Avoid Infant Circumcision Mistakes
• Are you arguing about infant circumcision?
• Thinking about circumcising your baby boy?
• Want to verify you made the right decision?
This common sense, evidence-based research tool is for you. Just click decide to get the infant or adult circumcision information you need.
Be fully informed before signing a circumcision consent form. Circumcision is permanent. Avoid making an infant circumcision mistake. When in doubt, just ask yourself, “What he would choose for himself?”
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Circumcision Information, Pros and Cons
So, you want to circumcise your new baby boy. Many parents struggle with the decision on whether to circumcise or not circumcise their baby boy. Parents have many questions regarding circumcising their baby boy and this can lead to confusion, and sometimes even making the wrong decision. Their concerns include:
Do I really want to circumcise my baby boy?
How do they circumcise a baby boy?
What will happen if I don’t circumcise my baby boy?
How will I care for my son if I don’t circumcise him?
What are the pros and cons of circumcision?
What is the difference between circumcised vs uncircumcised vs intact?
To circumcise or circumcision: the often surgical procedure to remove the prepuce (foreskin in males–often in infants or babies, clitoral hood in females–often in girls).
About This Circumcision Risk Assessment Tool
Circumcision Decision-Maker is an online decision-making aid for anyone considering male circumcision at any age including infants and baby boys. Its focus is first and foremost on what is best for boys themselves, and only secondarily for parents, culture, or religion. Its content has been drawn from and approved by a panel of experts following an extensive review of the literature. Almost all male circumcisions in the United States are performed on infants, and American parents tend to make their decisions in one of two ways. Some choose male infant circumcision quickly without first researching it or considering its effects on their child. Others agonize and perhaps even argue over it. This decision-maker was designed to assist both groups. Its approach is to ask you to make a number of little decisions rather than a single big one. This will help you to identify your real reason for considering male infant circumcision, and then give you expert information on which to base your final decision. This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. It also complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information on the Internet.
Our expert panel’s consensus, after an extensive review of the literature, is that the only possible justification for circumcision is to treat boys or men with penile diseases or disorders—never as a preventive measure. The foreskin is a vital, functional part of the male genital anatomy. It is not a birth defect. Therefore, if there is not an absolutely urgent reason for removing it, it should remain intact—for ethical, psychological, and sexual reasons. The boy himself, when he is old enough, is the only person who should make any decision affecting the looks and function of his penis. However, if either or both parents-to-be are considering male infant circumcision, they need to research this life-changing procedure to learn just what happens during an infant circumcision, and what the unexpected complications could be. They should do this before their son’s birth. It is too late once a maternity-ward physician or nurse inquires whether they want their son circumcised. At that moment they might have difficulty saying “No,” or might make a hasty decision that they could later regret. Male circumcision is completely optional, but disfigurement and the potential severe injury are permanent. Extremely important, also, is the fact that no matter how well-meaning, parents simply cannot know or predict how their son will later feel about being circumcised. Male circumcision is an American anomaly. Worldwide, only about 10 out of every l,000 male infants are circumcised—and eight of those are in the United States alone. You, too, can do what those 990 parents do: skip making a decision altogether, and your child will be perfectly healthy and happy. You won’t be alone; already in the past four years, the US male infant circumcision rate has plunged from 56% to 32%.
Circumcised vs Intact (Uncircumcised)
However, if either or both parents-to-be are considering male infant circumcision, they should do this before their son’s birth. It is too late once a maternity physician or nurse inquires whether they want their son circumcised. At that moment they might have difficulty saying “No,” or might make a hasty decision that they could later regret. The surgery is completely optional, but disfigurement and potentially severe injury are permanent. Extremely important, also, is the fact that no matter how well-meaning, parents simply cannot know or predict how their son will later feel about being circumcised. See also this list of reasons about not circumcising your boy.
