Infant circumcision has become a somewhat sensitive topic, many labeling it archaic, while others defend its benefits.
Regardless of the stance you take though, an informed decision needs to be made – there’s no going back, after all!
Less than 20% of Aussie boys are circumcised. The main reasons for circumcision on babies are religious, family or cultural. While medical circumcisions are sometimes required to treat diseases, these do not make up the majority of procedures.
The purpose of the foreskin is to protect the head of the penis, as well as contributing to sexual sensations.
In a nutshell (nut, haha), the procedure involves removing the foreskin at the tip of the penis. It can be done using either local or general anaesthesia. One option involves the foreskin being separated from the penis, using a bell-shaped instrument, then being removed with scissors or a scalpel (ouch!). The other option is a formal surgery, using sutures and tissue glue.
Risks from circumcision
“Some men resent that they were circumcised as children” – Better Health
Some risks from being circumcised include:
- The removal of the foreskin can reduce sexual pleasure for both partners in the future, as there may be a reduced sensitivity of the tip of the penis
- Reduced sensitivity, which may also cause painful intercourse for the man’s sexual partner.
- The procedure can be very painful, both during the operation and afterwards
- Excessive bleeding
- Complications where the foreskin is cut too short or too long
- Irritation to the head of the penis, as it no longer has the foreskin to protect it
- Narrowing of the meatus (the tube that urine comes out from)
Benefits of circumcision
According to Better Health, the benefits include:
- a 10 times lower risk of a baby getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) in his first year of life (remembering that only one per cent of babies are at risk of a UTI, so 1,000 circumcisions are needed to prevent one UTI)
- no risk of infants and children getting infections under the foreskin
- easier genital hygiene
- much lower risk of getting cancer of the penis (although this is a very rare condition and good genital hygiene also seems to reduce the risk. More than 10,000 circumcisions are needed to prevent one case of penile cancer)
- a possibly lower risk of men getting sexually transmissible infections (STIs) than men who are not circumcised (although these studies have not been scientifically confirmed and safe sex practices are far more effective in preventing these infections).
Medical issues requiring circumcision
Older boys and men sometimes have medical problems, where a circumcision is required. These include:
- scarring of the foreskin that stops it from retracting (phimosis)
- recurring inflammation or infections of the penis (balanitis or lichen sclerosis)
- a foreskin that is too tight and causes pain or spraying when urinating
- recurrent urinary tract infections.
Other than the ouch-factor, what else can you expect after a circumcision?
- Swelling and discomfort
- a small patch of blood in the nappy
- the wound looking “unsightly” for around 10 days
When to see a doctor urgently
If your child experiences any of the following after their circumcision, they need to seek medical attention immediately.
Better Health warns to watch out for the following complications following the procedure:
- continuous bleeding from the wound
- blue or black discolouration of the penis
- failure to produce a wet nappy within six to eight hours of the circumcision
- ongoing pain
- redness or swelling of the penis that doesn’t resolve after three to five days
- a yellowish discharge from the penis
- the plastic bell (if used) not falling off after 10 to 12 days
So there you have it, you’re now more confused about whether or not to get the chop on you son’s penis than ever before!
If you’re sick of all the doodle-talk, check out this awesome message for boys from The Wiggles.