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Circumcision is a procedure where the foreskin (the skin that covers the tip of the penis) is removed. Circumcision isn’t required. If it is done, it is usually performed in the first few days or weeks after birth. It becomes more complicated and riskier in infants older than 2 months and in boys and men.
The procedure takes less than 30 minutes. A local anesthetic (numbing medicine) can be given to your baby to lessen the pain from the procedure.
Making the decision about circumcision
According to About Kids Health:
“Most parents choose circumcision for religious, cultural or cosmetic reasons. Other parents might consider routine circumcision for medical reasons. However, there is conflicting evidence about the benefits of routine circumcision.”
You will need to consider the benefits and risks of circumcision. Factors such as your culture, religion, and personal preferences may affect your decision. Talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks. They may be able to help you decide. You may want to make a decision about circumcision before your son is born.
The Canadian Paediatric Society says it does not recommend the routine circumcision of every newborn male and that circumcision is not medically necessary. They also recommend parents discuss with their son’s healthcare provider the potential benefits and the risks involved when making their decision.
Path to improved health
If you decide to have your baby circumcised, you’ll need to follow some steps to help the penis heal.
- Gently clean the area with water every day when your baby needs a fresh diaper.
- Use water to clean stool off of the penis. This will help prevent infection
- If your child has a wrap-around dressing, remove it the day after surgery. If the dressing falls off prior to the time scheduled for removal, it does not need to be replaced and is not a cause for concern.
- Apply a generous amount of Vaseline® 3 to 4 times a day over the incision for a week.
Healing usually takes about 7 to 10 days. Some swelling of the penis is normal. It’s also normal for a yellow discharge or coating to form over the tip of the penis. Don’t try to take this off. It will go away on its own.
If you decide not to have your son circumcised, you’ll need to take some steps to care for their penis. Keep it clean with soap and water to reduce the risk of problems or infections. When your son gets older, his foreskin will separate from the tip of his penis. This is called retraction. It happens at different times for different boys. Most boys can retract their foreskin by the time they are 5 years of age. Don’t try to force the foreskin to retract before it is ready. This can damage the penis and cause pain and other problems. Once the foreskin is ready to retract, you can teach your son how to gently pull the foreskin back and clean the skin underneath. They should wash beneath his foreskin every day while bathing or showering.
Things to consider
Studies have shown some limited health benefits of circumcision.
- It offers some limited benefit in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in infants. Overall, UTIs are not common in circumcised or uncircumcised males.
- Newborn circumcision also offers some benefit in preventing cancer of the penis in adulthood. However, this cancer is rare in all men, whether or not they have been circumcised.
- Circumcision may reduce the risk of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Know that preventing STIs has more to do with a man’s sexual practices (for example, using condoms, limiting the number of sex partners) than with whether or not he is circumcised.
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision has some risks. However, the rate of problems after circumcision is low. Bleeding and infection in the circumcised area are the most common problems. Both of these can be treated by your healthcare provider.
When to contact your healthcare provider
- If the wound does not stop bleeding after 15 minutes of pressure.
- If your son does not have a wet diaper within 6 to 8 hours after the circumcision.
- If the redness and swelling around the tip of the penis do not go away or get worse after 3 to 5 days.
- If there is a yellow discharge or coating around the tip of the penis after 7 days.
- If the Plastibell device does not fall off within 10 to 12 days.
- Your baby has a temperature of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
About Kids Health Website