Circumcision Q&A

Circumcision Q&A

Parenting comes with a whole slew of decisions to be made--from day one and every single day after. One of the more important decisions to make is whether or not to circumcise your baby boy. It is important to be educated before making this decision! Here are some answers to some common questions asked about this procedure.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of a penis to reveal the glans underneath. This is typically done on a newborn baby boy within the first two weeks of his life.

What do I need to know about the procedure?

Before the procedure, the area will be cleaned and medication will be given, whether this is an injection or a numbing cream. There are a few different tools and methods to complete this procedure, and depending on the pediatrician or doctor performing the operation, that’s what will determine the details of what will follow. All methods require the foreskin to be lifted up and away from the tip of the penis, sometimes by making a small slit in the foreskin to loosen and give more room to work with. A device is placed over the glans to protect the penis before the removal happens. After the foreskin is removed, slight bleeding may occur but stitches are very rarely needed. This entire process takes about 15-30 minutes and is categorized as an outpatient procedure.

What do I need to know about recovery?

It is normal for the glans to be sensitive and look raw in the first few days following a circumcision. It is also normal for a slight yellowish discharge to be present. Different doctors wrap or cover the wound in different ways and will give you specific directions on how to best change the bandages and when to do so. Always be sure to ask all of the questions necessary to fully understand. Most often, the dressing or bandage will be changed each time a diaper is changed. It is recommended to use an ointment to prevent the bandage or the diaper from sticking to the wound! It is safe to wash the penis with water during the course of the recovery, which should be completed within 7-14 days.

When are circumcisions performed?

When it comes to newborns, it is recommended to have this procedure done when the baby is between 24-72 hours old. Predications avoid performing this any early than 24 hours in case of underlying health issues. In fact, some instances, like prematurity or other health problems, require circumcisions to be postponed for a time. Religious beliefs play a role in the timing as well: Jewish beliefs include a ceremony where the circumcision is performed and the baby must be 8 days old. Adults are able to have a circumcision at any point if they choose to or if it becomes necessary. Many times, adult circumcisions happen because of health problems involving the foreskin. Other times it is because of personal preference for one reason or another.

Why choose a circumcision?

This simply comes down to religious, social, cultural, or personal beliefs. Or a combination of these.

What are the risks associated with circumcision?

The largest risk factor that accompanies circumcisions is the fact that it is definitely not comfortable. Despite medications used, this procedure is very painful for these baby boys. Though very rare, abnormal bleeding, damage to the penis, and infections are risks involved. Less than 1% experience serious complications afterward.

What are the benefits associated with circumcision?

Benefits include easier cleaning, prevention of foreskin problems later on, and a reduced risk of urinary tract infections in the baby’s first year of life. Circumcisions have been proven to protect against HIV, which is huge when looking through a world-health perspective. It also protects against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like genital herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV).

Does circumcision effect sex life down the road?

Some are under the impression that the exposed-glans penis isn’t as sensitive because it has hardened a bit due to exposure to both air and clothing. However, tests have proven that a circumcised penis is just as sensitive as an attached penis. Therefore, circumcision is unlikely to affect a man’s sex life.

Should I circumcise my son?

Ultimately, it’s completely up to you. When it comes to the experts, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that the benefits outweigh the risks, but not enough that it be deemed mandatory. Either choice is valid. Because religion is often tossed into these decision factors, this makes it more personal than most medical choices. This should be something that is discussed between parents and with the baby’s pediatrician to decide whether the procedure should be performed or not.

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