Monday, November 5, 2012

Adhesions: a common complication

A mother posted a blog back in 2010 telling how her circumcised twins both developed adhesions. Her story was meant to tell about a common complication. What I was surprised was that even after that, she still defended the decision to circumcise as a parental right, and as being of easier hygiene, and as prevention of UTIs, prevention of phimosis (prevention by obliteration I call that), prevention of penile cancer and of STIs, you know, the common garbage.

I think the text is actually quite valuable, so here it is:

What's worse than one bleeding penis? Two of them. 


Original URL (deleted)

Author- I'm going to assume she does not want her name on it as she deleted her profile from that website.

Jan 26, 2010

There I stood in the exam room with two seemingly healthy twin boys. One minute i'm talking about their diets and weights...the next I look down and see Max's penis is....bleeding. That's right it's bleeding. The doctor has his large thumb and index finger around my son's penis and there is actual blood coming out. Max is shrieking and I'm clutching the exam table thinking I'd fallen down Alice's rabbit hole. Without thinking I uttered, "What the hell are you doing??" He calmly told me he was pushing down an adhesion. An ad-what? I'm sorry, my kid's itty bitty penis is pooling with to talk in mommy terms about why that's happened?

He said, "It's very common. It's called a penile adhesion." Now unless you're the parent of a boy baby, odds are you've never heard of the term. I'll admit it sounds mildly pornographic. But since I have two boys I'm well acquainted with the term and for six months I've had some dealings with the condition. Here's the technical definition:

"A penile or prepuce adhesion can occur after a circumcision if the remaining skin is not retracted after the circumcision has healed. When a circumcision is done, tissue which would normally be intact is split. Unless proper care is taken, the epithelium of the inner prepuce at the point where the foreskin was removed can reattach to the epithelium of the glans. The result of this is a penile adhesion. Usually the adhesions can be released by simple retraction. Sometimes, however, the fusion is so complete that simple retraction will not work, and the child must be referred to a urologist."

So when you get handed a baby there's no book. Sure they give you the basics at the hospital, but in my case different rules applied. Our babies were 3 and 5 pounds when we took them home. that's TINY. and so cleaning a nearly non existent penis was, well, tricky. We did our best, tried our hardest, but in the end, Max had a penile adhesion. It wasn't a big deal but good Lord Almighty I about fainted when our pediatrician "fixed" it....As I stated before, he did this by taking his huge fingers and literally peeled back the foreskin from my son's circumcised penis. Then, all of a sudden, it started to bleed. I thought something tragic had just occurred. So then we had to keep a close eye on it...clean it religiously..which we did. Boy did we. And it happened again. Next visit, same problem. See once the skin is peeled back it's bleeding...the body senses this as a wound and wants to heal it. Hence the adhesion.

I thought we were out of the woods with this problem though...I really did. Last week I went back to the doctor for the boys' six month check up...He checked their penises and, lo and behold, they BOTH had a minor adhesion. I guess I just had no idea that this was a recurring thing. I mean, once it healed, I figured we were through with this nasty little secret. But alas, it continues. To add to that, the rim around Max's member is so red and inflamed now from the peel back that he cries whenever I go near it with a wipe.

So let this be a lesson to all you parents of boy babies...well, hell, I don't even know what the lesson is...just take note and take heart if you have the same problem with your wee ones wee one. now I get why men are so obsessed with their ... friend. It starts early and innocently enough. 

 For any reader who doesn't know what a penile adhesion (or skin bridge) looks like:

This would already defeat any purpose of "hygiene" as this creates another hidden space (between the skin bridge and the glans). In the case of this photo, this is an adult person and if he wants to remove this he would have to get a surgery, which is likely to leave a scar on his glans.

Some of the comments from the author:

Asked "why the useless mutilation of the penis", she said: "ah....humbug...i wondered when this subject would rear its ugly pun intended. circumcision is a personal decision based on either religious or personal beliefs. to each his own..."

Asked again about the purpose of circumcision by an user who saw it as "backward and unnecessary", she says:

Josh, it's my decision because i'm their mother. here are some other good reasons i researched before making this decision...

Easier hygiene. Circumcision makes it easy to wash the penis — although it's simple to clean an uncircumcised penis, too.

Decreased risk of urinary tract infections. The risk of urinary tract infections in the first year is low, but these infections may be up to 10 times as common in uncircumcised baby boys. Severe infections early in life can lead to kidney problems later on.

Prevention of penile problems. Occasionally, the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis may be difficult or impossible to retract (phimosis). This can also lead to inflammation of the head of the penis.

Decreased risk of penile cancer. Although cancer of the penis is rare, it's less common in circumcised men.

Decreased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Safe sexual practices remain essential, but circumcised men may have a slightly lower risk of certain sexually transmitted diseases — including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
 I can't imagine if having to rip the remnant foreskin from the glans several times in both babies amounts to easier hygiene and decreased risk of UTI's, given the recurrent open wounds.

Then she goes on this tirade:

i was asked for my reasoning, and while i don't have to give it, i did. it's a personal choice, a family choice, and it's mine and my husband's to make. 60% of all american born children are circumcised. that's not to say to do so or not to is right or wrong, i'm simply stating that i'm not the only person who's circumcised their child. congrats on not being circumcised...that's great...but you didn't make that choice, your parents did. and i respect either decision. 
Most intactivists would find "personal choice" and "family choice" to be different. Personal choice is what a person decides to do on his own body, not what the parents decide to do for you.

And when someone supports her, she goes:

Thanks...I appreciate the kind words. I don't have any problem with people posing the question as long as there's as much respect for my opinion as their own. I'm not going to talk about lobbing off breasts or labias. it's accepted practice. deal with it. and i won't apologize for doing what's best for my boys. it's a difference of opinion and, last i checked, this is America, where we're allowed to have our own opinions. 

So after everything she still thinks it was the best to do. Unfortunately I've found this reaction quite common: "I won't apologize". I find this arrogant. I've actually met several men who as teenagers or young adults became angered about being circumcised, and some of them having been unable to find a sensitive response from their parents ended up cutting all their relationship to them. Something to think about is that your children may come to see their circumcision in different eyes from what you saw it, and may not appreciate having a part of their bodies cut off.

Somebody apparently used the M word because then she says:

Mutilate a baby? Give me a break. and what, you think it's some vast conspiracy by doctors? a multi-billion dollar industry? Where do they perform circumcisions in your world...the grassy knoll as Kennedy rides by.
 I think some of the comments were deleted. But someone mentioned foreskin restoration. Because then she goes on to say:
and no i would not apologize for circumcising my children. and i've never met anyone who wished they'd had their foreskin and asked to have it restored. but if YOU do...try manual tugging. you may already be most of the way there lol. and thanks for read
 And her friend (another mom supporting her with comments) picks up:

There are so many decisions to be made for babies:breast milk vs. formula,cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers,paci or no paci,let em cry it out vs. pick em up.In the end its the parents decision.I believe they would be the most qualified anyway.So far I have no regrets as to any of my decisions. I stick to the uniform rule of stay out of my business I'll stay out of yours
 Someone says that blogging about what happened to her kids' penis seems a weird topic. She says:

lol..thanks's the thing...i would give ANYTHING for someone to have blogged about this when i was pregnant, when i was searching for answers...but no one was. i'm not trying to say i'm some stellar example of a selfless helper, but seriously, i hope it helps other people. it's a really really common thing and it would've been nice if someone had clued me i'm trying to do that for others...i had no idea it would turn into a rant about circumcision...go figure. but i respect what you're saying. i get it. i guess i just hope it'll help someone else...and hell, the headline was great right? lol.
No I don't think that the headline is great, because it's what really happened. No man wants to see blood on his penis, whether in present time, or in the past. She thinks that because the adhesions are common they are no big deal. She doesn't seem to understand that they would not have happened if circumcision was not done.

