The foreskin is the roll of skin that covers the end of the penis.
Why circumcision is carried out in boys
Circumcision in boys may be carried out for:
- medical reasons – for example, as a treatment of last resort for conditions such as a tight foreskin (phimosis) or recurrent infection of the foreskin and head of the penis (balanitis)
- religious or cultural reasons – it’s a common practice in Jewish and Islamic communities, and it’s also practised by many African communities; most cultural circumcisions are carried out in young boys
The information on this page focuses on circumcision in boys for medical reasons.
How the foreskin develops
It’s normal for a baby boy’s foreskin not to pull back (retract) for the first few years of life.
Around the age of 3 – or later, in some cases – the foreskin should start to separate naturally from the head of the penis (glans). Full separation occurs in most boys by the age of 5 years.
For some boys, the foreskin can take longer to separate, but this does not mean there’s a problem and it will usually just detach at a later stage.
As the foreskin starts to separate from the head of the penis, you may see the foreskin “ballooning out” when your son passes urine. This can occasionally lead to infection (balanitis), but this ballooning usually settles down with time.
Never try to force your son’s foreskin back, as it may be painful and damage the foreskin.
Medical reasons for a boy to have a circumcision
It’s rare for circumcision to be recommended for medical reasons in boys. This is because other less invasive and less risky treatments are usually available.
The following conditions affect the penis and, in rare cases, may require a circumcision:
– where the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back over the head of the penis; this can sometimes cause pain when the penis is erect and, in rare cases, passing urine may be difficult – where the foreskin and head of the penis become inflamed and infected – where the foreskin cannot be returned to its original position after being pulled back, causing the head of the penis to become swollen and painful; immediate treatment is needed to avoid serious complications, such as restricted blood flow to the penis
- balanitis xerotica obliterans – a condition that causes a tight foreskin and, in some cases, also affects the head of the penis, which can become scarred and inflamed
Circumcision is usually carried out on a day patient basis. This means your child will be admitted to hospital on the same day he has surgery and will not need to stay overnight.
He will not be able to eat or drink before having surgery – you’ll receive detailed information about this in a letter.
After being admitted to hospital, your child will be seen by the surgeon who will carry out the procedure. They’ll explain the operation in more detail, discuss any concerns and answer any questions you have.
They’ll also ask you to sign a consent form, giving your permission for the operation.
The anaesthetist will also visit your child before the operation. Your son will usually have a general anaesthetic, so he’ll be asleep throughout the procedure and unable to feel any pain or discomfort.
Circumcision is a relatively simple procedure. The foreskin is removed just behind the head of the penis using a scalpel or surgical scissors.
Any bleeding can be stopped using heat (cauterised). The remaining edges of skin are stitched together using dissolvable stitches. It will take up to 6 weeks for your son’s penis to fully heal.
Recovering after male circumcision
After the operation, a dressing will be put over the penis to protect the wound. It may be removed before your child goes home, or it may be left. If it is left it should fall off itself within 24 hours.
He will be allowed home after he’s passed urine, which may be uncomfortable at first.
The penis will be sore and inflamed for a few days after the operation. Ointment may be prescribed to use for a few days to help the area heal.
Your child will also need regular pain relief for at least 3 days. They can take paracetamol or ibuprofen following the instructions on the packet.
Your child will be able to have a bath the day after their operation. They should avoid riding a bicycle or other toys they sit on until any swelling has gone down.
It may be more comfortable to wear loose clothing – or no clothing at all – on his bottom half for a few days after the operation. Passing urine while in the bath or shower may also be more comfortable.
He should be able to return to school or nursery about a week after the operation. Make sure you tell the school or nursery about the operation.
In most cases, a follow-up appointment will not be necessary.
However, you should contact your GP or hospital care team if:
- your child’s penis is bleeding
- your child’s penis is still swollen 2 weeks after the operation
- passing urine is still painful a few days after the operation
Risks of male circumcision
The risks associated with circumcisions when carried out by qualified and experienced doctors are small.
The main risk is bleeding, both during and after the operation. The surgeon will seal off any bleeding during the procedure, and the dressing applied afterwards will absorb any further bleeding.
