Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin – the fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis. The best time for circumcision is when the child is newly born. In the newborn, circumcision is a minor operation that takes little time. There may be a small amount of bleeding. There is also some risk of infection, and the remote possibility of damage to the penis.
Circumcision causes some pain, unless it is performed with an anesthetic. Despite this fact, some doctors are reluctant to use anesthetic because of the risks associated with its use.
If circumcision is postponed until later childhood, a general anesthetic will be necessary, and the risks are greater than if the procedure had been done on the newborn child.
Circumcision is not performed for medical reasons. For thousands of years, it’s been done in various societies for religious and social reasons. In some societies, almost all males are circumcised; but in others, most are not.
Over the years, various health claims have been advanced to justify circumcision. Once it was thought that there was a connection between uncircumcised men, and women who developed cervical cancer. But this is not the case. Some people suggested that circumcision prevented cancer of the penis. But this is not true either, and anyway, cancer of the penis is quite rare. Some have argued that circumcision makes personal hygiene easier. However, with proper instruction and good health habits, hygiene is no problem for the uncircumcised male.
Some people believe that the circumcised penis has a better appearance, but the circumcised penis does not look the same in every person, so appearance should not be considered.
Other people believe that circumcision improves sexual performance. However, it is now thought that circumcision has no effect one way or the other.
Finally, you should know that the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology do not endorse circumcision, because the doctors who make up these medical societies are not convinced that it is necessary.
However, you may decide to have your newborn male circumcised for religious or social reasons. If so, talk to your obstetrician, midwife or nurse before the baby is born.
If your baby is not circumcised, remember that you should never forcibly retract the foreskin at any time. Leave it alone until it gradually loosens by itself. This may take anywhere from several months to four or more years. Once the foreskin is retractable, the area underneath it should be washed regularly.
Remember these key points:
- Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin – the fold of skin that covers the tip of the penis.
- Today, doctors agree that there is no medical reason for circumcision, but it may be done for religious or social reasons.
- The decision to circumcision a newborn male should be made in advance, so that the procedure can be performed shortly after birth. Later on, circumcision involves greater risk and pain.