View a PDF version of our "Circumcision" fact sheet.
Read the "Circumcision: What Parents Should Know" article from the Spring 2013 edition of UrologyHealth extra magazine.
The American Urological Association (AUA) believes that circumcision, removal of the foreskin of the penis, performed on a newborn (neonatal) has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks.
Neonatal circumcision is generally a rapid and safe procedure when performed by an experienced physician. There are immediate risks to circumcision such as bleeding, infection and penile injury, as well as complications recognized later that may include buried penis, meatal stenosis, skin bridges, chordee and poor cosmetic appearance. Some of these complications might require surgical correction. Nevertheless, when performed on healthy newborn infants as an elective procedure, the incidence of serious complications is extremely low. The minor complications are reported to be three percent.
Properly performed neonatal circumcision prevents phimosis, paraphimosis and balanoposthitis, and is associated with a decreased incidence of cancer of the penis among U.S. males. In addition, there is a connection between the foreskin and urinary tract infections in the neonate. For the first three to six months of life, the incidence of urinary tract infections is at least ten times higher in uncircumcised than circumcised boys. Evidence associating circumcision with reduced incidence of sexually transmitted diseases is conflicting. Circumcision may be required in a small number of uncircumcised boys when phimosis, paraphimosis or recurrent balanoposthitis occur and may be requested for ethnic and cultural reasons after the newborn period. Circumcision in these children usually requires general anesthesia.
When circumcision is being discussed with parents and informed consent obtained, medical benefits and risks, and ethnic, cultural, religious and individual preferences should be considered. The risks and disadvantages of circumcision are encountered early whereas the advantages and benefits may be prospective.
See Meatal Stenosis for more information
Last reviewed: January 2011
Last updated: May 2014
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