Scientific research has found several advantages to infant circumcision.
This section addresses the scientific evidence regarding circumcision. The first section lists the medical benefits of circumcision, and following that you can read the risks of the procedure.
In August 2012, The American Academy of Pediatrics revised its guidelines. The new policy states that
"health benefits of newborn male circumcision
outweigh the risks... Specific benefits from male circumcision were identified for
the prevention of urinary tract infections, acquisition of HIV, transmission
of some sexually transmitted infections, and penile cancer. Male circumcision
does not appear to adversely affect penile sexual function/
sensitivity or sexual satisfaction."
The Canadian Pediatric Society said it will review the scientific evidence and update its guidelines soon.
Their current position is that "the overall evidence of the benefits and harms of circumcision is so evenly balanced that it does not support recommending circumcision as a routine procedure for newborns... When parents are making a decision about circumcision, they should be advised of the present state of medical knowledge about its benefits and harms."
We feel parents should be well informed and be respected for whichever choice they make.
These include but are not limited to:
- Less urinary tract infections, especially in the first year of life (12 times less)
- Less local infection of the forekin (posthitis) or the head of the penis (balanitis) (50% less)
- Reduction in the risk of sexually transmitted infections including:
- HIV (60% less)
- Herpes (31% less)
- HPV or Human Papilloma Virus (33% less)
(HPV is the cause of genital warts in men and women, and cervical cancer in women)
- Reduction in sexually transmitted infections in female partners of circumcised men (Bacterial Vaginosis decreased 40%, Trichomonis decreased 48%)
- Eliminates phimosis, an often painful inability of the foreskin to pull back over the penis.
- Easier hygiene
- Virtually eliminates risk of cancer of the penis
- Tied to lower prostate cancer risk
- Some studies suggest less sexual dysfunction later in life
- Avoidance of need to circumcise later in life when risks are higher (10 times), costs are higher and pain is higher (some estimate between 6% and 10% of boys will require circumcision in their lifetime due to medical reasons)
- See our page on recent medical research
Any surgical procedure involves some risk.
Please read the following and make sure you have your questions answered prior to proceeding.
The overall risk of complication from this procedure is between 0.2% (2/1000) and 0.6%
(6/1000). More specifically:
A Baby should NOT have a circumcision prior to discussion with Dr. Green if
- Risk of bleeding- most often there is little to no bleeding.
- Sometimes (1 time in 100) a small amount of bleeding can happen and it can be stopped with
gently applied pressure by the doctor or by yourself. More rarely (1 time in 4000) there can be
excessive bleeding that will require stitches. In very rare circumstances (1 time in 20,000), a
blood transfusion may be required (never happened in this practice).
- Risk of Infection - most often there is no infection after this procedure.
Rarely (1 time in 1000) there can be an infection that requires the application of topical
antibiotics to the penis for several days. More rarely (1 time in 4000) the baby may be required
to have antibiotics given either by mouth or intravenously (never happened in this practice).
- Suboptimal cosmetic outcome- most often the circumcision is a cosmetic success.
Occasionally either too much or too little skin is removed. Rarely, this can require a second
surgery for a better outcome (never happened in this practice).
- Trauma to the Penis (never happened in this practice)- most often there is no trauma to the penis.
Rarely, the penis itself can be damaged by the procedure, requiring urgent surgical consultation
at the hospital. Damage can be done to the urethra (the hole where urine comes out), the glans
(the head of the penis), or the shaft of the penis.
- Death (never happened in this practice)-In very rare cases, death has been caused by circumcision, usually due to undiagnosed
medical or bleeding problems in the baby. Between 1954 and 1989, fifty million circumcisions
were performed in the USA. Three deaths were reported due to circumcision. Two babies had
undiagnosed bleeding disorders and one was a premature infant weighing only 1.9kg. Surgical complications
can, of course, also be a cause of damage resulting in death.
- There is a family history of bleeding disorder
- The baby is premature (under 37 weeks at birth)
- There is a congenital abnormality of the penis (the anatomy of the penis is not normal)
- There is a medical disorder in the newborn (ex. hypothyroid, heart disease, infectious
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