Circumcision: a personal decision
If you have a baby boy, you and your partner will want to discuss whether to circumcise him or
not. At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we feel that parents need to carefully
weigh the health benefits, risks, their religious beliefs and their personal preferences
before making this important decision for their child.
We suggest talking to one of our pediatricians about whether or not to circumcise. As well as
years of experience in this area, we have information and advice to help you make your decision.
The health benefits of circumcision
Although circumcision is (minor) surgery, causes pain during and after the procedure and is
permanent, research shows that it has many important health benefits.
Circumcision reduces the risk of:
- HIV infection among heterosexual males
- syphilis and genital herpes
- penile and prostate cancers
- urinary tract infections (some of which are serious enough to require hospitalization)
- cervical cancer in female sex partners
What is circumcision and when is it performed?
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head (glans) of the
penis. During the procedure (which takes about five to 10 minutes), the foreskin is freed from the
head of the penis and the excess foreskin is clipped off. The circumcision area generally heals in
five to seven days.
Circumcision is usually performed on the first or second day after birth. In the Jewish faith,
circumcision is performed on the eighth day by a trained mohel. Circumcision becomes more
complicated and riskier in older babies, children and men.
Risks of circumcision
Like any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with circumcision but these are very 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
Immediately after circumcision, the tip of the penis is usually covered with gauze coated with
petroleum jelly to keep the wound from sticking to the diaper. Gently wipe the penis tip clean
with warm water after a diaper change, then re-apply petroleum jelly to prevent sticking.
Any irritation or redness of the penis should heal within a few days, but if this increases or if
pus-filled blisters form, there may be an infection. If this happens, call your pediatrician