What is circumcision?

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Learning About Circumcision


Circumcision is a surgery to remove the foreskin, a fold of skin that covers and protects the rounded tip of the penis. If it's done, circumcision is usually done soon after birth.

There are both benefits and risks to newborn circumcision. The decision whether to have a baby circumcised is often based on what the parents prefer.

Some older children and adults need circumcision to treat problems with the foreskin of the penis or for swelling of the tip of the penis.

What are the risks of circumcision?

Problems from circumcision aren't common. If they occur, they usually are minor. The most common problems are:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection of the circumcision site.
  • Irritation of the exposed tip of the penis.
  • Blockage of the opening of the urethra (meatal stenosis).

More serious problems are rare. They include damage to the opening of the urethra, heavy bleeding that requires stitches, severe infection, and scarring.

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is a surgery to remove the foreskin, a fold of skin that covers and protects the rounded tip of the penis. The foreskin provides sensation and lubrication for the penis. After the foreskin is removed, it can't be put back on again.

What are the benefits of circumcision?

Circumcision may reduce the risk of certain infections. Those who have a circumcised penis may be less likely to get:

Urinary tract infections (UTIs).

In the first year of life, UTIs happen less often in babies who are circumcised. But UTIs aren't common.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Some studies done in men have shown that those who are circumcised are a little less likely than those who are uncircumcised to get or spread an STI, including HIV.

How can you decide about circumcision for your child?

It's up to you whether you have your baby circumcised or not. This decision is often based on personal and cultural preferences. For example, you may want to consider your religious and family traditions.

You can talk to your baby's doctor about the benefits and risks.

Keep in mind that circumcision isn't just done in newborns. It can also be done later in life if your child chooses to have a circumcised penis.

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