I’m pregnant and my husband and I are the kind of people that just need to know if it’s a boy or a girl. I suppose we are impatient planners. To us, not knowing what day our baby will be born, how big he will be and who he looks like are enough fun surprises for us!
We are having a boy, and the questions have started about whether we will keep his penis intact or circumcise him. For many parents of boys in North America, it’s the first challenging parenting decision they’ll make.
“If I’m circumcised and he isn’t, how would he feel to look different from Daddy?”
“Will he be teased in the locker room?”
There are many reasons why a couple might decide to circumcise their infant son, but in my experience, it seems the two most common reasons are 1) Whether Dad was circumcised; 2) Religion. But of course, Dads want to know – if we decide one way or another, will my son be “different”?
How many boys are being circumcised today?
The answer depends on where you live. Not just what country but what province you live in. During 2006-2007 in Ontario, about 43% of boys born that year were circumcised while only 7% of baby boys in Nova Scotia were circumcised. Overall, 32% of baby boys were circumcised in Canada that year, and the numbers have been slowly declining over the years.
As for whether it’s okay for your son’s penis to remain intact when yours (or your partner’s) was circumcised, well, I can’t really help you with that. I do know of a grown friend of mine whose penis was intact and his father was circumcised (it was one of those “philosophical” late-night debate with friends in residence years ago, okay?) and he said it never bothered him. His Dad just explained to him that they realized the benefits of keeping the foreskin and he never thought about it again.
The Canadian Pediatric Society does not recommend routine circumcision, which is why provincial health plans do not cover the procedure. There are risks and benefits to keeping the penis intact and to circumcision. For a breakdown of the risks and benefits of the circumcision procedure and how to care for an intact and circumcised penis, the Canadian Pediatric Society has great information on their Caring For Kids page. There is no need to rush into a decision. If you are undecided or if you have any questions, talk to your baby’s health care provider.
Now, I won’t share with you whether my husband is intact or not, and whether or not we have chosen to circumcise our son-to-be (that’s just TMI and besides, a little privacy would be nice!). Circumcision is an incredibly personal choice, and sadly, one that has created a lot of online wars and guilt-tripping over social media. What is important, however, is that every new parent of a boy be given a chance to ask their questions and make an informed decision they are comfortable with.
If you have any questions or concerns about circumcising or not circumcising, there are many ways to connect with one of us:
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For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.