Then she says:
you know what i find most amusing? circumcised males aren't crying foul and posting rants. it's the uncircumcised who seem to want to start a club and wave a banner. This is not mutilation. It is a standard procedure performed on more than half the male babies in this country. and no one took down any comments from this page. no one. unless the poster did it.
Which is actually quite wrong - but I guess she didn't look hard enough. Yes, there are many of us circumcised males blogging about it. Come on, she even read about foreskin restoration. Does she think it's something that "uncircumcised" males do? No, it's us circumcised men. Why does she think we are doing it?

 Then someone tells her exactly what I just wrote, that the adhesions wouldn't have occurred if the babies had been left intact. Her answer is:
the same could be said for any infection or complication arising from any medical procedure. if it hadn't been performed, it would not have occurred. that's like saying, if you hadn't been born, you would not be able to post on this blog. i don't get it. 1.5 million boys are circumcised in the u.s. each year.
 Added to the fact that she considers it "standard procedure", she just seems to consider it a slight issue in the quest for the "benefits" (or more accurately potential benefits) of circumcision.

Apparently someone insisted on calling mutilation because she answers (to a deleted comment):

.last i checked both their penises are not destroyed, are in one piece, and look exactly as they did prior to the circumcision minus a piece of skin
 If you take one thing and cut part of it, you don't have just one piece. You have two pieces. If you discard one of them, you still have two pieces - it just happens that one of them is in the garbage. What she calls "a piece of skin" includes muscle tissue, includes apocrine glands, includes veins, includes a high concentration of specialized nerve endings (part of the nervous system).

And a second response:
sigh...cyn...I have every right to act on behalf of my sons. the day i don't ... we have lost our freedom. I have all kinds of rights. the right to raise them as I see fit and proper. The right to raise them to believe in God. I have the right to get them medical attention. I have the right to act in what i feel are their best interests. and nothing has "radically" changed after their circumcision. they do not have a flap of skin. that's it. no mutilation
 I guess cyn must have mentioned FGM because she then says:

last i checked it is not accepted practice to change any part of the female anatomy. that's like asking, if cats were dogs would you still like them? it's idiotic.
 Interesting enough, it was accepted and commonly done in the 50's. It was even accepted in 1996 even if not commonly done, which means that by the time she was born, this was still a legal practice.

As the name calling advances from posters and author, another lady jumps in:

Am I lost?? This Blog is not about "Circumcision" why is everyone making about that? Why would you bash someone for trying to help someone else? Abby's Blog is a personal experience that she didn't have to share but chose to.I have to admit the word "Penis" drew my attention to this blog...having read it I now have the information.
I am surprised by the attacks at one another. Lets stick to the issue and enjoy the blog.

**I personally am grossed by an uncircumcised BUT to each their own..just like everything else in life.
But, is it not about circumcision to speak about a "common" complication of it? And what if someone was grossed by her intact vagina, how would she feel about it? Oh, these debates get ugly always because everyone is so defensive and so stuck on their state of mind.

Oh, then this new commenter also adds:

not fot nuthin': I think ginas are ugly too.
 For a while people go on about aesthetics, FGM, dubious benefits, etc.

The guy who asked why the circumcision (at the beginning) appears again to state:

for the record...I was circumcised by parents who only did it because it was the standard procedure and I am against it. For my kids anyway. I don't care about anyone else's kids. You can alter them like a puppy all you want.

I've learned a lot though. My original post was made because I really didn't understand what the point of circumcision REALLY is. Now I understand. There is none.

So now the author has just heard it from a male himself who is circumcised and against it. To which the author says:

even though i submit there are a lot of reasons. you just don't agree with them. :0)            
And her friend adds:   ·
    there were points made,so maybe they were things that just weren't a priority to you.I think thats what it all comes down to is priorities.    

This comment by another user was interesting:

Circumcision may reduce the risks of things that are incredibly rare.

However, the penile adhesion that shocked you is a very common side effect, and apparently one that few people hear about when choosing whether or not to circumcise.

Do the risks really outweight the benefits here? Wouldn't it just be easier to teach them how to clean their penis, than perform cosmetic surgery on their genitals?
Graphic from Boys Deserve Better (facebook), they also keep this page: and this one in tumblr:

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