Perhaps the decision about whether or not to have your baby boy circumcised is a no-brainer. Or, perhaps you're caught in this increasingly hot debate and just don't know what to do.
Circumcision rates vary by demographics, but here in the US, anywhere from 55-65 percent of newborn boys are circumcised.
We know that parents have religious and/or cultural beliefs that influence their decision — but we also know that many new parents are often confused about the issue.
Are there any medical benefits? What are the pros and cons? These are important questions to consider if you're on the fence about circumcision. So, let's get straight to it... the pros and cons:
- Decreased incidence of urinary tract infections (UTIs) within the first year of life. Though UTIs have been found to be 10 times more common in uncircumcised baby boys, the rate of UTIs in uncircumcised infants is still less than 1 percent.
- Although, very rare, there is a decreased lifetime risk of penile cancer.
- Decreased incidence in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, herpes, HPV and syphilis. Of course, practicing safe sex and using condoms is number one in preventing STIs.
- Risk of complications such as persistent bleeding or infection. Complications are rare, occurring in 0.2-3 percent of cases.
- Affects sexual pleasure later in life. Some anecdotal evidence points to either increased or decreased sensitivity in the circumcised penis though no firm, objective evidence has been found.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released an updated policy statement confirming that though the potential medical benefits and advantages outweigh the risks, the decision is ultimately up to parents in the context of their personal, cultural or religious beliefs.
Dr. Mom's bottom line^ Whatever you decide for your baby boy, make sure it's a decision you feel good about. Weigh the pros and cons carefully and discuss any questions or concerns with your baby's healthcare provider.