Circumcision: you decide

Circumcision normally takes place in a newborn shortly before he leaves hospital.  The cutting procedure involves the removal of the foreskin or ring of tissue that covers the head of the penis.

Few boys are born with a retractable foreskin but by the age of about 3 years, the foreskin can be retracted in most uncircumcised boys.

The purpose of the foreskin is to protect the glans penis against urine, feces and other irritations and infections.  It also protects the sensitivity of the glans.

The subject remains greatly debated in the community and medical profession.  However, some recent studies have revealed a high percentage drop in HIV transmission in circumcised males compare to uncircumcised males.  This may result in a change in recommendations.

Why would you circumcise?

  1. Protects against urinary tract infections (UTIs) during the first year of life although these are rare and easily treated.
  2. Prevents infections under the foreskin and the inflammation of the glans and foreskin.
  3. Circumcision may lower the risk for cancer of the cervix in sexual partners and the risk of cancer of the penis which is very rare.
  4. Decreases the risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases including HIV later in life, but does not prevent STD.
  5. Followers of the Jewish and Moslem faiths circumcise their boys for religious purposes.
  6. To keep your son’s appearance ‘like’ dad.

Why would you not circumcise?

  1. Problems with surgery that may occur are skin infections, bleeding and scarring.
  2. While some anesthetic around the area can block some pain, the procedure is painful.
  3. The cost of the procedure if you are not covered my medical aid.
  4. If you do not initially circumcise your son and decide at a later stage after he is 2 months old, the procedure requires a general anesthesia.

Circumcision of boys for religious purposes will continue but for everyone else it remains a parental decision, not a medical decision.

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