The Pros and Cons of Circumcision
The Pros and Cons of Circumcision
If you are pregnant with a baby boy, you’ll probably be asked whether or not you’d like your little son to be circumcised. For some families, it’s an easy decision to make due to cultural or religious beliefs. For others, weighing the pros and cons of the procedure can help in arriving at a decision, as circumcision is neither detrimental or beneficial for men’s health.
What, how, and when
Boys are born with a foreskin covering the tip, or glans, of the penis. This foreskin is removed during circumcision. The procedure can take place in the hospital or birthing suite before you and the baby are discharged or in the pediatrician’s office 2-3 weeks after birth. The baby is usually given local anesthetic to numb the penis. His doctor will separate the foreskin from the glans with a clamp or other device, then use a surgical blade to remove the foreskin. It only takes 5-20 minutes to complete a circumcision, and 7-10 days for the penis to heal afterwards. Caring for a newly circumcised baby primarily consists of using water to clean the area instead of soap or baby wipes, then covering the tender glans with petroleum jelly to keep the wound lubricated so it won’t stick to the diaper. It’s important to watch for any signs of infection or excessive bleeding.
Pros of circumcision
The AAP states that a circumcision is not medically necessary so it is not recommended as routine practice. However, there are some clear benefits to circumcision that are most apparent in a male’s early and late years. A circumcision:
- Prevents urinary tract infections (UTI) – Though UTI’s only affect 1% of babies under 12 months of age, uncircumcised infants get UTI’s ten times more often than circumcised baby boys.
- Makes it easier to keep the penis clean
- Prevents penile cancer as adults
- Offers another line of defense against STDs – Studies show that circumcision for heterosexual men offers germs less chance to penetrate the skin, creating better protection against HSV, HPV, and HIV. Because there is less chance for HPV – which causes cervical cancer in women – women having sexual intercourse exclusively with one circumcised man are half as likely to contract cervical cancer.
- Reduces the rate of penile inflammation, infection, and irritation
Cons of circumcision
Because circumcision is a surgical procedure, there is a chance of complication. The cons to circumcision include:
- Complications – Of the 2% of boys who undergo circumcision, the most common complications include infection and bleeding. Sometimes removing an inadequate amount of foreskin during the first circumcision necessitates a circumcision revision surgery. Serious complications rarely occur but can lead to injury to the penis, tissue death, painful urination, or painful erections.
- Possible desensitization during sexual intercourse, although findings on this theory are inconclusive.
- Difficulty keeping good hygiene – Young boys often don’t practice good hygiene during childhood, leading to infection.
- Pain – Circumcision is painful, and this is why most doctors recommend local anesthetics during the procedure.
Some cultures around the world don’t commonly circumcise while others do. You may feel that circumcision should be your son’s choice, but note that getting circumcised as an adult increases the risks of complications. When attempting to make a decision about circumcising your baby son, do plenty of research and speak with the baby’s doctor about the best option for your family. If you have a birth plan, record your decision about circumcision. Getting a circumcision is a private decision and no one should push you one way or the other.
How did you reach a conclusion whether or not to circumcise your son? Share in the comments below!