The Pros and Cons of Circumcision


The answer of whether to circumcise a male child used to be fairly cut and dry here in the United States. Mother’s didn’t question the ‘why’ of circumcision and if so, most doctors simply closed any argument by counseling it was just best. Over the years, parents began to demand to share in the decision of whether to have their male

During a circumcision, the foreskin is freed from the head of the penis, and the excess skin is clipped off. The procedure begins with medical staff cleaning then numbing the penis, either with a small shot of medicine or a numbing cream.

A clamp or ring is placed before the doctor removes the foreskin. A topical antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly will then be put on the area and it’s wrapped with gauze. Older boys and men may be given stronger medicine to sleep during the procedure.

As with any surgery, circumcision comes with some side effects and potential complications. If the circumcision is performed by an experienced physician in a sterile environment, the risk of complications is usually very low. Only 1 to 3 percent of circumcisions will result in minor complications such as extra bleeding or infection, which topical antibiotics can easily clear up.

Prior to the incision, all infants are given anesthesia either as a topical cream or an injection. Still, doctors say newborns do feel pain. Serious complications include the removal of too much skin or other damage to the penis. A follow-up circumcision or reconstructive surgery may be needed. To be fair, these complications are estimated to occur less than one per cent of the time.

There is also evidence that circumcision has many health benefits, including:

· Less risk of urinary tract infections
· A reduced risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men
· Protection against penile cancer and a lower risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners
· Prevention of inflammation of the glans and foreskin.
· Prevention of phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) and paraphimosis (the inability to return the foreskin to its original location)
· Circumcision also makes it easier to keep the end of the penis clean.

It can be tempting to put off making the circumcision decision until later. But the risk for complications is much greater for older boys than for infants, so it’s better to do it when your child is a baby. In some cases, though, the choice not to circumcise (or at least to wait) is a medical one. If you have a family history of bleeding disorders, consult your pediatrician before getting your son circumcised.

The bottom line is, if you want a circumcision done or not done, unless there is a medical reason, that is always the parents’ choice.

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