Circumcision, a surgical removal of the tissue covering the head of the penis (the foreskin), is a fairly common procedure for newborn boys in certain parts of the world, including the United States. Approximately 55% to 65% of newborn boys in the United States are circumcised each year. Parents may choose to have their child circumcised for a variety of reasons, including religious beliefs, concerns for hygiene, or even a desire to follow social standards.
Benefits of Circumcision
Circumcision can have various health benefits, including:
- Easier hygiene- Circumcision makes it easier to wash the penis.
- Decreased risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs)- The risk of UTIs in males is low. However, these infections are more common in uncircumcised males.
- Decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)- Circumcised men may have a lower risk of certain STIs.
- Prevention of penile problems- Occasionally the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract. This condition is called phimosis. This can lead to inflammation of the foreskin.
- Decreased risk of penile cancer- Cancer of the penis is rare. It is even less common in circumcised men.
Risks of Circumcision
Like any surgical procedure, there are small risks associated with circumcision. Problems associated with circumcision include:
- Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision
- Foreskin problems…The foreskin may fail to heal properly and/or the remaining foreskin may reattach to the end of the penis (penile adhesion), which would require surgical repair.
***Please note: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. However, it does not recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, instead leaving the decision up to the parents.***
What You Can Expect
Circumcision takes only a few minutes. During the procedure, the baby is placed on a special table. Various techniques may be used, but typically the process follows this sequence…
- The penis and foreskin are cleansed
- An anesthetic is applied either by injection or as a topical cream
- A special clamp is attached to the penis and the foreskin is cut and removed
- Gauze with petroleum jelly is placed over the wound
Care Post Circumcision
Things to remember following circumcision…
- It typically takes 7 to 10 days for the penis to heal
- The tip of the penis is likely to be sore at first, and the penis may look red, swollen or bruised. You may also notice a small amount of yellow fluid on the tip of the penis. These symptoms are relatively normal and to be expected after such a procedure.
- It is okay to wash the penis as it heals. Gently clean with warm water. Soapy water can be used, but try to avoid diaper wipes as much as possible to prevent irritation.
- Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the tip of the penis at each diaper change in order to prevent the penis from sticking to the diaper. Also, make sure the diaper is loosely fastened.
Contact Your Doctor If You Notice Any of the Following…
- Persistent bleeding or blood on the diaper (more than a quarter size)
- Increasing redness
- Other signs of infection, including worsening swelling or discharge
- Abnormal urination (not urinating normally within 12 hours after procedure)
As always, if you have any questions about circumcision pre or post birth feel free to call our office. We are always happy to help!
Until next time,
Parkside Provider, bulldog lover, and a strong advocate of Clemson football