Circumcision: The Facts, Benefits and Risks

Infant circumcision is a procedure that more and more parents are questioning in the United States. What exactly happens during this process? What are the potential advantages and disadvantages? How can your child's age make a difference? And why is the procedure considered so controversial?

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Episode Transcript

Parent Savers
“Circumcision: The Facts, Benefits, and Risks”

[Theme Music]

Dr. Bidair: Infant circumcision is a practice that often gets questioned by parents. It’s a decision that every new parent will make for a baby boy. What are the pros and cons of circumcision? What should you consider when making a decision? I’m Dr. Bidair, a Board Certified Urologist, and Director of San Diego Circumcision Center, and this is Parent Savers, Episode 41

[Theme Music/Intro]

KC Wilt: Welcome to Parent Savers, broadcasting from the Birth Education Center of San Diego. I am your host, KC Wilt. Parent Savers is all about helping new parents from the baby years through the toddler years. And we are so lucky to have amazing experts at the show, so shoot us an e-mail or call our hotline and we’ll get your questions answered. We also have a free app, a free newsletter….you can like us on Facebook! I know you’re all on Facebook out there. You can send me an e-mail, you can call our hotline…so there’s so many ways to be a part of our show. Did you miss an episode that’s been archived? Or do you want to keep talking to the expert once the show stops? We have a Parent Savers Club, and it’s where you can download the archived episodes, get exclusive content, and so much more. So, I’m a new parent. My son Carson just turned two, and I’m joined by three new parents here in the studio.

Scott Killian: I’m Scott Killian… Certified Financial Planner…thirty-six years old. I have one boy, Alex, who is three.

Robin Kaplan: I am Robin Kaplan, I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, owner of the San Diego Breastfeeding Center, and also the host of our sister show, The Boob Group

KC Wilt: It’s fun to have you here!

Robin Kaplan: Thank you for having me! I am thirty-six years old as well. I have two boys, Ben who is seven, and Ryan who is six.

KC Wilt: And you don’t have little kids, but we’re…you know…letting you come on the show because…

Robin Kaplan: Exactly!

KC Wilt: We’ve all been….well you have two boys! Enough said.

Robin Kaplan: Exactly. It’s a very interesting conversation. Absolutely, thank you.

Johner Riehl: And my name’s Johner Riehl. I actually have three boys. I’m thirty-eight years old. My boys are five, three, and one. And they’re all circumcised, I don’t know if that’s relevant to this conversation or not, but I’m sure it’ll come up. I’m excited to hear the conversation.


KC Wilt: Before we start today’s show, here’s blogger Doyin Richards, from Daddy Doin’ Work.

Doyin Richards: Hey Parent Savers! It’s Doyin Richards from the blog Daddy Doin’ Work coming at ya! My blog’s all about being a new dad, so I’m adding a dad perspective to things. And today we’re talking about some of the WORST parenting advice I’ve ever heard. And, believe it or not, all this stuff is real. First off, I’m an African American guy and my wife is Japanese. So our daughter, who is twenty-one months old….one person said “Why don’t you just hold her nose closed, so that it doesn’t get so wide. You know, that’d be a good idea.” And I’m just sitting there like “Oh, my gosh.” And she was really not kidding. That was really really bad and offensive, but I got over it. Another person said “You should always drive, because if you need to breastfeed [not me, but if your wife needs to breastfeed] your kid, she can just put her in the passenger seat and breastfeed.” Man, I’m telling you, even Britney Spears thinks that’s a terrible idea. Living in Los Angeles, there’s all types of body image issues. So, one lady said, “Put her on a diet. Just throw her on a diet. So that she doesn’t get so big. Because if she gets big, she’s gonna get made fun of in school” So, it’s just terrible. Some of the things I’ve heard are just amazing. But I just always stick to my gut when it comes to advice. Because, you know what? Nobody knows your kid better than you do. That’s just the bottom line. Thank you so much for listening to this one. And if you have an idea for a parenting topic that you want to talk about, please e-mail me at my blog, or, or you can go to my Facebook page, which is facebook/daddydoinwork. Thank you so much!


KC Wilt: Today on Parent Savers, we have Dr. Bidair, from the San Diego Circumcision Center here with us to talk about the circumcision decision that new parents will face for their baby boys. So how does circumcision work?

