March 2012

Circumcision is the removal of the loose skin (foreskin) over the end of the penis. In the United States today, most of the male population is circumcised. However, in Europe and most parts of Asia, circumcised males are a minority. Circumcision is the result of religious tradition which has become a social tradition as well.

There are many reasons why parents may wish to have their son circumcised. The most frequently cited is so the boy will “look like his father.” Some feel that a circumcised penis is easier to keep clean (and it is), but in an industrialized Western society that encourages bathing and cleanliness, this is not a major cause for concern. There are studies that have shown a lower incidence of urinary tract infection and a rare penile cancer in circumcised males.

Circumcision is a surgical procedure and complications can occur. They are extremely rare. Complications include excessive bleeding, loss of the skin of the penis, loss of the skin of the scrotum, damage to the head of the penis, damage to the urethra (the tube that carries the urine from the bladder to the outside) and painful scars. Very rarely, infection can arise in the circumcision site resulting in overwhelming illness and death.

If your child has been circumcised, there is little in the way of special care that is required. An antibiotic ointment or Vaseline applied to the head of the penis for the first four or five days will prevent the penis from sticking to the front of the diaper and causing pain. A very small amount of blood staining is sometimes seen on the diaper and is no cause for concern.

For those who have not had their male children circumcised, do not attempt to retract the child’s foreskin. It is not necessary and can be harmful at this age.

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