a girl, so there was nothing to debate.

  4. I left the decision to my husband. I figured he would have to be the one to explain to his son why they were different or the same (depending on how he chose). The stats really didn’t lean in favor either way, so I really had no opinion (outside of the “they’re going to purposely hurt my son!” And “he’s already stuck with potential fat genes. Does he really need another thing to be mocked about” dueling fears). Ultimately we decided yes to the procedure. It was quick and clean (I couldn’t dare watch it though. Thankfully my mom, a nurse, was in town and went in there with our monkey). It’s definitely a tough decision.

  5. At the beginning of my pregnancy, my husband and I “knew” we would circumcise our son, however, as I grew more fond of this sweet babe growing inside, I suddenly felt very protective and decided to do research. Article after article, I started to go back and forth and really started stressing. I talked to my doctor who had performed about 200 circumcisions at that point and who I had assumed would tell me I should just proceed with the procedure after birth. Her answer really surprised me. She said a growing body of reliable, science-backed research either can no longer show one has more benefit or drawback than the other, or shows that circumcision can actually cause more health concerns than not. Of course there are still many that conclude the opposite, but the conditions in which men are contracting higher incidences of STDs and other infections are involving riskier situations anyway including unprotected sex with newer partners who haven’t been tested. She also said more and more parents are choosing not to go with the procedure so I shouldnt worry about how others would judge him naked. I then asked her if she had a son and knew what she knew, what would she do? She took a deep breath and said that even a year earlier, she would have choosen to circumcise, but now she’d choose to avoid it as at this point, she felt based on all of the evidence she’d seen, it was almost more of a cosmetic procedure rather than a medically necessary one, and just like the testes become ovaries in a female baby, much of the skin used to make the foreskin (and scrotum) in a male baby would become labia in a female baby, yet we wouldn’t remove labia on a baby girl, even though they still do in some countries. She also said more and more insurance companies don’t see it as medically necessary and no longer offer coverage or it’s very reduced coverage, which will probably dissuade some parents who don’t feel strongly about it to avoid it, continuing to change the trend further in the future. I continued to do more research and ultimately with my husband, decided against it. That said, I don’t judge those who choose to circumcise just as I hope they don’t judge me. 🙂

  6. This randomly popped up in my pinterest – not sure why as I’ve never pinned anything parenting related! It was interesting for me to read, as someone who lives in a country (New Zealand) where 90ish percent of boys aren’t circumcised – according to my mum they didn’t even ask or mention it to her when my brother was born. I’ve only heard of one or two men who had to get circumcised due to medical issues when they were older.

  7. Hey Jo! No judgement here (no matter which side you’re on). It’s funny how it seems like such a big deal before they’re born, but now we hardly even think about it. For Tony and I, it was a pretty easy decision to leave V’s intact; but like you, ALL of our friends and family thought we were weird. And they act like it’s an alien every time they see it. I’m proud of you for talking about it in such an open, honest way on your blog (I generally just avoid such topics, because I don’t like all the judgement). It’s interesting how another commenter pointed out in New Zealand uncircumcised is just the norm. Don’t forget, the rates of circumcision varies by state – in AZ (and the West in general) we are the majority! Only ~20% circumcise here. Our sons will be in good company (It’s not like they’ll walk around comparing, anyway, according to my hubby 😉

    1. My hubby tells me I shouldn’t worry about boys comparing themselves to each other either 🙂 LOL! That is interesting that the rate is only 20% here in AZ.

  8. That topic was an… unspeakable topic in our house when I was pregnant with our son. My husband did not even want to discuss any option other than he was getting circumcised. I have to say that honestly, I wasn’t stressed about the decision one way or the other and would never judge another over their decision. I do, however, enjoy reading and talking with others about their reason for their decision. It makes me more educated to know other thoughts, opinions, and options. You are the parent of your child and I respect that you know what is best for your child and your family as I know what is best for my child and my family. I really, really, really hate judgmental people and mommy wars. Can’t we all just get along? 🙂

      1. I disagree and think that the person should get to decide about their own body. I mean, we don’t let parents decide how much eyelid or how much pinky finger or how much labia a child gets to keep. Why do we get to decide how much penile covering they get to keep.
        Maybe that sounds a little extreme to you, but it really seems like a double standard to me. I know that some will probably write that off as judgmental but I don’t know any other way to say it.
        I understand that many parents choose circumcision because their doctor has told them inaccurate myths about health benefits etc. It’s understandable that it’s been done in the past. But not an ethically right thing for our society to continue doing.

  9. Being that 100 boys die in the US each year from circumcision related issues, I could not see doing this procedure. Also, when you research why it’s so common in the US, yet not Europe, it seems totally unnecessary. Why would boys be given this body part if they didn’t need it?

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