Dr. Bidair: Well, it’s one of the oldest procedures ever done in the world. There is papyrus from ancient Egypt that actually shows the practice. From millennia, millennia….and most people don’t even realize that. And most, at least in the modern era, it’s done…the vast majority…is done soon after birth. Within usually the first few days to the first couple of weeks….and it’s done primarily in our country by pediatricians and obstetricians. I’m a Urologist, I’m and Adult Urologist, so I see mostly older men, but when boys have not been circumcised in the first couple of weeks, and they need circumcision, usually a Urologist would do it.

Scott Killian: Dr. Bidair, what are the complications or side effects for this procedure?

Dr. Bidair: Well, it’s very very rare complications, especially if it’s done by someone who’s qualified to do it. And the main complication of any procedure, when it involves any cutting, is bleeding. And it’s extremely rare that you have to actually go to the emergency room after a circumcision to address that, but most times all you need to do is apply pressure on the area that is oozing some blood or bleeding. The other complication, or not complication but possible side effect, is pain during the procedure. And that definitely needs to be addressed, and the procedure needs to be done properly to avoid that.

KC Wilt: My son was in the NICU for a week, and we had decided to do circumcision, but then once he was in the NICU for the week, we didn’t want to poke him and prod him with any more needles, and I was going back and forth with this debate. So what we had decided yes, we were now questioning maybe going no, so going back and forth and back and forth. I was a wreck. I was an absolute wreck. And he went with my husband, and I just stayed at home, because I didn’t want to be a part of it. Because I still was conflicted. But then, after hearing what happened, that they gave him a shot, and that they gave him the sugar water….and my son was literally sucking the pacifier going [Sucking sounds], stopped for a second when they did it, and then [Sucking sounds.] And not a peep, not a cry, nothing…So it was more traumatizing for me at home than it was for him, and that also could be the way that it was done, in a hospital, with…um…an injection of some sort..

Dr. Bidair: With local anesthesia.

KC Wilt: Local anesthesia. How does that work? How does…I mean, I know my child was fine but other children are screaming, what’s…how does it….do they hold them down? What does it look like?

Dr. Bidair: Well, first of all, just addressing the pain medication. I think that using local anesthesia for it should be done. There’s no reason why not to do it. It’s like going to the dentist without getting anesthetized…why? Just having a little injection…it helps a lot. And it’s such a small amount of anesthetic and it does wonders. In the older days, they didn’t do that. They used to say “well the baby is not mature enough to feel,” or whatever, and that’s not true. The babies will feel it. So I don’t really see any reason to do it without local anesthetic, and I can’t speak for every practitioner, but I’ve never done it without local anesthesia on children. On eunates, even if they’re just born, or obviously on adults. And it’s simple enough to do it. So what you do is you have the baby. And the babies hate lying on their backs, no question about it. And unfortunately, our tables are not always very soft. So they’re ok for few minutes, but then they get very fidgety; usually their complaining more about their positioning than about any pain.

KC Wilt: OK.

Dr. Bidair: And you start with a very tiny needle, sometimes I put cream…anesthetic cream….where I put the needle, so that they don’t feel the needle going in.
KC Wilt: That’s very nice. [Laughs]

Dr. Bidair: And then I test it, and make sure they’re not feeling it. Because I can pinch it and see their reaction, and nothing happens. And then, there are different techniques to doing it. Most of them involve some kind of a clamp that protects the head of the penis as the foreskin surrounding the head in incised. And some are actually plastic and they stay with the baby, and it falls off a few days…or later…but usually the way that I do it, I use the metal one so that…the baby…when they leave there’s nothing attached to them. And it’s surprising how most of the kids really either sleep through it, or have a bottle…they suck through it, or... They just get uncomfortable lying flat on their back.
KC Wilt: Hmmm…is it a fast procedure?

Dr. Bidair: For babies, it is. It’s about five/ten minutes.

KC Wilt: And then when they leave the office, when the Novocain wears off, is that excruciating pain, or…?

Dr. Bidair: Well, obviously I can’t speak for the baby, but I can hear what parents do…they say the babies usually are fussy for a little bit. Some parents say nothing happens. But the worst I’ve heard is they’re fussy overnight. But it depends on the age, and if they need to take any anti-inflammatory, I mean it’s extremely rare that you need to give them something afterwards.The other point about doing it at that age is you don’t need to use any stitches. The reason is, the blood pressure of infants is quite low, and after about eight weeks of age it starts getting higher. So the risks of bleeding are extremely small, and what that clamp does….it seals the skin edges and, because the blood pressure is low, it heals quite fast. And they heal within a few days, it’s amazing.

