Circumcision: Medical Pros and Cons

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What is balanoposthitis?

Balanitis is inflammation of the glans, while posthitis is inflammation of the foreskin. Balanitis and posthitis generally occur together as balanoposthitis: inflammation of both the glans and foreskin of the penis.

What if an uncircumcised boy has phimosis, paraphimosis, or balanoposthitis?

Boys who are not circumcised as newborns may later have circumcision for the treatment of phimosis, paraphimosis, or balanoposthitis. When done after the newborn period, circumcision is considerably more complicated.

What is meatitis?

Meatitis is inflammation of the opening (the meatus) of the penis. This opening is formally called the external urethral meatus.

What is the relationship between circumcision and meatitis?

Meatitis is more common in boys who have been circumcised. This stands to reason since, in circumcised boys the urethral meatus is more exposed and likely to be chafed or irritated than in boys who were not circumcised. There is no evidence that meatitis leads to narrowing (stenosis) of the urethral meatus or to other serious problems.

Is it easier to care for the circumcised penis or uncircumcised penis?

The circumcised penis is generally easier to keep clean. An uncircumcised boy should be taught to clean his penis with care. Cleaning of the penis is done by gently, not forcibly, retracting the foreskin. The foreskin should be retracted only to the point where resistance is met. Full retraction of the foreskin may not be possible until the boy is 3 years old or older.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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