Circumcision

  • What is circumcision?  At birth, boys have skin that covers the end of the penis, called the foreskin.  Circumcision surgically removes the foreskin, exposing the tip of the penis.  Circumcision is usually performed by a doctor in the first few days of life.  An infant must be stable and healthy to be safely circumcised.  Many people choose to have their sons circumcised because “all the other men in the family were circumcised” or because they do not want their sons to feel “different”. Others feel circumcision is unnecessary and choose not to have it done.  Some groups practice circumcision for religious and cultural reasons.  Since circumcision may be more risky if done later in life, parents may want to decide before their son is born if they want their son circumcised.

Reasons parents may choose circumcision

A slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).

A lower risk of getting cancer of the penis (very rare).

A slightly lower risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including AIDS.

Prevention of foreskin infections.

Prevention of phimosis (foreskin can’t be retracted).

Easier genital hygiene.

Reasons parents may choose not to circumcise

Possible rare surgical risks including bleeding, infection, cutting foreskin too short or long, and improper healing.

The belief that the foreskin is necessary to protect the tip of the penis.

The belief that circumcision makes the tip of the penis less sensitive, causing a decrease in sexual pleasure later in life.

Almost all uncircumcised boys can be taught proper hygiene that can lower their chances of getting infections, cancer of the penis and STDs.

  • Is circumcision painful?  When done without pain medicine, circumcision is painful.  There are pain medicines available that are safe and effective.  Local anesthetics can be injected into the penis to lower pain and stress in infants. Problems with using pain medicine such as bruising at the injection site are rare and usually not serious.  Small amounts of sweet syrup given by mouth during the procedure and a dose of acetominophen (Tylenol) given afterwards may also help alleviate any discomfort.
  • What should I expect for my son before circumcision?   In our practice, we prefer to perform your son’s circumcision in the nursery on the first morning after birth, however access to inpatient circumcisions is currently limited by hospital space and staffing.  Please be prepared to consider an outpatient procedure in our office during the first week or two of life.  If this is a concern for you, contact our office at (417) 882-1600 or the nursery administrator at (417) 269-4290.  Having an empty stomach for the procedure can decrease risk so we ask that you not feed your son after 4 A.M. on the day of the procedure.  The doctor will examine your baby and review his chart before discussing the risks and benefits of the procedure as well as answering your questions.   You will be asked to sign a consent form for the baby’s record.
  • What should I expect for my son after circumcision?   Two comparable procedures are performed by the doctors in our practice.  The appearance of the penis after healing is identical no matter which of these procedures is performed. After a Gomco procedure, the tip of the penis may seem raw or yellowish. Petroleum jelly should be used to prevent the healing skin from sticking to the diaper. After a Plastibell procedure, a plastic ring and string is left on the tip of the penis during healing.  The ring usually drops off within 5 to 8 days.  No petroleum jelly should be used with this procedure.  It takes about 1 week to 10 days for the penis to fully heal after circumcision.
  • Are there any problems that can happen after circumcision?  Problems after a circumcision are very rare.  However, notify us if your baby does not urinate normally within 6-8 hours after the circumcision, there is persistent bleeding or there is redness around the tip of the penis that gets worse after 3 to 5 days.  It is normal to have a little yellow discharge or coating around the head of the penis, but this should not last longer than a week.
  • What if I choose not to have my son circumcised?  The foreskin usually does not fully retract for several years and should never be forced.  The uncircumcised penis is easy to keep clean by gently washing the genital area while bathing.  You do not need to do any special cleansing.  Later, when the foreskin fully retracts, boys should be taught how to wash underneath the foreskin every day.