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Circumcision–A New Perspective | Long Lasting Implications
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Circumcision–A New Perspective | Long Lasting Implications

Consider your son's health well into the future.

I witness many conversations, both professionally and socially, regarding infant circumcision.  In all of the discussions, no one mentions how circumcision, or the lack of, impacts a man when he has aged and can no longer care for himself.

One of the most gut wrenching experiences of my hospital career came when I was a nurse’s aide on a medical/surgical floor.  A stoic elderly man was transferred to my unit from a nursing home and it was my responsibility to remove his street clothes and dress him in a hospital gown.  The stench of gangrene filled the room and overwhelmed me when I removed his pants.  He was too sick to communicate with words but looked at me with soft eyes and an apologetic face.  I discovered a severe infection that fused the meatus inside the foreskin.  I alerted the nurse to what I had found and she delegated the laborious task of cleaning to me.  It took hours of warm compresses followed by excruciating crust removal.  I apologized repeatedly and when tears flowed from beneath his thick horn-rimmed glasses, I cried too.

I will never forget this experience and I offer it to others when they consider circumcision.  The elderly population, specifically 85 years and older, is growing at a rapid rate in the United States.  Men are living longer than ever and the health care system is struggling to keep up.  Hospitals, rehabs and nursing homes are filled with patients who need increasing assistance with activities of daily living.  Dementia, incontinence, decreased sensation, and impaired vision are risk factors which can lead to infection in the uncircumcised elderly male.  Lack of awareness in this area by family and/or overworked, underpaid nursing home staff contributes to the problem.

Parents who are considering circumcision should examine the consequences for a child at different stages of life.  The discomfort of circumcision for an infant may be minor compared to the loss of dignity and pain experienced by the uncircumcised elder.  Parents can honor their child by making a decision that outreaches their lifetime; one that allows their baby to face his twilight years with grace.

[Click to read Circumcision Part II.]


  • Joanna says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with the message of the article although I can appreciate why it is was written based on the author’s first hand experience. Our beliefs and values after all are formed by our life experiences and given to those who bring us up.
    As a mother of a son I’m proud to say that I chose not to circumcise him based on the fact that I feel 1) human males have evolved to have a foreskin so why remove it, nature has put it there for a life long purpose 2) my beliefs and values do not require cut this important part of anatomy off my child. I would no sooner preemptively remove their tonsils at birth either just because it would help them “get sick less often and tonsils are useless anyway”. I may be digressing here a bit but Chinese culture mandated foot binding in little girls for over 1500 years because it was considered culturally esthetically pleasing, helped the girls find a good husband and elevate her family’s status, helped women bond with each other and foster sister hood, and other reasons who may find ridiculous nowadays but seemed important to that culture back then. I find the reasons for circumcision today and historically just as ridiculous: religious mandate, cultural expectations, esthetics, “improved hygiene”, decrease risk of STDs, etc. What about the fact that a man’s sexual experience is forever altered by the removal of the foreskin? Historically it was recommended to circumcise men to prevent or lessen masturbation because it “deadened” the penis nerves….how sad. What about the botched circumcisions that happen? Although many people say this is rare, I know two moms who’s kid to this day have issue with their penises due to this procedure that was done in a doctor’s office! I feel it happens more frequently than one thinks but people don’t talk about it because it’s embarrassing.
    As far as this particular 85 year old man is concerned, I feel that the risk of potential neglect of genital hygiene in advanced age is not worth depriving a man of his foreskin throughout the entirety of his life. Believing that if it’s removed in infancy that the boy/man won’t miss it is akin to blinding someone at birth and saying they won’t remember seeing so that makes it ok….it’s not ok. Sounds extreme but what’s the difference other than body parts?

    • says:

      We appreciate your comment. This issue has many perspectives. Thank you for sharing yours in a clear and thoughtful way.

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