Circumcision is a procedure where the skin covering the tip of the penis is removed. The decision to have your son circumcised is entirely up to you. Some studies have suggested that being circumcised may help reduce risk of urinary tract infections, may decrease the incidence of acquiring HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and may decrease the incidence of cancer of the penis. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics feels that there is not enough evidence to recommend routine circumcision of all infants, and therefore, leaves the decision up to the parents.

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding circumcision:

Why do some parents choose to circumcise their infants?

Many parents choose circumcision because it is simply more common in the United States. Often, if the father is circumcised, the parents choose to have the son circumcised as well. Some parents choose to circumcise because of religious or cultural beliefs. Other parents choose to circumcise because of hygiene and the possibility of decreased risk of disease, although this has not been proven.

Why do some parents decide not to circumcise their infants?

Some parents choose not to circumcise due to the risks of the procedure. Other parents feel that circumcision is unnecessary and allow their son to make the decision himself at a later date. Some parents are also worried about the pain or discomfort that the baby will feel during the procedure.

What are the risks of circumcision?

The risks of circumcision include pain, bleeding, scarring or infection of the site. Rare risks include removing too much or too little foreskin, and may require an additional surgery to correct. Circumcision is an elective procedure, therefore, it will not be performed on infants who are ill or premature and may need to be delayed until the baby is healthy and well.

How is circumcision performed?

If your son is healthy and without problems, circumcision is usually performed before you are discharged from the hospital.

There are four steps in performing circumcision:

  • The penis is cleaned and a sterile surgical area is created
  • Anesthetic (numbing medicine) is given and allowed to take effect
  • A special clamp is placed on the tip of the penis and the foreskin is removed
  • Petroleum jelly and a special bandage are placed on the penis for 24 hours

If you have any concerns or questions about circumcision, please address it with your OB physician or pediatrician.