Memorial Hermann - A New Beginning

Baby Boys

Circumcision is the surgical removal of skin (foreskin) that surrounds the head of a baby boy’s penis. The choice to circumcise or leave the baby’s penis intact is one that you’ll be asked to make—often soon after birth. Before circumcision can take place, you’ll be asked to sign a surgical consent form. Based on your knowledge of the procedure, its risks, benefits, and other implications, you can either agree or decline to have your baby boy circumcised. This section will present a general overview of the factors that influence the decision to circumcise or leave your baby boy’s penis intact. If you have any questions, talk to your health care provider.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to learn the facts about circumcision and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.



• Approximately 20% of males in the world have a circumcised penis • Some groups perform circumcision for religious or cultural reasons • It’s an elective procedure that’s generally considered safe if done by an experienced provider using sterile techniques • The most common problems following circumcision include bleeding and infection • Costs may not be covered by many insurance companies because it’s an “elective” surgery If you aren’t present for the surgery, your baby will be comforted and returned to you. Some babies will fuss for several hours while others will go into a deep sleep. What to expect: • Baby’s penis will be swollen and dark red in color • Within 24 hours, the penis will be covered with a crusty discharge for about 7 days • Your baby should urinate within 12 hours after the procedure Caring for a Circumcised Penis • If there’s any visible bleeding, apply gentle pressure to the area • Gently clean the area only with warm water until it heals (7-10 days) • Call your provider if you see signs of infection: redness, fever, swelling, discharge, or odor

• Approximately 80% of males in the world have an intact (uncircumcised) penis • Leaving the foreskin and penis intact is the natural, biological default • Leaving the penis intact may increase sensitivity and sexual pleasure when a male reaches adulthood • Uncircumcised males may be at higher risk for urinary infection or sexually transmitted diseases • Leaving a baby boy’s penis intact preserves their ethical right to make their own decisions about their body Caring for an Intact Penis • Gently clean only what you can see of the penis with warm water • Never pull, manipulate, or retract the foreskin in any way A foreskin will naturally separate from the tip of the penis in time—it could take a few weeks or several years. Once this happens, the foreskin can be pulled back (retracted) from the tip of the penis. Most boys will be able to retract their foreskins by the time they are 5 years old, although others will not be able to do so until they are teenagers. Never forcibly pull the foreskin back because it could cause pain, bleeding, or tears in the skin.


Your Guide to Postpartum and Newborn Care

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