All About the Circumcision Process

circumcision process
circumcision process

*I have decided to turn off comments for this post. The purpose of this post is ONLY to give more info about the process and to give families some other things to think about when making the decision. It IS NOT intended to make the decision for you, or to persuade or dissuade you. 

Circumcision is a very personal decision for some families. Most people are either very firmly for or against it.

This post is for those families still on the fence and wanting to know more about the circumcision process.

Let me first say that I neither intend to persuade or dissuade you. When our little boy gets here, he will be circ’d because that is what my husband decided. Knowing what I know, I was more apprehensive about it but ultimately decided I couldn’t be the one to choose.

Why do we circumcise?

The origins of circumcision are very old and mainly done for religious purposes. Today, in America, we practice circumcision mainly due to popularity.

What are some reasons I would want to circumcise my son?

  • It could be medically necessary or medically advantageous
    • If your son has any genitourinary issues at birth, doctors may recommend circumcision to prevent infections reaching the kidneys and causing damage
    • In some males, you cannot retract the foreskin due to a variety of factors, causing inability to adequately clean the head of the penis. 
      • What I meant here was that one factor I know of (not a variety, as stated) can cause inability to retract the foreskin. It’s when the opening of the foreskin is too small to open up over the head of the penis (phimosis). However, this is pretty common until later in life. It can still be an issue down the road, but there are other ways to fix this issue other than circumcision. I apologize for the misinformation and give thanks to @UncutBits for pointing out my mistake.
  • Personal preference for aesthetics
    • Plain and simple, some people just prefer the way it looks.
  • Could prevent future infections
    • If proper hygiene isn’t taken on, the risk of infection could be greater with an uncircumcised penis. There is also some evidence that risk of STDs is decreased in circumcised males.
  • Religious reasons
    • Again, the origins of circumcision are in religious practices. 

What are some reasons I wouldn’t want to circumcise my son?

  • Your son does not get a choice
    • Many parents feel uneasy about going through with a decision affecting such a sensitive area without the child being able to voice his opinions.
  • There are risks involved in the procedure
    • The biggest risk with circs is for excessive bleeding. There is a chance your child could have a bleeding disorder and could need a blood transfusion because of the procedure. Other risks include infection at the site and injury to the penis.
  • Loss of very sensitive skin
    • I’ve heard (and read) it said multiple times that the foreskin is home to a bunch of touch receptors that make it the most sensitive part of the penis. Some argue that by removing the foreskin, you’re depriving your son of future sexual pleasure.
  • It’s painful
    • While some doctors use anesthetic, this is a new practice and many prefer to just use simple sugar water and swaddling. I have seen the look on parents’ faces after a circ when the baby is crying. It will hurt for a little while initially, but it gets better within a few hours. Usually the first urination is the toughest.
  • May not be covered by insurance
    • Medicaid does not cover circumcisions, and a lot of private insurances may only cover a portion of the cost.
circumcision process
circumcision process

What is the circumcision process?

Some people are interested to know exactly how this procedure is performed. If you’re not one of them, skip this section!

  1. Your physician cleans the area then applies anesthetic if desired.
  2. The physician clamps the foreskin on two sides and pulls forward slightly.
  3. He or she then uses a probe or scissors and inserts between foreskin and glans to separate foreskin.
  4. Physician dependent: Method varies. 
    1. Gomco: The Gomco is a bell shaped device that fits over the glans and under the foreskin. The foreskin is pulled forward and a clamp is placed over it to cut off blood supply. A scalpel is then used to cut off the foreskin. The device is removed once bleeding is under control
    2. Plastibell: Very similar to the Gomco. A plastic, bell shaped piece is placed over the glans, under the foreskin. A piece of string/suture is then tied around the foreskin, acting as a clamp to cut off blood supply. A scalpel is used to cut off the foreskin. The bell stays on until it falls off naturally in about a week. Benefit: you don’t have to pull back the skin during diaper changes.
    3. Mogen: With the foreskin clamped in two places, the physician pulls it forward and then places a Mogen clamp over the excess foreskin. For a picture of the device click the link. A scalpel is used to cut away the foreskin. The device is then removed and the skin is pulled back into place.
  5. The physician puts Vaseline and gauze on the head of the penis to keep it moist.
  6. The nurse will bring your baby back to you.

Taking care of a circumcised penis

After the procedure, you’ll be required to put vaseline (or another ointment type) on with every diaper change for about a week until it is healed. It’s good practice to pull the skin back with diaper changes as well so that the skin does not adhere to itself during the healing process. It takes about a week for the site to heal.

The penis will initially be swollen and red, but that will go down over the week of healing. You’ll need to watch out for bleeding and signs of infection to be on the safe side.

It’s no one’s business what you choose

…Except maybe your sons future partner(s). Make whatever decision you feel comfortable with. For more opinions on this hot topic, just do a quick google search. You’ll find plenty of hot headed people with opinions on both sides. I just hope my rational approach has brought you some peace of mind to make the decision that works best for you.

Don’t forget, there are a lot of other decisions to make about your pregnancy if you haven’t already done so. Check out my post on 6 Pregnancy Decisions to Make Right Now!

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Comments (8)

  1. Parents should have zero say in their children’s sexual experiences when they are adults. By circumcising you are making an irreversible decision that will affect your child’s sexual experiences well into late adulthood. Medicaid doesn’t cover it because it is not medically necessary. It is basically a body modification preformed on an infant. If you are so in favor of circumcision, may I suggest you get the female equivalent of one by having your clitoral hood surgically removed?

    1. Hi Patrick,
      As I said, I think it’s a private decision. I do not intend to promote or protest circumcision. I have witnessed many procedures and personally feel wary of the procedure. My intent was to give parents more information so that they can make the decision that they believe is right for them. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Circumcision ,especially as a cosmetic surgery, should never be performed on a baby. I am happy my mother decided to keep my foreskin intact. I heard from a few circumcision guys, who suffer from their circumcision at baby age and they want their foreskin back.
    Just to mention: The male foreskin contains about 20’000 nerve endings, which are important for receiving sensation during intercourse.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. You’ll see that I did, in fact, mention this as a possible reason parents would not want to circumcised.

  3. You are missing one of the downsides of circumcision. Due to the lack of sufficient anaesthesia used in most circumcisions, there is a lot of pain (babies have been said to sleep through it, medical science is now starting to believe this is traumatic shock). It’s important to remember that the brain is still developing for years at this point, and that overload of pain has now been shown to cause permanent changes to the brain for life. Men and boys circumcised as infants have higher rates of conditions such as ADHD, Alexithymia, clinical depression, increased pain sensitivity and more.

    Can adverse neonatal experiences alter brain development and subsequent behavior? (Anand & Scalzo, 2000)

    Alexithymia and Circumcision Trauma: A Preliminary Investigation bollinger & van howe (2011)
    (This one also found that medicines like Viagra are used 4.53 times more commonly in men who are circumcised, so erectile dysfunction later in life is another potential down side)

  4. Jamie, this is a decision so many parents-to-be struggle with. I think it will be very helpful to those on the fence because you’ve covered both sides in a very honest and non-dramatic way.

Comments are closed.