More families are debating the decision to circumcise their baby boys. While some parents are hesitant on the surgical procedure which removes the foreskin of the penis, for others it’s a matter of tradition. In some cultures, the decision is based on religious practices or cultural beliefs. Parents should discuss the procedure together and evaluate all the risks and benefits as well as proper circumcision care before making a decision.
Many parents hesitate at the thought of a surgical procedure on an infant that isn’t necessary, though the debate is controversial. There have actually been reported studies indicating that there may be several health benefits to having a newborn circumcised.
Possible Health Benefits of Circumcision
In recent studies, results have shown that circumcision can actually reduce the chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS by a very high percentage. In addition, nowadays circumcision is also practiced as a preventive measure to Phimosis, a medical condition where the glans does not retract as it supposed to.
There are very minimal risks involved with circumcision, many of which are the result of improper circumcision care following the procedure. According to the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), possible health benefits from having your child circumcised outweigh these risks including:
- Proper hygiene
- Less risks of developing UTI
- Lower risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases
- Preventive measure for penile conditions (such as Phimosis)
- Reduced chance of developing cancer of the penis in men
How is Circumcision Performed?
Circumcision can be done at any stage of infant development. Some communities do it on their babies immediately after birth while other communities wait until the child reaches puberty. In certain regions, such as Africa, the procedure is often performed on older males as a preventive measure against sexually transmitted diseases. It is however important to note that, it is better done as soon as possible as the healing process is faster for an infant than for an older child. The procedure is commonly performed on newborns while in the hospital nursery. In some cases, where a medical condition is present, the procedure is delayed until later and may be performed by the child’s pediatrician. Our son was born 3 weeks early and spent his first few days in the NICU. Babies in the NICU generally do not have the procedure done as it may complicate other conditions. Once he was released from the hospital, our pediatrician performed the procedure in her office. The procedure usually only takes about 10 minutes.
For the procedure the doctor will have the baby lying back with their arms and legs restrained (for this reason, parents are often not allowed to be present during the procedure). The general area is cleaned and prepped for the procedure. An anesthetic is applied either by injection to the base of the penis or as a topical cream depending on the doctor’s preference. Next a ring or special clamp is placed on to the penis; afterwards the doctor removes the foreskin. The doctor will dress the wound with an ointment, commonly petroleum jelly, then covered loosely with pieces of gauze.
Proper Circumcision Care in A Newborn
Just as with any other wound, a circumcision wound must be kept clean at all times as it can become infected. Sponge bathing is recommended in infants where they are not sitting in soapy water. Cleaning should be done using warm water and very gentle application (no scrubbing or rubbing). Our doctor recommended just using a washcloth to squeeze clean water onto the area a few times to wash off any urine or stool. After the penis has healed, usually around 7-10 days, you can resume normal washing with soap and water.
It is advisable to put a dab of petroleum-jelly on the circumcised penis after each diaper change for 3-5 days to reduce any potential discomfort. It will also help minimize the chance of the bandage or gauze sticking to the penis as it heals. You will want to change the bandage out for the first couple of days and change your baby’s diaper often. We used cloth diapers with both of our children which is much softer and gentler on skin than disposable diapers.
What is Normal Following Circumcision Care?
The penis may appear swollen and reddish in the first day or two following the procedure. A yellow discharge or crust and little blood may also be noticed during the first few days when you change your baby’s diaper. This is normal for the healing process.
Your doctor will discuss any potential risks and may give you some papers to go home with. These are a few things to watch for following circumcision care:
- Persistent bleeding
- Increased redness
- Abnormal urination
- Discharge or drainage of the penis that is foul-smelling
Any of these signs could be an indication of infection or serious risk from the procedure, though it is very rare. If you notice any of these signs in your newborn consult with your child’s pediatrician or operating physician right away. Just as with any surgical procedure, you should discuss the risks and benefits of prior to making your decision.
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/circumcision/page3_em.htm#self-care_at_home time 5:30pm date 4/5/2013