Friday, September 1, 2017

Drs. May Ask If Baby Is Circumcised for a Hearing Test - Here's Why

Oh the things I learn from my Facebook news feed...

Today, I came across this gem:

Now, normally, I blow a gasket when I hear a baby goes in for something completely unrelated to genital problems, and the doctor has the nerve to ask whether the baby has been circumcised or not.

This seems pretty legit though.

Apparently babies can cry so hard during a circumcision that they can burst an ear drum.
One more nail in the coffin for the claim that babies "sleep right through" their circumcision.

So I guess you can now add "burst ear drum" to the list of possible risks and complications for male infant circumcision.

I hope the AAP and other respected medical organizations are taking note.

Credit to for this.

Related Post:
INTACTIVISTS: Why We Concern Ourselves

What Your Dr. Doesn't Know Could Hurt Your Child


  1. This definitely falls under the advice: Google first, share second. This meme has been circulating for several days - shared by anti-circumcision blogs with no citations and no evidence beyond the shared blog posts. Regardless whether I agree with circumcision or not, such memes are suspicious and meant to induce fearful reaction, without evidence. I need more. Facts matter.

    1. John, I wouldn't expect this to appear in a Google search, given that our current situation is one such where adverse effects of circumcision tend to be minimized, if not hidden altogether.

      Here, let me give you some advice: It's not always wise to depend on a Google search, given that popular information may not always be correct. In fact, it may even be deliberate misinformation designed to, as you say, induce a calculated reaction. Especially in America, we live in the age of "fake news," where misinformation regarding anatomically correct male genitals and circumcision abounds. I advise my readers to go beyond this blog, and beyond a Google search to find accurate information regarding male circumcision.

      The fact of the matter is that hospitals are not required to release information regarding adverse outcomes of circumcision. The very AAP in their 2012 policy statement on circumcision has admitted that they are not actually able to assess the risks of circumcision because they are, in their own words, "unknown." (Which should then raise the question as to how they were able to make the bold statement that "The benefits outweigh the risks" without knowing what those risks are.)

      This is why people must rely on what is available, and, sadly, anecdotes and secondary sources, such as parents posting their stories on Facebook are the best we can do for now. You will find that a lot of the stories about death and complications are, in fact, screenshots from parents posting their stories on Facebook. Fortunately, some of these deaths and complications have made the news. Unfortunately, not all are noticed or even published on Facebook.

    2. At least in theory, the AAP should be looking into all the adverse effects of male infant circumcision and reporting them, but there are many reasons why they don't; circumcision has become just so embedded in our culture that doctors performing them and adverse effects have come to be accepted as "normal." A great deal of AAP members reap profit from performing circumcision on children, circumcision also happens to be seen as a religious requirement by some, and reporting adverse effects would put them in extremely akward positions.

      As I state on my blog's banner, there are plenty of "pro-circumcision" resources if you're looking to reinforce your beliefs, as well as validate and confirm your choice to have your child circumcised. This is a place where you'll find what most American doctors won't tell or share with parents and patients. You will also find a lot of anecdotal experience, and I think that this is important because we get a glimpse of what doctors *do* tell their parents, what the AAP is unaware of or deliberately ignoring, etc.

    3. Your phrasing of "regardless whether I agree with circumcision or not," and the fact that you are calling this screen capture a "meme" already gives away your position. You don't "agree" with circumcision, anymore than you "agree" with any other surgery, such as appendectomy, foot amputation or a coronary bypass. When a procedure is medically necessary, whether or not you "agree" with it is secondary, if not irrelevant.

      I know the people at SavingOurSons, and they wouldn't deliberately make this stuff up, since they know that posting fabrication damages their credibility. When they post a screen shot, they usually post a link to the original source. But unfortunately, the people who made the original posts often take them down, if not block people and make them private once they find out that human rights activists are screen-capturing and sharing their posts.

      You are within your right to be suspicious activists like us, as I will admit that activists of other movements have been known to deliberately make stuff up and pass it off as gospel truth.

    4. But I ask you; why on earth would we make any of this stuff up?

      What have we to gain from all of this?

      Speaking out against the forced genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting minors isn't making any one of us rich.

      It's American doctors who have money to lose and malpractice lawsuits to avoid. 1.3 million babies are circumcised annually. At a dollar a procedure, that's aready a 1.3 million dollar industry. Now let's consider that circumcision doesn't cost a dollar; one particular Canadian physician whose sole income is male infant circumcision is known to charge as much as $400 or so each. In recent news, Alaskan hospitals have been revealed to charge $2,000. If you do the math, American doctors and medical organizations have financial incentive to minimize, if not hide adverse circumcision outcomes. So doctors aren't going to report, and the AAP is not going to jeopardize doctors who circumcise (which are the majority) by investigating and publishing data on risks and complications.

      We have nothing to lose but our credibility.

    5. Is what I post real? Or fabricated? I'll leave it to my readers to make that call.

      One thing is for sure; I am serious about the protection of the basic human rights of the individual, and damaging my credibility is the last thing I want to do.

      If there isn't available research on this topic, then I hope this blog post will serve as an impetus to get organizations such as the AAP to look into the matter and actually publish their findings.

      For now, this screenshot is all we have to go on.

      Apparently parents of children getting their hearing tests done are asked whether or not they've been circumcised, because screaming during the procedure could cause the ear drum to burst.

  2. I'd want to see more evidence before publicizing this, but if a baby can get a collapsed lung from circumcision, it's certainly plausible that they could perforate an eardrum.

    Burst eardrums aren't actually such a big deal btw. It's happened to me several times.

    1. On the one hand, you’re right, and I concur; this post is purely anecdotal, and until there is concrete medical literature on this and other possible adverse effects of male infan circumcision, we need more evidence.

      On the other, the fact is that you’ll probably find little to no evidence, because medical organizations with a majority of members who profit from male infant circumcision, aren’t too interested in investigating adverse effects of circumcision.

      In their 2012 statement, the AAP admitted that “The true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown.” p. e772.

      There is a void in medical literature concerning the adverse effects of male infant circumcision, and it needs to be asked, why isn’t anyone looking?

      Even if it isn’t “a big deal,” if circumcision could result in a ruptured ear drum, I think it needs to be documented, and parents need to know.

  3. Do you really need any other reason to not circumcise, other than the fact that you are cutting a body part off a new born baby?
    Maybe we really don’t need earlobes or nostrils or the tip of our pinky finger? Why stop at the foreskin! Sheep...

    1. The amount of nerve endings on the tip of the penis was never understood until the 20th century:

      20,000 NERVE ENDINGS
      The foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis. It contains:
      10,000 nerve endings, or
      20,000 nerve endings (the most frequently cited statistic), or
      20,000 to 70,000 (the most recently cited statistic).
      This statement about foreskin sensitivity is somewhat recent. It is one of the most popular statements made to justify the campaign against routine infant circumcision – and one of the most difficult to verify!
      Who came up with the original number?

      The number was published in a popular mothering magazine in an article written by pediatrician Dr. Paul Fleiss (“The Case Against Circumcision” by Paul M. Fleiss, MD, published in Mothering: The Magazine of Natural Family Living, Winter 1997, pp. 36-45). Dr. Fleiss has been campaigning against routine neonatal (newborn and infant) circumcisions for years. He is also a strong advocate of breastfeeding and a medical advisor to La Leche League, the international organization promoting it. In that article, Dr. Fleiss made the statement about the 20,000 nerve endings as one of his many reasons to leave the foreskin intact. Although he did not do the research that came up with the number, he did cite earlier research that had been done, including research that had been done as early as the 1930s. Where he got the exact number of 20,000 is unknown, since no study has actually counted the number. There have been a number of studies about the nerves in a foreskin, but most are from 50, 80 and even 200 years ago.
      According to one legendary study, the number is from a multiplication of the number of nerve endings on one square centimeter (212 endings, to be exact; 2 of which are Meissner corpuscles, the ending attributed to sensitivity in the skin to touch) that was taken from a cadaver. No one knows the age of the cadaver, the cause of death or where on the foreskin the sample came from. In fact, no one can find the original study, including this experienced journalist and two research librarians. It is simply nowhere to be found on the Internet, at least, despite hours and hours (and hours!) of research. Only one rebuttal (seen here: Sloppy scholarship and the anti-circumcision crusade.) could be found.

      Other studies, including the one cited by Fleiss (H.C. Bazett, et. Al., “Depth, Distributioin and Probably Identification in the Prepuce of Sensory End-Organs Concerned in Sensations of Temperature and Touch; Thermometric Conductivity,” Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 27 (1932), pp. 489-517) show a plethora of nerves in the foreskins but never an exact counting of them. Nor can an agreement – scientifically, that is – on the size of the foreskin on which the numbers are based. Some researchers claim that an average foreskin measures 12 to 16 square inches; others say it is half that.

