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Couples often ask about circumcision. Here are some facts to help you decide. Circumcision is cutting away part of the foreskin, the skin that covers the glans, or head, of the penis. It is usually done before the baby leaves the hospital. Your obstetrician and pediatrician can offer you information about the risks and benefits of this procedure. Circumcision is elective surgery, which means that it is the parents’ choice whether to have their son circumcised. Parents usually make their choice in accordance with their religion, culture or tradition.

What is the Procedure Like?

The baby will be securely held during the procedure. Anesthesia use is specific to individual physicians. Talk to your obstetrician or pediatrician prior to the procedure concerning anesthesia options. The circumcision is usually done by the obstetrician. The most common method of circumcision involves clamping the foreskin and using a thin probe to free up the normal adhesions and tissue connections between the foreskin and the head of the penis. A device is placed over the head of the penis for protection, and the foreskin is clamped and cut away. Any surgery carries risks. Although rare, bleeding, infection, and injury to the penis can occur. The area that was cut may be sore for several days before it heals. Ointment and gauze may be placed over the area to protect it from rubbing against the diaper.


If you opt not to circumcise your newborn son, you should wash the outside of the penis with soap and water. No attempt should be made to retract (pull back) the foreskin, which may not be completely retractable until the child is three years old, or even older. This is normal. Your son should be taught to wash his penis, including the area beneath the foreskin once it has begun to retract. You should encourage this in the same way you would other routines, such as brushing his teeth.