Circumcision Resource Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization with the purpose of informing the public and professionals about the practice of male circumcision. Our mission is to raise awareness and facilitate healing. Since 1991, the Center has been a valuable source of male circumcision information for parents and children's advocates; childbirth educators and allied professionals; medical, mental health, and academic people; Jews; and others.

Facebook page proof here, [Twitter page] (

I am the author of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma and Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective. The first book, with a foreword by renowned anthropologist Ashley Montagu, is endorsed by dozens of professionals in mental health, medicine, and social science. The book addressing Jewish concerns is endorsed by five rabbis among others.

I have participated in over 200 media interviews and have contributed to many publications. My last article was in the Wall Street Journal. I also provide consultation, counseling, referrals, lectures, and seminars about circumcision.

Circumcision is a complex issue. In order to answer more questions (I’m a slow typist), I will try to make my responses concise and add a link where appropriate for those who seek more information.

Comments: 1272 • Responses: 19  • Date: 

stage2199 karma

I'm circumcised and have never once had a problem with it. What am I missing here?

RonaldGoldmanPhD49 karma

Sexually you do not know what you are missing because you never experienced a foreskin. As men age, the effects of circumcision increase. For example, one study found that older circumcised men are 4.5 times more likely to use ED drugs.

See Fine-Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis

The Psychological Impact of Circumcision

Of course, trauma is not conscious, particularly if it occurs in infancy. Part of what happens with trauma is that it is repressed to protect us from the overwhelming feelings connected with it. However, there is clinical evidence of men connecting present psychological issues with infant circumcision.

Neonatal Circumcision Reconsidered

Nutz7660 karma

Why is male circumcision legal when ALL types of female circumcision is illegal?


Why hasn't the medical community sought to have this double standard eliminated?

Female circumcision is deemed genital mutilation whereas male circumcision is not. This is a huge problem.

RonaldGoldmanPhD45 karma

What is legal is related to what the public believes and supports. Generally, the public believes that male circumcision is beneficial or harmless. That's why we need more education.

Because we do not do female circumcisions in the U.S., it's easier to oppose it. By comparison, in Europe where male and female circumcision is rare, they think both are horrible acts to do to children.

Here is a quote from a European woman who came to the U.S.:

I am totally shocked to learn about circumcision and how it is performed. I really don't have any words! And what I'm shocked most about is to know that this happens routinely in the U.S., in a country that should be advanced! My God...I can't understand that American 'doctors' can do it! It's simply unbelievable!

skintact8133 karma

What can be done to get the mainstream US media to take the issue of circumcision seriously? Any time it is brought up, there is the standard banana with the top of the peel removed. It trivializes this surgery that is for the vast majority, done on non-consenting children.

As intactivists gain more ground in the US and more and more children remain intact, what can be done to promote the intact culture, education, and care? Too often we hear stories about caregivers and even doctors and medical professionals causing harm by forced retraction.

Thank you for your efforts on this and for doing the AMA!

RonaldGoldmanPhD20 karma

There is no easy answer. Changing this embedded cultural practice takes time, hard work, persistence, and learning what works. For example,we sent a petition to mainstream media recently to urge them to report circumcision harm. In at least one case, it helped to get out a national story about circumcision and loss of penile sensitivity.

We have a long way to go. Those in the news business include many circumcised men who, of course, tend to view circumcision favorably. They are also more concerned about money (e.g., avoiding displeased readers, viewers, etc.) than public health.

chodeface28 karma

In 30 seconds or less, how can I convince my wife and my friends that circumcision is neither healthy nor necessary for a newborn boy? The common response is "we'll they get infections when poop gets in there."

RonaldGoldmanPhD38 karma

That's easy. Ask her to watch a circumcision video and trust her feelings.

dlayknee27 karma

What has lead your organization to make the claims that circumcision is "physically, sexually, and psychologically harmful," compared to an organization such as the American Academy of Pediatrics who made it a point to reverse their previous stance on the subject and now states that the benefits outweigh the risks?

Edit: downvotes for asking for the findings leading to such strongly-worded claims? Welp, I'm out. Enjoy the circumcision-is-bad-m'kay circlejerk, all!

RonaldGoldmanPhD27 karma

Good question. This answer is necessarily incomplete.

The AAP has many conflicts of interest, including political, financial, personal, and cultural. Their position is generally based on American medical literature. The circumcision literature reflects the pro-circumcision bias of circumcised American researchers who seek to find benefits and avoid studying the harms of circumcision. The answer to the research question depends on what question is chosen as the focus of the research. The pro-circumcision bias in American medicine reflects the pro-circumcision bias in American culture. The United States is the only country in the world that circumcises many of its male infants for non-religious reasons.

All these biases have psychological roots. Being circumcised has psychological effects. A general primary effect is to want to feel good about ones circumcision. It affect ones sexual and general self-esteem. Those with extreme feelings about circumcision want to see others circumcised. Some of them produce the pro-circumcision studies.

