I don’t have a penis. That’s obvious (hopefully). So deciding whether or not to circumcise my son when he’s born has proven to be a rather difficult decision. We’re not religious and we don’t have any significant cultural ties that would warrant a quick “yes” decision, so I’m thinking, what’s the point?
As a mother, why inflict unnecessary pain on my child if I don’t have to? But of course there are more factors than just the pain that I have become aware of. For example, did you know that according to the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), circumcision slightly lowers the risk of developing cancer of the penis later life? The chances of this cancer are extremely rare (one of every one million men who are circumcised will develop cancer of the penis each year), but now I have this fact dancing around in my head, along with the following:
Note: these stats are from CPS. CPS does not recommend circumcision as a routine procedure for newborn males. You can read more here.
Of every 1,000 boys who are circumcised:
- 20 to 30 will have a surgical complication, such as too much bleeding or infection in the area.
- 2 to 3 will have a more serious complication that needs more treatment. Examples include having too much skin removed or more serious bleeding.
- 2 will be admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection (UTI) before they are one year old.
- About 10 babies may need to have the circumcision done again because of a poor result.
In rare cases, pain relief methods and medicines can cause side effects and complications.
Of every 1,000 boys who are not circumcised:
- 7 will be admitted to hospital for a UTI before they are one year old.
- 10 will have a circumcision later in life for medical reasons, such as a condition called Phimosis. Phimosis is when the opening of the foreskin is scarred and narrow because of infections in the area that keep coming back. Older children who are circumcised may need a general anesthetic, and may have more complications than newborns.
Pros & Cons
HealthLink BC mentions some health benefits of circumcision include being less likely to get urinary tract infections (UTIs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). See above stats.
However, circumcision is a surgery that comes with pain. Your baby is also awake during the procedure. There are also possible side effects such as bleeding, infection, pain, and irritation of the tip of the penis. Also rare problems like damage to the opening of the urethra and scarring.
As for the hygiene myth, that’s all that it is. A myth. Whether a penis is circumcised or not, it should be cleaned properly to avoid infections and other problems.
Is it a factor when our sons grow up? Being a woman, I have no idea, so I asked my husband if men preferred a certain look. Funny, I know. He said that since men don’t have a choice, our son wouldn’t likely not be bothered one way or the other. Other Dads, feel free to weigh in here.
One thing is for certain. It’s not like deciding to pierce our daughter’s ears. We can’t just wait until he’s 12-years-old for him to decide for himself. According to our doctor, circumcision is recommended right after birth (usually within a 24 to 72 hour window), if we choose to go down that path. An online article mentions the longer you wait, the more likely your child will need stitches to stop the bleeding.
So where have we landed on the decision? I’m still not sure. My husband is leaning towards keeping a tradition alive, but I can tell he’s still on the fence. I think we’ll need to have a lengthy discussion with our doctor once our son graces us with his presence. He is currently five days late. But I am also eager to hear from some other parents and their experiences on making this decision, or how the procedure went for them.
What path did you choose?