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Tuli or not tuli?

PARENTIN TALK - Tintin Bersola-Babao -

I thought I was all set with all the things I needed before giving birth recently, until my doctor asked me : “Are you going to have your son circumcised right after birth?”

“ Hey, why didn’t I think of that? Well, having a daughter for a first born, naturally the subject of circumcision never crossed my mind… much more circumcision right after birth. So my reaction was, “ May ganun na pala... circumcision for newborns?”

But isn’t an infant too young to be subjected to the pain of surgery?

First thing that came to mind too was this fear: “ What if the penis of my newborn, Antonio Francesco totally gets cut off in the process?”

What are the risks involved and possible infections as a result of infant circumcision?

It was a major dilemma… deciding whether or not to have our son circumcised, just days after he was born.

As a parent, I need to understand first. Am I making the decision based on medical, cultural, social or religious considerations and beliefs?

Why is there a need to be circumcised in the first place ?

First, did you know that (from the website Up to Date For Patients):

Circumcision in the male is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. The practice of circumcision dates to ancient times. In ancient Egypt, prior to Biblical times, circumcision was performed to improve male hygiene. Later, routine circumcision of male infants was part of the Abrahamic covenants with Jehovah, giving rise to religious circumcisions that continue to this day in the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Western culture has advocated circumcision of male infants as a preventive health measure, at times without any scientific rationale. In the early 1900s, for example, circumcision was suggested as a way to prevent masturbation and tuberculosis.

(For complete info, go to www.utdol.com/patients/content/topic.)

It was a major parental decision to make for me and Julius.

Julius initially wanted to have it done right away to “get it over with.”

But he was half-hearted because as a man, Julius said it was also a rite of passage for young boys during the pagbibinata years and he wanted to bond with his only son about it.

So I said, let’s give it a few more days to decide until we are both 100 percent sure.

I asked my mother and she, being a believer in the old school of thought, told me no way should I have her apo circumcised right after birth! My youngest brother was circumcised when he was already 12. He was not afraid. He was old and brave enough and was emotionally ready for his circumcision.

Then I turned to friends.

They had their newborn sons circumcised, believing that it is more humane to do so, or that everyone in their family did the same. Another friend had a different view. They were afraid of the infections of newborn circumsicions and decided to wait until their two sons are all grown. This way, the dad can bond with the sons about the whole pagbibinata thing.

Still undecided, the next stop for me in order to weigh things is to conduct a survey on Twitter. My survey question was Do you believe in infant circumcision? Why or why not?

I did not expect that the “ to tuli or not to tuli” issue would be a complicated, controversial question.

I got an avalanche of answers from my Twitter followers. I’m printing some of the interesting Tweets here:

I want to join your survey! And no tuli to a very young baby boy. Definitely wait ’til he is older... Europeans nga wala di ba? Haha @lionisak

I guess 4me wait na lang till he’s bigger the usual before mag high school then he will experience 1st stage of manhood — @iambhie

Tuli! specially hir in d states dey ask u rt awy if u wnna do it b4 u leave d hospital. u’ll b tnkful in d end dat u ddnt wait! @mommytherese

the link you posted yesterday made me really nervous.. scary.. I think I wouldn’t have the courage to bring my twins for tuli @sweepz

newborn tuli! Kwawa kc kpg big boy n tinutuli tho it wd b d same process lng. Its the new trend n dn so go 4 it.hehe:) @twixandtreats

@iris_e: didn’t tuli agad my son. i jst feel sorry for a newborn to b ‘operated’ on aftr just comin out to d world. enough tym for that.

Very bothered and concernd, with no final decision yet , I talked to Dr. Efren Capistrano, a surgeon at the St. Luke’s Medical Center. He was very patient and gave me a thorough explanation of the pros and cons of infant cicumcision.

I was still undecided.

But just in case, in order to prepare for the circumcision a day after I gave birth to my son, his pedia, noted neonatologist Dr. Alma Enriquez ordered a CBC test first to clear him for the circumcision. The CBC count was okay so the operation was scheduled. Monday late evening, a day after he was born.

Hours before the circumcision. I turned again to google and read up on the medical facts again, especially about possible infection as a result of the infant circumcision.

These links were helpful. A real eye opener. Scary too! But based purely on medical facts and real actual cases here are the links: http://www.catholicsagainstcircumcision.org/cac_complications.htm and http://kidshealth.org/parent/system/surgical/circumcision.html.

For the upside or benefits of circumcision, check this link: http://www.urologychannel.com/circumcision/benefits.shtml with details below which I cut and paste.

“Studies looked at the effect of circumcision on cervical cancer risk in female sex partners and on other problems, such as infection.

The results of these studies are mixed and inconclusive.

The most significant benefit to infant circumcision is a lower rate of urinary tract infection (UTI).

During the first three to six months, UTIs are 10 times more common in uncircumcised boys than in circumcised boys.

UTIs in infancy can lead to kidney problems later in life. However, they are easily treated with antibiotics and may not be enough of a reason to circumcise an infant.

Some studies have shown a slightly higher rate of penile cancer among men who were not circumcised as infants.

However, penile cancer is extremely rare among all men, circumcised or not.

There is some evidence that circumcision may reduce the risk of getting or passing on a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, it is not clear whether circumcision is the key factor, or if other factors, such as condom use and the number of sex partners, play a larger role.”

Then , I was led to several videos of the actual circumcision. Graphic videos. http://fr.video.yahoo.com/watch/352478/2210721 — This 13 minute and 32 second video shocked me! (Watch it to see what I mean). And it made me gasp and cry.

That video was more than enough to make me change my mind at the last minute! That was it! I’d have to defer the circumcision until my son is older, and mature enough to fully understand the physical and psychological implications and complications of circumcision to a man. And guess what ? Our parental decision to defer the circumcision proved to be a blessing in disguise because several days after, our son had to undergo a test using a catheter, then urinalysis and blood tests for clinical sepsis. Can you just imagine, if we pushed through with the circumcision, kawawa naman ang anak ko to go through so much discomfort and pain.

Anyway, my son was treated with antibiotics for seven days. He is now fine. Thank, God.

So whatever your decision is as a parent, ask yourself:

Is it in the best interest of my son to be circumcised right after he is born? Am I doing this because it is the “in” thing? Am I doing this based on a half-hearted decision or a 100 percent informed decision as a parent?

This piece of advice takes the cake: “Supot man ang anak mo o hindi, let him decide on his own when he is old enough to make his own decision. After all, it is his own body we are talking about… at ang pagkalalake naman ng isang tao ay hindi lahat nakasalalay sa kanyang penis.”

(For your thoughts, e-mail me at [email protected] and follow me on [email protected].)

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