Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, which is the skin covering the tip of the penis. It’s common in the United States and parts of Africa and the Middle East but less common in Europe and some countries, according to recent estimatesTrusted Source.
The procedure is typically done on a newborn for personal or religious reasons. Circumcision in older children and adults may also be done for the same reasons. Additionally, older children or adults may need circumcision to treat several conditions, including:
- Balanitis (swelling of the foreskin)
- Balanoposthitis (inflammation of the tip and foreskin of the penis)
- Paraphimosis (inability to return a retracted foreskin to its original position)
- Phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin)
In healthy newborns, there is no medical need for circumcision. However, families may choose to have their sons circumcised for a number of reasons.
One of the most common reasons is religious tradition. The religious laws of both Judaism and Islam require that newborn boys be circumcised. Other reasons to circumcise include:
- Personal choice
- Aesthetic preference
- Resulting lowered risk of some conditions
- Desire of some fathers to have their sons look like them
Why it’s done?
Circumcision is a religious or cultural ritual for many Jewish and Islamic families, as well as certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia. Circumcision can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care.
Sometimes there’s a medical need for circumcision, such as when the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back (retracted) over the glans. In other cases, particularly in parts of Africa, circumcision is recommended for older boys or men to reduce the risk of certain sexually transmitted infections.
Circumcision might have various health benefits, including:
- Easier hygiene. Circumcision makes it simpler to wash the penis. However, boys with uncircumcised penises can be taught to wash regularly beneath the foreskin.
- Decreased risk of urinary tract infections. The risk of urinary tract infections in males is low, but these infections are more common in uncircumcised males. Severe infections early in life can lead to kidney problems later.
- Decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections. Circumcised men might have a lower risk of certain sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Still, safe sexual practices remain essential.
- Prevention of penile problems. Occasionally, the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract (phimosis). This can lead to inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis.
- Decreased risk of penile cancer. Although cancer of the penis is rare, it’s less common in circumcised men. In addition, cervical cancer is less common in the female sexual partners of circumcised men.
Circumcision might not be an option if certain blood-clotting disorders are present. Also, circumcision might not be appropriate for premature babies who still require medical care in the hospital nursery or for babies born with abnormalities of the penis.
Circumcision doesn’t affect fertility, nor is circumcision generally thought to enhance or detract from sexual pleasure for men or their partners.
How a circumcision is performed?
Circumcisions are often done by a pediatrician, obstetrician, family medicine doctor, surgeon, or urologist. Circumcisions that are performed for religious reasons are sometimes done by others trained in the procedure.
During the newborn circumcision, your son will lay on his back with his arms and legs secured. An anesthetic is given via injection or cream to numb the penis.
There are several techniques for performing circumcision. The choice of which technique is used depends on the physician’s preference and experience.
The three major methods of circumcision are the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell deviceTrusted Source, and the Mogen clamp. Each one works by cutting off circulation to the foreskin to prevent bleeding when the doctor cuts the foreskin. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
The most common complications associated with circumcision are bleeding and infection. Side effects related to anesthesia are possible as well.
Rarely, circumcision might result in foreskin problems. For example:
- The foreskin might be cut too short or too long
- The foreskin might fail to heal properly
- The remaining foreskin might reattach to the end of the penis, requiring minor surgical repair