Infant Circumcision Statistics
The foreskin is intact in most Europeans, and in 80-85% of all other men around the world. At one time, virtually all Americans were intact, too. It became popular in the Victorian era because doctors (mistakenly) thought it curbed masturbation, which they viewed as an unhealthy practice. Circumcision is an American anomaly. Worldwide, only about 10 out of every l,000 male infants are circumcised—and eight of those are in the United States alone. You, too, can do what those 990 parents do: skip making a decision altogether, and your child will be perfectly healthy and happy. You won’t be alone; already in the past four years, the US circumcision rate has plunged from 56% to 32%, according to the CDC.
Infant Circumcision Risks
Circumcision is a surgical procedure and not without risks, including death. Common complications are hemorrhage and infection. More than 100 baby boys die each year in the United States as a result of being circumcised.
Infant Foreskin Facts
Human males, like all mammals, are born with a foreskin. Sometimes called the prepuce, the foreskin is thus an integral part of the normal penis. Its female counterpart is the clitoral hood, with which it shares many valuable features. The average adult’s foreskin is:
- the most sensitive part of the penis, with 3/4 of its nerve endings
- fifteen square inches in surface area, about the size of a regular postcard
- a specialized double layer for a unique purpose.
Foreskin and Penis Anatomy
The foreskin (prepuce) is a retractable, double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane (the only such example on the human body), and uniquely constructed for its sexual purpose. It covers and protects the head of the penis (glans) and the urinary opening (meatus). Its outer layer is the same as the skin of the shaft of the penis, but the inner layer is mucous membrane, like the inside of the eyelid. The mucous membrane keeps the glans moist, providing a natural lubricant. Similar to the eyelid, the foreskin is able to move freely. When not retracted, muscle fibers keep it in position over the glans, but leave it elastic enough to retract backward up the shaft. The foreskin is tethered to the underside of the glans by a highly sensitive strip of tissue (frenulum, or “little bridle”), which helps return the foreskin to its normal position over the glans. The human body has other frenulums, including one under the tongue. The inner foreskin includes a ring of specialized tissue (ridged band) that is extraordinarily rich in nerve endings. A typical American circumcision removes the most sensitive portions of the penis— all or nearly all of the foreskin and frenulum, and in all cases all of the ridged band—leaving the glans, the least sensitive.
The foreskin is not just some useless “flap of skin.” It is, rather, a highly important part of nature’s careful attention to sex and procreation. As much as the genitals of males and females look and work differently, they have a lot in common. The penis and foreskin (prepuce) begin in the womb as a penile bud. Eight weeks after fertilization, the foreskin begins to grow over the head of the penis (glans), covering it completely by sixteen weeks. At this stage, the foreskin and its glans share a layer of skin (balano-preputial-lamina, or BPL) that temporarily fuses the two structures together. At birth, the foreskin is almost always still fused to the glans. As the boy becomes older, they gradually separate of their own accord, a natural process that may not be complete until puberty or even into early adulthood. The average age of separation allowing full foreskin retraction is ten years. Some foreskins, however, never fully retract–and that, too, is normal. Interestingly, the same penile bud is present in girls, and, as a result of genetics and hormones, eventually forms into the clitoris and clitoral hood (also called the prepuce). Occasionally, the penile bud develops into other forms, or combinations of forms, and the child is called intersexed.
