What Are the Pros and Cons of Circumcision?

Circumcision used to be an act of religious rite of passage. Now, it is a choice that parents have to make when their sons are born. Apart from religious reasons, is circumcision necessary and can it hurt your child?

Circumcision involves removing a portion of the foreskin of the penis. It requires a surgical procedure that takes no more than fifteen minutes to perform. Many male children are circumcised when they are infants.

To make an informed decision, many parents want to know more. What are the benefits and the risks of having your baby circumcised?


* Circumcision allows for easier cleaning of the penis. When a child is young, you will be doing the cleaning. But as they get older, they will have to learn to clean their penis. It is not necessary to clean under the foreskin until it naturally rolls back from the head of the penis.

* Lower risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Men who are circumcised seem to have a lower incidence of acquiring STDs.

* Penile problems are decreased. There is a condition called phimosis where the foreskin of the penis won’t retract back over the penis. Surgery may be needed to release the skin and allow it to retract. When the foreskin is already removed during circumcision, this is not an issue.

* Lower risk of penile cancers.


* Infection at surgical site. Infections from circumcisions are rare but can happen. If you notice any pus or foul odor coming from the incision area, consult your doctor immediately. Sometimes the penis will bleed after surgery but that is not unusual. It will clear up in a day or two.

* In older circumcision patients, there is pain associated with it. As a baby, the child won't remember it but it can take longer to heal as an adult.

* Improper cleaning of surgical site. Parents have to be careful to clean the circumcised area well. The penis can still be cleaned after surgery but soap should probably wait until the incision has fully healed. Also, petroleum jelly is used to keep the healing penis from sticking to the diaper. Forgetting to do this can result in reopening the incision as you remove the diaper. Also, if the doctor places a plastic ring at the incision site, let it fall off on its own.

Circumcision is a matter of choice. If you choose to do so, health care professionals will walk you thought how to care for your son’s incision. Either way, as your son ages, you will need to teach him to clean himself well so that he can avoid infections in that area. Having a circumcision doesn’t affect future fertility or sexual health.