However, seek medical advice if your child’s penis continues to bleed after they return home.
Other possible complications include pain, infection of the wound and scarring.
Page last reviewed: 20 November 2018
Next review due: 20 November 2021
A hood of skin, called the foreskin, covers the head (or glans) of the penis. In circumcision, the foreskin is surgically removed, exposing the end of the penis.
Some families choose to circumcise based on cultural or religious beliefs. Others choose to for hygiene or appearance. And some choose not to circumcise.
Most circumcisions are done during the first 10 days (often within the first 48 hours) of a baby’s life. They’re done either in the hospital by the pediatrician, family doctor, or obstetrician, or, for some religious ritual circumcisions, at home. The doctor will discuss the procedure and the possible risks with the baby’s parents.
Premature babies or those who have special medical concerns may need extra time until they can be circumcised. Some babies are born with physical problems affecting the penis that will be fixed with surgery. They may not be circumcised because doctors use the foreskin as part of the reconstructive operation.
Sometimes, families decide to wait to circumcise so that they or their child can make the choice later. Circumcision after the newborn period usually is done in an operating room with the child getting general anesthesia, and comes with some additional risks.
What Are the Benefits of Circumcision?
Those who are circumcised have a lower likelihood of:
- getting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) when they are older
- developing urinary tract infections (UTIs), especially in the first year of life
- getting cancer of the penis, which is rare in those who are both circumcised and uncircumcised. It is not yet clear if the decreased risk is related to circumcision itself or differences in hygiene.
- developing irritation, inflammation, or infection of the penis, because it is easier to keep a circumcised penis clean
What Are the Risks of Circumcision?
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision has some risks. These are rare but include:
- bleeding, which is usually a small amount. Be sure to tell the doctor know about any bleeding disorders in the family, as these can cause more significant bleeding after a circumcision.
- infection, which is usually mild and easy to treat
- more skin or less skin removed than planned
- scar tissue forming
Some people feel that circumcision may lessen the sensitivity of the tip of the penis, decreasing sexual pleasure later in life. This has not been proven in studies to date.
One known downside of circumcision is pain. In the past, it wasn’t common to give pain relief to infants for a circumcision. But now pain medicine is recommended to help keep them comfortable. This can be a cream put on the penis beforehand, or medicine injected into the area to numb it for the circumcision. Both types wear off soon, so you can give acetaminophen to keep your baby comfortable after the procedure. Giving a pacifier dipped in sugar water and swaddling also can help babies be calmer and more comfortable.
How Do We Care for a Circumcised Penis?
Following circumcision, it is important to keep the area as clean as possible. Gently clean with warm water — do not use diaper wipes. Soapy water can be used if needed.
If there is a dressing on the incision, apply a new one (with petroleum jelly) whenever you change a diaper for the first day or two. Even after the dressing is no longer needed, put a dab of petroleum jelly on the penis or on the front of the diaper until the penis is healed. This can help avoid discomfort from the penis rubbing on or sticking to the diaper.
It usually takes between 7 to 10 days for a circumcised penis to heal. Initially the tip may appear slightly swollen and red, and you may notice a small amount of blood on the diaper. You also may notice a slight yellow discharge or crust after a couple of days. This is part of the normal healing process.
If you notice any of these problems, call your doctor right away:
- lasting bleeding or blood on the diaper (more than quarter-sized)
- increasing redness
- other signs of infection, such as worsening swelling or discharge, or pus-filled blisters
- not peeing normally within 8 hours after the circumcision
How Do We Care for an Uncircumcised Penis?
As with a penis that’s circumcised, an uncircumcised one should be kept clean. Also, no cotton swabs, astringent, or any special bath products are needed — just warm water every time you bathe your baby is enough.
Initially, do not pull back the foreskin to clean beneath it. Over time, the foreskin will retract on its own so that it can be pulled away easily from the glans toward the belly. This happens at different times for different boys, but most can retract the foreskin by the time they reach puberty.