Robin Kaplan: As in, compared to an adult, it would be a lot longer and a lot more painful, do you think, because of it?

Dr. Bidair: It’s much more involved. It depends on, how old they are, obviously…but most adults get it under local anesthesia as well. They obviously are more anxious….Because they, they know what’s going on.

Robin Kaplan: Mmmhmmm, I think we’re all sitting here crossing our legs….at least I am.

Dr. Bidair: And the same thing, you test them…make sure there’s no feeling around it…and that’s part of the reason why I felt that if I do the anesthesia properly on a baby, they don’t feel it. Because I have so much experience with adults, I know how they feel or don’t feel, and I translate that to a baby. And I really believe that if the anesthetic is done properly in a newborn that they’re not going to feel it. The adult…you have to use stitches. And the question of the technique…you know…there are different techniques…

Scott Killian: So would you say then that there’s sort of an ideal time period in infancy, before that eight weeks, I think you said, where the blood pressure goes up? That that’s kind of the ideal time period for circumcision…?

KC Wilt: Well, in Jewish customs, its how many days?

Robin Kaplan: Its eight days.

KC Wilt: Eight days?

Dr. Bidair: I think the younger, the better, in general. I think that the easiest time to do it is in the first couple of weeks by far. After the first couple of weeks, even though parents may not know, a lot of pediatricians and obstetricians will not do it, and they will refer it to a urologist. And it becomes a slightly bigger deal to find somebody who’s going to do it, and in the office, or under anesthesia, general anesthesia, or whatever. That is a bigger deal. But you can do it any age. I’ve done it all the way from day one all the way to, well, eighties, if needed for that.

Robin Kaplan: So my question for you is, what are the benefits and disadvantages of infant circumcision, or circumcision in general?

Dr. Bidair: Well, the benefits, and I kind of am glad that you asked that….because the American Academy of Pediatrics just revised their policy statement on circumcision last summer. And basically any big accrediting body or educational body in the United States, when it comes to specialties, they come up with policy statements every so often. When it comes to circumcision, it’s a big group of experts that are pediatricians, urologists, ethicists, obstetricians, and they get together and they look at a particular topic: In this case, circumcision. And their recommendation, the last one, came out extremely strongly for circumcision. It came just short of recommending it for everybody. You can find it online, and I’m not going to read it, but it’s strong enough as to say that there are many benefits for it, and the benefits are….there’s a multitude of them, not just one.

KC Wilt: What do they include?

Dr. Bidair: Ok, let me go through them. The benefit, as a child- I personally think that the benefits are when you grow up/older- but as a child you have a lot less infections. The visits to pediatricians are less.

KC Wilt: How is that? Why is that?

Dr. Bidair: Well, the foreskin, no matter how clean you keep it, it’s going to always have bacteria and inflammation underneath. And bacteria can go through the tip of the penis, the urethra, into the urinary tract and cause infection. So that is noticeable in the childhood years. And then, as we get older, more of the benefits will show up. Number one, if you were circumcised as a child, you will pretty much never have penile cancer. Penile cancer is almost unheard of in any circumcised person who was circumcised at birth. When you circumcise later in years, it can happen, but to a lesser degree. So there is a benefit to getting rid of chronic inflammation under the foreskin. That’s over years and years, and then that can turn into cancer in the future, because chronic inflammation can become cancerous. So, it is a reportable thing to have a case of penile cancer in someone who was circumcised at birth. And the cancer is not in the foreskin….because some people say, “Well, of course. If you remove the foreskin you’re not going to have cancer in the foreskin.” No, actually. The most common form of penile cancer is on the head of the penis and the area underneath it. So that’s kind a protective mechanism, and I look at it like your vaccinating the child against one form of cancer. And to me that says something. Then, as children go through teenage years, and become exposed to other children to sports or showering or whatever….socially, they’re…..the uncircumcised children, studies have shown, that they feel different in our society. And there is trauma, emotional trauma, associated with that. When it comes to dating years, that also is compounded.

KC Wilt: But if you’re in a culture where it’s a common thing to be uncircumcised, is it then reverse?

Dr. Bidair: Correct. Correct. I’m talking specifically about in our culture.

KC Wilt: In American culture.