Parents can relax, knowing they can care for their natural son using this basic information, and that he will be healthy, safe, and happy. Physicians now agree that you should not retract his foreskin. Because you don’t have to deal with a circumcision wound, caring for an intact (not circumcised) boy is easier. Bathing and Hygiene: Use warm, clear water to bathe him. Soaps and bubble baths can cause irritation of sensitive genital skin in intact boys (and girls and circumcised boys). When he’s ready, he can be taught to keep himself clean. As his foreskin begins to loosen naturally, he should be encouraged to gently pull his foreskin as far back as is comfortable, rinse himself, and return it to its forward position. Talk with him about germs and proper hygiene, and caution him about touching his bottom; his fingers might transfer germs to his penis. Normal Growth: Before birth, the foreskin and penis grow as a single structure. After birth, the foreskin slowly begins to loosen over a period of years. As the inner layer dissolves during childhood, excess skin cells slough off and appear as small white lumps (smegma) collecting in the space between his foreskin and glans, which are easily washed away. Few foreskins retract in the first year, most take many years, while some never retract; this is all normal. Foreskin Retraction Danger: Forced foreskin retraction by an uninformed adult is the greatest penile risk boys face. It causes severe pain, bleeding, scarring, and may lead to infection and adhesions. The foreskin should be retracted only by the boy himself, and only when he is ready to do so.
Foreskin Retraction Warning
Stay with your boy during all medical examinations. Some healthcare professionals might forcibly retract his foreskin. Before every examination say, “Please, do not retract his foreskin.” Diaper Changing: Clean only what is seen. Change his diapers often. Make sure that the whole diaper area is clean before putting a new diaper on. Do not retract his foreskin.
Infant Circumcision Facts
Here are some facts regarding the circumcision procedure that most parents are unaware of, and some websites and many physicians fail to mention. We thought you should know them. About 117 boys die each year in the United States as a result of their circumcision, most from infections or blood loss. he current U.S. circumcision rate is steadily declining. In 2010 it was 32%. That’s a huge drop from 56% in 2006 and 65% in 2002. Most physicians do not have their sons circumcised. Why not, if circumcision is medically advisable? Since most have performed the surgery as part of their training, they are the ones who should know more about the procedure’s consequences than anyone else. Contrary to frequent claims, infants do feel pain as intensely as adults, and very possibly even more. Circumcision regularly removes a shocking 3/4 of the penis’s sensitivity through the removal of the ridged band, foreskin “lips,” and most often the entire frenulum. Anesthesia is used in only 45% of circumcision procedures; the type of anesthetic varies. The most effective method does not eliminate all pain, and the most common type used, a topical creme, does almost nothing to reduce it. In fact, a major clinical test of the various types of anesthetics, on actual infants, was halted for humane reasons because of the intense pain. s adults, men circumcised in infancy are 4.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED). They are also 1.6 times more likely to suffer from alexithymia, a psychological trait disorder which causes difficulty in identifying and expressing one’s emotions. Crcumcision has never been proven to be effective in either reducing or treating cervical cancer, penile cancer, urinary tract infections, or sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. Not one medical association in America, or anywhere else in the world, recommends infant circumcision; some even recommend against it.
Penis and Foreskin Washing Instructions
Explaining how to wash a baby boy penis seems a little silly; especially since it is actually a lot easier to clean than a baby girl’s genitals, with its many folds. But then, if you’d never seen ears before, and your baby was born with them, you might wonder how to clean them, too. So here goes…
Your instructions: Wash his penis just as you wash his fingers. Using a cloth, wipe it from base to tip. Use only mild soap and rinse well with clear, warm water. NEVER attempt to retract his foreskin to clean underneath; before separation it’s self-cleaning. That’s all there is to it — it’s that simple!
His instructions: When it’s time for you boy to learn how to wash his penis, just show him what you have been doing. If his foreskin has begun to separate, have him gently pull it back as far as is comfortable (remember: only he should retract it, to avoid injury). Show him how to clean his glans and inner foreskin with clear water only (no soap), rubbing lightly with his fingers. Then have him return the foreskin to its normal position, drying only the outside.
Soap warning: All soaps, shampoos, and bubble baths can irritate the sensitive inner foreskin, which is mucosal tissue, and are entirely unnecessary for cleanliness anyway. Even worse, they also destroy the beneficial pH balance and “friendly flora.”
NOTE: This information has been reviewed by our panel of experts and other trusted advisors, however, it is not a substitute for professional medical, legal, or spiritual advice.
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