The more patients I see, the more unreal stories I hear.
Today examining a new patient,a five year old son of a Los Alamos Lab physicist and his wife (an ad agency head),both upper class from Mexico City, for mononucleosis, the father mentioned his son had some mild irritative sensation in his penis. On examination it was obvious that, although he was circumcised, there was no infectious or irritative pathology present. In the course of discussing why two highly intelligent people from Mexico had their son (and his seven year old brother as well) circumcised, they replied in amazement that the Ob-Gyns who delivered their boys (two different doctors in two hospitals in Austin, Texas) had specifically both said that (1) By state law that boys had to be circumcised, and (2) Only Ob-Gyns could perform the surgery. Unreal, horrific lies.
While on rounds at St. Vincent, a guy, a friend and patient who just turned 50, told of a new complication of his circumcision. When his allergies act up, the head of his penis gets irritated and dry, and he has to rub on Vaseline. His wife concurred. A bit strange, right in the main hallway of the hospital.
While examining a baby girl whose birth I attended last week, the mother told me of a horror story from Florida. Her friend had a non-emergency Caesarian, and while she was waking up from the anesthesia, was pressured to sign permits for a circumcision. Her husband was downstairs in the hospital cafeteria, never got to sign, and the baby was circumcised before either parent even got to see or hold the baby. When the father protested later, the physicians said it was done so the boy would look like the father and everyone else in Florida. I strongly offered a referral to David Llewellen and Co., a lawyer in Atalanta, Georgia, suing on behalf of circumcised boys against physicians and hospitals.
A Hindu physicist from India, in for an immigration exam, told me his only previous surgery had been a hernia surgery, done "through his penis" at age two. On exam, he had a poorly done circ with resultant chordee (curvature) to the left, and there was no evidence that there had ever been any kind of hernia or surgery for such. He planned on finding out from his parents what happened, and why he was lied to.
Chordee is a curvature of the penis, which is now recognized as a complication of circumcision. It probably does not exist in the intact state; at least I've never seen one in thousands of exams of intact boys and men. Dr Van Howe has recently done a study showing chordee occurs in a great majority of circumcisions, but it is usually recognized only later in life when the shaft curved to one side or the other would be noticeable.
When I was in medical school, Peyronie's disease, where the penis is curved from 'unkown' obliterative factors, was described as where "the man can pee around a tree." Now at least some of us know and recognize Peyronie's disease is probably the result of circumcision, and not some rare inherent disease of the penis.
These scenarios all happened in the last three days in my family practice. Think of all the trauma stories we could and do hear, and have ignored for years, or not heard in earlier years, because we weren't listening, or asking even the simplest questions.
Now a report from Boston University Medical Center reports a significant shrinkage in penile size seen in men who smoke.
It's late, and I've had a busy week.
Chris Fletcher M.D., Santa Fe, New Mexico
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