Circumcision

If you have a son, making the decision to circumcise him can be difficult. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “…the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision. The final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.”. Valley Women’s Health supports your decision whether or not to circumcise your baby. Below is information from The American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecologists that can help you in making your decision.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is a surgical removal of the layer of skin, called foreskin, that covers the glans (head) of the penis.

When is circumcision performed?

Circumcision on infants may be performed before or after the mother and baby leave the hospital. If the baby has a medical condition, circumcision may be postponed. Circumcision can also be performed on older children or adults, however, recovery may take longer and risk of complications also are increased.

Are there any health benefits associated with circumcision?

Circumcised infants appear to have less risk of urinary tract infections than uncircumcised infants, though the risk of urinary tract infection in both groups is low. It may help prevent cancer of the penis, a rare condition. Some research suggests that circumcision may decrease the risk of a man getting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from an infected female partner. It is possible that circumcision may decrease the risk of passing HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases from an infected man to a female partner. At the present time, there is not enough information to recommend routine newborn circumcision for health reasons.

Are there any risks associated with circumcision?

Possible complications include bleeding, infection, and scarring. In rare cases, too much of the foreskin or not enough foreskin is removed. More surgery sometimes is needed to correct these problems.

Does circumcision hurt?

Circumcision takes only a few minutes. During the procedure, the baby is placed on a special table and gently restrained. A local anesthetic via a small injection at the base of the penis is used to numb the surgical site.

How do I care for my son after he is circumcised?

If your baby boy has been circumcised, a bandage with petroleum jelly may be placed over the head of the penis after surgery. The bandage typically falls off the next time the baby urinates. Petroleum jelly should be applied to the penis until it is healed to prevent the raw skin from sticking to the inside of your baby’s diaper. In most cases, the skin will heal in 7–10 days.

You may notice that the tip of the penis is red and there may be a small amount of yellow fluid. This is normal. Use a mild soap and water to clean off any stool that gets on the penis. Change diapers often so that urine and stool do not cause infection.

Signs of infection include redness that does not go away, swelling, or fluid that looks cloudy and forms a crust. Call your baby’s doctor if you see the baby does not urinate normally within 6 to 8 hours of circumcision, the penis continues to bleed, or there is redness around the top of the penis that does not appear to be getting better or worsens.

If I decide not to circumcise, how do I care for my baby’s penis and foreskin?

If your baby boy has not been circumcised, washing the baby’s penis and foreskin properly is important. The outside of the penis should be washed with a mild soap and water. Do not attempt to pull back the infant’s foreskin. The foreskin may not be able to pull back completely until the child is about 3–5 years old. This is normal. As your child gets older, teach your son how to wash his penis. He should pull back the foreskin and clean the area with soap and water. The foreskin then should be pushed back into place.