As your son grows up, teach him to wash beneath the foreskin by gently pulling it back from the glans, rinsing the glans and the inside of the foreskin with warm water, then pulling the foreskin back over the head of his penis.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the skin that covers the tip of the penis — the foreskin. In the United States, about 55 to 80 percent of newborn boys are circumcised before they leave the hospital. This means some men may choose to get circumcised in adulthood or never at all.
Some men are concerned about the cosmetics and sensation of the penis after their circumcision. While it is certainly true that your penis looks and feels differently after a circumcision, your preferences and treating any pain or harmful conditions of the foreskin are the most important.
The reconstructive urologists here at University of Utah Health are experts in both circumcision and frenuloplasty to give you the quality care you need for a successful surgery and speedy recovery.
Why Do People Get Circumcised?
Aside from cosmetic, social, and cultural reasons, uncircumcised men may also need to get their foreskin removed for various health reasons such as:
- Phimosis—This is when the foreskin is too tight and cannot be retracted from the head of the penis.
- Paraphimosis—This is when the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis cannot pull back over the head of the penis. The condition occurs more often in boys and older men.
- Balanitis—This is inflammation of the glans penis (the head of the penis).
- Posthitis—This is inflammation of the prepuce, otherwise known as the foreskin.
- Balanoposthitis—This occurs when both the head and foreskin of the penis are inflamed.
- Cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions on the foreskin.
- Warty lesions of the foreskin—like viral warts.
What Are the Benefits of Circumcision?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend routine circumcisions at birth and leaves that decision up to the baby’s parents. But the organization does list some medical benefits that support performing the procedure. These include:
- a lower risk of HIV;
- a slightly lower risk of sexually transmitted diseases;
- a slightly lower risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer (even though they’re both rare in all males); and
- help preventing balanitis, balanoposthitis, paraphimosis, and phimosis.
Find a Men’s Health Doctor
There are a few different circumcision techniques. For newborns, doctors typically use a clamp. As the foreskin is pushed from the head of the penis, the doctor will clamp it with a metal or plastic ring-like device to protect the head of the penis while they remove the foreskin.
For teenagers and adults, we need to do a much more precise surgical procedure to get a good cosmetic outcome. Your doctor will perform the circumcision under a local anesthetic that is injected near the base of the penis. However, you can request to be put under general anesthesia for the procedure as well.
The doctor will make an incision just below the head of the penis and remove the whole foreskin with a scalpel or surgical scissors. They will then close the incision with dissolvable stitches that attach the skin of your penis to below the head. The stitches usually disappear within two to three weeks.
Dorsal Slit Procedure
Your doctor may use the dorsal slit technique if you are suffering from phimosis or paraphimosis. The dorsal slit procedure removes a specific amount of foreskin with scissors; then the doctor will perform the remainder of the circumcision at a later time.
Next in the procedure, we stitch back together the part of the foreskin that has been cut using 4-0 or 5-0 absorbable sutures. We keep any excessive bleeding under control with direct pressure and electrocautery.
Your doctor may apply petroleum jelly to your incision and wrap the stitched area in sterile gauze to keep it protected for the first 24 hours. After that, you can remove it per your doctor’s instructions.
For patients suffering from acute paraphimosis, your doctor may try to decrease the swelling with their hands before proceeding with surgery. They may apply a gentle, steady pressure on the foreskin to decrease the swelling. The doctor will then use his or her fingers to push on the head of the penis and pull on the foreskin in an effort to further reduce the paraphimosis.
If these steps don’t work, your doctor will perform the dorsal slit procedure to relieve the pain.
Whether the reasons are cultural, religious, health-related, or just due to personal preference, more than 70% of men are circumcised in the United States.
While many males are circumcised just after birth, adult circumcision is also an option for men who do not undergo the procedure as babies.
If you were not circumcised as a baby and are considering having the procedure as an adult, the expert team at Gulf Coast Urology in Houston and Nassau Bay, Texas, want you to know there are a few things you should consider.
Reasons for adult circumcision
Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis. While it’s not a complicated procedure, recovery does take longer in adults than in babies. Adults who choose to have the procedure may do so for any number of reasons.
Religions, such as Judaism and Islam, for instance, include circumcision as part of their standards. Circumcision can also lower your risk for contracting HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, herpes, and human papillomavirus.
Circumcision may also lower your chances of getting a urinary tract infection. Furthermore, circumcision may be necessary if the foreskin is very tight and is causing chronic inflammation in the foreskin or penis.
Adult circumcision is done under general anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep and won’t feel anything during the surgery, which should take about 30 minutes.
Your surgeon will move the foreskin away from the head of the penis, measure how much skin needs to be removed, and then use a scalpel to cut away the excess skin. The remaining skin will then be stitched back to the penis with dissolvable sutures.
You’ll experience pain, swelling, and bruising following your surgery, but ice packs should help keep the swelling down. You should keep the dressings on the site clean and dry to avoid infection, and you should wear loose-fitting clothes for a few days. Healing usually takes 2-3 weeks, and you should plan to be off work for a week or so.
You should be able to begin walking a day or two after your surgery, but you should keep any movements low-impact and slow. You’ll likely be able to exercise normally about four weeks after the surgery, but you should hold off on any sexual activity until about six weeks after your surgery.
If you’re considering an adult circumcision, our doctors at Gulf Coast Urology would be happy to meet with you and review your options. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Gulf Coast Urology today.
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Adult circumcision is a surgical option for men who did not get circumcised as infants, and there are sound medical reasons for the procedure.
Circumcision, one of the oldest surgical procedures in existence, may be performed for cultural, religious, or health-related reasons, or simply reflect personal preference.
Adult circumcision is an option for men who were not circumcised as infants.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 79 percent of American men report that they are circumcised.
Reasons for Adult Circumcision
Some men may choose to get circumcised because they think that a circumcised penis will be more sensitive and enhance their sexual experience. Studies on this are conflicting.
Although some circumcised men do report an improvement in sexual functioning, most studies actually suggest a slight decrease in penis sensitivity after circumcision.
Here are some medical reasons why a man might choose to get circumcised:
Phimosis: This is a medical condition in which the foreskin covering the penis is too tight and is hard to retract.
Penile cancer: Although rare, penile cancer is less common in a circumcised penis.
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Risks for genital ulcers, chlamydia, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and type 2 herpes have been shown to be lower in men who have circumcised penises.
HIV transmission: Several international studies show that circumcision lowers the risk of HIV transmission.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that men consider circumcision as an additional measure, along with safe sex, to prevent HIV.
Adult Circumcision Risks
Adult circumcision is a surgical procedure, so it does carry certain risks as well as possible side effects; these include pain, bleeding, and infection.
Although these health risks are low, they are higher than for infant circumcision.
Unless adult circumcision is being performed for specific medical reasons, such as infection or phimosis, it will probably not be covered by insurance, so it may be expensive.
The cost of adult circumcision varies, but it will be higher if you have general anesthesia instead of local anesthesia and if you have the procedure done in a hospital instead of an ambulatory care center.
Discuss your options with your insurance provider.
If you are considering an adult circumcision, talk to your doctor and go over all the risks and benefits carefully.
What to Expect
If you decide to get circumcised, here is what you should expect:
- You will be given local or general anesthesia.
- Your doctor will retract the foreskin and trim it off.
- Small, absorbable sutures will be used to close the incisions.
- You will be able to go home on the day of surgery.
- In the first few days after surgery your penis may be swollen, bruised, and painful.
- A dressing is usually placed over the entire circumcised penis that you will remove at home by soaking in a warm bath.
- Swelling goes down after about two weeks, but you may be instructed to avoid intercourse and masturbation for up to six weeks.
A good argument in support of adult circumcision can be made from the standpoint of reducing the risk of STDs and HIV.
The CDC supports this option, but cautions that adult circumcision is no substitute for other proven safe sex measures.
On the other hand, there are the costs, the temporary discomfort, and the possible risks associated with the procedure to consider, and a circumcised penis will probably not add anything to your sexual experience.
Circumcision is a procedure where the foreskin (the skin that covers the tip of the penis) is removed. Circumcision isn’t required. But if parents choose this for their baby, the procedure is usually performed on the first or second day after birth in a healthy baby. However, it can be done within 10 days of birth. Circumcision is riskier and more complicated in infants older than 2 months of age, and in older boys and men.
