04 Mar Circumcision…It’s your choice
As the mother of a little girl, I’ve never put much serious thought into the question of circumcision. Although some parents are certain that they want to circumcise their sons for religious, cultural or ‘medical’ reasons, others find this decision very difficult. I don’t think that there is a wrong choice but I do encourage parents to be aware of the risks and benefits and then make an informed decision that is in the best interest of their child.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin which is the loose piece of skin that naturally covers the tip (glans) of the penis.
The procedure can be performed in the hospital before your baby is discharged or in the outpatient setting during the newborn period. It is considered a relatively safe procedure, which, if done in a sterile fashion and by an experienced practitioner, rarely has complications.
Speaking of complications, there are potential risks with any surgical procedure. The complication rate for newborn circumcision is somewhere between 0.2-0.5%, and is comprised mostly of minor bleeding and infection which can usually be easily managed.
On the question of whether analgesia (pain relief) is needed, the answer is a loud and resounding YES. It has been shown that infants undergoing this procedure without analgesia experience significant pain and stress as evidenced by an increase in their blood pressure, heart rate as well as behavioral changes (facial expression, crying patterns, irritability, and level of attentiveness).
There has been some strong debate in recent times about the health benefits of circumcision, as some studies have found that in addition to reducing the risk for urinary tract infections among infants, circumcision also reduces the chance of adult men getting cancer of the penis and becoming infected with a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, AIDS, and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes genital warts in men and women and cervical cancer in women.
Circumcision should not be performed on male infants who have any type of abnormality of the penis, including hypospadias (abnormal placement of the urethral opening), a sick or unstable infant or one with bleeding problems.
To circumcise or not? That really is the question. One that should be answered by the parents once they have done some research and have had an in depth discussion with their medical practitioner.