What is circumcision?
Circumcision is the surgical cutting of the foreskin in men. The foreskin is the skin that covers the tip of the penis. According to recent estimates, it is common in the United States and parts of Africa and the Middle East. But it is less common in Europe and other regions.
The operation is usually performed on an infant for personal or religious purposes. Circumcision is also possible in older children and adults for the same purpose. Also, older children or adults may require circumcision to treat many conditions, including:
- Balanitis; (swelling of the foreskin)
- Balanoposthitis (The tip and foreskin inflammation of the penis)
- Theparaphimosis (inability to return a retracted foreskin to its original position)
- Phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin)
There is no medical need for the circumcision of healthy newborns. However, families may opt to have their boys circumcised for several reasons.
Pros and cons of circumcision
There are health-related explanations for the circumcision of newborn men. However, most of them are not factors until young adulthood. Circumcision is the best choice left to parents or the infant when he is older. Doctors can help parents understand the value and risks better.
Despite myths to the contrary, circumcision does not affect a man’s fertility. There are mixed results from a few studies on how circumcision influences sexual satisfaction. Some sources did not find any effect, while other sources found increased sensitivity.
Here are a few pros and cons of men circumcision.
1. Safety Concerns
This is a common treatment with a low risk of complications. About 60% of the newborn boys in the United States are circumcised. This is a very quick procedure for newborn babies. The doctor removes the skin (foreskin) that protects the tip of the penis during the circumcision. The treatment takes about 10 minutes to finish. Circumcision is very painful. So, doctors usually use numbing medicine around the area to make babies more comfortable. This is what the American Pediatrics Academy recommends.
The site of circumcision can take up to 10 days to recover.
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision entails some risks. But complications are rare. Most of the time, the problems are minor, but they are still possible. Among the problems that may have occurred:
- Cutting the foreskin too short
- Improper healing
Usually, these issues will get better in a few days.
After the newborn phase, circumcision is more complicated, and general anesthesia is sometimes needed. More serious problems could also occur when the doctor performs the procedure on boys over two months. Parents considering circumcision should decide within the first few days of their life or well before giving birth if they do not know their child’s sex or know they have a boy.
It may not be safe to circumcise infants males with known health problems.
2. Infection Prevention
Circumcision reduces the long-term risk of infection. Circumcision can help boys keep their genitals clean. The procedure also reduces the risk of certain infections, for example:
- HIV, the virus that causes AIDS
- Certain sexually transmitted diseases such as HSV (genital herpes), HPV (human papillomavirus), and syphilis
- UTI (urinary tract infections)
- Foreskin infections
Circumcision in men lowers the risk for penis cancer. Please remember that this kind of cancer is rare.
Circumcision is not necessary to prevent infection. Uncircumcised boys should learn how to clean the penis properly. This can minimize the risk of infection, sexually transmitted diseases, and penis cancer. Proper hygiene can be as effective as circumcision in keeping the penis clean.
Overall, condom use is more important than circumcision in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
3. Personal Beliefs
Circumcised boys may not feel “different.” There is an increasing amount of people in the United States who do not circumcise their children. But most American boys are circumcised. Some parents prefer circumcision because they don’t want their son to feel different from friends or family members.
Some parents chose circumcision on religious or cultural grounds. This practice is common among people of the Jewish and Islamic religions.
Some people claim that the foreskin has a vital purpose. They believe it will protect the penis and should stay intact to prevent it from happening.
- Sexual problems. The foreskin is sensitive. Removing this can lead to a decrease in sensitivity at the tip of the penis. This could affect a man’s overall sexual satisfaction.
- Urination problems. Removing the foreskin can irritate the tip of the penis when it rubs against the diaper or the skin. This may cause the opening of the penis (where the urine leaves the body) to narrow.
How circumcision is performed
Pediatricians, obstetricians, family doctors, surgeons, or urologists mostly perform circumcisions. Circumcisions for religious purposes are sometimes done by others who have training in the procedure.
Your son will lay on his back with his arms and legs secured during the infant circumcision. Doctors give an anesthetic by injection or cream to numb the penis.
There are several techniques used to perform circumcision in men. The choice of the procedure used depends on the preference and experience of the practitioner.
The 3 main circumcision methods are the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell clamp, and the Mogen clamp. Each of them works by cutting off the blood to the foreskin to prevent bleeding when the doctor cuts the foreskin. The operation takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete.
Follow-up and recovery
After the treatment, the child can be fussy. The doctor or nurse will provide instructions on how to reduce any discomfort. The healing time for the circumcision of the newborn male is around 7 to 10 days.
It is normal for the penis to be mildly red or swollen for a few days after circumcision. You should wash the penis and change the dressings with each change of diaper. Keep the diaper slightly loose to help repair the tip of the penis.
Contact the child’s doctor if the child has any of the following:
- Continued fussiness (in babies)
- Increased pain (in children)
- Trouble with urination
- Foul-smelling drainage
- Increased redness or swelling
- Persistent bleeding
Recovery in adults
Your doctor will give you detailed advice on taking care of your incision and reducing your pain.
In general, when you feel relaxed, you can go back to work and work every day. Avoid strenuous activity, such as jogging or weightlifting, for the first four weeks of recovery.
Walking is the perfect way to practice your recovery. Try to walk a bit faster than you usually do every day. You should also normally avoid sexual intercourse for six weeks after the procedure. Follow the doctor’s advice on sexual activity.
Contact the doctor if you have any of the following:
- Increased pain
- Trouble urinating
- Symptoms of infection, including fever, increased redness, swelling, or drainage;
The Bottom Line
For help weighing pros and cons, parents should discuss the details of the circumcision surgery with the pediatrician of the male infant or the doctor who performs the procedure at the hospital. Knowing that you have carefully considered the benefits and risks will make you feel confident in your final decision.