What if it's too late? Healing After Circumcision

By Adrienne Carmack, M.D.
Read more from Dr. Carmack at AdrienneCarmack.com and in her published works: The Good Mommy's Guide to Her Little Boy's Penis and Reclaiming My Birth Rights: A Mother's Wisdom Triumphs Over the Harmful Practices of Her Medical Profession 

I began my urology career biased. Like many Americans, I thought circumcision was a normal choice and a healthy one. Since I’ve come to understand the normal anatomy and function of the male genitalia, it has been impossible to overlook the harms caused by circumcision. I have witnessed firsthand how circumcision directly interferes with normal sexual functions and also frequently causes other complications such as meatal stenosis, irregular healing, and disruptions in sensation.

This compels me to speak out against non-therapeutic male circumcision. My professional experience confirms the truth in the position statement from the Royal Dutch Medical Association:

The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications.

Yet the reality is there are millions of men and boys in this world right now for whom it is too late.

Having worked extensively with those who have undergone circumcision (both those who have and have not experienced noticeable negative effects), I believe the most healing approach is as follows:

If you are a parent who chose circumcision for your child:

1) Acknowledge that it was a mistake.

2) Be willing to communicate this openly with your child. This allows healing and creates safety for others to seek help when needed. Accept that wisdom is a combination of knowledge and experience, and not all experience is positive.

3) Speak up as much as you comfortably can. Use the wisdom you have gained to help others. Apply this wisdom to future decisions you make for yourself and on the behalf of others. Healing mistakes requires that we recognize them and choose NOT to repeat them.

For adults:

1) If you do not feel your circumcision interferes with your life, be grateful that you did not suffer a complication. Recognize that this is not the case for all men.

2) Understand and acknowledge that the foreskin is made of sensitive tissue with a purpose and even though you may be functioning well, you are inherently lacking the functions that would have been provided by your foreskin.

3) If you do have problems, seek support.

4) As above, be open, honest, and share as much as you are comfortable. This helps others know they aren’t alone and will help reduce the incidence of non-therapeutic genital cutting of children.

5) If you have specific issues with your scar and shaft mobility, consider whether foreskin restoration may be an option for you. If you believe you have a severe problem, consider having an exam by a urologist.

Above all else, recognize that we have been misled. Circumcision is absolutely not necessary for enjoying a healthy life and complications are many. Let the cycle of genital cutting stop with you.


Read more from fellow parents who are opting to keep future sons intact: DrMomma.org/2010/05/i-circumcised-my-son-healing-from.html

Local groups to connect with others: SavingSons.org/p/local-chapters.html

Medical Professionals for Genital Autonomy: FB.com/IntactCare 

Do Not Retract Information Pack

Retraction Packet:

If you or your loved one has found yourself subjected to the malpractice that is forced retraction, you may request that an information pack be sent to the retracting clinician here. Packs are sent by professionals in health care who volunteer time with Saving Our Sons and cost approximately $4 in printed materials and shipping. You may include a note with your donation toward this cost, or email SavingSons@gmail.com with details of what occurred. Please be sure to include the retracting physician or nurse's name, practice, and mailing address, whenever available.

Prevention Packet:

If you are sending materials to a physician before your baby's birth, to ensure they have proper intact care items on hand, please note this. A peer-to-peer physician pack of this nature - to ensure a doctor has up to date pediatric literature ahead of time - is slightly different than when forced retraction has already occurred.

If you are not able to cover the cost for materials, please email SavingSons@gmail.com with your request. To help in covering 'Don't Retract' packs that others request and are unable to fund, you may do so here or by mail to the address below. Our goal is to correspond directly with all physicians and nursing staff who are known to be forcibly retracting their young clients. However, SOS operates exclusively by volunteers and donation, and requests often exceed funding.

In the past we have received a number of responses from physicians and nursing staff, thanking us for this material, for its respectful delivery, and including notations that a change in their practice has been made. Often, retraction is occurring simply because this is what was taught in medical or nursing school, or because a health care professional picked up the practice from someone they were apprenticing under. It is typically a problem of training, not willful damage. 

Items in the clinician's packs include:

1) A cover letter encouraging the physician to review current protocol for the sake of his/her patients, and a note about the retraction epidemic.

2) The current American Academy of Pediatrics, Royal Children's Hospital (Australia), Canadian Paediatric Society, and Paediatric Society of New Zealand's statements on intact care.

3) Citations to practicing physicians' work - those who have composed further articles on the subject matter.

4) An oversized intact care card with bullet points for review.

5) An oversized medical organizations statement card with circumcision positions from around the world.

6) Functions of the foreskin, and reasons that fellow clinicians encourage their peers to not participate in forced retraction or non-consentual genital cutting of minors.

7) An invitation to join fellow clinicians at Medical Professionals for Genital Autonomy.

8) Contact information for local leaders, as well as Saving Our Sons, should there be questions, critique, or desire for further correspondence.


All of these items are those that parents can obtain online or compose as well. If you are writing your own letter and would like to include the cards listed above, they are available for $3 in the "Hospital Stay" pack at Etsy.

• AAP statement on intact care: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Care-for-an-Uncircumcised-Penis.aspx

• RCH statement on intact care: http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Penis_and_foreskin_care

• CPS statement on intact care: http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/circumcision

• PSNZ statement on intact care: http://www.kidshealth.org.nz/foreskin-care

The AAP, RCH and CPS statements are also currently linked at SOS here: https://www.facebook.com/SavingOurSons/photos/a.1010719722280482.1073741845.166998263319303/998172123535242

Saving Our Sons
P.O. Box 1302
Virginia Beach, VA 23451

Forced Retraction? What to do now:

Do NOT Circumcise / Do NOT Retract 
Baby sized leg bands.

These are soft, recycled silicone and stretchy - will fit a baby's leg throughout his first few years of life (thigh, calf, ankle depending on baby's size). They are *not* meant to be left on a baby when not being cared for/watched.
Baby bands are primarily designed for hospital and clinical visits.

Each baby band comes with intact care cards and stickers.
Available at Etsy


14 Boys Die From Circumcision: South Africa

Times of India reports:

Traditional circumcision ceremonies in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, where the rite-of-passage practice is common, have left 14 boys dead and 141 injured this year, local authorities said on Sunday.

Many of the injured teens suffered from "dehydration, wounds, pneumonia, aseptic penis and gangrene" Sizwe Kupelo, spokesman for the health ministry in the Eastern Cape province told AFP. "Fourteen died and 141 are in various hospitals," he said. Nine patients are waiting for a penis transplant — a procedure requested more and more after the first successful transplant was performed in the country last year on another botched circumcision victim.

The rite of passage into adulthood, which usually follows a bush retreat of two to four weeks, is also a show of physical endurance. For the ceremony, the teens gamble their lives. Each year teenaged boys die or are mutilated during the initiation. "A death is always one too many," said Mamkeli Ngam, spokesman for the cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister in Eastern Cape, the home province of Nelson Mandela.

Ngam also said that several initiation schools had already been shut down.

According to media reports, 41,000 young men of the Eastern Cape — one of the most affected provinces in South Africa — completed the initiation last year.

Circumcision in the country can be lucrative, bringing in around 1,500 rand (110 euros, $120) per initiation, but the boys do not benefit from the profit. They are often treated harshly and receive little to no food.

In June, South African police rescued 11 teenage boys from forced circumcision after their parents reported that they had been taken from the street to be forced to participate in the initiation.


Circumcision and The United States Constitution: Forced Genital Cutting of Minors is Illegal

By Danelle Day © 2014

Graphic by Aubrey TerrĂ³n

On this 4th of July we celebrate many freedoms protected and held dear in the United States. One such protection, however, has been failed to be recognized in this nation, and that is the equal right of baby boys and intersex persons to maintain their full and functioning genitals at birth. Taking a closer look at the U.S. Constitution and laws currently in place, we see that routine infant male circumcision is already illegal.

The Equal Protection Clause (8.6) of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits U.S. States from denying any person within their jurisdiction equal protection of the laws. Section 1 of this clause reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in December, 1948, by members of the United Nations declares in Articles 2 and 5:
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995 (which was signed into law in 1996, and went into effect in March 1997, punishable as a felony under federal U.S. law) prohibits ANY genital cutting of any kind - including small pin pricks or nicks - to a minor child or baby under the age of 18, for any reason whatsoever (religious or otherwise) if this minor is deemed to be 'female.' The FGM law, in combination with the 14th Amendment Clause 8.6, makes all forms of forced genital cutting on minors a federal violation, regardless of sex. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights further supports this position.

Therefore, as of March 1997, all forms of medically unnecessary forced circumcision on infants of any sex, are most certainly illegal in the United States of America.

Photograph courtesy of Intact New Hampshire

Learn more:

Should I Circumcise My Son? The Pros and Cons of Infant Circumcision: http://www.DrMomma.org/2014/12/should-i-circumcise-my-son-pros-and.html

Male and Female Genital Cuttinghttp://www.DrMomma.org/2011/04/male-and-female-circumcision.html

History of Female Circumcision in the United States: http://www.DrMomma.org/2009/09/history-of-female-circumcision-in.html

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