Circumcision, Intactavism and Intactavists - What does it all mean?

Posted by NOVOGLAN

5th Mar 2014

Many experts believe that bronze aged humans noticed the problem of phimosis, and the risk of infection and other side effects, and decided that the best way to manage the problems was through removal of the foreskin. It is postulated that through a process of trial and error they determined that the best time to undertake circumcision was during the first month or so of life. This was most likely because it was deemed far more simpler to do at that age and also, if the baby died - then few resources had been utilised and the loss would not be as catastrophic compared to loosing a older male.

Ancient humans developed spiritual and ritualistic processes to reinforce behaviours and actions that were preferred to ensure the best outcome for the tribe or village. Circumcision became ritualised and also spiritualist. Some humans decided to make circumcision and mandatory part of progression to adulthood. Whilst others, decided to make it a mandatory process and used the fear of punishment from God to get compliance. 

Travelling forward in time to 2014, modern medicine and ethical considerations have made routine circumcision an anachronistic and,  many believe, an unethical and unnecessary intervention in a young male babies life. Enter the intactavists who practice intactavism. That is, a group of medical doctors who actively oppose the routine non medically indicated circumcision of young boys. This group of Doctors believe that the practice is barbaric and severely impinges on the human rights of the young child. They assert that the foreskin is a highly specialised and sensitive part of the male genital anatomy and as such the so called mass prophylactic removal harms more individuals than it "may" protect. 

As a general rule, intactavists view non-medically indicated circumcision to be unethical for several reasons. Firstly, the  child does not have the capacity to give consent and their is no active reason to perform the surgery. Secondly, Surgery should only be performed when other more conservative treatment have failed or are very likely to fail and the benefits outweigh the risks. When intactavists assert their opinions they are said to engage in intactavism. Intactavism, could be described as either a political  or social force, however, many in the medical profession simply believe they are acting in accordance with their ethical principles to do no harm. 

We have discussed the role of circumcision with many Urologists and there appears to be  a growing  consensus that defending prophylactic circumcision in babies is difficult to justify on medico ethical grounds. However, most still believe that if a parent insists on the operation, then they will oblige. Those that actively refuse to offer the procedure on ethical grounds can be considered intactavists, whether or not they agree with the label. 

There is no doubt that in a modern secular society that practices medicine based on ethical principles, the role of infant circumcision is numbered. The rise in foreskin restoration industry and the availability of products such as Novoglan Gentle Foreskin stretcher to treat a tight foresin - phimosis -  show that humans have finally decided that they want their foreskins intact and that surgery should be a last resort.