If you have a baby boy, you will be asked if you want him circumcised, whether it be by your doctor, pediatrician, or hospital staff. But before you make this big decision, you'll need to know all the facts. Circumcision is an altering of your baby's body that cannot be undone, so please do not take this decision lightly.
Medial Circumcision vs Traditional Circumcision
First, it's important to understand that medical circumcision done by a doctor and traditional circumcision are two entirely different things. Traditional circumcision, such as performed by Jews for religious reasons, removes only the tip of the foreskin, leaving the majority of the foreskin and it's function intact. Medical circumcision removes the foreskin and it's protection entirely.
It was once taught that circumcision has many health benefits for men, such as reducing the chances of contracting AIDS, STDs, etc. Today, we are not so sure. In fact, most professional medical organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), do not recommend routine circumcision because the risks often outweigh the benefits.
People have the notion that an uncircumcised boy is “dirty” and will have a hard time washing and having good hygiene. This is simply not true. An uncircumcised boy will clean himself much like a circumcised boy. Some basic instruction on hygiene as he grows is all he will need.
Circumcision is not “popular”
Fathers tend to carry one major fear, that their son will look different and be made fun of. They see visions of boys making fun of him in the locker room. But it's a misconception that circumcision is the popular choice. The USA is fairly divided, with approximately half of the male population being circumcised and half of the population being uncircumcised. Circumcision rates are higher in certain parts of the country than others, but it's far from the majority of US males.
Circumcision is painful. The foreskin is lifted and cut off with the use of surgical tools. Your baby will be awake during this procedure. Doctors usually use a topical anesthetic to numb the pain, but it is far from a complete solution. You can find videos online showing the stress and pain that an infant endures while being circumcised; they are not for the weary.
Circumcision, as with any surgical procedure, carries risks. Some of them are minor, and others, while rare, are serious.
The most common risks associated with circumcision include:
- Risk of bleeding and infection
- Irritation of the glans
- Risk of injury
Take the time to research circumcision with the information available to you. Discuss the topic on multiple occasions with your spouse while you are both calm. If you still cannot decide, it may help to sit down with your family doctor or chosen pediatrician to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure.