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Circumcision: The Pros and Cons to Help Make This Decision

Whether to have your son circumcised is a decision you’ll be asked to make. Here are some arguments from both sides of the debate.

Little boyUpdated November 2013

Once considered routine in the US, only about 32% of boys born in this country are now circumcised as newborns.

What is it?

Circumcision is the removal of foreskin—the double layer of skin and mucous membrane covering the tip of the penis.

Do?

  • During the first year, urinary tract infections occur less frequently in boys who are circumcised.
  • Circumcision is more complicated and riskier when performed later.
  • The tradition of circumcision is an integral part of some religions.
  • Some studies have shown that it reduces the risk of HIV in heterosexual males.
  • Circumcision may decrease the incidence of herpes and human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Foreskin removal may lower the risk of cervical cancer in female partners.
  • Penile infections and irritations are less common in circumcised males

Don’t?

  • No major medical group advocates routine circumcision for newborns.
  • Circumcision may decrease sensitivity in the penis and reduce sexual pleasure.
  • There is pain associated with newborn circumcision when no anesthetic is used.
  • Leaving the foreskin intact helps protect the penis from chafing and irritation.
  • Some believe it’s unethical for parents to make this decision for their child.
  • Like any surgery, circumcision is associated with some risks, including instances of bleeding and infection.
  • Regular bathing and good hygiene habits are all that’s required to prevent infection in an uncircumcised male.

Sources: Kids Health; medicinenet.com; Circumcision Resourse Center; Healthy Children.

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