      There are still other studies, but again, not a single one actually gives an average count. And again, there is some skepticism that the number is a pure exaggeration and not even based on scientific studies, especially the last number in the statement that has recently been quoted: 20,000 to 70,000 nerve endings on an average foreskin.
      One, major problem with the number, is that the foreskin, like all skin, contains at least 7 different types of nerve endings, not just the ones that stimulate the foreskin and produce sexual stimulation, and eventually, produce orgasm and ejaculation. And Dr. Fleiss (like a number of other circumcision researchers, including Dr. Bollinger, who cited the 117 infant mortalities in the U.S. due to routine circumcision) is an active, anti-circumcision physician which can make him vulnerable to bias.

    2. 20,000 NERVE ENDINGS
      PART 2

      Can sensitivity to touch on the foreskin or on the glans be measured?
      A major goal of those who quote the 10,000, 20,000 or 70,000 number is to use it as evidence that the foreskin is highly sensitive, in particular, sensitive to touch (as say, to temperature). Fortunately, there are other ways to measure touch, especially the kind of touch that tells the brain sex is coming, and thus, to make an argument not to remove the foreskin. So for now, forget the number of nerve endings and look instead at studies that have measured the sensitivity – of both the foreskin and of the glans – then compared that measured sensitivity to other parts of the body that also have nerve endings that are sensitive to touch. Fortunately, the source of these studies is more easily verifiable since they have all been published in major medical journals, and therefore, easily found on the Internet. What is interesting to note, though, is that the results vary from one study to another, and in fact, tend to refute the results of each other!
      Two studies often quoted were each done in the past decade or so. What is interesting is that as mentioned previously, one study refutes the other. Thus, one study found that the foreskin was the most sensitive location on the penis, and that when removed by circumcision, the glans that lies underneath a foreskin showed less sensitivity in general. The other study looked at the Meissner’s corpuscles in eight parts of the body where Meissner corpuscles are concentrated, and therefore, more sensitive to touch than other body parts. What the team of researchers found is that the least sensitive part (to touch) of all 8 body parts studied – happened to be both the foreskin and the glans. In contrast, the most sensitive body part was located on the fingertips.
      One more issue to consider
      One more fact to consider is the body’s ability to substitute. For example, people whose sight is diminished or even blinded may experience an increase in their sense of touch or sound. Likewise, people who grow deaf may, in turn, grow more visually discriminating. Men circumcised as adults have been surveyed. Many report being more sexually sensitive after their circumcision. Perhaps losing a foreskin’s touch nerve endings helps them gain more sensitivity elsewhere, and in particular, on their glans. And note that other men lament their circumcision as adults, reporting less sensitive. Even worse, some men detest it. So much depends on the individual circumstance to draw a conclusion here, despite the best intentions of both anti-circs and pro-circs.
      To sum things up
      First, it might be prudent to be skeptical about the exact number – average, or mean – cells on a foreskin. Maybe the number of nerve endings is accurate. But maybe, the number isn’t. What is certain is that more research is needed, research that can be replicated, and perhaps, research done on larger groups and over longer periods, since nerve cells, as we have learned previously, tend to decrease with age.
      Secondly, even results of studies showing sensitivity to the foreskin and to the glans make it difficult, if not impossible, to draw a firm conclusion.
      Finally, given the uncertainty of some of the data, the polarity of feelings about what data does exist, the polarity of feelings about being circumcised, it is difficult to look at the number often stated as truly factual, or to use it as evidence to use in a decision about circumcision.

    3. Frenulum of prepuce of penis
      The frenulum of prepuce of penis, often known simply as the frenulum, is an elastic band of tissue under the glans penis that connects the foreskin (prepuce) to the vernal mucosa, and helps contract the foreskin over the glans.[1]

      In the event of frenulum breve or frenular chordee, or to ensure that the glans can be freely and completely exposed, the frenulum may be partially or totally removed. It is also often removed in a circumcision.[2][3][4]

      The frenulum and the associated tissue delta on the underside of the penis below the corona has been described in sexuality textbooks as "very reactive" and "particularly responsive to touch that is light and soft". The "underside of the shaft of the penis, meaning the body below the corona" is a "source of distinct pleasure".[5] Crooks and Baur observe that two extremely sensitive specific locations that many men find particularly responsive to stimulation are the corona, and the frenulum.[6] Repeated stimulation of this structure will cause orgasm and ejaculation in some men.

