The Circumcision Decision

October 1st, 2012  |  The Blog

Should newborn boys be circumcised? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued a statement addressing this ever-controversial question. They stated that the health benefits of the procedure, in reducing the risk of disease, outweigh the small risk of undergoing the surgery. The AAP went on to state that medical insurance companies should pay for the procedure to be done.

Recent research, studies and outcomes have made the AAP update their previous, 13-year-old policy. In the past, the AAP stated that the benefits of circumcision did not justify them recommending it across the board for every newborn male. The new policy states, “The benefits of newborn male circumcision justify access to this procedure for those families who choose it.”

The Trend

The debate rages on as to whether a circumcision is medically necessary or is purely a cosmetic choice. Despite a downward trend, about half of the male baby population or one million circumcisions, are performed annually in the U.S. This represents a higher rate for this procedure than any other developed country in the world. The U.S. cases vary by region, based upon the cultural and religious population, specifically Jews and Muslims who add to the rate of circumcision.

Pro-circumcision groups project that the rate of infection and disease caused by the declining rate in the U.S. will dramatically raise health care costs.

Some anti-circumcision groups go so far as to label it as genital mutilation. They state that the surgery decreases sexual satisfaction, although there is no scientific research to support this statement.

The decision about whether or not to circumcise a newborn is ultimately up to the parents. It is important to make an informed decision based upon research and personal viewpoints.

The Benefits of Circumcision

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin at the head of the penis. The theory behind doing this surgery is to reduce the germs that can potentially grow under the foreskin. As with any surgery, the post-operative risks include bleeding and infection. The clinical benefits to having a circumcision include:

  • Reduces the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Reduces the occurrence of urinary tract infections
  • Lowers the risk of cancer of the penis

The other side of the controversy refers to those occasionally not-so-perfect circumcisions, which can lead to needing reconstructive surgical repair. While this is not a common occurrence, it is a risk of the procedure.

The Cost

The cost of the procedure varies across the country but falls somewhere between $200-$600. Medical insurance coverage for circumcision varies greatly, including many state funded plans that have recently omitted paying for this elective surgery.

The Outcome

The decision about whether or not to circumcise a newborn boy is not an edict from the medical profession; it is a personal choice.

 

 

 

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