Branislav Cizmar, M.D.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
My husband wants to circumsice the son we are expecting in July. But I've read it isn't necessary. What are the facts?
Answer: While circumcision was once considered a routine and remains a very common in the United States, many parents are asking about the necessity of this procedure. Because circumcision is not essential to a child’s health, parents often make a decision based on cultural and personal preference.
For example, followers of the Jewish and Islamic faiths to practice circumcision because of cultural and religious traditions while many Hispanic parents opt not to circumcise for cultural reasons. Many parents choose circumcision because other men in the family have done it and they don’t want their son to feel different.
Therefore, the decision is very personal and parents should feel comfortable with whatever choice they make.
Some studies have indicated medical benefits of circumcision. These include a slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections during the first year of life and a slightly lower risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Circumcision may lower the risk of cancer of the penis (which is very rare in all males) and help prevent foreskin infection.
The risks of circumcision, which are rare and usually minor, may include bleeding, infection, cutting the foreskin too short or too long and improper healing.
The procedure is generally done in the hospital or in the office soon after birth by your obstetrician, pediatrician or family physician. At that early age, the procedure is easier, safer and generally well tolerated. Infants will not recall the event. Today, a local anesthetic is topically applied to minimize sensation. Minimal care is required following the procedure and mainly involves routine washing.
To learn more about circumcision and the care of the foreskin in uncircumcised boys, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website, www.aap.org.