Circumcision The Medical Pros and Cons (cont.)

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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.

What is the relationship between circumcision and urinary tract infections?

The incidence of urinary tract infections in male infants appears to be lower when circumcision is done in the newborn period. It was first reported in 1982 that urinary tract infections (UTIs) are more common among infant males than they are in infant females (this switches later on in life). In this study, it was revealed that about 95% of the infected infant boys had not been circumcised. This risk is especially significant in infants less than 1 year of age. Many studies have shown that uncircumcised infants have a tenfold increased risk of developing a UTI when compared to circumcised infants.

What might this relationship between circumcision and urinary tract infections mean?

Circumcision prevents the growth of bacteria under the foreskin and this, in turn, protects male infants against urinary tract infection. The high incidence of urinary tract infections in uncircumcised boys has also been found to be accompanied by an increased incidence of other significant infections such as bacteremia (bacterial infection of the bloodstream) and meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain). The protective effect of circumcision may thus extend to a number of infectious diseases.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/5/2012