Circumcisions are done by a doctor in a hospital or outpatient office. They also can be done at home by a hired professional as part of a religious or cultural ceremony.
During the procedure, the doctor will numb the area around the penis with a local anesthetic (medicine that numbs only a specific part of the body). This makes the procedure less painful for the baby. The anesthetic may be given as an injection or applied as a cream. The procedure takes about 20 minutes.
Making the decision about circumcision
Circumcision is a personal choice for you and your family. You will need to consider the benefits and risks of circumcision. Factors such as your culture, religion, and personal preferences may affect your decision. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks. He or she may be able to help you decide. You may want to make a decision about circumcision before your son is born. That way, you’ll know what to do about it while in the hospital.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends that parents talk to their family doctor about the potential benefits and risks of circumcision when making their decision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. However, the AAP does not think the benefits are great enough to recommend that all male newborns should be circumcised.
Path to improved health
If you decide to have your baby circumcised, you’ll need to follow some steps to help the penis heal.
- Gently clean the area with water every day when your baby needs a fresh diaper.
- Use mild soap and water to clean stool off of the penis. This will help prevent infection.
- If there is a bandage on the penis, it will probably fall off the next time your baby urinates. Ask your doctor whether you should leave the bandage off or if you should put a new bandage on each time you change your son’s diaper.
- Sometimes, your baby’s urine and the pressure from his diaper will irritate the newly exposed skin on the tip of the penis. This can be treated by putting petroleum ointment (brand name Vaseline) directly on the area. It will usually get better after a few days.
Healing usually takes about 7 to 10 days. Some swelling of the penis is normal. It’s also normal for a yellow discharge or coating to form over the tip of the penis. Don’t try to take this off. It will go away on its own.
If you decide not to have your son circumcised, you’ll need to take some steps to care for his penis. Keep it clean with soap and water to reduce the risk of problems or infections. When your son gets older, his foreskin will separate from the tip of his penis. This is called retraction. It happens at different times for different boys. Most boys can retract their foreskin by the time they are 5 years of age. Don’t try to force the foreskin to retract before it is ready. This can damage the penis and cause pain and other problems. Once the foreskin is ready to retract, you can teach your son how to gently pull the foreskin back and clean the skin underneath. He should wash beneath his foreskin every day while bathing or showering.
Things to consider
Studies have shown some limited health benefits of circumcision.
- It offers some limited benefit in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in infants. Overall, UTIs are not common in circumcised or uncircumcised males.
- Newborn circumcision also offers some benefit in preventing cancer of the penis in adulthood. However, this cancer is rare in all men, whether or not they have been circumcised.
- Circumcision may reduce the risk of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Know that preventing STIs has more to do with a man’s sexual practices (for example, using condoms, limiting the number of sex partners) than with whether or not he is circumcised.
Like any surgical procedure, circumcision does have some risks. However, the rate of problems after circumcision is quite low. Bleeding and infection in the circumcised area are the most common problems. Both of these can be treated by your doctor.
When to call your doctor
After the circumcision, you may notice a small amount of blood on your baby’s diaper. If the bloodstain is larger than the size of a quarter, call your doctor right away. You should also call your doctor if:
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin.
The foreskin is the retractable fold of skin that covers the end of the penis. It's a continuation of the skin that covers the whole penis.
You might need a circumcision for:
- medical reasons
- religious and cultural reasons
- HIV and cancer prevention
We have a separate guide to circumcision in boys.
You may be considering circumcision for a medical reason. If so, talk to your GP or specialist.
Circumcision is sometimes considered a treatment option for some conditions. This is usually when other treatments have not worked.
These conditions include:
- tight foreskin (phimosis)
- recurrent balanitis
- balanitis xerotica obliterans
Religious and cultural reasons
Circumcision is a common practice in the Jewish and Islamic communities. It's also practiced by many African communities.
If you wish to have a circumcision for religious or cultural reasons, speak to your GP.
Circumcision should not be performed by unqualified practitioners. You could be seriously harmed if the procedure is not done correctly.
