Circumcision was once considered routine procedure for most newborn males in the United States, but as with most routine procedures, parents are beginning to question if circumcision is really necessary for their babies. Mothers often agonize about this decision, feeling, “I’m going to great lengths to bring my baby into the world as gently as possible. Circumcision just doesn’t seem to fit the scene.” Fathers often feel, “I want my son to have a maintenance-free penis.” The following are the most common questions we are asked about circumcision. The answers are intended to help you make an informed choice.
Is a Circumcision Safe for Your Baby?
Circumcision is a very safe surgical procedure. There are rarely any complications, however, there are occasional problems such as bleeding, infection or injury to the penis. If there is a family history of bleeding tendencies or one of your previous newborns bled a lot during circumcision, be sure to inform your doctor of this fact.
Will Circumcision Prevent Disease?
The answer to, “Will circumcision prevent disease?” is; no. Circumcision does not prevent cancer of the penis, which is a very rare disease anyway and occurs more frequently in males who do not practice proper hygiene. Cervical cancer, which is not prevented by circumcision, is not more common in sexual partners of intact males who practice proper hygiene. Circumcision also does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
How is a Circumcision is Performed?
Baby is placed on a restraining board, and straps secure his hands and feet. The tight adhesions between the foreskin and the glans (or head) of the penis are separated with a medical instrument. The foreskin is held in place by metal clamps while a cut is made into the foreskin to about one-third of its length. A metal or plastic bell is placed over the head of the penis to protect the glans, and the foreskin is pulled up over the bell and the circumferentially cut.
Is a Circumcision Painful for My Baby?
If you are wondering is a circumcision painful, the answer is; yes, it hurts. The skin of the penis of a newborn baby has pain receptors completely sensitive to clamping and cutting. The myth that newborns do not feel pain came from the observation that newborns sometimes withdraw into a deep sleep toward the end of the operation. This does not mean that they do not feel pain. Falling into a deep sleep is a retreat mechanism, a withdrawal reaction as a consequence of overwhelming pain. Not only does circumcision cause pain in the penis, the newborn’s overall physiology is upset.
Can Baby Have Anesthesia for Circumcisions?
Yes! Local anesthesia for circumcisions can and should be used. Painless circumcision should be a birthright. New research shows that during unanaesthetized circumcision, stress hormones rise, the heart rate speeds and valuable blood oxygen diminishes.
I have used a local anesthesia in nearly a thousand babies for over 20 years. It is a safe procedure and it works. Sometimes the anesthetic will not remove all the pain, but it certainly helps. Within a few hours, after the anesthetic wears off, some babies exhibit no discomfort; others will fuss for the next 24 hours. The most common and effective method is called a dorsal penile nerve block, in which a few drops of Xylocaine (similar to the anesthetic your dentist uses) is injected into the nerves on each side of the penis circumferential around the base of the penis.