“She said, ‘Oooh, careful – it’s quite taboo,’” Caroline remembers.
But Caroline says among her friends with babies, it’s common.
“Everyone I know, bar one, that has had boys in the last six months has had a circumcision.”
Circumcision is a divisive issue. In Iceland, politicians are considering banning the procedure for non-medical reasons, calling it a violation of human rights, “since boys are not able to give an informed consent of an irreversible physical intervention”.
In Australia, the rate of circumcision has dropped dramatically in recent decades. Medicare records show 6309 newborn males were circumcised last financial year, which equates to about four per cent of baby boys.
But Associate Professor Norman Blumenthal, a Sydney obstetrician and gynaecologist, believes the rate of circumcision is on the rise in Australia again.
“It does seem to me that the actual numbers to me are going up, because I’m seeing more and more,” he tells Mamamia. “I still think a lot of patients are not claiming for Medicare, so that’s why they’re not really a true reflection of the actual figures.”
In 2010, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians put out a statement saying that newborn boys didn’t need to be circumcised, unless there was a medical reason. However, since then, other studies have claimed the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
Associate Professor Blumenthal thinks parents are choosing to have their sons circumcised after doing their own research.
“People are reading about it, they’re much more aware, there’s Google, there’s a lot more information about it, so people are making educated decisions about whether they’re going to do the procedure or not.”
He says there are a number of health benefits for babies.
“It reduces the risk of inflammation and infection by three or four times. There’s almost a 10 times reduction in the urinary tract infection rate.”
As for Caroline, she says her husband was always in favour of having their son circumcised, but she wanted to read up on it first.
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“I jumped on the Net, knowing that my brothers all were and my dad was,” she explains.
“I did my research, and I started looking at the facts around HIV, being able to pass on STDs – by being circumcised, [the risk] was greatly reduced. So I thought it was really a no-brainer – as much as I dreaded the day we were going in there. I didn’t know if we could watch something so horrendous happen to our little boy.”
But she says the procedure turned out to be “relatively easy”.
“He seemed to be pretty fine,” she adds.
“At the end of the day, hopefully we’ve done something that helps him and his future.”
Where do you stand on circumcision? Tell us in the comments!