The ABC’s of Circumcision
Author: Jeannie Fleming-Gifford
If a little boy is in your future, chances are you will hear the question, "Will you have him circumcised?" In addition to understanding both the pros and cons of this procedure, you will want to consider your family's personal preferences, as well as any cultural or religious views regarding this.
Confused already? Here is some information to help you sort through all of the above.
As a result of a circumcision, the foreskin (the skin that covers the penis - also called the prepuce) is removed. This is most often done within the first or second day of a baby's birth. An anesthetic can be used to numb the area, and generally the procedure is completed within 5 to 10 minutes. Health risks are relatively low, especially when performed on a newborn. Risk factors increase to babies over 2 months of age, as well as to grown men. The most common complications include bleeding and/or infection in this area.
Why do this?
There has been much debate as to the value of having a circumcision performed. The pros of having this procedure include:
- Lowers the risk of urinary tract infections, especially in infants
- Lowers the risk of penile cancers in adult men (however, it should also be noted that this type of cancer is typically rare)
- May help reduce infection and/or swelling to penis
- May also reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases
With all of the above information on the benefits, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has still maintained a position that there are not enough benefits to warrant this procedure being done, as it is not "medically necessary."
Even with the AAP's official statement, circumcision remains a common procedure that many parents elect to have done.
If you do decide to circumcise your baby, what should you expect?
- Your baby may experience mild irritation to this area. Most often a petroleum product, such as Vaseline, will minimize this irritation.
- You will need to carefully monitor this area by; cleaning it with water each day and following each diaper change.
- You may see some swelling in this area that will subside after approximately one week.
Of course, if you have any concerns regarding this procedure, use your resources such as your pediatrician or family doctor.