Circumcision: What Your Baby Can't Tell You

"Circumcision Produces These Irreversible Changes"

And Other Statements About

the Physical Effects of Circumcision

"The male foreskin has three important physiological functions that circumcision irreversibly destroys." ("Structure and Function of Male and Female Genitalia; The Circumcision Procedure: Risks vs. Benefits," by George Denniston, MD, Syllabus of Abstracts of the Second International Symposium on Circumcision, San Francisco, 1991)

"Circumcision produces these irreversible changes: (1) Loss of approximately 25 percent of sensitive penile skin. (2) Glans exposure to urine- and feces-soiled diapers in infancy and to clothing abrasion thereafter. The glans becomes dry, less purple-red, keratinized skin-like and less sensitive. (3) Urethral meatal abrasion is unavoidable. Meatal ulceration, scarring and narrowing are common. (4) Destruction of the mobility of the loose skin sheath, the hallmark anatomical feature of the normal penis which facilitates sexual dalliance." (Letter by Thomas J. Ritter, MD, The Saturday Evening Post, Jan./Feb. 1982, p. 6)

"During a boy's growth, the foreskin protects the sensitive glans. Normally the surface of the glans is composed of a smooth, glistening membrane only a few cells in thickness. The surface cells are alive, and naked nerve-endings are distributed among these cells. After circumcision, when the glans is exposed to soiled diapers and rough clothing, this membrane becomes 10 times thicker, and the free nerve-endings disappear. The surface becomes covered with an adherent layer of dead cells, rough, dry, and insensitive." (The Unkindest Cut of All, by John M. Foley, MD, Fact, July 1966)

"The foreskin protects the glans from contact with rough surfaces, and enables it to retain a pronounced sensitivity. The slightest touch upon the head by anything not lubricated, even the finger, creates a sharp feeling of tenderness similar to that experienced when a piece of raw flesh is exposed.
       "Before circumcision, the glans is a deep pink, much as the organ of any male animal when upon erection it protrudes from its sheath. Also it is kept moist by the foreskin in the same manner that the vulva of the female is lubricated by the small lips.
       "The man with a foreskin ... experiences an intensity of pleasure in intercourse that does not extend to the circumcised ... before circumcision the head of the penis is pink, and tender to the touch. Following the operation it rapidly becomes grayish and so insensitive that sandpaper can be rubbed against it without creating the slightest pain. Since circumcision exposes the bare glans by necessitating the amputation of all the protective skin, constant contact, then, with clothing quickly reduces its sensitivity to that of ordinary epidermis. This is the effect of circumcision upon the sexual center of the male body." (Modern Sex Techniques, by Robert Street, Lancer Books, 1966)

"The foreskin shields the glans; with circumcision, this protection is lost." (Care of the Uncircumcised Penis, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1984)

"Depending on the amount of skin cut off, circumcision robs a male of as much as 80 percent or more or his penile skin. . . . Circumcision desensitizes the penis radically. Foreskin amputation means severing the rich nerve network and all the nerve receptors in the foreskin itself ... The amputation of so much penile skin permanently immobilizes whatever skin remains, preventing it from gliding freely over the shaft and glans ... Circumcision alters the appearance of this penis drastically. It permanently externalizes the glans, normally an internal organ. Circumcision leaves a large circumferential surgical scar on the penile shaft. Because circumcision usually necessitates tearing the foreskin from the glans, pieces of the glans may be torn off, too, leaving it pitted and scarred. Shreds of foreskin may adhere to the raw glans, forming tags and bridges of dangling, displaced skin ... Circumcision interrupts the normal circulation of blood throughout the penile skin system and glans. The blood flowing into major penile arteries is obstructed by the line of scar tissue at the point of incision, creating backflow instead of feeding the branches and capillary networks beyond the scar ... Recent studies published in leading medical journals have reported that circumcision has long-lasting detrimental effects on the developing brain, adversely altering the brain's perception centers ... Medical journals have published numerous accounts of babies who have had part or all of their glans cut off while they were being circumcised. Other fully conscious, unanesthetized babies have had their entire penis burned off with an electrocautery gun. The September 1989 Journal of Urology published an account of four such cases. The article described the sex-change operation as "feminizing genitoplasty," performed on these babies in an attempt to change them into girls. The March 1997 Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine described one young person's horror on learning that "she" had been born a normal male but that a circumciser had burned his penis off when he was a baby." (Where Is My Foreskin? The Case Against Circumcision, by Paul M. Fleiss, MD. Mothering Magazine, Fall 1997)