Circumcision – the procedure
Circumcision is usually carried out on a day patient basis. Most patients do not have to stay in hospital overnight.
Before having a circumcision
You'll need to fast for 6 hours before surgery. You'll also be asked to sign a consent form to confirm you agree to the surgery.
You'll usually be given a full general anaesthetic. This means you'll be unconscious throughout the procedure.
During a circumcision
Circumcision involves removing the foreskin behind the head of the penis. This is done using a scalpel or surgical scissors.
Any bleeding can be stopped using heat treatment (diathermy) or stitches. The remaining edges of skin are then stitched together using dissolvable stitches.
After a circumcision
You may have some discomfort and swelling around the head of your penis for a few days after the operation.
Your care team will give you painkilling medication, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
They will also give you a phone number to call if you have any problems. They will tell you when your follow-up appointment is. This may be at the hospital or with your GP.
You should not feel any pain or discomfort while passing urine. Contact your medical team if you do.
Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if you have:
- a temperature
- increased redness
- persistent pain
- throbbing of your penis
Any of these could be a sign of infection.
Recovering after a circumcision
You'll be given information about your recovery. This will include when you can drive, return to work and have sex.
Applying vaseline around the tip of your penis will stop it sticking to your underwear. Wearing light, loose-fitting clothing for 2 or 3 days will also help avoid irritation.
It usually takes at least 10 days for your penis to heal after circumcision. You should avoid having sex for at least 4 weeks after your operation.
You will need to make sure that you are fit to drive after having surgery. After longer surgery or procedures requiring general anaesthesia, it may not be safe to drive for 24 hours or more.
Risks of a circumcision procedure
Complications after circumcisions carried out for medical reasons are rare. Most men do not experience any problems.
Apart from the initial swelling, bleeding and infection are the most common problems. There's between a 1 in 10 and a 1 in 50 chance that you'll experience bleeding or infection.
One of the first questions your pediatrician may ask after your son’s birth is whether you plan to have them circumcised. It’s a relatively common surgical procedure where your baby’s foreskin — the hood of skin that covers the head of their penis — is removed. If a baby is going to have the surgery, it’s usually done before they leave the hospital, 2 or 3 days after birth. If you’re considering it, here’s what you need to know.
What Is It?
The foreskin of the penis covers the glans, or head, of the penis. By cutting it off, the surgery exposes the end of the penis.
The practice of circumcision dates back to ancient Egypt. It was believed to help males keep the area clean. While that’s true, circumcisions today are done mainly for religious or cultural reasons. In the U.S., about 55% of newborns are circumcised shortly after birth. Others have the surgery later, but some never have it.
Preparing for Circumcision
If you want to circumcise your baby, talk it over with the doctor who will do the procedure. That can be a pediatrician, family doctor, urologist, neonatologist, or even a pediatric surgeon.
While most babies can be circumcised within 2 days after birth, you may need to wait if your baby is premature, born with a problem to their penis, or has bleeding problems or their family has a history of them.
Your doctor will explain the risks and benefits of the surgery. This is your chance to ask any questions you have about the procedure. Once you’re satisfied, you’ll sign an informed consent form giving your permission for the surgery.
What Happens During Circumcision
If the procedure happens when your son is a newborn, they’ll be awake during their circumcision. It most likely will happen in the hospital. They’ll be placed on their back, with Velcro bands or other restraints used to keep their arms and legs still.
The doctor will clean the penis area with antiseptic, then inject an anesthetic to the base of the penis to ease the pain. Sometimes doctors apply the pain reliever as a cream instead. Your doctor will also recommend swaddling them after the procedure by wrapping them up tightly with a blanket or having them suck on a pacifier dipped in sugar water. Your baby also may be given acetaminophen for pain.
Three different kinds of clamps or plastic rings are used for circumcision: the Gomco clamp, the Plastibell device, and the Mogen clamp. But the procedure is similar for all. The clamp or ring is attached to the penis and the doctor clips off excess foreskin. The ring stays on and will fall off later. The doctor then applies an ointment like petroleum jelly to the penis and wraps it in gauze. It’s usually over in about 10 minutes. If it’s done in the hospital, your baby should be ready to go home in a few hours.
What to Expect Afterwards
After their circumcision, your baby may be fussy and irritable. Hold them carefully so you don’t put pressure on their penis. The tip may be sore, and the penis itself may look red and swollen. You may see a yellow crust on the tip as well. This is normal and should go away on its own in a few days. It will take a week to 10 days for your son’s penis to heal completely.
It’s fine to wash their penis as it heals. You should change their bandage with each diaper change, applying a dab of petroleum jelly first so it doesn’t stick to their diaper. Around 48 hours after the procedure, the bandage is usually not put back on once it comes off. Lubricant, though, should still be used to keep the penis from sticking to the diaper. If stool gets on their penis, gently wipe it away with warm, soapy water. To ward off infection, change their diaper often and fasten it loosely.
When to Call Your Doctor
Most of the time, babies recover from circumcision without problems. Only about 1% have complications. Contact your doctor if:
- Your baby doesn’t pee within 12 hours of the circumcision.
- You see blood on their diaper larger than the size of a quarter.
- Redness or swelling around their penis gets worse, not better.
- You see signs of infection, like pus.
- Foul smelling, cloudy drainage comes from the tip of their penis.
- The plastic ring used during circumcision hasn’t fallen off after 2 weeks.
UpToDate: “Patient education: Circumcision in Baby Boys (Beyond the Basics).”
Mayo Clinic: “Circumcision (Male).”
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Newborn Circumcision.”
Circumcision is surgery to remove the skin at the very tip of the penis.
Baby boys are born with a loose flap of skin that covers and protects the rounded top part of the penis. This skin is called the foreskin. It contains nerves, blood vessels, and a tiny part of muscle.
When you are born, the foreskin is stuck to the penis. It separates as you grow up. This allows urine to better exit the body and lets the skin pull back when you have an erection.
How Is Circumcision Done?
Circumcision is a quick procedure. It only takes a few minutes. It may be done in the hospital or at home a few days or weeks after you are born. It is also sometimes done later in life.
The foreskin is removed, and petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) is put on the wound before it’s wrapped in gauze. Complications are rare but could include:
- Blockage of the urethra, the opening where urine leaves the body
- Infection or poor healing
- Irritation of the tip of the penis
- Removal of too much or too little foreskin
Why Are Some Boys Circumcised and Others Not?
Parents decide whether or not to have a boy circumcised when they are born. Not all baby boys are circumcised.
Things that can affect your parents’ decision include:
- Religious or cultural beliefs; circumcision is a Jewish and Islamic religious practice.
- Social beliefs; your parents may worry you will “look different” if you do not have this surgery done.
- Fear of possible risks related to surgery
- Medical reasons; circumcision may lower your risk of some cancers and infections.
Why Wasn’t I Circumcised?
Some reasons you might not have been circumcised include:
- You may have been born with a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia.
- You might have been born with other problems with the penis or foreskin.
- Your parents may not have felt it was necessary for religious, social, or medical reasons.
Are There Benefits to Circumcision?
There are some medical benefits with circumcision. Here are some of them:
- Circumcision lowers the risk of cancer of the penis, which is very rare.
- Boys and men who are circumcised have less chance of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). An STD is a disease you catch from sexual contact. An example is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS.
- Males who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk of getting a urinary tract infection. That’s an infection affecting the bladder, kidneys, or the tubes that urine goes through as it leaves the body.
- If you’re circumcised, there’s no worry that you’ll get an infection of the foreskin.
- Circumcision means you’ll never get phimosis — a condition in which very tight foreskin gets stuck to the penis.
How Do I Care for an Uncircumcised Penis?
If you’re not circumcised, you will need a couple extra steps to keep the penis clean:
- First, gently pull the foreskin backwards.
- Then, clean the skin underneath with soap and water.
You should do this every day.
Remember — if your foreskin looks tight or is red or if there is pain in that area, see your doctor immediately.
Can I Get Circumcised as a Young Adult?
Circumcision may be done at any age. If you were not circumcised as a baby, you may choose to have it done later for personal or medical reasons. Your doctor may suggest circumcision later if: