Should my son be circumcised?

As a parent of a baby boy, one of the things you have to decide is whether or not your son gets circumcised.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes foreskin from the penis. Foreskin is the fold of skin that covers the tip of your son’s penis. Circumcision is not considered essential to a boy’s health. Circumcision is a personal choice.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  says that circumcision has possible medical benefits as well as risks.   AAP says there is not enough scientific evidence to recommend circumcision for all boys. AAP encourages parents to make their decision after talking about the procedure with their health care provider. In the U.S., roughly 55%-65% of all newborn boys are circumcised.
 
If you decide to have your son circumcised, the procedure usually is done in the first 48 hours after birth, before you leave the hospital. Some boys are circumcised in the first few days of life at home as part of religious or cultural traditions.

Premature babies (born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy) and babies born with health problems should not be circumcised until their health is stable.

How do you care for your baby’s penis if he’s not circumcised? Wash your baby’s penis with soap and water. Don’t try to retract (pull back) the foreskin. A young baby’s foreskin may not retract completely. Over time it retracts on its own.

How do you care for your baby’s penis after a circumcision? Until your baby’s penis heals:
• During bath time, wash the penis and diaper area with soap and warm water.
• For the first few days, put a new bandage on the penis each time you change your baby’s diaper.
• Use petroleum jelly on the penis or on the part of the diaper or bandage that touches the penis. This helps prevent the diaper or bandage from sticking to or rubbing against the penis.

It’s best to start thinking about circumcision before your baby is born. Put your decision in your birth plan and share your plan with your provider.

UPDATE: August 27, 2012 The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement regarding circumcision today. “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.”

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24 Responses to “Should my son be circumcised?”

  1. Karen G Says:

    My son is intact, as he was born. In each of us as individuals is the desire to survive – the will to live. In each of us is the desire to procreate – to guarantee the survival of our species. Regardless of whether you believe in creation by God, nature or random evolution, every mammal has an enclosed penis, with some protective covering. This is not a mistake. God/nature/evolution would never perpetuate a flaw in the organs necessary to guarantee our survival as a species.

    My son’s body belongs to him. I would never alter it for mere cosmetic reasons. No medical organization in the world recommends infant circumcision. It’s an industry and a money maker in America. No one will ever profit off of the body of my child.

  2. Doulalee Says:

    Circumcision is an unnecessary and tortuous procedure that affords no medical benefits whatsoever. Only if it is medically indicated for an existing problem, should this be considered. Circumcision is a billion dollar industry………..someone is profiting from the mutilation of our babies.

  3. Devin Says:

    Mutilating a helpless infants genitals for no medical emercengey is disgusting! Parents do not own their child’s body, otherwise murder and Sexual abuse on your child would not be against the law. Forced infant circumcision is very painful and has bad side effects they will be forced to live with the rest of their life, not you. It became popular in the US to stop masturbation because circumcision removes most of the feeling from all the nerve endings cut off. Most of the worlds men are intact and the are great! He can always make that choice as an adult but it can never be undone..

  4. Skye Says:

    Hello Hun. I just thought I’d let a few things be known where you weren’t quite educated. First; only around 10% of the wprld and 30% of the US are circumcised now. Majority of the world doesn’t cut the most sensitive part of the penis (with 20,000 nerves) that protects against infection since from birth until around 3 to puberty the foreskin is fused like the finger nail is to the glands (head) of the penis. The head of the penis is MEANT to be a mostly internal oragan. Just like our eyes. That’s why we have eyelashes and eyelids; to PROTECT! They don’t cause more problems or else evolution wouldve eventually ruled it out and having and foreskin wouldn’t happen anymore. The removal of the foreskin is a purely cosmetic procedure, it has NO health benefits as you stated above and should be left whole for the person who owns the penis to decide whether they want to remove it or not.
    My hubby and our perfect son; plus the rest of his family are intact (not cut) and NONE have had issues or had to be cut later. Because I’d you care for an intact penis properly there is protection from infection by the foreskin. EVERY mamel including us females are born with a foreskin, so unless you plan on removing your daughters clitoral hood to make it easy to clean or for looks then don’t remove your sons. The clitoral hood (Which is what I call female circ because it is what was done I the US until 1997 and is “equal” to male circ) then don’t remove your sons foreskin.. :( let him decide. There are MANY types of circumcision both on females and males which go from a little drip of blood being drawn to removal of the entire clitois, part of the penis, etc. Plus don’t forget the babies who die from it which is more then car accidents and SIDS deaths combined, or the boys who loose their entire penis..

