Friday, November 22, 2013
Avoiding Forced Retraction
As parents, we should be able to trust medical professionals with our children even if no one else. Yet far too often intact boys are forcibly retracted by the very professionals parents are counting on to take care of them. The outdated ideas of intact care are hurting boys all over the country. We have to reverse the epidemic of forced retraction with education and awareness. It's not that I believe doctors, nurses and other caregivers are doing this maliciously. It's just that intent does not matter- it is harmful no matter the good intentions.
On Wednesday my son had a minor surgery. With forced retraction so widespread, my husband and I were concerned with protecting our son from harm. We discussed this with all of his nurses, showed them what I had written on his diapers and asked that they not change his diaper at all anyway. The first time we brought up the subject of no retraction we were brushed off "I've changed plenty of diapers". So we repeated ourselves several times until it was very clear this was something we would NOT let go. I'm happy to say our son came back to us not only with the surgery having gone well but also unharmed- he was still in the diaper I'd put him in and no signs of harm.
The reason I felt the need to mark his diapers, talk to the staff AND still just ask them not to change his diapers? Because it has happened that all of those measures have been ignored and since the staff showed no understanding of what I explained, I wasn't trusting them to follow my instructions on this. The staff was great otherwise but as all of them just kind of stared when I explained this.... well, not exactly confidence-inspiring in this area.
EVERYONE who will be caring for your son needs to know to only clean what is seen and that retraction in a young child is not just unneeded but actually damaging. Beyond being painful and the possibility of infections, forced retraction can lead to problems such as adhesions. The reason intact boys of past generations were thought to be more prone to infections? Improper care- forced retraction.
All parents and caregivers need to know that retraction is a sexual function. There is no need for it besides that and no need for it to be possible before puberty. Foreskin should never be retracted by anyone other than the child it belongs to and the age of natural separation ranges from about 3 years old until puberty.
Also,it's important to make sure that everyone understands that even "just a little" retraction can be both painful and harmful. Our own pediatrician retracted my son's foreskin "just a little" when he was an infant. It was enough for me to see the glans before I could stop her. Yet just this week when we brought him to have a physical done to get clearance for surgery, I had a wonderful conversation with her about how foreskin is not meant to be retracted in children and that it is often not possible naturally before puberty. I'm not sure if she's changed her thoughts on "just a little" retraction but I've made mine very clear for sure. Thankfully all LM suffered through after it was irritation but it could have been much worse. Since then I have always reminded her NO retraction should be done.
Also, Saving Our Sons has “intact, do not retract” stickers and oversized “proper intact care” cards that would be perfect in situations like this along with new babysitters, daycares, etc. I was definitely wishing I'd had the proper intact cards to give to the nurses and the stickers to put on his diapers. Also, I've heard from other moms that they put the stickers on wipe cases, diaper bags and other belongings- anything that will be seen before a diaper change or bath by a caregiver.
To learn more-