*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.
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!
- Your physician cleans the area then applies anesthetic if desired.
- The physician clamps the foreskin on two sides and pulls forward slightly.
- He or she then uses a probe or scissors and inserts between foreskin and glans to separate foreskin.
- Physician dependent: Method varies.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- The physician puts Vaseline and gauze on the head of the penis to keep it moist.
- 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!