      PART 2

      In men with spinal cord injury preventing sensations from reaching the brain, the frenulum just below the glans can be stimulated to produce orgasm and peri-ejaculatory response.[7][8]

      Frenulum breve is a condition in which the frenulum is short and restricts the movement of the foreskin, which may or may not interfere with normal sexual activity. The condition can be treated by frenuloplasty, frenectomy, or circumcision. Frenulum breve may contribute to frenular chordee, where the glans is pulled toward the vernal body of the penis. Frenulum breve may also be treated by manually expanding the shaft skin by stretching.[citation needed]

      The frenulum may be entirely missing in cases of first degree hypospadias.

      It is possible for the frenulum to tear during sexual activities. The frenular artery, a branch of the dorsal artery, may be severed, causing significant bleeding.
      Penis frenectomy

      A frenectomy can be performed to remove the frenulum from the penis, which is a treatment for frenulum breve or frenular chordee.[9] This is a form of genital frenectomy. The frenulum may be cut when a male is circumcised. This may also reduce the size of the frenular delta. The frenulum was reported to be cut in 26.7%, 20%, and 33.33% of circumcised patients in various surveys.[9][10]

      Frenulum stretched view.

      Frenulum divided by frenuloplasty during circumcision.

      Human frenulum preputii penis and frenular delta location

      A human frenulum of prepuce of penis displaying frenular chordee.

      Part of frenulum unremoved after adult circumcision.

      A removed frenulum preputii penis after a frenectomy
      Frenulum remnant and scar from a Gomco clamp circumcision of a 34 year old male

      Frenulum remnant and scar from a Gomco clamp circumcision of a 34 year old male

      See also

      Ridged band
      Frenum piercing
      Perineal raphe
      Frenuloplasty of prepuce of penis


      Jensen, Christian (2011). Can I Just Ask?. Hay House. p. 58. ISBN 9781848502468.
      Griffin, AS; Kroovand, R. (1990). "Frenular chordee: implications and treatment". Urology. 35 (2): 133–4. doi:10.1016/0090-4295(90)80060-Z. PMID 2305537.
      Preiser, G; Herschel;, M.; Bartman;, T.; Andersson;, C.; Bailis;, S. A.; Shechet, R. J.; Tanenbaum;, B.; Kunin;, S. A.; Hodges, F. M.; Fleiss;, P. M.; Antonopoulos;, J.; Rockney, R.; Taylor;, A.; Stang, H.; Snellman, L.; Fontaine, P.; Condon;, L. M.; Lannon, C. M. (2000). "Circumcision--the debates goes on". Pediatrics. 105 (3 Pt 1): 681–684. doi:10.1542/peds.105.3.681. PMID 10733391.
      "Neonatal Circumcision: An Audiovisual Primer". Stanford School of Medicine.
      Hass, K.; Hass, A. (1993). Understanding Sexuality. St Louis: Mosby. pp. 99–100. ISBN 0801667488.
      Crooks, R.; Baur, K. (1993). Our Sexuality (5th ed.). Redwood City: Benjamin/Cummings. p. 129. ISBN 0-534-59567-7.
      Saulino, Michael F. (2006). "Rehabilitation of Persons With Spinal Cord Injuries". WebMD.
      Pryor, JL; Leroy, Suzanne C.; Nagel, Theodore C.; Hensleigh, Hugh C. (1995). "Vibratory stimulation for treatment of anejaculation in quadriplegic men". Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 76 (1): 59–64. doi:10.1016/S0003-9993(95)80044-1. PMID 7811177.
      Griffin AS, Kroovand RL (1990). "Frenular chordee: implications and treatment". Urology. 35 (2): 133–4. doi:10.1016/0090-4295(90)80060-Z. PMID 2305537.

      Preiser, Gary (2000). "Circumcision—The Debates Goes On" (PDF). Pediatrics. 105 (3): 681–684. doi:10.1542/peds.105.3.681.

      External links
      Wikimedia Commons has media related to Frenulum of the human penis.

      McGrath, Ken (2001). "The Frenular Delta". In Denniston GC; Hodges FM; Milos MF (eds.). Understanding Circumcision: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to a Multi-Dimensional Problem. New York: Kluwer. ISBN 978-0306467011.

  4. It did not happen often, but it most certainly is a FACT (I read the medical report on one case) that sometimes a baby boy would scream so hard during cutting that his stomach burst. Apparently, they now starve the baby for several hours prior to this unjustified operation.