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The Pros and Cons of Circumcision

You have a lot of decisions to make when your baby comes along. If that bundle of joy is a boy, you have an additional decision to make. To circumcise or not to circumcise? Here are the pros and cons of circumcision.

What is circumcision?Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis and is most commonly done for religious and personal reasons. It is a Jewish and Islamic tradition. Some families just prefer that boys look like their dad.

15 Pro: Circumcision may lower risk of UTIs

In an early study of 100 infants up to eight months of age that were admitted to the hospital for a UTI, most infections in infants under three months of age were found in males. 95% of male infants in the study were uncircumcised.

14 Con: Chance of getting UTIs is small

UTIs are common and are easily treated with antibiotics. UTIs occur more frequently in girls. By the time kids are 5 years old, 8% of girls and 1-2% of boys have had one.

13 Pro: Circumcision may lower risk of STDs

A 2009 study showed that circumcised men have a 25% lower risk of genital herpes and a 35% lower risk of HPV, the virus that can cause genital warts and cancers.

12 Con: STDs can be prevented regardless

Vaccines are available to prevent Hepatitis-B and HPV. Abstinence or the correct use of condoms can also prevent STDs and infections.

11 Pro: Circumcision may prevent cancer

Removal of the foreskin can lower the risk of HPV, which in turn can lower the risk of penile cancer. Past studies have shown that penile cancer rates are much lower in circumcised men.

10 Con: There’s no immediate medical reason to circumcise

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists both agree that there are some medical benefits, but that those benefits don’t outweigh the risks. The AAP is of the opinion that the "benefits [of circumcision] are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision." A lot of parents feel that it is unnecessary to put a newborn baby through painful elective surgery.

9 Pro: Circumcision prevents foreskin retraction/return foreskin to its original position

Phimosis, the inability to retract the foreskin, is usually resolved as an infant enters childhood. Paraphimosis, the inability to return the foreskin to its original position, can cause problems with blood flow to the penis. Removal of the foreskin at infancy prevents these two incidents from occurring.

8 Con: There can be complications after surgery

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with undergoing a circumcision. Too much or too little skin can be removed. Skin adhesions or cysts may form. Infection can occur if not properly cared for.

7 Pro: Some say that it makes hygiene easier

Many believe that since there is no skin to pull back, it’s easier to keep a circumcised penis clean.

6 Con: There’s no real difference in hygiene

A few extra seconds in the tub or shower will take care of washing an uncircumcised penis.

5 Con: It’s painful

Obviously! When discussing circumcision with your doctor, ask what pain-relieving methods will be used. Some doctors use a localized injection to numb the area, topical numbing creams, sugar water, or other pain medications. Some doctors may even prefer to use a combination of pain-relieving methods.

4 Pro: It may become medically necessary later on after all

If a baby develops frequently recurring UTIs, it may become medically necessary for him to undergo a circumcision to prevent repeat infections. It may also become necessary to undergo a circumcision if the foreskin retracts and tightens, obstructing the flow of urine.

3 Con: Circumcision is permanent and irreversible

Your son may grow up to resent the alteration of his body without his consent. More and more men are voicing their displeasure over the loss of a natural part of their anatomy.

2 Con: Circumcision can cause problems

Penile problems such as infection, irritation, and inflammation are more likely to happen if the male is circumcised. Leaving the foreskin to cover the penis helps keep it covered and provides some protection from wet and dirty diapers.

1 Con: Times and attitudes have changed

The decision to circumcise is not as popular as it once was. The rate has declined from 83 percent in the 1960s to 77 percent in 2010.

Some things to keep in mind:Problems such as penile adhesions and infections can occur with or without circumcision. Good hygiene should be performed and taught whether your son is circumcised or not.

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