Circumcision has been favored in the medical news a lot lately. For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics had a fairly ambivalent position on circumcision, saying it was neither harmful nor beneficial and was exclusively up to the parents. Many studies in the last few years, however, have caused the AAP to change their position. Studies for nearly 2 decades have shown a significantly decreased risk of urinary tract infection in circumcised boys vs. uncircumcised boys, particularly in the first year of life. Several studies have also shown much lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases in circumcised men, particularly HIV. The incidence of penile cancer is also 10 fold lower in circumcised men, and cervical cancer in the wives of circumcised men is also much lower. For all these reasons, the AAP position statement of 2012 states that while the decision to circumcise or not still rests with the parents, the benefits do outweigh any risks and it should be considered a beneficial procedure.
The OB-GYN or pediatrician usually performs circumcision in the hospital on the day of or days prior to hospital discharge. We use lidocaine to perform a penile nerve block to numb the area, and we also generally allow the baby to suck on a pacifier dipped in sugar water. Studies have shown that the combination of both decreases the baby’s stress response. The procedure usually only takes about ten minutes. As long as there is no underlying bleeding disorder, the bleeding is generally easily controlled, and the infection rate is very low. The circumcision site usually heals completely within 5-10 days.
If you are Jewish, Brit Milah, or ritual circumcision, is an important commandment and should be done on the 8th day of life by a mohel or ritual circumciser. This is also very safe, and outcomes are generally the same as for hospital circumcision.