Dr. Bidair: In American culture. But absolutely, yeah. That particular aspect of it is not going to happen then. Then, as you get older, and become sexually active, then to me some of the more important benefits show up. All sexually transmitted diseases that are virally transmitted are 50% to 60% less common if you’re circumcised, and HIV/AIDS is 60% less common if you’re circumcised. There are three major, major studies in Africa that looked specifically at that topic that proved beyond doubt that that is the case. And it was such a strong belief that the American Urology Society has created a task force for adult circumcision to Africa. To go to areas that are highly AIDS prevalent and have lowest rates of circumcision, to that, on a volunteer basis, obviously. So that’s a very strong point. Not only is it protective for the male, the transmission rates between females and males also vary depending on whether you are circumcised or not. So, in Europe, if you have sex with a female and you’re not circumcised-that’s where these studies came from- you are at about ten times higher risk of getting HIV then if you’re circumcised. So that’s pretty strong evidence. The other benefit to females is cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised men is much less than in uncircumcised. And again, I think it goes back to the point that no matter how clean you try to keep it-most people say “Well, we’ll just clean it.”-the skin underneath-the inner part of the foreskin-is very flimsy and it doesn’t have a strong barrier for viruses and bacteria to be secreted through. And there’s always a degree of inflammation no matter how clean you keep it. I think that makes the portal, the entryway, much easier for these viruses to go in.

Scott Killian: Does the diet of the individual have anything to do with the bacteria that could be present.

Dr. Bidair: Not really. I’ve never read anything to do this. I know that for uncircumcised guys who are diabetic, it’s much more likely a source to have infections. But that’s not specific, because diabetics are more-sugar, if you’re not metabolizing right. But I don’t think diet affects that.

Scott Killian: And you’re saying that there’s not….there’s no way to keep it clean enough?

Dr. Bidair: No, you can keep it clean. But the question is…it’s like, how can you get rid of bacteria in your mouth? You know, you can brush, you can do that, but there’s still going to be bacteria in your mouth. The area under the foreskin doesn’t get exposed to air long enough to make the skin a little thicker, we call it retinized, so that the skin layer is more protective. The skin is a very protective mechanism for our body to prevent a lot of infections, and unfortunately with the foreskin in that area, it’s very thin, and there’s always going to be inflammation.

Scott Killian: Is there any genetic predisposition to somebody having a more prevalent…that there’s going to be more infection? Or is it strictly just…?

Dr. Bidair: Well, obviously if you are not cleaning it at all…Yes, it’s going to be much worse than if you’re cleaning it. But you have to go out of your way. I mean, the care of an uncircumcised penis-most circumcised man take it for granted, they don’t even think about it-but an uncircumcised penis needs care. I mean it actually surprises me in my practice, when I see older men who actually haven’t retracted their foreskin for years or decades. I’m not going to get into what I see under there.

KC Wilt: I know, it’s like taking out the couch cushions! [All Laugh] So we talked about some advantages. Are there any disadvantages of having a circumcised penis?

Dr. Bidair: Well, just a couple of quick, also, advantages.

KC Wilt: Yes.

Dr. Bidair: The skin can get tighter, especially, or not especially, but in some people as they get older. So they can’t retract it, and that can become a medical condition. So that becomes an issue as well.

KC Wilt: So if you’re going to do circumcision, it actually does benefit to have it during infancy?

Dr. Bidair: I think it’s easier and it has the most benefits when you have it during infancy. But it doesn’t mean that you cannot have it at any other age. Some of the disadvantages, or what we’d say, the other side of the equation…well, other than the immediate local problems with the pain, some people say that the sensitivity changes sexually. They say that if you’re circumcised, your losing that ability to stimulate sexually. And that is a very difficult point to prove, in general. But I can tell you, that most of the guys that I’ve circumcised are adults, and I am very sensitive to that point. And I asked them, almost universally, before and after, “How are you, sexually, before and after?” And I’m going to say, after the, almost thousands of guys that I’ve circumcised, I think only one said that it wasn’t as sensitive. And a huge number said it’s actually more pleasurable. For whatever reason, the foreskin was restricting in that particular situation, and it was much more pleasurable afterwards. So, I don’t buy into the sensitivity argument, and I know that’s a very strong argument that you may read on the internet for people who are strongly against the practice.

KC Wilt: We’ll talk about that in a minute…

Dr. Bidair: Sure.

KC Wilt: We’ll talk about that controversy surrounding circumcision, and whether or not it can be banned in some cities, I’m hearing. So, we’ll be right back.


