What is circumcision?
Male circumcision is a
surgery to remove the foreskin, a fold of skin that covers and protects the
rounded tip of the penis. The foreskin provides sensation and lubrication for
the penis. In most cases, circumcision is elective surgery, which means there
isn't a medical reason for it. If it is done, circumcision is usually done soon
On average in the United States, about 60
out of 100 boys are circumcised, and about 40 out of 100 are not.1 Worldwide, the rate of circumcision is much lower.
See a picture of the
penis before and after circumcision .
There are some cases where
circumcision is done for medical reasons. Circumcision may be done in older
boys and men to treat problems with the foreskin of the penis (such as
paraphimosis) or for swelling of the tip of the penis
This topic focuses on the circumcision of newborns.
How will you know if circumcision is right for your son?
Circumcision is not usually medically needed. The American
Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend circumcision as a routine
procedure for newborn males. When making this policy, the AAP looked at the
possible benefits, risks, and costs of the procedure.2 Other major medical organizations, including the American
Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists, agree with the AAP policy.
When you make this
decision, it may help you to think about your personal and cultural
preferences. For example, you may want to consider your religious and family
traditions while you weigh the pros and cons of the surgery. It is your
decision whether to keep your son's penis natural or have your son circumcised.
What problems can occur if your son is circumcised?
Problems from circumcision are not common. If they occur, they are
usually minor. The most common circumcision problems are:
- Blockage of the opening of the urethra (meatal stenosis).
- Infection of the
- Irritation of the exposed tip of
More serious problems are rare. They include damage to the
opening of the urethra, heavy bleeding that requires stitches, severe
infection, and scarring.
Who performs circumcisions?
Circumcisions usually are done by a
family medicine doctor,
urologist. Circumcisions that are performed for
religious reasons may be done by others trained in the procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions