What is circumcision?
A newborn baby must be stable and healthy to be circumcised, and circumcision is usually performed in the first few days of life (assuming it doesn’t happen during a religious ceremony). “Most male babies are circumcised after birth/delivery and before discharge,” explains Vanessa Elliott, M.D., of UCP of Central Pennsylvania’s Department of Urology.
To perform the circumcision, doctors place the baby on a special table to clean his penis and foreskin. A clamp is attached to the penis, and the foreskin is removed to expose the head of the penis. Finally, ointment, gauze or a plastic ring is placed on the wound to prevent it from rubbing against the diaper.
Circumcision is performed quickly. Although babies usually experience minimal pain, they may cry during the procedure and for a short time afterward, Dr. Elliott said. Local anesthesia can greatly reduce your baby’s discomfort. If you decide to have your son circumcised, talk to your child’s doctor about anesthesia options.
Circumcision is not a popular choice globally. Exact statistics on circumcision rates worldwide do not exist, but in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 30% of males were circumcised. It is most common in North Africa, West Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 58.3 percent of boys were circumcised in 2010, the most recent year for which data is available. Hospital discharge data show significant regional differences in circumcision rates. 71 percent of boys in the Midwest were circumcised in 2010, compared with 66.3 percent in the Northeast, 58.4 percent in the South, and only 40.2 percent in the West.
Mary Jones, a spokeswoman for the National Community Health Service, said: “The regional differences may be due to different rates for different ethnic groups.” . “Part of the reason for the low circumcision rate in the West may be an increase in the Hispanic birth rate. Studies have shown that Hispanics are less likely to choose circumcision than other whites or blacks.”
Overall, however, circumcision rates in the United States have been declining over the past few decades. Specifically, the CDC reports an overall decline of 10 percent from 1979 to 2010 . This may be due in part to a task force report from the American Academy of Pediatrics. 2012’s latest report acknowledges that circumcision has some medical benefits, but it does not routinely recommend the procedure. Instead, it encourages parents to make decisions based on “religious, moral and cultural beliefs”
Benefits of Infant Circumcision
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, research suggests that circumcision may have some medical benefits. Circumcised boys are at a lower risk for the following diseases:
Urinary tract infections
Circumcision —- a condition in uncircumcised men that prevents the foreskin from contracting
Disadvantages of Circumcision
Here are some reasons why parents decide not to have their children circumcised
Risks of the procedure: Like other surgeries, circumcision has some risks. Complications are rare and usually minor. The most common problems are bleeding and infection.
Penile injury: Very rarely, the foreskin may be cut too short or too long. Equally unlikely is an improper curettage of the circumcision. These complications may require a repeat circumcision or, in extreme cases, penile reconstruction.
Changes in penile sensitivity: Some people claim that circumcision may reduce sensitivity at the tip of the penis, thereby reducing sexual pleasure later in life. However, this has not been proven to be true.
Fear of pain: Some parents do not circumcise their children because they are concerned that the child may feel pain.
Protecting the tip of the penis: When the foreskin is removed, the tip of the penis may become irritated, causing the urethral opening to become too small. This can lead to urination problems and may require surgery to correct.
Should my child be circumcised?
Circumcision is an elective procedure that is usually not required by medical necessity, law or hospital policy. Talk to your partner about what is best for your child. Some parents may wish to undergo this procedure for religious, social or cultural reasons. For example, followers of Judaism and Islam have been circumcising their baby boys for centuries, but this is much less common in Northern Europe and other parts of the world. Ask yourself if it matters if your son looks like the other men in the family or his peers.
Whether or not to circumcise a newborn is an important decision. The risks may be greater if circumcision is done later in a boy’s life, so if you have any questions or concerns, talk to your doctor during your pregnancy. This will give you enough time to make an informed decision.
Infant Circumcision Care
After circumcision, the tip of the penis may look raw or yellow for 7 to 10 days. Wash your baby’s penis daily with soap and water to keep the area around the penis as clean as possible. Change diapers often to avoid infections from urine and feces. Dr. Elliott says you can also apply petroleum jelly or neosporin to the incision. “The particular doctor performing the circumcision will instruct parents to take care to avoid adhesions,” she adds.
If the doctor has already put gauze on the penis, get a new bandage every time you change his diaper. Apply petroleum jelly to the gauze to prevent adhesions. Also note that some doctors use plastic rings instead of bandages, which fall off on their own within five to eight days.