KC Wilt: On Parent Savers today, we have Dr. Bidair from San Diego Circumcision Center. And he’s here with us talking about the circumcision decision that every new parent will face if they’ve got a baby boy.

Johner Riehl: And so, we talked a little earlier about, you know, getting it during infancy, and I know for us our pediatrician did the first couple, and one was at the hospital and we never even thought about paying for it, it was just part of regular visits. But, I imagine after you go to see a urologist, or if you’re going into other factors or waiting, or maybe other people even have other different experiences…is it something that insurance will cover and that they cover across the board or have you run into any experiences with insurance not covering it?

Dr. Bidair: The vast majority of insurance covers it at infancy. Some cover it a little older than that, but most adult circumcision is not covered. Unfortunately, MediCal, which is a strong part of coverage for obstetricians, uh-I’m sorry-for newly born kids in our state, does not cover it.

KC Wilt: I’m hearing it’s being called a cosmetic surgery?

Dr. Bidair: Correct, and I’m hoping that will change with the American Academy of Pediatrics statement. They strongly said that all third parties-insurance-should offer that and it should be covered. So, I’m hoping that will be an option for everybody-whatever they decide-if they decide to do it. And…maybe….there’s talk about the new healthcare system…that being introduced as part of it, anyway, if you want it while you’re on your Medicaid or MediCal, then you can still have it.

Johner Riehl: Well, if insurance didn’t cover it, how much would it cost?

Dr. Bidair: It depends also how old you are.

Johner Riehl: For an infant?

Dr. Bidair: For an infant, I’d say, about average….I’m just throwing it….in my office I can tell you it’s about $450, $400 to $450. I think that’s how it is.

Johner Riehl: Well, I think that’s one of those things, that sometimes you hear that insurance doesn’t cover something, you think it’s a roadblock. But then really, it’s maybe…

KC Wilt: You just pay out of pocket?

Johner Riehl: Ya, and $400’s a lot of money, I’m not saying that it’s not. But it’s also not $4000.

Dr. Bidair: Absolutely.

KC Wilt: What about…Yeah Robin! I was going to ask you…

Robin Kaplan: Well, I was going to say, yeah…So we’re Jewish, and so we had a Bris when my boys were eight days old, and insurance did not cover it because it was not done in an office. A physician’s office. So the man who is-they’re called mohels (moy-uls), and they’re the ones that perform the circumcision ceremony, what have you-and he is a pediatrician. But because it was outside of his practice, we had to fork over about $450 per kid. And….

KC Wilt: Can you like, do it in the office and then come out and pretend, or…? [Laughter]

Robin Kaplan: No….

KC Wilt: Or is that so against….that’s so against custom…

Robin Kaplan: It’s funny that you ask that, because I actually-although I’m more happy with our decision now that I’ve heard all of these benefits-but I had a really challenging time coming to grips with doing this. One, because I had to be there during the process, holding-and my sons were both anesthetized prior, about thirty minutes prior…

KC Wilt: Do they do that for everyone in the Jewish custom?

Robin Kaplan: Not all, no, no. But the pediatrician/mohel that we were working with does use anesthetics. So we did that, but…uh, it’s a ceremony. So it’s done in front of seventy of your closest friends, and that whole part really bothered me. Because to me it-you know you’re celebrating your son, I guess, being taken into the Jewish religion-but for me, I mean my sons…they screamed. Screamed, screamed, screamed. And I had to sit there, with a little bit of wine on a gauze having them suck on it….and, so….and I know that they’re past it, but it was extremely traumatic for me. So the second time around, I was like “I don’t want to do this,” but it was very important to my father. Who really doesn’t ever ask for anything, and so…and he paid for it, and he paid for the party. [Laughs]But the first time around, we actually like, I took my son and we went into the other room, and we didn’t come out for about an hour and a half. I was really upset by the whole process, and especially knowing, as my son has flourished into this seven year- old, he’s very sensitive and has a very, very low tolerance for pain. And so, I agree with what you said; that it depends on how the anesthetics are used. Because I’m pretty sure that he felt it. I know that he cried when we laid him in-the little container, kind of-that he was in...And I wholeheartedly agree with you, because I see babies have frenectomies all the time. And I know laying on their back, and being held in kind of a swaddle position is very uncomfortable for them, and I agree with you on that. But he definitely-his shrieks went higher when he was being cut. And so-it was just-for me it was very traumatic, and you know we did it because of religious purposes, but it was very conflicting for me to make that decision. Because I don’t know if I would have done it otherwise; and again, the benefits make me feel better now, but it’s still…it….obviously-you know-you having me on the show and it’s been six/seven years, I mean I don’t have a two or three year-old, but it has definitely stuck with me.

