Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis. When this procedure is performed, it's typically done on infant boys before they even leave the hospital. In its natural state, the foreskin covers the tip of the penis. During a circumcision, this skin is cut away to leave the tip of the penis exposed at all times.
Circumcision Risks vs. Benefits
The recommendations about circumcision have changed somewhat in recent years. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics no longer recommends circumcisions, saying that the risks of having a circumcision done are greater than the potential benefits. For one, a circumcision is painful, although health care providers typically use a numbing agent to keep this risk to a minimum. Infection and bleeding are also risks related to circumcision. These risks increase if a circumcision is performed on an older boy or an adult man.
There may be some small benefits to circumcision, but the most recent research says that they are slight, statistically small benefits. For example, studies have shown that circumcised men have a slightly lower risk for penile cancer, contracting sexually transmitted diseases and developing urinary tract infections than do uncircumcised men.
Should a Baby Be Circumcised?
Ultimately, the choice to have a male baby circumcised is the parents' decision. Though the health reasons for doing so are minimal, some parents choose to do so for religious, personal, cultural or other reasons. When it comes to circumcision, though, it’s a good thing for parents to make a decision about it before the baby is born. That's because the circumcision is usually performed in the first few days of life, and if the parents choose circumcision, the hospital is generally the best time place to have it performed.
SOURCES: U.S. Office on Women's Health.gov
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