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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Men's Health Circumcision or removal of penile foreskin

Circumcision or removal of penile foreskin

Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the tip of the penis. Circumcision is considered a very safe procedure for both newborns and older children. Neonatal circumcision is generally a rapid and safe procedure when performed by an experienced physician.

There are medical benefits and risks to circumcision. Possible benefits include a lower risk of urinary tract infections, penile cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. The risks include pain and a low risk of bleeding or infection. These risks are higher for older babies, boys and men.

Some research has suggested that uncircumcised male infants have an increased risk of certain conditions, including:

  • Cancer of the penis
  • Certain sexually transmitted diseases including HIV
  • Infections of the penis
  • Phimosis (tightness of the foreskin that prevents it from retracting)
  • Urinary tract infections.

Risks of circumcision:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.Injury to the penis.
  • Redness around the surgery site.

The benefits

Circumcision may have health benefits, including:

  • Easier hygiene. Circumcision makes it easy to wash the penis — although it's simple to clean an uncircumcised penis, too.
  • Decreased risk of urinary tract infections. The risk of urinary tract infections in the first year is low, but these infections may be up to 10 times as common in uncircumcised baby boys. Severe infections early in life can lead to kidney problems later on.
  • Prevention of penile problems. Occasionally, the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis may be difficult or impossible to retract (phimosis). This can also lead to inflammation of the head of the penis.
  • Decreased risk of penile cancer. Although cancer of the penis is rare, it's less common in circumcised men.
  • Decreased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Safe sexual practices remain essential, but circumcised men may have a slightly lower risk of certain sexually transmitted diseases — including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The drawbacks

Circumcision also has drawbacks, including:

  • Surgical risks. Excessive bleeding and infection are uncommon, but possible. The foreskin may be cut too short or too long or fail to heal properly. If the remaining foreskin reattaches to the end of the penis, minor surgery may be needed to correct it.
  • Pain. Circumcision hurts. Local anesthesia can block nerve sensations during the procedure.


Circumcision is done in the hospital as out patient procedure and using local anesthesia. In very small children, general anesthesia is preferred.

Problems after circumcision are rare. Contact your son's doctor if:

  • Your son doesn't urinate normally within six to eight hours after the circumcision.
  • There's persistent bleeding or redness around the tip of the penis.
  • There's foul-smelling drainage from the tip of the penis or crusted sores fill with fluid.