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The Pros and Cons of Circumcising Babies

Are you anticipating on having a boy? Are you still unsure if you want him to undergo a circumcision? Well, you’re not alone considering how many parents still ask the most pressing questions when it comes to whether or not they should circumcise their boy’s penis. People from Jewish and Muslim backgrounds have made it part of their religious traditions for all boys to go through circumcision, however, the practice of circumcision may not be for everyone. In this article, we explore the pros and cons of circumcising babies and what you can do as parents to ultimately make the decision for yourself.

 What is circumcision?

Circumcision is the process in which a baby’s skin or tissue is surgically removed from the genitals of a boy or girl. However, female circumcision of all kinds is illegal in Australia.

When baby boys are born, they have a sleeve of skin covering the end of the penis and this is called the foreskin. When they undergo circumcision, the skin is cut from the penis and this results in revealing the head of the penis.

  • Normally, circumcision is performed a few days after birth. During the process, local anaesthetic is used. There is also the option of not using anaesthetic at all.
  • Some parents may choose this option where they wait until their babies are a couple of months older and have their little one circumcised using local or general anaesthetic.

 Uncircumcised vs. Circumcised – what’s the difference?

Uncircumcised

  • When a boy is uncircumcised, the foreskin of the penis cannot be pulled back due to its attachment to the underlying glans of the penis.
  • Over time, the foreskin becomes a protective layering for the sensitive glans.
  • During childhood, most boys find that they can pull back the foreskin, exposing and creating separation from the glans.
  • Special care for an uncircumcised penis isn’t necessary, and boys can easily clean underneath the foreskin because of how easy it is to pull back the skin. Essentially, the foreskin can look after itself.

Circumcised

  • When a boy is circumcised and once the scar from the operation heals, the glans of the genital area are exposed.
  • How the penis looks depends on how much skin was removed and the location where the cuts were made to remove the foreskin of the genital.
  • There is no special care needed when it comes to taking care of a circumcised penis.

Some parents worry that deciding to circumcise their boy’s penis will make them feel different from their peers. Normally boys aren’t as fussed and will more than likely ask one of their friends why it’s different – circumcised or uncircumcised. Ultimately, you’re the decider to whether or not you want their penis to be circumcised. Don’t feel pressured by other people in making the decision for you. Decide what you think is best for your child and for yourself.

If you can’t decide, we’ve outlined the reasons to leave your boy’s penis circumcised or uncircumcised.

Reasons to be circumcised

  • It reduces their risk of contracting a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection).
  • In 2007, WHO (World Health Organisation) found research that if boys or adults were circumcised, it reduced their risk of getting HIV (AIDS). Even though it provided them with partial protection, being circumcised in a high-risk country like Africa proved to be helpful.
  • Reduces the risks of getting genital warts. This is particularly useful for countries that have no vaccination against genital warts (Australia does have a vaccination for it).
  • It’s very uncommon to get cancer of the penis but it is possible. Being circumcised can aid in protecting the penis from this disease.
  • There is a lot of well-researched sources that are all for circumcision because of its numerous health benefits.

Reasons to be uncircumcised 

  • Parents and doctors are against circumcision purely because they believe that the foreskin is a natural part of a male’s body. Because it has a rich source of nerve endings, it plays an essential role in sexual sensation, especially for boys growing up.
  • Like all operations, there is a risk of the circumcision practice going wrong. However, the problems are normally short-term. This could be bleeding after the operation.
  • In rare instances, surgically removing the foreskin can cause severe damage to other parts of the male reproductive system such as the urethra and penis. Sometimes this results in death.
  • There are also long-term problems that exist in circumcision like restricted urine outflow (meatal stenosis) and the appearance of the penis (with the foreskin being taken away, this could make the penis look uneven).
  • People are also strongly against infant circumcision, purely because they don’t have a say in their body. At least when they reach adolescence or early adulthood, they can decide if they want to circumcise their penis.

If you are going ahead with circumcising your baby, there are a few things you should do before the operation…

  • Make sure you prepare early. Do your research and know what to expect from the operation. Ask questions to your medical health professional and learn as much as possible. They should respect your decision and provide you with unbiased information on circumcision.
  • Make sure that whoever is undertaking the operation for circumcision is confident and experienced. The last thing you want is someone lacking experience. Don’t be afraid to ask the doctor how many circumcisions they’ve performed and how many of them went through complications.
  • Ensure that during and after the circumcision, your son takes pain relief medication.
  • Make sure you follow up with your doctor on how the procedure went and ask about any costs you need to cover.
  • Be aware that some Australian states do not allow circumcision to be performed in public hospitals.

Let your parental instincts sink in and decide if your baby boy being circumcised is something you need. With the pressures of society and how we should take care of our children, it’s not a matter of doing what you think is the “popular” option or following the advice from your family and friends. Remember you’re doing what you think is best for your child.

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