  5. Caresaboutbabies Says:

    You wouldn’t consider slicing part of your daughter off, in fact her body is prptected by federal law. Foreskin is not a birth defect its a function part of the male body. The glans is not meant to be an external organ. We would be thrown in jail for animal abuse if we did it to dogs but our boys don’t get the respect!? Sad society we live in.

  6. starr Says:

    The majority of North American parents now choose NOT to circ their children. This practice is phasing out as more & more families realize that all people deserve the right to choose for themselves whether they wish to undergo cosmetic surgery. Give your children the choice to decide for themselves when they are older & can undetgo the surgery fully informed & under anaesthesia.

  7. Lo Says:

    the foreskin is not a birth defect and being born a healthy male in this country does not require surgical correction. all normal human beings–male and female–are born with a foreskin. information about the foreskin and it’s NUMEROUS functions, are always missing from the discussion about circumcision. depending on the amount of skin cut off, circumcision robs a male of as much as 80 percent or more of his penile skin and cuts off necessary veins, arteries and capillaries. the foreskin contains more than 20,000 nerve endings, which is why genital cutting is excruciatingly painful. it is often done without anesthesia (inhuman and CRUEL) because the foreskins are sold and must remain in pristine condition. you can find this information on the internet. anyone considering genital cutting for their newborn owes it to themselves and their son, to watch the actual procedure. download an actual circumcision, educate yourself about this unncessary surgery. the screams of a baby being cut are horrific and if more mothers were educated about what really happens during gential cutting, this unnecessary trauma would stop. to be intact, as nature intended, is best. the circumcision rate in this country is dropping radically, as more and more parents are becoming informed about the horrific nature of this surgery. circumcision wounds and harms the baby and the man the baby will become. parents who respect their son’s wholeness are bequeathing to him his birthright – his body, perfect and beautiful in it’s entirety. female circumcision is illegal in this country and our precious baby boys deserve the same protection. mothers, protect your children from the people who will harm them and then take your money for harming your child. EDUCATE YOURSELVES!

  8. Juan Says:

    Circumcision is an unneeded medical procedure that exposes the child to non-trivial risks, such as death from bleeding, death from infection, sepsis, damage or loss of the penis, pain during erections as an adult or abnormal erections.

    Circumcision also removes the most sensitive area of the penis and promotes keratinization of the glans by exposing it to permanent contact with clothes and air and removing the natural protection and emollients. There is anecdotal evidence that this reduces sensitivity of the glans in the long term – this fact was acknowledge both by Jews philosophers (Philo) in the 1st Century as by the doctors who promoted circumcision in the Early XX Century (such as J.Harvey Kellogg), but since the 60’s is routinely denied by doctors.

    Circumcision also removes your baby’s chance of self-determination. Many adult men feel that they were robbed of an integral part of their body and hold resentment against parents and doctors for what they perceive as a violation of their rights.

  9. Lo Says:

    this entire article is biased towards circumcision by implying that the AAP suggests there are benefits and by supplying info on caring for a cut penis. why not provide the truth, that NO MEDICAL organization in the world recommends circumcision, and how difficult a cut penis is to care for, once the protective foreskin is removed and the wound now comes into contact with feces, urine and diaper contaminants, all of which greatly increase the risk of infection.

  10. Lindsay Says:

    Thanks to all of you for your great comments. Neither we nor AAP recommend routine circumcision. It’s a matter of choice. We wrote the article to get you thinking about and discussing it. Thanks for your participation.

  11. NewfangledDad Says:

    Wow, so many comments against circumcision! I was happy to see the AAP policy change today because it caught up to the science that has come out over the last few years showing the health benefits of circumcision. My view as a father was the same on this as immunizations. My duty as a parent is to use the info that is available to make the best health decisions for my son in the longterm. That meant lowering his risk…regardless of what his feelings/rights are. lol It wasn’t the last time lately I’ve done something for his own good that he didn’t enjoy!