KC Wilt: Well, and do you think, with a situation like that…that it wasn’t-the anesthesia wasn’t used properly?

Dr. Bidair: It’s possible that either the injection wasn’t enough or it wore off by the time of the ceremony…

KC Wilt: That’s right, you said thirty minutes.

Dr. Bidair: Because the ceremony can take a while as well. So there are many reasons. Or, you know obviously, your sense- you knew that he felt it. And there are some people who require more anesthesia. I mean there’s no question about it. I know that in adults. And so, as a physician, you know, you make your best estimate as to what’s safe to give and the volume, and you get it. And I totally appreciate how traumatic that is to the mother. I totally appreciate it.

KC Wilt: Especially with those post-partum hormones, right? [Laughter]

Dr. Bidair: And I can tell you that when we do it in the office, it’s rare that a mother is present. I usually recommend that the mother goes for a walk; because it’s something…you know…it’s your new baby, what are they doing? But it’s the same- I look at it as- if you are vaccinating the baby, he’s not going to like that either, you know? There are things we sometimes do because we think it’s the better thing to do. And yes, we should make it as comfortable as possible; I’m not debating that at all. But I don’t like to go to the dentist! You know? And I still do it.

KC Wilt: So why is there a controversy? I wanted to share. I was up in the Bay area and I actually was with a friend and I was at a baby fair. And I was thinking “This is great, actually. This is where I would be, with a booth, on Parent Savers.” And I cloth diaper, I call my-I say my child’s grass fed because we’re an all organic family and blah, blah, blah, blah. So I fit right in. It’s a total greenie thing. And then a man from a circumcision booth wanted to hand me something and-my child’s already circumcised-wanted to hand me something. So I said “No, thank you” and just started to walk by, and he said something that was so angry towards me. I mean, he wasn’t causing anger towards me, but he said “DID YOU KNOW blah, blah, blah, blah?” or said something like that. And he really offended me. I questioned circumcisions, so I’m not a person who went in and said “Sure, do what my doctor says…” I don’t do that for anything. So I went online and I looked for the pros and I looked for the cons, and like I said earlier, my son was in the NICU for a week. So after that, I was like, no more needles, no more IVs, nothing. I don’t want him on anything. So it’s something I definitely wrestled with, so having someone question my decision from the outside, even though I already questioned it myself-I’m already doing it for myself!!! So, I was surprised that there was a controversy. I was surprised. I know that some women do breast milk over formula, and there’s controversy there. And there are some people that do cloth and disposable, and the controversy there. So I look at it and I say why? Why is there a controversy? And for this circumstance, of circumcision [Laughter], why is there a controversy? Why isn’t it just….well this family chose circumcision and this one didn’t, and we all live in harmony? What is this controversy about?

Dr. Bidair: I think that there are two main factors that some people feel very emotional against it. Number one is you’re making a decision for the baby, instead of letting them make it for themselves. And the other one is, some people truly believe that it affects them sexually. You know, I don’t agree with it, but who am I to say? And they believe that you are taking away an important part of sexual pleasure, and again I don’t believe that. So they get a little militant sometimes, and what I could find online-there’s a lot of people who have very strong feelings, and it’s emotionally based more than anything. So I want to address that. Because I think it’s important. I think it’s very, I don’t want to say naïve, but it’s not a very well thought of process to think that you’re only making that one decision for your child for the rest of your life. You are deciding on so many things for your children when they are born, including what religion to raise them, what schools to go to, what languages do they speak? How the manner is? If they get vaccinated or not? So to think that you’re not allowed as a parent to make an important decision like this, I think is not proper. I think that as a parent, you should be allowed to make a decision like this. And the thing that compounds that to me more is that a major benefit, the cancer prevention, happens when you are circumcised at birth-much more so than when you are circumcised later. And I mean, I don’t remember when I was circumcised. It’s more traumatic for the mother than it is for the baby. So I think you, as a parent, have every right, if you believe it’s the right thing to do, to do it.

