Rhonda Ruiz awaited the birth of her son with great excitement, but also with a bit of trepidation. She knew that when her son arrived, she would have to make a very important decision: whether or not to circumcise him.
When she began to research circumcision and query her friends and family, Ruiz was astounded by what she found. "It seemed to me that I was the only person on the Earth who had ever questioned circumcision," she says. "I could not find anyone who had opted not to have their son circumcised." In the end, she wound up choosing the procedure for her son, but she secretly worried whether she had made the right choice.
Although some parents are sure that they want to circumcise their sons for religious, cultural, or medical reasons, others find the decision far more difficult.
If you do some reading on circumcision, you'll notice there is quite a debate on the subject. Advocates of the procedure say that it keeps the penis cleaner and protects against a number of diseases. Opponents say that circumcision is not medically necessary and that it is painful and traumatic for the baby.
If you're on the fence about circumcision, it's a good idea to examine both sides of the issue, carefully weighing the pros and cons of the procedure. This article is not intended as advice, but rather provides some background to help you make an informed choice.
What is Circumcision?
Circumcision is a surgical procedure in which the foreskin—the piece of skin that naturally covers the tip (glans) of the penis—is removed. A circumcision can be performed in a hospital or in a religious ceremony (the Jewish ritual is called a bris and is performed by a medically and religiously trained practitioner called a mohel).
In the hospital, circumcision is usually performed within a day or two after the baby is born. The infant is generally placed in a special restraint chair and given a local anesthetic (a topical cream or injection). After pulling back the foreskin with a special clamp that protects the glans, the doctor cuts the foreskin. The incision site is covered in antibacterial ointment and wrapped in gauze to protect it against infection.