  12. Marla Says:

    I wonder how many women so interested in keeping their son’s penis as it were when he was born, turn around and pierce their infant daughter’s ears out if their own vanity. None I hope.

  13. Eric Says:

    you people are all ignorant. Cleaning the penis after circ is easy, jsut have to be careful. The procedure itself, the child feels little pain at all. 1,2,3 its over. A cut penis looks cleaner, easier to clean as the kid gets older. Most women I have spoken to prefer cut over uncut. Not just for health reasons, but sexual reasons. Its not torture. Its been done for thousands of years. Read your bible. Abraham had it done when he was 125 because GOD asked him to. Its a tradition thats been passed on from generation to generation. Jews do it, Muslims do it, Christains sometimes do it, Maybe a few Catholics, unless your dunking your baby in water calling it a baptism. that sounds pretty sane to me. It should not be done by just anyone. if course if you go to some low life doctor who doesnt know what he is doing there is risk to infection or something else happening. There are certified people who can do it and do it correctly.

  14. Kristina Says:

    As someone who’s father ended up with Penial Cancer due to NOT being circ’d, I definately don’t see it as a completely unnecessary procedure. We make the best choices possible for our children – no matter what you decide you are being a good parent. Please do not attack others for your decisions. Luckly, I still have my father, but he is now had to be much more than just “cut” and went through a much much more difficult healing process and also many more issues since. I agree – educate yourself and make the best decision for YOUR baby, but I will not let you make the decision for MY baby. Good luck to all moms.

  15. Criss Says:

    “Cleaning the penis after circ is easy, ” You know what’s easier? Cleaning a uncircumcised penis. Men all over the world handle it just fine.

    “Its been done for thousands of years. Read your bible. ” Back in those days, men walked around in a sandy desert, wearing open, flowing robes. There was a health reason THEN to circumcise; now, that we have running water and soap and underwear? Not so much. (PS: the Bible clearly states circumcision should be done after the 8th day of birth, once the baby’s vitamin K supply kicks in, so his blot can clot. The US custom of infant circumcision within 48 hours of birth also requires a vitamin K shot, because we’re going against God’s design.)

    “As someone who’s father ended up with Penial Cancer due to NOT being circ’d,” Breast cancer is extremely more common than penile cancer. Do you advocate we give all infant girls mastectomies, too?

    “because it caught up to the science ” What science? This practice began as a “cure” for masturbation. The studies on how circumcision magically prevents STDs have all been done in rural areas in Africa where the culture, customs, resources, and practices are radically different from the US. The US is practically the only country in the world that still has routine infant circumcision. Maybe we should look into that?

    “I wonder how many women so interested in keeping their son’s penis as it were when he was born, turn around and pierce their infant daughter’s ears out if their own vanity.” I doubt you’ll find any. However, I wonder how many parents who stand by their decision to mutilate their son’s genitals think female genital mutilation is awful and wrong.

  16. Rebecca Says:

    Aside from the benefits listed in the article, circumcision is a good thing in some cases. My son had a congenital defect called hypospadias, where the opening of the urethra is located on the underside of the penis, rather than the top. Some cases can be very severe, and the urethal opening can be as low as the scrotum itself. It can also be associated with other deformities of the penis. Correcting hypospadias involves using a skin graft from the foreskin to reconstruct the urethra, hence requiring circumcision to aquire the skin for the graft. My husband and I feel we made the right choice for our son in have both hypospadius reconstruction and circumcision. It is our choice as his parents; it is not the choice of society at large.

  17. Becky Says:

    In my opinion…everyone who commented in a rude and judgemental way for either side of the argument is wrong. As parents, we decide what is best for our children based on who we are and who we want them to be. To each there own.

  18. April Says:

    There are arguments to be made on both sides of the debate, however, I wonder how many people (such as Eric) who say that the baby feels little pain during a circumcision have actually been present for one. After having been present for one as a favor to a loved-one, I can say with all honesty that the baby feels tremendous pain. The cries of a fussy (or cold) baby are much, much different than the screams I heard coming out of that child. I had never heard a baby scream like that unless injured. It was heart-wrenching.

