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13 Circumcision Myths and Facts
People worldwide have strong opinions about baby circumcision, but what are the facts? Are there health benefits to circumcision? Are most men circumcised?
While circumcision of the penis is a commonly accepted practice in many geographical areas, a lot of misunderstanding still exists around the procedure and the differences between cut and uncut penises.
Fortunately, we got the facts before we went down that road, and we’re sharing them here to help new moms and moms-to-be make their own decision. Read on to explore some of the most common myths about circumcision and clarify some potentially confusing misinformation.
1. Circumcision myths and Facts:
Most penises are circumcised.
The reality: Depending on where you live, and your familial and religious traditions, you may feel like all penises are circumcised because many or most of the penises you’ve encountered have been cut. You may be surprised to learn, then, that circumcision does not occur everywhere around the world and perhaps less than half of the male population around the world circumcises their newborn sons. The procedure is most common in areas such as the United States, Canada, Africa, and the Middle East. At the end of the day, circumcision is a safe choice and a personal one that shouldn’t be based on the trending number of circumcised versus uncircumcised.
2. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Circumcision is cutting off a flap of skin from the penis' tip.
The reality: Though it is an extremely simple and straight-forward procedure, circumcisions take sophisticated attention to detail. The foreskin of a newborn baby’s penis is not just a flap, it’s half of the penis’ skin. The foreskin adheres to the penis’ head with the same tissue type that adheres fingernails to their nail beds in babies and children. Removing it requires inserting a sterile tool between the foreskin and the head of the penis and then trimming excess skin around the whole penis. The entire procedure is quick, nearly painless with the correct pain management and new tools are being developed constantly to increase the comfort level of the patient.
3. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
It will hurt the baby.
The reality: With proper tools and anesthesia, circumcisions can be performed on newborn baby boys with great success and very little pain. Remember, this procedure is centuries old and our tools have only become more sophisticated over time.
4. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
The doctor may not use anesthesia.
The reality: A reputable doctor would never proceed with circumcising a baby if that child were not treated to dull and manage the pain after surgery. In fact, doctors have a range of options when it comes to numbing and reducing pain during circumcisions. Circumcisions can be successfully performed under local, regional, or general anesthesia.
General anesthesia makes the whole body go to sleep and is needed for circumcisions so the patient does not flinch or react to the procedure. General anesthesia makes circumcisions easier and safer because the patient feels virtually no pain and will remember nothing from the procedure. Caudal anesthesia can be given with general anesthesia to block pain, allowing for a smaller effective dose of the general anesthesia. Caudal anesthesia provides up to 4 hours of pain relief to the patient’s groin and penis after the surgery.
5. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Circumcisions save lives
The reality: Not quite. Male circumcision does not protect men or women from acquiring HIV, and this fact should be well known by now. During the AIDS epidemic that tore through the United States in the 1980s and 90s, about 85 percent of adult men received a circumcision. A much higher rates of circumcision than in Africa; yet, HIV still spread. The only true way to protect against sexually transmitted diseases is to use condoms properly. While there may be a lower risk for STD associated with circumcised men, we don’t know whether this is due to causation or correlation and the procedure does not guarantee against the spread of disease.
6. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
It could cause long-term harm to the patient.ac
The reality: First and foremost, circumcision is a centuries-old procedure that has only become safer as our tools. Of course, like any procedure, circumcision comes with some risks and side effects that aren’t life-threatening but also shouldn’t be ignored.
There exists a shortlist of potential complications that your doctor will explain to you before the day of the surgery. Should you go ahead with the circumcision surgery, the doctor will give you (the parents of the patient, or the adult patient) a simple set of instructions to help prepare for the surgery and another set of instructions that pertain to post-surgical care. If you follow the directions properly, there should be almost no risk of infection or adhesions (where the foreskin of the penis attempts to heal improperly, fusing it to the head of the penis).
