As a parent, you have a very important decision to make in regards to the circumcision of your son. When a male infant is born, their penis is covered with a hood of skin that covers its head. Circumcision is a surgical procedure that is done to remove the foreskin. Usually, it is performed a day or two after birth and the procedure lasts anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in newborn babies.
Parents have their sons circumcised for plenty of reasons. Things like cultural traditions, religious beliefs, and concerns about personal hygiene are several factors that contribute to the decision of parents. For many years, there has been an ongoing debate on whether circumcision is necessary or not. Before making a decision, it’s important to talk to your child’s doctor about the procedure, risks, and benefits of having your child circumcised.
In this article, I’ll be making the case for and against male infant circumcision so you can make an informed decision about the entire procedure.
What are the benefits of male circumcision?
There are plenty of advantages when it comes to having your child circumcised. The most important one is for medical reasons. Removing the foreskin from the male genitalia has been shown to reduce the risk of certain diseases. Here are some medical reasons to consider having your child circumcised:
- Reduced risk of urinary tract infection
- Prevents phimosis (difficulty retracting the foreskin due to scarring)
- Significantly reduces the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (around 30-60% risk reduction)
- Decreased risk of penile cancer
- Hygienic purposes
Also, as a male grows older, the procedure can be a bit more difficult and the healing process tends to be much longer. That’s why having your child circumcised at an early age is something to strongly consider.
What are the risks of male circumcision?
As with any surgical procedure, there are a number of risks of having your child circumcised. Here are some of the risks that you should be aware of:
- Pain (during the procedure and during the healing period)
- Infection, wounds, scarring, and bleeding
- Injury to the penis
- Increased risk of urethritis (inflammation of the urethra)
While there are certain risks present in being circumcised, the risks are quite low and the pros far outweigh the con.
Also, many people wondering if circumcision is a painful procedure. Before the procedure starts, local anesthesia is administered and your child should not feel any pain during the entire procedure. After the procedure, a feeling of numbness and slight pain will be experienced during the healing process. Usually, it takes about 5-7 days for the penis to completely heal.
Cleaning a circumcised penis
As soon as the procedure is finished, keeping the site clean is vital to accelerate the healing process. To do this, gently clean the area with warm, soapy water. Usually, a dressing will be applied after the procedure is finished. After cleaning the area, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly between each diaper change for the first few days. Doing so will help relieve irritation and discomfort.
In addition, the tip of your child’s penis may appear swollen at first. This is completely normal. You will also notice blood spots on his diaper as well as a yellow discharge over the first few days. It’s part of the recovery period and you don’t have to worry. What’s important is you keep the area clean to prevent any infection.
If you notice any of these during the recovery period, call your doctor immediately:
- The tip of his penis is still swollen after 3-5 days
- Constant bleeding
- Heavy yellow discharge on the diaper
- The presence of pus-filled blisters around the surgery site
- No urination after 12 hours of the procedure
Cleaning an uncircumcised penis
It’s important to know that proper hygiene should also be emphasized for a male infant who has not undergone circumcision. You don’t have to use any disinfectants or any special bath products. Warm, soapy water every time you bathe your baby will do just fine.
The foreskin will retract on its own over time so don’t have to peel it back to clean it. By the time your son reaches puberty, he should be able to retract the foreskin of his penis. Teach your son to wash the foreskin by pulling it back and rinsing it with warm water. This way, infections are less likely to occur and the risks associated with an uncircumcised penis are reduced.
Deciding on having your son circumcised
Being informed about the entire procedure is very important. Doing so will provide you with the confidence to make a sound decision for your son. Some will argue that circumcision is a wrong ethical practice. They discourage the procedure completely, saying that proper hygiene and cleaning is far better than opting to have the procedure in the first place.
On the other hand, many will suggest that circumcision is a safe practice and is essential for the overall health and well-being of your child. The complications mentioned above rarely occur and the reduced risk of sexually transmitted disease and other medical conditions is an important health measure.
Although the pros outweigh the cons of circumcision, the procedure is still not universally adopted for a number of different reasons. It could be due to religious beliefs, social practices, cultural traditions, and much more. For example, many countries – such as France, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland – do not practice circumcision.
In recent years, studies have shown that being circumcised provides significant health advantages to the child and their future partner by reducing the risk of cervical cancer in women. Overall, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of this procedure.