    That having been said, if you have been present (or at least have watched a video) of the procedure, have done unbiased research on it and still choose it for your child based upon your belief that the benefits outweigh the risks, it is your choice as a parent. I don’t think that most people put their babies through that because they want to hurt them but rather because they’re trying to do what’s best for them based upon what they know. I just wish people would go into it a bit more educated as so many parents have it done simply because it’s been considered “the norm” for so many years. I think the rate of circumcision in the U.S. will continue to drop in the future due to the increase in education of the parents, which (in my opinion) is a good thing.

  19. Yulia Rirdan Says:

    Links that you might find interesting and educational:

    Doctors Opposing Circumcision Genital Integrity Policy Statement http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/statement0.html

    Non-religious circumcision in North America started in the puritan 1870s as a cure for masturbation. Masturbation was considered to be evil and sinful and was blamed for all sort of medical conditions including blindness, paralysis and mental retardation.
    A Short History of Circumcision in North America: In the Physicians’ Own Words http://www.noharmm.org/docswords.htm

    This is an excellentvideo done by doctors opposing circumcision talks about purpose and functions of foreskin as well as harm of circumcision. The prepuce explained by “Doctors opposing circumcision” http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7cy49_the-prepuce-explained-by-doctors-op_tech

    NORM (National Organization Restoring Men) put together a very educational list of what is lost to circumcision. What is lost due to circumcision? The Lost List http://www.norm.org/lost.html

    Very recently German court concluded circumcision to be genital mutilation and a bodily harm. Circumcision of minors is no longer legal in Germany. Many more countries–Canada, Australia and a few countries of Europe are close to doing the same.

    USA adult men generation has one of the highest circ rate (around 80%) as well as the highest (among industrialized countries) HIV rate. On the other hand, Europe, where male genital mutilation, much like female one, is not practiced has one of the lowest HIV rates in the world.

  20. Olivia Says:

    yes you should, although make sure he is cut tightly, as a loose cut allows smegma to accumilate behind the glans and infections to therefore appear. Many people are trying to scare you into not circumcising but it is just a simple painless snip which results in a healthier boy. a foreskin apart from looking horrible causes many problems for the boy and any future partner. I would make circumcision a mandatory procedure if i had the power as its a lifetime on benefits from a harmless procedure. I hope you do make the right choice and get him cut.

  21. Katie Says:

    Have any of you ever watched a circumcision? And watched the horrific expression on the child’s face while his penis is cut on with absolutely no pain killers? You can not say they don’t feel it. I watched my son’s circumcision and I will regret it for the rest of my life. I will never forget the absolute horror on his face.

  22. Susan Terkel Says:

    Clearly, the entire issue of circumcision elicits a range of responses — and quite emotional ones, too. I spent three years writing a book that helps parents make an informed decision — my coauthor was on the opposite side of the fence, by the way, which helped us call each other out on all issues. And speaking of issues, there are so many: medical, religious, cultural, personal, sexual, and moral (is it your responsibility — or right — or is it your son’s?) Even making the decision having looked at all the statistics, all the issues, and listening to everyone’s opinion can be perplexing. But making an informed decision is clearly better than making a gut decision — especially to the guy whose decision is going to be most affected — your son’s. Good luck! And read my book, if you want help with the decision — and help either having a safe circumcision or taking care of an intact infant. The Circumcision Decision: An Unbiased Guide for Parents (http://thecircumcisiondecision.com)

  23. Ktr Says:

    If you decide to circumcise I tend to agree with Olivia. I believe the benefits outweigh drawbacks. I can understand wanting to leave the choice to the child.

    If you make the decision to go ahead however, be aware that circumcisions are often being done looser then they were in the past. A handful were too tight in the past so doctors seem to be avoiding complaints by making all of them loose. Loose have fewer benefits. If you’re going to do it do it properly.

    My wife specifically requested a tight one for our son and that’s what he has. No problems with it. You should discuss options and make sure the doctor knows what you want.

  24. Elena Says:

    I will confirm the opinion of Olivia. Every boy should get circumcised between the age of 10 and 13. I no prefer the neonatal circumcision without anesthesia.
    The boy needs only a small local anesthesia and the event is important for his sexual education, personal hygiene and health.
    His circumcision should be done very tight and the ridged band of course removed greenish.
    Only this kind of circumcision told all advantages to the boys and later sexual partners.
    Elena

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