Ask the Doctor: Circumcise my baby boy?

September 07, 2011 12:00 AM

Q: How should I decide whether or not to circumcise our baby boy?

A: This has been a hotly debated topic this year, with 18 states no longer funding Medicaid reimbursement for the procedure. Ultimately, whether or not to circumcise is a very personal decision that is up to the parents.  It’s important to be aware of the pros and cons of circumcision, then make an informed decision.

The most basic benefit to circumcision is hygiene. Circumcision allows for easy cleansing of the genitals. Circumcision also decreases the risk of urinary tract infection. In the first year of life, urinary tract infections are up to 10 times as common in uncircumcised baby boys. Certain penile problems such as phimosis, which occurs when the foreskin is difficult or impossible to retract, can be prevented through circumcision. In adulthood, circumcised men have a lower risk of being diagnosed with penile cancer and contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Those opposed to circumcision feel that the procedure should not occur until the child is old enough to voice his own decision. In extremely rare cases, circumcision can contribute to health problems, particularly in cases of premature infants, families with a history of bleeding disorders, and with certain penile anomalies. Some people believe circumcision could affect sexual function later in life. As with all procedures, circumcision carries some risk of surgical complications.

If parents are considering circumcision, it is important to make sure you are in good hands. Do your research on the doctor’s reputation and experience, and be cautious if your doctor has too strong an opinion regarding circumcision. Through careful thought and consideration, parents can arrive at a decision they are comfortable with.

- Dr. Jeremy Lieb

 

Dr. Jeremy Lieb of Pacific Urology has been treating men, women and children for nearly 10 years. Dr. Lieb is a board certified physician and a recipient of the Silver Scalpel Award.  He studied medicine at the University of Rochester, New York and completed his residency at Albany Medical College in New York. www.pacificurology.com

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