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About Circumcision

Circumcision is the parents’ choice

The CDC reports show that in 2010, about 55% of newborn baby boys were circumcised the USA.  USA is the only country in the world in which circumcision is routinely done for non-religious reasons.  Most of the information in this handout is from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

At birth, boys have skin that covers the end of the penis, called the foreskin.
Circumcision surgically removes the foreskin, exposing the tip of the penis. Circumcision is usually performed in the first few days of life.

An infant must be stable and healthy to safely be circumcised.

Scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision.  Like all surgical procedures, there is also some associated risk of bleeding, infection, and damage to tissue or organs.

However, the benefits are not sufficient for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised.

Because circumcision is not essential to a child’s health, parents should choose what is best for their child by looking at the benefits and risks.  Circumcision may be more risky if done later in life, so parents should decide before or soon after their son is born if they want it done.  If parents decide to wait until after the baby is discharged from the hospital, it may be difficult to find a provider who can perform the procedure. Most insurance companies will not cover the procedure if done after the baby has been discharged. Speak with the midwife if you need help finding a provider.

Parents can choose to have the procedure done or not.  It is hospital policy that parents must sign a consent form.  This is an elective surgical procedure and parents are not permitted in the nursery during the procedure but may come to the nursery immediately afterwards to be with their infant.

Reasons parents may choose circumcision

Medical benefits, including:
A slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs). A circumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 1,000 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life; an uncircumcised infant boy has about a 1 in 100 chance of developing a UTI in the first year of life.

A lower risk of getting cancer of the penis. However, this type of cancer is very rare in all males.

A slightly lower risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Prevention of foreskin infections.

Prevention of phimosis, a condition inuncircumcised males that makes foreskin retraction impossible.
Easier genital hygiene.

Social reasons:
Many parents choose to have it done because “all the other men in the family” had it done or because they do not want their sons to feel “different.”

Religious or cultural reasons:
Some groups such as followers of the Jewish and Islamic faiths practice circumcision for religious and cultural reasons.

Reasons parents may choose not to circumcise:
Fear of the risks. Complications are rare and usually minor but may include bleeding, infection, cutting the foreskin too short or too long, and improper healing.

Belief that the foreskin is needed. Some people feel the foreskin is needed to protect the tip of the penis.
Without it, the tip of the penis may become irritated and cause the opening of the penis to become too small. This can cause urination problems that may need to be surgically corrected.

Belief it can affect sex. Some feel that circumcision makes the tip of the penis less sensitive, causing a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life.

Belief that proper hygiene can lower health risks. Boys can be taught proper hygiene that can lower their chances of getting infections, cancer of the penis, and STIs.

Circumcision with Loudoun Community Midwives:
Most insurances only cover circumcision if it is done while baby is a patient in the hospital.  Three of our CNM’s (Margie, Paula, and Sarah) are trained and credentialed to do this procedure.   They do use local anesthetic to make the area numb.  It can only be done if the baby has received Vitamin K.   All circumcisions are done in the nursery, and parents are not allowed to attend the procedure.  It is also possible to have a home circumcision done by a rabbi, even if not of the Jewish religion.  See our links page for this info.