What is circumcision?
circumcision is a surgery to remove the foreskin, a
fold of skin that covers and protects the rounded tip of the penis. The
foreskin provides sensation and lubrication for the penis. In most cases,
circumcision is elective surgery, which means there isn't a medical reason for
it. If circumcision is done, it is usually done soon after birth.
In the United States, about 60 out of 100 boys are
circumcised, and about 40 out of 100 are not.2
Worldwide, the rate of circumcision is much lower.3
See a picture of
a penis before and after circumcision .
When should a baby not be circumcised?
If you do
not want your baby to be circumcised, he should not be circumcised.
Circumcision is a decision you make because you want it for your baby.
Your doctor may feel that it's not safe to circumcise your baby if the
baby is sick or weak, has a problem with his penis, has a family history of
bleeding problems, or was born early (premature) and is not yet ready to go
What can I expect after circumcision?
swelling and slight bleeding are normal after circumcision. Your baby may be
fussy and have trouble sleeping for the first few days. He may feel some pain
for a few days when he urinates. For about 2 weeks, he may feel some pain
whenever urine or stool touches the tip of the penis.
will probably start feeling better within 3 to 4 days after circumcision. Even
though he may feel better, his penis may look worse. The penis will usually
look better about 7 to 10 days after circumcision.
What are the risks of circumcision?
circumcision are not common. If they occur, they are usually short-term, such
as minor bleeding or infection. Other possible problems include pain and
irritation of the tip of the penis.
Long-term problems are even
more uncommon, but they can include damage to the opening of the
urethra, heavy bleeding, severe infection, or
Some people have concerns that circumcision can decrease
sensitivity in the penis. Some people also wonder if circumcision disrupts the
bonding that occurs between mother and son during breast-feeding. But there is
not a lot of research about these concerns.
Are there benefits to circumcision?
If your son is
healthy, circumcision most likely will not affect his health either way. There
may be some slight health benefits for circumcised males, but these must be
weighed against the risks. Most experts in the United States agree that these
possible benefits are not reason enough to choose circumcision.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend circumcision as a
routine procedure for newborn males. When making this policy, the AAP looked at
the possible benefits, risks, and costs of the procedure.1 Other major medical organizations, including the American
Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists, agree with the AAP policy.
In the first year of
urinary tract infections (UTIs) happen less often in
circumcised boys than in boys who are not circumcised. But UTIs are not common.
No studies support having circumcision done to prevent UTIs.4, 5, 6
Some studies in other countries have shown that circumcised
men are a little less likely than men who have not been circumcised to get a
sexually transmitted disease (STD), including
HIV.7, 8 But circumcision will not prevent STDs
and HIV, and it should not be done solely to prevent these problems.
What if I decide to keep my son's penis natural?
Your child was born with a natural penis and it is safe and healthy to
keep it that way if you decide to do so.
cleaning your son's natural penis, be careful not to
force the foreskin to retract. As your son gets older, teach him how to wash
and care for his penis. It's important to keep your son's penis clean whether
he has been circumcised or not.
There may be reasons later in
life when your son may need a circumcision. A boy or man may have problems
retracting the foreskin or may have swelling of the foreskin that requires
circumcision. But these problems are rare.
Circumcision is not
just done in newborns. Keep in mind that your son can decide on his own later
in life if he wants a circumcised penis.
If you need more information, see the topic