Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Expectant parents are faced with many decisions as they navigate through pregnancy and childbirth. For couples with a male child, one additional question will likely arise: should we circumcise our baby?
What Are the Roots of Circumcision?
Circumcision is believed to have originated in Africa in the Ancient Egyptian civilization. There are historic references to circumcision in various cultures throughout history. In some cultures, circumcision was seen as a rite of passage, demonstrating a male’s ability to endure pain. Often, circumcision was seen as religious sacrifice.
How Is a Circumcision Performed?
In the United States, circumcision is often performed shortly after birth, prior to the newborn leaving the hospital. An anesthetic is used to numb the area, and the foreskin is removed with a scalpel. The procedure takes just a few minutes.
What Percentage of Babies Are Circumcised?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 1979 through 2010, the rate of newborn circumcision in the United States declined overall, from 64.5% to 58.3%.
Globally, circumcision rates vary greatly by region and are influenced strongly by religion and culture. In predominantly Muslim countries, the circumcision rate nears 100%. In New Zealand and Australia, the prevalence of circumcision is 33 and 27%, respectively. In the United Kingdom, 21 percent of males are circumcised. Lower numbers are seen throughout Europe, including 11% in Germany, 3% in Italy and 1% in Ireland.
What Are the Medical Reasons for a Circumcision?
There are several medical benefits to circumcision. First, there is a slightly lower risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease. Additionally, there is a lower risk of urinary tract infection. Physicians cite a lower risk of cancer of the penis, prevention of foreskin infections and prevention of phimosis (inability to pull back foreskin) as additional medical benefits of circumcision.
What Are Some Reasons Not to Circumcise?
As with any surgery, there are risks involved with circumcision. Additionally, removing the foreskin can decrease sensitivity.
Circumcision is an elective procedure with historic roots. In modern times, circumcision is believed to decrease the risk of infection and penile cancer. However, there are also risks involved with the procedure. Circumcision rates vary by region and are influenced by religion and culture. It is important to discuss your concerns with your physician when making this decision.
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How did you make your decision regarding whether to circumcise your baby? Please share in the comments below.