Safe and beneficial, circumcision is a common practice around the world. It is a part of many religious traditions and practices, and the oldest surgical procedure known to man.
While circumcision is mostly performed on newborn boys, it’s not uncommon for adult men to get circumcised as well. If you’re interested in learning more about this procedure or are thinking of getting one, here is everything you need to know about circumcision.
What is circumcision and how common is it?
In essence, circumcision is a surgical removal of the skin on the penis. It is commonly performed on male infants across the U.S., the Middle East, and South Korea. In the U.S., around two-thirds of newborn boys undergo the procedure.
It is usually done several days after birth. However, when performed as a part of Jewish practices and rituals, it typically takes place on the eighth day post-birth. A number of African, as well as Islamic communities, also practice circumcision. The procedure is not as common in South America, Europe, and parts of Asia.
Who performs circumcision and what are the reasons to perform one?
When performed in a medical setting, circumcision is done by a pediatrician, obstetrician, or urologist. Parents may also decide on religious circumcision in which case they need to find a mohel who’ll perform the procedure. In Jewish communities, this ritual is called a bris.
Although it began as a religious practice, circumcision can be done for different reasons, including cultural, religious, and medical. One example of when medical circumcision is performed is in the case of phimosis. This is when the foreskin on a male’s penis doesn’t retract as it should and instead remains tight. Through circumcision, this condition can easily be corrected.
What does the treatment look like?
Simply put, the circumcision procedure involves separating the foreskin – the piece of skin covering the head of the penis – from the glans and then removing it with the help of a scalpel.
After the procedure, the person performing it will apply ointment, placing gauze over the circumcised penis. The entire procedure usually lasts around 20 minutes or less. When performed on adult males, it may take a bit longer than that.
Circumcision may involve pain to some degree, like all other surgeries. However, it is easy to address this discomfort by relying on medications. It is also possible to use an anesthetic during the procedure to help numb the pain.
What are some of the risks of getting circumcised?
Although it’s generally considered safe, circumcision does carry certain risks. These include pain, bleeding, and infections. Sometimes, there may be a reaction to anesthesia. Some patients may experience irritation, while some may suffer from inflammation referred to as meatitis.
It is also possible for the person undergoing circumcision to end up with a foreskin that’s been cut either too short or too long.
There is also a possibility of penile adhesion, which is the result of improper foreskin healing. Although rare, such cases often require additional procedures. Generally speaking, it is best to perform circumcision as soon as possible, i.e. in the days following birth. As time goes on, the risks of possible complications increase.
What benefits does circumcision offer?
While there may be certain risks associated with circumcision, this procedure can also be a beneficial one.
For starters, circumcision makes it easier to wash the penis and keep it clean. This means that it can help with the hygiene of the males’ intimate area, and even improve their overall health.
What’s more, getting circumcised can also benefit a man’s overall health. For instance, it may lower their risk of HIV as well as HPV – human papillomavirus. Circumcised males are less likely to develop rare conditions such as penile cancer or suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs).
What does the recovery process look like?
Last but not least, circumcision heals relatively quickly. Newborn males as well as adult patients who decide to undergo this procedure usually recover within a week post procedure.
To ensure the healing process goes as smoothly as possible, it’s important to follow the post-circumcision care instructions, especially when it comes to the after-care of a circumcised baby.
For older males, the recovery process should include plenty of rest in the three days following the treatment. The penis may look bruised or swollen, but these effects should reduce over the two-week period.
Keep in mind that you’ll need 4-6 weeks to fully recover from the treatment and continue with any strenuous activities. Fevers, bleeding, having trouble peeing, blisters, discharge, or smells could be a cause for concern. In that case, do not hesitate to visit a doctor.
Circumcision carries both risks and benefits, is typically considered safe, and involves a relatively short recovery period. Still, it is important to take time to consider everything before deciding whether it is the right choice for yourself or your newborn baby boy.
Gather all the information available, and make the decision that feels right to you.