Is circumcision good or bad?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that there is insufficient scientific evidence to justify circumcision in young boys. Many new parents are a little skeptical about whether to have their newborn son circumcised. This is often a sensitive debate in some cultures. It has been performed for 6,000 years in a religious context and is currently the most common operation performed on men in the United States, but it remains controversial.
In 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) (UNAIDS) jointly recommended circumcision in men for protection against HIV infection.
In a 2012 report, AAP stated that the benefits of circumcision, such as the prevention of urinary infections that can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss, outweigh the risks. It states that any health benefits of circumcision are not great enough to recommend it as a routine procedure for all newborn boys.
Other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts and penile cancer, are still questionable. It does not represent convincing reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves.
Your doctor or pediatrician may inform you about the health benefits and risks of circumcision in newborns without bias. Sometimes, your doctor may advise you not to circumcise your newborn due to certain medical conditions such as hypospadias (urinary opening is at the wrong place) and prematurity (until the baby becomes healthy enough).
Circumcision before the age of consent is not a very appropriate health-promotion strategy when there are more effective and less ethically problematic alternatives. However, circumcision in older men shows a higher risk of complications.
Moreover, it is important for both circumcised and uncircumcised men to maintain good genital hygiene and for uncircumcised men to regularly and gently wash the area under their foreskin to prevent possible infections. Using condoms during sex can help both circumcised and uncircumcised men to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
Ultimately parents should make a decision on whether circumcision is in the best interest of their son. The decision should be totally personal and they should weigh medical information in the context of their religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs.
What does circumcision mean?
At birth, boys are born with a hood of skin (foreskin/prepuce) that covers the tip of the penis (glans). In circumcision, this foreskin is surgically removed, exposing the tip of the penis.
Usually, circumcision is performed by doctors in the first few days of life. For circumcision, the infant must be stable and healthy. It may be riskier if done later in life.
Is circumcision painful?
Yes, circumcision is painful. However, some effective and safe pain relievers can make it tolerable. American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) has recommended some pain relievers to be used to reduce pain from circumcision.
Your doctor may use local anesthetics during the operation to make it less painful for the baby
- A topical cream that is applied on the penis and left for at least 20 to 40 minutes before starting the procedure.
- An anesthetic injection that is immediately effective and works for a slightly longer period.
- Sometimes, your doctor may give acetaminophen in addition to anesthesia, which helps to lessen the discomfort during and several hours after the procedure.
What are the complications?
- A botched circumcision
See your pediatrician if
- Your baby does not urinate normally within six to eight hours after the procedure.
- Bleeding does not stop.
- There is worsening of redness around the tip of the penis after three to five days.
- There is a yellowish discharge that lasts more than a week.
Textbook of Pediatric Care
Global Health: Science and Practice
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CircumcisionCircumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin of the penis. Circumcision is generally a safe surgical procedure.
How Is Circumcision Done?Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis, is usually performed with local anesthesia in newborns, but older children, adolescents and adults may require sedation.
Is It Better to Not Be Circumcised?Circumcision is the removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis. There is no clear answer as to whether it is better to not be circumcised as circumcision has medical, ethical, and cultural concerns.
STDs in MenSymptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in men include painful urination, bumps or sores on the penis, and penile discharge and itching. Learn about the most common STDs in men.
What Are the Benefits and Risks of Circumcision?Overall, circumcision is relatively healthy and comes with several sexual and reproductive health benefits.
What Is the Foreskin Good For?The foreskin has several roles in penis health: protects the penis head, maintains sensation, reduces friction, and contributes to immune system function.
What Triggers Balanitis and How Long Does It Last?Balanitis is a condition where the glans penis, or head of the penis, becomes inflamed. Learn the signs of balanitis, its causes, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it. Learn about balanitis and how circumcision can prevent it.