Here is an interesting fact. Most doctors do not know the functions of the foreskin. I asked the WHO circumcision expert about the functions of the foreskin, and he did not know. He also promotes his own circumcision devices, a conflict of interest.

Most men underestimate the area of the adult foreskin. In my survey of men, one man guessed the foreskin is 1/2 square inch. It is actually about 12 square inches of highly erogenous tissue that protects the head of the penis and enhances sexual experience for both partners.

Most circumcised men do not want to know this. We empathize with them. We seek to reach women because they are not directly affected by being circumcised. Here are the indirect effects on women.

When there is a disagreement in a couple about circumcising a son, it is usually the father that wants the circumcision. We support women to deal with this situation. Here's a great personal account of a woman who found her strength talking to her husband about circumcision.

dlayknee12 karma

I appreciate the response. A few short followup thoughts/questions:

1) Your link to a woman's personal account is broken, I think due to a typo. I suspect you were trying to link to this:

2) Respectfully, I requested information supporting the claim that circumcision is so severely damaging yet it seems like your response was to instead wag a finger towards the pro-circumcision stance. Perhaps I simply misunderstood your reply or perhaps I didn't communicate my request well - I'm looking for medical/professional studies indicating the negative claims you have asserted. Are there any you could recommend to support these claims?

3) The indirect effects on women section seems dated - specifically the section oriented around the pain experienced by the infant or parent while observing. While it hasn't always been the case, modern circumcisions are recommended (although admittedly not required) to be done under local anesthesia and when it's used infants routinely sleep through the entire processes. That doesn't invalidate anyone's opinions of course, but it would certainly provide a different scenario than the dramatic one used depicting a baby writhing in agony.

edit: words

RonaldGoldmanPhD18 karma

  1. Thanks. The typo is fixed.

  2. Here are some links.

Fine-Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis

The Prepuce

Male Circumcision and Sexual Function in Men and Women: A Survey-Based, Cross-Sectional Study in Denmark

The Psychological Impact of Circumcision

Physical, Sexual, and Psychological Effects of Male Infant Circumcision

Alexithymia and Circumcision Trauma: A Preliminary Investigation/?p=a7068101fbdd48819f10dd04dc1e19fb&pi=4

Male Circumcision: Pain, Trauma and Psychosexual Sequelae

A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1085.x/pdf

The Effect of Male Circumcision on the Sexual Enjoyment of the Female Partner

Local anesthesia is not always used, is not effective in eliminating circumcision pain, and its effect wears off before the pain does after the surgery. The major effect of anesthesia is that it makes adults feel better, not the infants.

Infants do not "sleep" through circumcision. They are withdrawn in traumatic shock. They cannot escape physically, so they escape psychologically. In any case, we would not approve of cutting off other healthy body parts simply if we could make the surgery painless.

In many ways, circumcision is an exception to medical and ethical standards and principles.

TheLonelyStranger27 karma

I'm 16 and I was circumcised. I come from a Christian family, and so far no Jewish relatives have been found, and my parents will not tell me why they did it. I just want to thank you for your work. It's really important and I hope that soon you won't need to do it. My question is, do you support some sort of foreskin restoration surgery, and if so, how close do you think medical science is to being able to do that well?

RonaldGoldmanPhD12 karma

We are not directly involved in foreskin restoration. Those that are tend to support nonsurgical restoration over surgery. Surgery has risks and variable results. You may contact the National Organization of Restoring Men for more information.

dougiefresh2223 karma

What your response to people when they say circumcision is healthier because it will cut down on STDs and UTIs?

I am uncut and have never had a problem with either, but this seems to be the most common reason of circumcision proponents.

RonaldGoldmanPhD34 karma

It's easy to make that claim, but when you look at the studies there are flaws and very low rates of incidence. The health "benefits" have been made for over 100 years. See our list . The focus needs to be on the harm.

Anyone considering circumcision should do their own investigation. With the Internet, this is not very difficult. In any case, do not rely on "experts." Really check it out yourself. Then you will be more informed and more confident in your decision.

ObsidianZephyr22 karma

Given all of the negative effects that entail circumcision, is there any form of law or legal action that could prevent this from happening in the first place?

RonaldGoldmanPhD28 karma

Legal action requires political support. Political support requires public education. We work on the public education.

thehumbledoula18 karma

Why do you think so many people are insistent on circumcising their boys even with all of the evidence out there? Those who are thoroughly educated on the topic don't tend to cut - why aren't parents looking for every shred of evidence to avoid having to pay a doc to take a scalpel to their child's healthy genitals?

RonaldGoldmanPhD15 karma

I've been saying for a long time that circumcision is a psychological issue disguised as a medical issue.

Research on infant responses to circumcision, trauma theory, and clinical experience support the view that circumcision is traumatic. Trauma is often repeated behaviorally, directly and indirectly. For example, extensive study shows the association between childhood abuse and subsequent abuse of one’s children when an abused child becomes a parent. Similarly, those who are circumcised are likely to support the circumcision of others. There is an iceberg of underlying emotional factors that are generally connected with fears, anxieties, pain, sexuality, and threats to self-esteem. Together they contribute to a compulsion to repeat the circumcision trauma. This compulsion to repeat the trauma can take the form of a compulsion to generate studies that are intended to show “health

YourNameIsSusan13 karma

What made you first realize circumcision was harmful?

