Are you trying to decide whether or not to have your baby boy circumcised?

Circumcision involves the surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis.

For some parents, circumcision is a religious ritual. For others, circumcision is to help with personal hygiene or preventive health care. Often, the decision is related to aesthetics.

Many other parents feel the procedure is unnecessary. Regardless of the debate, make sure you have all the arguments and information from all sides in order to make an informed decision.

Most Australian boys aren’t circumcised. In 2010, about 85% of Australian parents chose not to circumcise their baby boy.

The benefits of circumcision may include:

  • Hygiene: Circumcision may make it easier to wash the penis. It is simple to clean an uncircumcised penis as well.
  • Decreased risk of urinary tract infections: Risk of urinary tract infections in the first year may be decreased. Urinary tract infections may be up to 10 times as common in uncircumcised baby boys.
  • Decreased risk of penile cancer: Although cancer of the penis is very rare overall, it is less common in circumcised men,

The negatives of circumcision may include:

  • Surgical risks: Excessive bleeding and infection are uncommon, but possible. Foreskin may be cut too short or too long to heal properly. Sometimes the remaining foreskin reattaches to the end of the penis and minor surgery may be needed to correct it.
  • Pain:  Local anaesthesia is used during the procedure, however post-operative pain and discomfort will be present.
  • Permanence: After the circumcision it may be impossible to re-create the appearance of an uncircumcised penis. Studies have shown this can have a psychological impact on some men in adulthood.
  • Expense: Insurance companies may not cover the cost of circumcision.

Circumcision care:

It takes about seven to 10 days for the penis to heal. There may be a noticeable yellowish mucus or crust. A small amount of bleeding is common the first day or two. Daily care includes:

  • Washing the penis as it heals
  • Change the bandage with each nappy change
  • Apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the tip of the penis so it won’t stick to baby’s diaper.
  • Although problems after circumcision are rare, you should call your doctor if:
  • Baby does not urinate normally within six to eight hours after the circumcision
  • Persistent bleeding or redness around the tip of the penis
  • Tip of penis is swollen
  • You suspect an infection. An infection may manifest as a foul-smelling drainage from the tip of the penis, or crusted sores filled with fluid.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use the information in this article to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your paediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child’s condition.

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