In the rare case of a Meatal Stenosis, where the patient experiences a narrowing urethra, a second low-risk surgery will be required to relieve this.
7. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
The penis doesn't need special cleaning until puberty.
The reality: Very wrong. Good hygiene begins at a very early age and parents will agree that, in fact, the circumcised penis is easier to keep clean. Parents with uncircumcised baby boys need to be very careful when bathing their sons.
The foreskin connects to the head of the penis, and parents must be sure they never retract this skin to clean their baby’s penis as it could be painful. Keeping a circumcised baby boy clean is just a little bit easier, and that gives many parents comfort especially in the years after they stop bathing their baby and their child begins bathing themself. Definitely, a Circumcision Myths And Facts you want to take note of.
8. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Circumcision now means less talking about hygiene later.
The reality: That would be nice, but all young men need to be taught this habit of cleaning their penis, not just ones with an intact foreskin. The foreskin separates and retracts on its sometime between age three and puberty. Before it retracts on its own, the penis can be cleaned daily by simply wiping the outside rim with soapy fingers. After it retracts in puberty, the penis will get clean during the boy’s shower or bath, but taking the time to clean the penis should be a daily habit for all men.
9. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Only uncircumcised penises get smegma buildup.
The reality: Smegma is produced by the genitals of both women and men during the reproductive years. More specifically, smegma is made of sebum and skin cells and lubricates the man’s penis and the woman’s clitoral hood and inner labia. The substance should be cleaned from the outer edge of the penis during regular bathing. If this does not occur, the secretion could become pungent.
10. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Uncircumcised boys get more infections.
The reality: Misinformation was especially prevalent during the 1950s and 60s when most babies received a circumcision. A shocking number of doctors do not know about the normal development of the foreskin, and they incorrectly tell parents to retract the baby’s foreskin and wash inside it at every diaper change.
Doing so could run the risk of tearing the tender newborn foreskin and the tissue (called synechia) that connects it to the penis’s head, leading to scarring and infection.
Circumcision would, of course, avoid these complications though the procedure should not be chosen just for this reason. The only way to truly avoid infections, because even circumcised penises can contract infections, is through good hygiene.
11. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Uncircumcised boys get more urinary tract infections (UTIs.)
The reality: Again, this would be a wonderful claim to be able to make and it would certainly draw more parents to choose circumcision for their baby boy, but it’s based on flawed research that didn’t accurately count whether the babies receive a circumcision, whether they were premature and thus more susceptible to infection in general, whether they were breastfed. (Breastfeeding tends to protect against UTI.) Circumcision is not recommended to prevent UTI alone because there are behavioral and lifestyle choices a young man should be taught anyway. Females have higher UTI rates than males, yet when a girl gets a UTI, she can use home remedies or obtain a prescription for antibiotics. The same treatment works for boys.
12. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
When boys are diagnosed with phimosis, they must be circumcised.
The reality: Phimosis is a diagnosis assigned when the penis’ foreskin will not retract. The foreskin of a male child’s penis would naturally not retracted. Therefore it is impossible to diagnose phimosis in a child.
Some adult men have foreskins that do not retract, but that is on the “normal” spectrum as long as it doesn’t interfere with sexual intercourse. Phimosis is treatable with a simple steroid cream, along with gentle stretching of the foreskin.
There are many more myths and facts that we could add to this list, but we hope that this has given you a better idea of the misinformation floating around on the internet so you can appreciate how important it is to consult with your doctor and make your own decision when it comes to your health or the health of your son.
13. Circumcision Myths And Facts:
Circumcision could affect a man's sex life.
The reality: This must be one of the most curious myths out there, and certainly not a reason for a parent to change their mind about circumcision their newborn son. Studies uniformly find that circumcision has no overall adverse effect on penile sensitivity, sexual arousal, sexual sensation, erectile function, premature ejaculation, ejaculatory latency, orgasm difficulties, sexual satisfaction, pleasure, or pain during penetration.
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