RonaldGoldmanPhD28 karma

I attended a ritual circumcision and heard the baby screaming in pain, agony, and protest for over 20 minutes. I subsequently educated myself. The more I learned, the more it was evident that circumcision was harmful.

equilshift11 karma


My wife comes from a religion wherein circumcision is routinely performed on young boys (but not infants).

She has stated to me that she doesn't want to force her religion on our soon-to-be baby (I myself do not subscribe to any organized religion). I wouldn't have a problem raising the child in her religion, because I am pretty sure they would be a good person either way.

HOWEVER, she has stated that if we have a son (too soon to tell at this point), that she wants him circumcised. She claims this is non-negotiable. To me, this seems like such a huge violation of our (potential) son's bodily autonomy. This led to a huuuuge fight, and I almost spent the night in a hotel just to be away from her.

My question is, since this isn't a religious thing, and it isn't a health thing, what the hell justification can she have for this? Purely cultural? (My brothers had it done, so my son will too)? Or something else? If it is a cultural thing, any suggestions on how to help her see the light? Or, rather, the painful truth that circumcision would be mutilating the body of the one person on earth that we should both give up our lives protecting...

RonaldGoldmanPhD17 karma

This is why we advise young couples to talk about circumcision before committing to the relationship.

Ask if she is open to new information. If yes, guide her to some new information, like my links above.

Ask her to watch a circumcision video and notice her feelings.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

RonaldGoldmanPhD10 karma

I'm glad to have the opportunity to communicate with you. Thanks to everyone who participated! Please help in any way you can to educate others and protect future infants from circumcision.

Best wishes, Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.

JenbGood18 karma

This is an old religion based decision that is commingled with old fashion thoughts of cleanliness, etc. Its a hard set of accepted facts to get past. Any thoughts of getting to OBGyns to have them counsel new parents or expecting parents in a medical setting? I think that would be a key need to break the old habits.

RonaldGoldmanPhD16 karma

We think the pediatricians are the primary medical target group since they issue the policy that influences other doctors. Of course, the 2012 pediatric policy is quite flawed. See our analysis . Generally, medical doctors are difficult to influence, but there are some who strongly oppose circumcision. We prefer to reach prospective parents and those who may know others who may have children.

Falkner098 karma

I've had severe depression for years due to having to constantly confront the fact that my foreskin is gone. I know other men who feel the same, even some who have attempted suicide. Why have so few psychologists examined this issue? There is very little research on the psychological effects, despite the number of men who are speaking out against it.

RonaldGoldmanPhD12 karma

I'm sad that you have had depression. Unfortunately, psychologists have the same cultural biases as medical doctors and the general public. I do telephone counseling on circumcision and hear from other men who have strong feelings about it. We are doing what we can to educate others to prevent future circumcisions and their psychological effects.

DeathChess6 karma

Hey, Doc. Thanks for doing an AMA.

What is your stance on circumcision and the religious beliefs of people who do it as a matter of faith? I am against the practice and neither of my sons are circumcised.

How do you explain to people of faith your position?

Thanks again!

RonaldGoldmanPhD12 karma

The beliefs of the parents, religious or otherwise, have no effect on the experience of the child being circumcised.

I've written about Jewish circumcision in Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective. We also have a Jewish website.

A growing number of Jews do not circumcise. This fact refutes the belief among Jews that all Jews circumcise. We focus on education for those Jews who are open to our information. The traditionalists are less likely to be interested. We'll get to them later!

ken272383 karma

Of all the resource centers I thought would exist I never thought this would be one of them.

How do you explain to people what you do/tell them that Circumcision Resource Center actually exists?

RonaldGoldmanPhD9 karma

Of course, we use the usual Internet options like our website, Facebook, Twitter, and writing and lecturing. The Internet serves us well because mainstream media tends to only offer pro-circumcision news.

TornBloodyDick3 karma

Doc, if it were guaranteed that everyone who was not circumcised would tear their frenulum at some point, would you still advise against circumcision?

I had gone 25 years uncircumcised, but a month ago tore my frenulum while having sex with my girlfriend. Oh god it hurt so much. Between all the pain, and the blood - there was so much blood my mattress looked like a murder scene - I have been thinking about going to get the foreskin removed. The worst part is waking up in pain in the middle of the night in pain because you got a night stiffy and it stretched out the healing frenulum. Damnit it hurts now just thinking about it.

So anyway, is it worth me going to say good bye to my foreskin to avoid ever having to go through that again, or is it better to keep it?

RonaldGoldmanPhD15 karma

Any body part can be injured. That does not justify cutting it off when it is healthy.

I'm sorry you had your painful experience. I cannot advise you on your question except to urge you to educate yourself and get an opinion from a medical doctor who values the foreskin.