Deciding whether or not to circumcise your baby boy is a decision that will impact your son for the rest of his life. While it's an extremely personal choice, it's important that you have all the facts at your finger tips before you make it. Circumcision cannot be undone, so please do not take this decision lightly.
Here are 6 facts about circumcision that could impact your decision:
1. Medical circumcision is not the same as traditional circumcision
It's important to understand that medical circumcision done by a doctor and traditional circumcision are two entirely different things. Traditional circumcision, such as performed by Jews for religious reasons, removes only the tip of the foreskin, leaving the majority of the foreskin and it's function intact. Medical circumcision removes the foreskin and it's protection entirely, a much riskier and more invasive procedure.
2. It's not recommended by the AAP
Some studies show that there are certain benefits to circumcision, while others suggest that the benefits are few. In weighing the risks and possible benefits of circumcision, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does NOT recommend routine infant circumcision.
3. Circumcision is not “cleaner”
It's a myth that uncircumcised males are somehow dirtier or have more trouble with cleanliness than circumcised males. As with any child, an uncircumcised boy will need instruction on basic hygiene practices as he grows.
4. Circumcision is not “popular”
Forget your worries about how your son will look in the locker room. Circumcision is less common than you think, and rates are dropping, down to just 32.5% of US males being circumcised in 2009. Circumcision rates are higher in some parts of the country, but it's far from the most “popular” choice.
5. Circumcision is painful
The foreskin is lifted and cut off with the use of surgical tools. Your baby will be awake during this procedure. Doctors often use a topical anesthetic to numb the pain, but it is far from complete relief. You can find videos online showing the stress and pain that an infant endures while being circumcised; they are not for the weary.
6. Circumcision has risks
Circumcision, as with any surgical procedure, carries risks. Some of them are minor, and others, while rare, are serious.
The most common risks associated with circumcision include:
- Risk of bleeding and infection
- Irritation of the glands
- Risk of injury
More serious risks include:
- Serious bleeding
- Life threatening infection
- Damage to the urethra
- Amputation (very rare)
Parents do not always agree on the circumcision decision. Take the time to research your choices in depth, and ask that your spouse do the same. Going over the information together and with your doctor or pediatrician can help to get you and your spouse on the same page, or at least going in the right direction through discussion.
creative commons photo by BIG D2112