I’d never heard of the Washington Daily News until today, when I saw this scroll up on my Facebook news feed:
I wanted to see if anything had changed in terms of the misinformation dispensed on American mass media. I clicked, and sure enough, it's a self-serving doctor repeating the same myths and misinformation regarding male infant genital cosmetic surgery.
I'm not sure exactly what kind of article this is supposed to be. Is it a news article? An opinion piece? It's not immediately obvious what this is supposed to be. It looks a lot like a paid advertisement. The user allowed to publish is one "Vidant Health." Scroll further down and it's one "Dr. Bonnie Corley of Vidant Women's Care." Presumably she's a doctor working for Vidant and she is plugging the business and attempting to justify a practice OB/GYNs hold the lion's share for; male infant circumcision.
One would think that a publication that calls itself "Washington Daily News" would be interested publishing factual, accurate, verifiable information they've thoroughly investigated.
You know? What most of us would call "journalism."
Instead, it seems they've given this "doctor" a carte blanche to publish self-serving lies and nonsense.
Why is an OB/GYN talking about male genital surgery?
First, it must be asked why a doctor whose purview is WOMEN’S HEALTH is pushing male infant surgery. It should strike readers as odd that a doctor who is supposed to deal in gynecology, the female reproductive system and women's health is pontificating on male anatomy and care.
This is supposed to be the territory of pediatricians and urologists. Yet here she is, spewing garbage she just doesn't know what she's talking about. Could they have not asked an actual expert in the field?
Pontificating in a field one has no business in has got to be against medical standards somehow. Why is this woman defending male infant genital mutilation? The answer is, as an OBGYN who attends pregnant women, they’ve got first dibs.
Not mentioned here is how much she makes per mutilation. Some hospitals charge up to $7,000 a pop. It is estimated that 1.4 million American baby boys are being circumcised a year. This means that, at $7,000 per circumcision, American hospitals can be making as much as $9,800,000,000 annually on circumcision alone. It's no wonder doctors and nurses gush on and on about male infant circumcision; there is money to be made, and OB/GYNs, pediatricians and urologists are in competition.
What Dr. Corley Omits and Why
As stated above, circumcision brings in a pretty penny, so there is financial incentive for American doctors to highlight all what's good and wonderful about circumcision to parents, while downplaying, if not omitting all the downsides. Upton Sinclair once said:
“It’s difficult to get a [wo]man to understand something when [her] salary depends on [her] not understanding it."
In other words, doctors who perform circumcision have a conflict of interest in actually conveying factual information to parents. Honest doctors worth their salt would outright say there is no medical reason for performing surgery on a healthy, non-consenting minor. They would refuse to perform surgery on healthy children. In the United States, male infant circumcision is the one exception to this rule. In all other cases, reaping profit from elective non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals constitutes "medical fraud."
I'm going to go down the article refuting all the lies Dr. Corley tells, and filling in all the information she omits.
First, male infant circumcision is no "small procedure." It is the removal of up to 50% of the penile skin. In babies, the foreskin may be a few square centimeters, but in adults, it can be as big as a 3x5 card.
How much skin is removed is different in every circumcision as there is no real way to tell how much skin to remove. This, in and of itself is a problem; a circumcision could result in too much skin being removed, resulting in painful erections and sex. Or, a circumcision could remove too little skin, resulting in a foreskin that heals itself to the head of the penis, needing correction later on. Parents ought to be informed that male infant circumcision botch jobs are so common that there are actually doctors who specialize in circumcision corrections; children going in for circumcision revisions because the first doctor screwed it up are not unheard of.
Even in a circumcision that goes "according to plan," the head of the penis is permanently exposed, where it would have been covered and kept warm and moist by the foreskin. This results in layers upon layers of keratin, necessarily resulting in desensitization. Not talked about here is the Sorrells study that showed that circumcised men were desensitized by a factor of four. Lack of a foreskin dries out the head of the penis and surrounding mucosa, necessitating the need for artificial lubrication, like K-Y, vaseline or astroglide for masturbation and sex.
To contrast with the fact that 80% of American men are circumcised from birth, the doctor should have mentioned that 70% of men are intact globally. American parents ought to know that most men in the world are not circumcised and live their lives just fine. She doesn't talk about the fact that, according to the CDC, male infant circumcision rates in the US have dropped to about 56%, and still falling. But of course she doesn't say this; Corley is appealing to the "everybody's doing it" alibi.
This focus on “parents having circumcision performed on their children for perceived medical benefits in the US” is wrong.
DOCTORS push this non-medical surgery on parents for these reasons and then absolve themselves from this medical fraud by asking them to sign a consent form.
Male infant circumcision is the only cosmetic, non-essential surgery American doctors will perform on healthy, non-consenting minors. All other medical procedures require medical indication. Otherwise it’s medical fraud.
Let’s talk about the so-called “benefits,” shall we?
“Urinary tract infections are 90% less common in males who have been circumcised.”
How much less?
It takes around 100 circumcisions to prevent a single UTI, and UTIs can
be treated easily by other less invasive ways, like antibiotics. Not to
mention, it is easily prevented with basic hygiene.
“Circumcised men have a lower risk of developing cancer of the penis, HIV and probably herpes," Corley says.
First off, again, what is this difference? Is the doctor going to cite any medical literature?
Here is what the American Cancer Society has to say about the matter:
"In the past, circumcision (removing the foreskin on the penis) was suggested as a way to lower penile cancer risk. This was based on studies that reported much lower penile cancer rates among circumcised men than among uncircumcised men. But in some studies, the protective effect of circumcision wasn't seen after factors like smegma and phimosis were taken into account. Still, some experts have said that circumcision prevents penile cancer.
In the US, the risk of penile cancer is low even among uncircumcised men. Men who aren’t circumcised can help lower their risk of penile cancer by practicing good genital hygiene."
Scrutinize the medical literature; a causal link between having a foreskin and a “higher risk of HIV” simply does not exist.
Looking at world HIV data, the United States has one of the highest rates of HIV transmission in the world in spite of 80% of men being circumcised from birth. We have more HIV than Mexico.
The CDC reports the US has higher STD rates than European countries where circumcision is rare or not practiced.
Research actually shows circumcised males are at a higher risk for HPV. In case you are “probably” worried about herpes or cervical cancer.
What’s more, and here is the kicker, is that there simply isn’t a global epidemic for all of these things. 70% of men are intact globally and there simply isn’t a world epidemic of men’s penises rotting off, or women with cervical cancer in non-circumcising countries. Boys and men aren’t lining up at urologist’s office clamoring for circumcision.
She’s right about penile cancer being rare and there now being HPV vaccines. In which case, what’s the point?
She minimizes the risks as "usually not serious."
The risks include infection, a botched circumcision that may have needed correction later on, loss of part or all of his penis, hemorrhage, septic shock, a penis that was mutilated beyond what is deemed “acceptable,” , painful erections and death, not to mention the inevitability of keratinization and eventual desensitization. Hemorrhage is THE MOST common complication that sends circumcised children to the ER.
Injury to the penis has not only been reported, there have been very public million dollar lawsuits. Just Google them. “Appear very rare” to whom? A greedy OB/GYN with dollar signs in her eyes? Serious complications are COMMON. SO common that there are lawyers who specialize in taking circumcision cases.
The following is a comment taken from the comment section, written by known circumcision David Llewellyn:
"As a lawyer I have represented many boys and men who have either lost too much shaft skin or lost part of the end of the penis (and in one case all of the end) as a result of a botched circumcision or bad post circumcision care. From what I can tell I expect that 30% or so of boys and men who were circumcised at birth have had too much skin removed from their penile shafts. So, even though there are no really good studies on errors, I think the error rate is quite high. In my experience deposing doctors I have found that few docs understand the penile skin system. Also,the article is in error when it states that there are no studies showing a decrease in sensitivity. The article by Sorrells, et al. in BJU International in 2007 showed that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis. This article has never been refuted. It defies common sense to think that you can remove the protective covering of the glans, tissue that is full of specialized nerve endings, and not reduce sensitivity. A study from Belgium by Bronselaer, et atl in BJU Int'l in 2013 showed a decrease in sensitivity. In fact, reduction in sensitivity was one of the initial reasons given for circumcision in this country in the late 19th Century. In summary, circumcision is risky and damaging and should not be performed unless there is a real medical necessity, which is very, very rare. Most of the world is not circumcised and gets along just fine. Uncircumcised Europe has less STDs and other penile problems than does the heavily circumcised U.S. Sadly, this article merely repeats the prejudiced views of circumcised U.S. doctors who profit from the continuation of this needless and damaging surgery."
His website is: David J Llewellyn: The Circumcision Lawyer
“The risk of not having a circumcision in infancy is largely related to difficulties in keeping the uncircumcised penis clean,” says Corley, but again, real world data shows that this simply isn’t a problem. Care during menstruation is more meticulous and complex. Boys and men in the world simply have no difficulty cleaning themselves.
“When bacteria and debris are trapped between the foreskin and glans, infections can result causing scarring known as phimosis, which prevents the foreskin from being retracted.” she continues.
This speaks to Corley's ignorance, willful or genuine, on the matter.
Phimosis is a fibrotic ring caused by lesions as a result of an infection of balanitis xerotica obliterans, or BXO for short. It is not caused by “bacteria and debris being trapped between the foreskin and the glans.”
And this can’t happen to newborns and children, where the foreskin is adhered to the glans until puberty by a bio-preputial lamina known as “synechia.” The foreskin not retracting during infancy is not “phimosis” but a normal stage in male development.
True phimosis is vanishingly rare, at less than 1%, and it occurs in adults.
“Another condition is paraphimosis, in which the foreskin retracts and cannot be returned to its normal position," Corley says.
This is usually caused by the doctor or the parents he instructs, insisting a child should have his foreskin retracted for “cleaning.”
Please see this post for information this doctor SHOULD have been taught and SHOULD BE telling parents.
“These conditions may need to be eventually treated with circumcision, and the procedure is likely more painful and traumatizing to older children and adults than it is for infants,” Corley goes on.
Self-serving scare tactics.
These conditions are rare, iatrogenic and completely preventable.
Note; 70% of men are not circumcised globally. The rest are usually circumcised out of religious or cultural custom. Where is the epidemic of “problems” causing world-wide circumcise demand?
And the “more painful and traumatizing” canard is appeal to emotion; ALL surgery is traumatizing to an older child or an adult. Let’s imagine, for a moment, a reality where all surgery a child may go through as an adult is administered to him in infancy to “spare him the pain.” Ridiculous.
Very few men have conditions for which circumcision is medically indicated. In children it should NEVER be a problem; children who “need to be circumcised” are usually GIVEN their problems by American doctors and their harmful advice. As already mentioned before, there isn’t an epidemic of children or men with “problems” in non-circumcising countries.
“There is no data available on the number of males who are circumcised for medical reasons after the newborn period.”
Which is a testament to how vanishingly rare these cases are. And here, Corley is lying, because yes there is, albeit limited.
“Uncircumcised boys should be taught the importance of washing beneath the foreskin on a regular basis once the foreskin is fully retractable.” says Corley.
Just as uncircumcised women must be taught to clean out their labia and vulva. Actually, male hygiene is much simpler. This doctor is an OBGYN. She ought to know.
“One of the best arguments against circumcision is that the child is being subjected to a surgical procedure that he cannot consent to and which is often being performed as a culturally accepted cosmetic procedure.” Corley continues.
Let’s talk about FGM. That’s also a culturally accepted cosmetic procedure where it is performed. And let’s talk about a doctor’s duty to medicine, not cultural brokerage.
Lack of consent for elective, non-medical procedure is quite possibly the biggest problem for doctors like Corley; in any other case, reaping profit from non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals constitutes medical fraud.
But this isn’t the only problem; the risks of infection, partial or full ablation, hemorrhage and even death are also important arguments against circumcision. Because male infant circumcision is elective, cosmetic surgery, any risk above zero is unconscionable.
“Some opponents of circumcision suggest that the procedure should not be performed until the child is old enough to understand the risks and give consent to the procedure. However as previously noted, at that time it will be more painful and expensive, and the recovery period needed after surgery will be longer.” - More self-serving promotion.
The pain and recovery are true of any surgery. Medically necessary circumcision is vanishingly rare. In contrast, complications are common. A child could end up with an aesthetically displeasing penis, lose it completely, or his life.
“Because there are known health benefits from male circumcision, its use has been supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012, and also by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”
In 2012, the AAP concluded that the “benefits” of circumcision were “not enough to recommend the procedure.” In the same policy statement, they said that “the true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown.”
And ACOG only support it because it’s a money maker for them. The AAP released a policy statement in 2012 after a review of all existing medical literature on the matter; ACOG did no such review and only ever cite the AAP for “support.”
“Overall it is seen as potentially beneficial and rarely harmful, but every family should weigh the risks and benefits of this procedure and decide if it is right for them,” she continues.
Absolving the doctor of any responsibility.
Isn’t “weigh the risks and benefits” of a medical procedure and determining its necessity the DOCTOR’s job?
And where does Corley get “rarely harmful” from?
Let me repeat; In 2012, the AAP concluded that the “benefits” of circumcision were “not enough to recommend the procedure.” In the same policy statement, they said that “the true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown.”
How are lay parents expected to come to a more reasonable conclusion?
“In the end most people probably make the choice based on cultural values," Corley concludes.
In any other case, reaping profit from performing elective, non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals constitutes “medical fraud.”
Without medical or clinical indication, how is it doctors are performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors? Let alone giving parents any kind of choice?
This OB/GYN is nothing more than a charlatan, and this is nothing more than a paid ad.
Washington Daily News is colluding with a charlatan in perpetuating blatant misinformation. Rather than merely publish a self-serving business plug, the Washington Daily News ought to engage in journalism and publish the truth about this matter.
“It’s difficult to get a [wo]man to understand something when her salary depends on [her] not understanding it.”
Publishing circumcision information from a woman who makes her living performing them is probably not the best idea for neutral, objective, unbiased, dispassionate reporting.
Do better, Washington Daily News.
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CIRCUMCISION "RESEARCH": Rehashed Findings and Misleading Headlines
Where Circumcision Doesn't Prevent HIV II
PHIMOSIS: Lost Knowledge Missing In American Medicine
AAP: Around the Bush and Closer to Nowhere
Washington Daily News - Health Beat: What to know about circumcision
American Cancer Society: Can Penile Cancer Be Prevented?
US News: America's STD Rate at Record High Again: CDC
Healio: Circumcised men at twice the risk for cancer-causing HPV, study shows
National Post: Ontario newborn bleeds to death after family doctor persuades parents to get him circumcised
Atlanta lawyer wins $11 million lawsuit for family in botched circumcisionDavid J Llewellyn: The Circumcision Lawyer