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Circumcision - What to Think About

Your values

As a parent, you will decide whether you want to keep your son's penis natural or want him to be circumcised. This decision often is a personal one based on your own values and religious or cultural beliefs.

It's a good idea to think about your decision before your baby is born. If you wait, the excitement and fatigue of the delivery can affect your ability to carefully consider the benefits and risks of each choice.

Circumcision: Should I Keep My Son's Penis Natural?

Your son's values

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.

Circumcision and STIs

Some studies have shown that circumcised men are a little less likely than men who have not been circumcised to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI), including HIV.

Any man, especially if he has high-risk sex, can get STIs or HIV. The best way to prevent STIs is to teach people about risk factors and the importance of avoiding high-risk sex.

Other concerns

Some people have concerns that circumcision can decrease sensation 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.

Keeping your son's penis clean may help prevent infection and other problems. It's important to keep your son's penis clean whether he has been circumcised or not. When cleaning a natural (uncircumcised) penis, be careful not to force the foreskin to retract.

If you decide that you would like to have your baby circumcised, talk with your doctor about concerns you may have about pain and your preferences for anesthesia. Ask your doctor about giving your baby acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for pain relief after surgery.

When is circumcision not done?

Your doctor may not do circumcision if your baby has a medical condition that makes him more likely to have problems from the surgery, such as:

  • Your baby is sick or unstable (such as not eating well, having trouble passing urine or stool, or having a hard time maintaining his body temperature).
  • Your baby has an abnormality of the penis, such as having the opening of the urethra on the side of the penis shaft instead of on the tip of his penis (hypospadias or epispadias). Your baby may need to have an intact foreskin so that this problem can be fixed with surgery when he is older.
  • Your baby has swelling or protrusion of the spinal cord (myelomeningocele or spina bifida).
  • Your baby has an abnormal opening of the rectum (anus).
  • Your baby has a family history of bleeding problems.
  • Your baby was born early and is not yet able to go home.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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