When you learned that you were having a boy, you probably started thinking about circumcision. The decision to have your son circumcised can be difficult and can involve a number of considerations, including your culture, religion, and personal preferences.
Boys are born with a covering over the head of the penis, which is called the glans, or foreskin. During circumcision, the foreskin is surgically removed, exposing the glans.
Circumcision is usually performed in the first two to three weeks after the baby is born.
Circumcision is a religious or cultural ritual for many Jewish and Islamic families, as well as certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia.
Circumcision can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care.
Circumcision is fairly common for newborn boys in certain parts of the world, including Nigeria.
It’s common in the United States, parts of Africa and the Middle East but less common in Asia, South America, Central America, and most of Europe, according to recent estimates.
The first circumcisions may have taken place 15,000 years ago. It slowly spread across a variety of cultures, especially in the Middle East.
Circumcision became popular in the Western world in the late 19th century, when it was carried out in an effort to prevent masturbation.
In addition, older children or adults may need circumcision to treat several conditions, including:
a. Balanitis (swelling of the foreskin).
b. Balanoposthitis (inflammation of the tip and foreskin of the penis).
c. Paraphimosis (inability to return a retracted foreskin to its original position).
d. Phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin).
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. However, the AAP doesn’t recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns.
The AAP leaves the circumcision decision up to parents — and supports the use of anesthetics for infants who have the procedure. (Source: Mayo Clinic Online)
When should Circumcision Not be Done?
Circumcision should only be done when the newborn is stable and healthy. Reasons to delay circumcision include the following:
The baby is born very early or is medically unstable.
Your baby was born with physical abnormalities of the penis that require surgical correction. In some cases, the foreskin may be needed as part of a reconstructive operation.
The baby has certain problems with his blood or a family history of bleeding disorders.
Because circumcision may be riskier if done later in life, parents are advised to decide before or soon after their son is born if they want it done.
What are the Benefits of Circumcision?
Circumcision might have various health benefits, including:
A decreased risk of urinary tract infections.
Reduced risk of some sexually transmitted diseases in men.
Protection against penile cancer and a reduced risk of cervical cancer in female sex partners.
Prevention of balanitis (inflammation of the glans) and balanoposthitis (inflammation of the glans and foreskin).
Prevention of phimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin) and paraphimosis (the inability to return the foreskin to its original location).
Circumcision also makes it easier to keep the end of the penis clean.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is “compelling evidence” that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV during heterosexual sex by 60 percent.
What are the Risks of Circumcision?
Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with circumcision. However, this risk is low. Problems associated with circumcision include:
Risk of bleeding and infection at the site of the circumcision.
Irritation of the glans.
Increased risk of meatitis (inflammation of the opening of the penis).
Risk of injury to the penis.
There may be a decrease in the sensation of the penis, especially during intercourse.
The foreskin might be cut too short or too long.
The foreskin might fail to heal properly.
The remaining foreskin might reattach to the end of the penis, requiring minor surgical repair.
Blood infection or poisoning, known as septicemia, may develop.
In very rare cases, there may be accidental amputation of the head of the penis.
How a Circumcision is Performed?
Circumcisions are often done by a pediatrician, obstetrician, family medicine doctor, surgeon, or urologist.
Circumcisions that are performed for religious reasons are sometimes done by others trained in the procedure.
During the newborn circumcision, your son will lay on his back with his arms and legs secured. After the penis and surrounding area are cleansed, an anesthetic will be given via injection or cream applied to the penis.
A special clamp or plastic ring will be attached to the penis, and the foreskin will be removed. Afterward, the penis will be covered with an ointment, such as a topical antibiotic or petroleum jelly, and wrapped loosely with gauze.
The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
After the circumcision, a protective bandage may be placed over the wound which generally heals on its own within a week to 10 days.
It’s okay to wash the penis as it heals. With each diaper change, the penis should be cleaned and petroleum jelly placed over the wound.
The jelly can be placed on a gauze pad and applied directly on the penis or placed on the diaper in the area the penis touches.
You may notice that the tip of the penis is red and there may be a small amount of yellow fluid. This usually is a normal sign of healing.
Scabbing, light bleeding and some yellow discharge can occur. If you notice any of these symptoms, avoid aggressive rubbing of the affected area.
If there’s a plastic ring instead of a bandage, it will drop off on its own — usually within about a week. Once the penis heals, wash it with soap and water during normal bathing.
Contact Your Doctor If You Notice Any of the Following Symptoms
Redness around the tip of the penis that gets worse after three days.
Signs of infection such as the presence of pus-filled blisters or greenish discharge.
Inability to urinate normally within 6 to 8 hours after the circumcision.
The Plastibell device (a device that may be used during the procedure) does not fall off within 7-10 days.
The aforementioned information is what you should know about circumcision.
Hope you learn a lot from the piece.