Ask the Experts: Circumcision & Regret

Ask the Experts Answer by Marilyn Milos

Question: How do I live with the deep regret of having our son circumcised? He is almost 10-months-old now, and I am still struggling with this. Sadly, I did not find out the facts until it was too late.

Answer: Of all the questions I'm asked, this one is the most difficult for me to answer because I have three circumcised sons. I believed the doctor who told me circumcision didn't hurt, only took a minute, and would protect my babies from terrible things that would befall them if they weren't circumcised. Many years later, as a nursing student, I witnessed a circumcision, which literally changed the course of my life. Since that day in May 1979, I've done everything I can to end this outdated, harmful practice that has such a profound effect on us all.

Some say I do this work because I feel guilty, but guilt is what you feel after you knowingly do something wrong. That's not it. Mothers consent to circumcision out of the best intentions and the worst kind of ignorance. Circumcision is a cultural practice; most doctors do not provide adequate information to give an informed consent, and no one talks about it, so we don't even know enough to ask the right questions. When we find out what happened to our precious baby behind closed doors, most mothers feel deep regret and profound sorrow.

We can't take back our grievous mistake, but we can do everything in our power to protect our sons in the future. We can apologize to our sons and end the wounding in our families. When parents become informed, they will spare future sons from the pain and trauma of circumcision. Tell your story to anyone and everyone who will listen. I will be happy to send you a packet of information that you can copy and give to expectant parents to help save other babies from unnecessary surgery and their mothers from the grief we feel. This will help to transform your pain! I'll also be happy to send you guidelines for becoming a National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers center, if you'd like to become a part of the Genital Integrity movement.

Like all mothers, you did the best you could with the information you had at the time. So, be kind to yourself. You didn't know. Now you do. My sons have all forgiven me, and yours will, too.


  1. As a new Doula I find circumcision the most difficult discussion to have. My limited experience has seen two fathers insist on this practice so that their boy's "look like them". My personal belief and judgement needs to be set aside but I feel strongly that I am failing these parents by not taking a strong stand against this procedure. I have saved video footage of a circumcision being performed ~ one of the most painful things regarding childbearing that I have witnessed ~ so that I might share it with these new families. I am certain that most would not go ahead if they only new what was being done to their child. I do not yet have the skills to negotiate this conversation.

  2. I too regret having my son circumcised and the pain is causing me to tear up as i type this. he is 2 years old and a happy, healthy baby, but the fact that he was circumcised will forever cause me incredible guilt and sadness which rips my heart apart. If I could go back and protect my baby from that terrible mutilation, i would...

    1. I know the feeling. My boy is A year and 7 months now and after finding this site, I regret ever having it done. I should have ran when I saw the tools in the room. when I saw the thing they would strap him into. The fact that I was told I would have to leave for it to be done.

      The fact that after words he cried and was so attached to me for me to protect him when I am the one that agreed to have it done.

      I absolutely wish I could go back and fix it. Fix the fact that he was maimed and caused pain and caused to cry and bleed.

      I just try to take to heart that I did this because I was uninformed and I was doing what I was informed as best for my son.

  3. My son is 3 and I am still upset every day. How can I get over the shame and guilt of what i have done?

  4. It's hard for families, too. I didn't circumcise my son, but my parents circumcised my brother when he was born. Now that I've learned the truth about circumcision, I don't know how to deal with that or how or whether to talk to them about it. It's painful.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I have a nine month old that was circumcised. I am ashamed for not standing up more for leaving him intact. I'm guilty for allowing my son to go through that. I'm full of regret and pain. I know he's happy and healthy. But I just don't know how to heal.

  6. my son was cicumcised in a religious ceremony (a Bris). It was horrific to watch and was botched. I will forever regret our decision. His foreskin is fortunately still intact but he will have a scar forever. At the Urologist after, we were told that many times baby boys come in with the entire tip of the penis cut off.

  7. my son is 3.5 and everytime i change his diaper or bathe him i am wracked with regret and disgust of myslef....I am his mother, his number one protector and I signed a piece of paper to have a part of his body cut off without him having anesthetic.....when I re read this I think....that can't be me, I couldn't have made such a huge, disgusting, ignorant choice just because my husband wanted him to look like him....I am supposed to protect him from all harm...not cause him harm for silly, vain reasons...I guess when he is older one day I can apologize and beg him not to do it to my future grandchildren....but I will never forgive myself

  8. Thank you Dr. Momma. Somehow hearing that you know the pain we are feeling gives me hope that we will move past it.

    The only solace that I can take from that awful, horrible, cowardly "decision" I made four and a half years ago is that it was the last decision I let others make on behalf of my sons mother.

    From the moment Owen was placed in my arms after the mutilation, he rarely left. I would not let him go. He nursed whenever he wanted (which really was around the clock), was held for 22+ hours a day, and slept in bed with us. And so my life changed too. For this, I thank God every single day.

    I have learned how uninformed new parents are, and how tragically difficult it makes sharing a life with your new baby. It is unjust and steals that precious time from families.



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