KC Wilt: That’s true. Because that’s a thought that they…I was reading that for preparation….of this article I was talking about. Let them make the decision-they’re a baby, they don’t know the choice- let them choose when they are older, and I felt guilty, too. I was like “Oh yeah! I should have let him make a choice!”And it’s interesting that you say that, because yeah, we speak English in our house, and…

Dr. Bidair: Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is, I mean, think of our human body. We require a tremendous amount of maintenance. And our maintenance changes also as our evolution changes. I mean, I shave every morning. I shower; I think most of us shower. We brush our teeth, we cut our nails. So to think that we are born the way we are and that we’re not supposed to do anything to our body, I think is a little naïve. And to me this is a little extension, I mean some people think it’s going overboard, but I don’t look at it that way at all. I take into account all the other benefits that I mentioned in sum total. Not just any one of them.
Scott Killian: Dr. Bidair, why is called…why is it being called genital mutilation?

Dr. Bidair: I think, the only people that I’ve heard calling it that happen to fall into the camp who are part of the extreme emotional group that is so anti-circumcision. I looked up mutilation in the dictionary, and it doesn’t fit that, in my opinion. Mutilation the way I looked it up-and you can look it up at’s to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts, or to deprive of a limb or other essential part. I guess you can think of it as you are injuring and disfiguring. I personally don’t believe that. I think mutilation is…if I’m going to cut my arm…..I mean if I’m going to cut my arm for no reason other than to cut my arm, I can see that. But when I look at it for the reasons we had discussed before, I think it’s…to me it’s not any more than when I got the smallpox vaccine as a child, and there’s a scar on me.

KC Wilt: Dr. Bidair, many cities and countries have started to try and ban circumcision. Is this possible? Do you think we’ll be seeing more of this in the future?

Dr. Bidair: The short answer is, I think it’s going to be very hard to do. Because of the religious freedom question, I think it’s going to be very hard to do. But there was a ballot in California-I think it was in San Francisco-

KC Wilt: Which is where I was…

Dr. Bidair: Which is maybe why they were trying to get the signatures, and they got enough signatures to get it on the ballot. And also in Santa Monica, the same group was about to start a ballot and they backed out. But the California legislature preempted that, and they came up with regulations to say that that is not open for a per locality decision, it’s a medical decision to be controlled by the Medical Board of California. Personally, I think it’s a very difficult thing to ban because it’s so entrenched in the religious practice for Jews and Muslims, and culturally for many other subcultures, that it’ll be hard.

KC Wilt: Well, and it’s just one of those things, I feel, like what we were talking about earlier, all those things about that parenting has. You know, it really is up to the mom and the dad. You look at the facts; you look at your decision for your child. And you make what is best for your child.

Dr. Bidair: Absolutely. I mean, I respect people’s decision, those who make the decision, either to do or not to do, based on knowledge, and not based on emotions and anger and the lack of facts. And absolutely, if you’ve read or were told about the pros and cons, by all means, make the decision, and I respect that. And I find that maybe-unfortunately-a lot of people don’t have all the facts sometimes when they strongly decide one way or the other.

KC Wilt: Thank you so much, Dr. Bidair, for helping us to learn about circumcision. If you want more information, go to today’s episode page, on our website Our conversation will continue with Dr. Bidair, I have a couple more questions that I want to ask you, after the show for our Parent Savers Club members. We’ll be asking about male sensitivity, as well as reversing a circumcision. So see our website to sign up


KC Wilt: We have a question from Amy from our Facebook page, and she wants to know about brands of cloth diapers. And she wants to know which one is best. Which one should she invest her money in?

Heather Macnamara: Hi Amy, this is Heather Macnamara from the Real Diaper Association, and you asked a good question. Everyone wants to know, what’s the best brand for them? But the fact of the matter is there is no one best brand for everybody. It just depends on the size of your baby, the shape, and your lifestyle. So what styles of diapers are going to work best in your family? So what I usually recommend is that you try a bunch out and find out which ones you prefer, and buy more of those. And you don’t have to worry about investing in diapers that you’re not going to end up using because there’s a really good resale market for cloth diapers, and they retain their value beautifully. So you can always sell the ones that you don’t like and invest that money into more of the ones that you do.

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KC Wilt: That wraps up today’s episode. We’d love to hear from you! If you have a question for the expert about today’s show or the topics we discussed. Call our Parent Savers hotline at (619) 866-4775, or send us an e-mail through our website, or our Facebook page, and we’ll answer your question in an upcoming episode. Don’t forget to tune in to behind the scenes in the Parent Savers Club to keep listening.

Thanks for listening to Parent Savers! Empowering new parents.

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