Dr. Schmidt in Houston: What is circumcision? What are the pros & cons?

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical procedure to remove the hood of skin (foreskin) on the head (glans).

When is circumcision performed?

It is generally performed within the first ten days after birth if the baby is healthy. Circumcision can be performed after the newborn period, but recovery time and complications increase with age.

Is circumcision required?

It is the parents’ choice to have their infant son circumcised. Circumcision is an elective procedure. You can call your insurance provider to find out if circumcision is covered.

How common is circumcision?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the circumcision rate in the United States is between 76 and 92 percent. In Western European countries, less than 20% are circumcised. In 2010, WHO estimated that 30% of adult males (15 years of age or older) worldwide.

Why do some parents choose circumcision?

Parents choose circumcision for a variety of reasons, including religious rituals, tradition, personal preference, personal hygiene or preventative health care.

What are the benefits of circumcision?

  • Decreased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) & some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) for men
  • Protection against penile cancer
  • Reduced risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners
  • Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) & balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin)
  • Prevention of phimosis (inability to retract foreskin) & paraphimosis (inability to return the foreskin to its original location)
  • Increased ease of keeping the penis clean

The American Academy of Pediatrics found the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risk. However, they feel the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal circumcision for all male newborns.

What are the risks of circumcision?

All surgical procedures carry some risk, but the risk is low.

  • Pain, though anesthetics can be used to reduce pain
  • Risk of bleeding & infection at the site of circumcision
  • Irritation of the glans (head) & meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis)
  • Risk of injury to the penis

How is circumcision performed?

Circumcision is a quick procedure and only takes a few minutes. Anesthetic is recommended for pain relief.

  • Penis and foreskin are thoroughly cleaned
  • Special clamp is attached to the penis
  • Foreskin is removed
  • Bandage and petroleum jelly are applied to protect it from rubbing against diaper

What should I expect after circumcision?

The bandage normally falls off the next time the baby urinates. Some doctors recommend keeping a clean bandage on until the penis is completely healed; others recommend keeping it covered for 48 hours; others recommend leaving it off. Generally, the skin will heal in 7-10 days. It is normal for the tip of the penis to be red. There may also be a small amount of yellow fluid.

How do I keep the circumcision site clean?

It is important to change the diaper frequently, so urine and stool do not cause infection. Use mild soap and water to clean off any urine or stool. Your doctor may recommend reapplying petroleum jelly to prevent friction.

When should I contact a doctor?

  • Baby doesn’t pee within 6-8 hours after circumcision
  • Bleeding doesn’t stop
  • Redness gets worse after a few days
  • Swelling, crusted yellow sores or discharge

How do I clean an uncircumcised penis?

You should completely clean the outside of the penis with mild soap and warm water. Do not attempt to pull the foreskin of the penis back. Up until 3-5 years of age, the head of the penis is fused to the foreskin. If the foreskin is forced back, it can cause pain and/or bleeding. Your doctor will let you know when the foreskin and head has separated, which usually occurs at 3-5 years of age. It is imperative to teach the child to clean his penis and foreskin. The foreskin should be pulled back and washed with soap and warm water then pushed back into place.

 

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