for callum

By Sonia Fetherling, Pregnancy Outreach Director, Your Whole Baby
Written the night before her son’s corrective surgery for meatal stenosis, a circumcision complication.


“Meatal Stenosis.”

What’s that? Does your son have it? Do you know what it is?

I didn't know what it was, six years ago. I'd never heard of it until I started learning about the harms of infant circumcision — far too late, I might add, to protect my son.

Meatal stenosis is a urethral stricture disease caused by circumcision. Because its protective foreskin has been removed, the urinary meatus (pee hole) at the tip of the glans (head) of a circumcised penis can develop inflammation and scar tissue and become abnormally narrow. According to MedlinePlus.gov, issues that can result from this narrowing include:

  • Abnormal strength and direction of urine stream

  • Bed wetting

  • Bleeding (hematuria) at end of urination

  • Discomfort with urination or straining with urination

  • Incontinence (day or night)

  • Visible narrow opening in boys [1]

So, part of the reason a lot of guys make a mess in the bathroom . . . meatal stenosis! It can also lead to increased risk of UTIs. [2]

Recent research has found that circumcised males are 16-26 times more likely than intact males to develop meatal stenosis, and circumcision may be responsible for near 80 percent of all urethral stricture disease cases like meatal stenosis in boys under 10 years of age in the United States. [3,4] Researchers have suggested that all circumcised boys be monitored for meatal stenosis. [5]

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I learned about meatal stenosis because I volunteer with Your Whole Baby, and we hear from far too many families dealing with all sorts of circumcision complications. Oddly, my son didn't present with typical symptoms, so I wasn't sure that’s what he was dealing with at first. It was only my instinct and knowledge that prevented him from experiencing further harm. The pediatric urologist told us that we were lucky I noticed because my son’s meatal stenosis is severe and could have led to bladder and kidney damage if left untreated. This particular urologist shared that he has been in practice for nearly 20 years and typically performs 10 or more corrective surgeries for meatal stenosis per week. He has never had to perform this corrective surgery on an intact child.

Would you have been able to detect meatal stenosis in your son? Do you know what the symptoms are? It concerns me greatly just how many kids are NOT being diagnosed because circumcision complications are rarely explained or recognized, and are frequently swept under the rug.

Tomorrow my son has to have surgery. A surgery he should never have needed, CAUSED because of the vicious amputation he should NEVER have had to suffer within a day or two of his life. Circumcision.

I will ALWAYS speak out to protect those that can be spared the agony he continues to endure because a father wanted the same for his son. His father was a victim, too. The same old story. . . .

I will ALWAYS speak out to help STOP this scourge in America.

I will ALWAYS speak out to protect babies that can't speak or scream, “NO!”

I am tired of seeing babies suffer, endure years of agony and even die. I'm so tired of it. Tired of seeing MY baby suffer. It makes me nauseous. For the last six years, I have regretted not fighting harder for him at birth, and to make it up to him, I will fight until my last breath.

Informed consent? They didn't mention a single one of the many complications to us, including meatal stenosis, when we signed the consent form for our son’s circumcision. That is NOT informed consent. That's deceit.

Were you told?


Reference List

[1] A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. (2017, January 30.) Meatal Stenosis. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001599.htm

[2] Meatal stenosis. (2015, April). Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Retrieved from https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/m/meatal-stenosis

[3] Frisch, M., & Simonsen, J. (2016, November). Cultural background, non-therapeutic circumcision and the risk of meatal stenosis and other urethral stricture disease: Two nationwide register-based cohort studies in Denmark 1977–2013. The Surgeon, Journal of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Ireland. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.surge.2016.11.002[4] Joudia, M., Fathib, M., & Hiradfara, M. (2011, October). Incidence of asymptomatic meatal stenosis in children following neonatal circumcision. Journal of Pediatric Urology, 7(5): 526-528. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpurol.2010.08.005[5] Hoffman, T. (2016, December 30). Male circumcision greatly increases risk of urinary tract problems. ScienceNordic. Retrieved from http://sciencenordic.com/male-circumcision-greatly-increases-risk-urinary-tract-problems