You will have to make a lot of important decisions during your pregnancy and even more afterward. One of those is circumcision. This decision is usually made even before parents take their sons home, so you probably need to decide whether to circumcise your son even before he is born.
Some families know in advance that their sons need to be circumcised. This is usually based on religious or cultural beliefs. However, some parents aren’t sure if there are any circumcision benefits. This is the reason why choosing the right option is not always so easy. It is important to consult with a doctor on the pros and cons of circumcision before you make a decision.
As you probably already know, the glans on the boy’s penis is covered in foreskin. This part of the foreskin is surgically removed during the circumcision procedure. This results in exposing the glans of the penis permanently.
About 55%-65% of all boys are circumcised right after birth in the United States each year. However, this rate is usually varying by region – the north-central region has the highest rates and the western states the lowest). This procedure is spread in the US, Africa, Canada, and the Middle East. Other parts of the world such as Europe, Central America, South America, and Asia usually don’t circumcise their children.
The reasons why parents circumcise their children are usually social or cultural reasons, hygiene concerns, and religious beliefs. Families in which most men are circumcised will usually want their children to be circumcised too without being concerned about the pros and cons of circumcision.
The procedure itself is usually performed within the first 48 hours of the birth, or during the first 10 days of life. It’s usually done in the hospital, but some people want to circumcise their boys at home due to the ritual circumcisions that might be a thing in the family.
Your family doctor, pediatrician, or obstetrician will be the one who does the circumcision if you decide to circumcise your son at the hospital. As mentioned above, this is done before you bring your newborn home. Your doctor will most certainly inform you about the pros and cons of circumcision so you know what you’re dealing with. Performing this surgical procedure after the newborn period is more complex and will usually require general anesthesia.
Doctors will sometimes delay the circumcision or even decide not to do it at all. Some babies with special medical concerns and those who are born prematurely usually won’t be circumcised right after birth. Also, boys born with physical abnormalities of the penis won’t be circumcised. This is mainly because the foreskin of those boys may be used later when the surgical correction is done.
The Pros and Cons
As with everything in life, there are certain circumcision benefits, but also certain risks. The biggest plus about the procedure is that infants who are circumcised are much less likely to develop UTIs (urinary tract infections) during their first year of life. It’s proven that uncircumcised boys are about 10 times more likely to develop a UTI than those who go through the procedure. However, only about 1% of boys are affected by UTIs, so you need to ask to decide if it is worth doing the circumcision.
Another reason for circumcision is penile cancer. But, same as with the UTIs, this disease is extremely rare in both uncircumcised and circumcised males. Some doctors suggest that circumcising your child may also decrease the chances of contracting STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) in heterosexual males.
Uncircumcised boys are more likely to develop infections, irritation, inflammation, and other penile problems. This is mainly because cleaning a circumcised penis is extremely easy. However, uncircumcised boys usually learn how to clean themselves under the foreskin when they are old enough.
Some doctors suggest that circumcision might decrease sexual pleasure later in life. It’s believed that this is true because the tip of the penis, which is exposed, will be less sensitive to touch. However, there is no formal evidence proving this theory.
There are certain pros and cons of circumcision and you have to consider them all – as you would with any other surgical procedure. Circumcision of a newborn is usually not followed up by any complications. Only 0.2% to 2% of newborns have some complications after the procedure. However, even these complications are not huge since they usually occur as local infections or minor bleeding. Both of these conditions can be treated easily at the hospital, so there’s not much to worry about. Some people consider circumcision benefits to be much more important than risks. However, you need to think thoroughly when deciding whether to circumcise your boy – mainly because you can’t undo the procedure.
The Surgical Procedure
You have to know that the procedure itself might be painful for the baby – this is one of the reasons why some parents don’t want their child to be circumcised. Pain relief was not provided for babies in the past. The American Academy of Pediatrics’ studies is suggesting that all babies undergoing circumcision should be getting anesthesia. Doctors are using it usually nowadays. However, this is a fairly new practice so you will have to ask your doctors if your son is going to receive any pain relief.
Doctors usually use one of these two local anesthetics:
- An injectable anesthetic – it takes effect fast and usually lasts for a long period
- A tropical cream – it is put on the baby’s penis and will usually take about 30-40 minutes to take effect
Also, your doctor might suggest that giving acetaminophen is the best solution. Doing this will make your baby more comfortable during the circumcision, but also after it. Another way to reduce some discomfort is to swaddle your baby and give it a pacifier that you dipped in sugar water previously.
Treatment After Circumcision
It is very important to keep the area as clean as possible after circumcision. Do not use diaper wipes, instead just clean the area gently with warm water. You can use soap water if needed.
You need to apply a dressing if there’s already one of the incision. Do this whenever you change a diaper for the first couple of days. Once you don’t need to use the dressing anymore keep using petroleum jelly for about 3 to 5 days more. Just put a bit of it on the front of the diaper or the penis. Doing this will help avoid sticking to the diaper and discomfort from rubbing.
Usually, it takes about a week for a penis to heal – 10 days in some cases. You will probably notice that the tip is a bit red and swollen. Also, you can notice a bit of blood when changing diapers. A yellow discharge is also a common condition that happens after a couple of days after surgery. However, this is normal and you shouldn’t be worried.
You have to contact your doctor as soon as you notice any of these signs:
- Your baby can’t urinate properly after 12 hours after the surgery
- Increasing redness
- Persistent blood on the diaper or excessive bleeding
- Signs of infection such as worsening discharge or swelling
All of these signs might cause your baby some problems, but they will be goon as soon as you visit your doctor. The problems are easily treated and there is no reason to worry.
As mentioned above it takes a very short amount of time to recover from the circumcision. It usually takes about 7-10 days for infants to heal. Adults may react to the surgery differently and some of the adult males may end up healing even for a month. However, the surgery itself is not dangerous and is very basic.
You can care for your baby after surgery by simply following a few rules mentioned above. It’s nothing complicated and your child will be fine in no time! Keep an eye for infections and swellings and report them to your doctor if there’s any. Anyway, these are rare and you should just be focused on circumcision benefits.
Baby Planet Overview
Circumcision is a common procedure and more than 50% of newborns in the United States are circumcised each year. Doctors suggest that there are a few benefits and very little risk, so you can give that a thought. However, you need to think thoroughly when deciding whether to circumcise your newborn since you won’t be able to undo it later in life.
The procedure itself is pretty basic and is done every single day on thousands of children. Circumcision benefits like lowering the risk of STDs and UTIs are enough for a lot of parents. The treatment after the surgery is straightforward so you won’t be having trouble with that either. Also, your son will recover from the surgery in no time – so make sure you are there to make him comfortable!
- Circumcision: pros and cons , ncbi.nlm.nih.gov