A surgical procedure to remove the foreskin (the skin covering the end of the penis), circumcision is a religious rite or a ceremonial tradition in many cultures. Circumcision has been in the news lately, because some people think the practice is painful and risky. However, most doctors believe that people who have been circumcised as infants are comfortable with the choices their parents made for them and have no regrets. On the other hand, adult males may also choose to have the foreskin removed, whether for health reasons or as a matter of personal aesthetics. In this case, concerns about caring for the penis following the procedure may arise.
The debate about circumcision
Doctors who support circumcision say that its sexual health benefits include near-elimination of the lifetime risk of penile cancer, nearly 100 times less chance of urinary tract infection during infancy, reduced incidence of balanitis and phimosis (conditions affecting the foreskin of the penis) and less risk of acquisition and transmission of HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases. Complications of circumcision, which include bleeding or infection, are rare (2 to 3 percent), and serious or life-threatening problems such as damage to the penis or hemorrhaging are extremely rare.
On the other hand, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 1999 and 2005, problems with the penis such as irritation can occur with or without circumcision; there is no difference in hygiene, as long as proper care is followed; and there may or may not be difference in sexual sensation or practices in adult men. Thus, penis function remains intact one way or the other, and many argue that circumcision is mainly a matter of personal choice.
About the circumcision procedure
There are several ways to perform a circumcision. Some practitioners use a temporary clamp, while others use a plastic bell that stays on the penis for a certain length of time. For each method, the practitioner separates the foreskin from the head of the penis, cutting a small slit in the foreskin and placing the clamp on the foreskin. He or she leaves the clamp in place for a few minutes to stop the bleeding. Then the foreskin can be cut and removed.
Caring for a circumcised penis
The physician will provide specific instructions on the care of the circumcision. These may include:
* Keeping the area clean.
* Removing the gauze dressing and applying a new dressing.
* Being aware of normal healing, such as rawness and redness at the head of the penis and a small amount of blood at first or yellow-colored drainage later.
* Keeping the penis clean with soap and water.
* Seeking medical attention for issues such as ongoing bleeding, excessive pain or signs of infection.
Men who are considering circumcision are often worried that they will lose some of their natural sensitivity. Research findings on this issue are mixed, with some studies reporting a reduction in sensation after surgical ablation, and others indicating no significant difference in the sensitivity of a circumcised versus an uncircumcised penis. Some practitioners believe that lack of penis sensitivity in circumcised men is sometimes emotionally based, rather than rooted in a physiological problem.
Promoting a healthy and responsive penis
Men who have been circumcised – as well as those with an intact foreskin – often find that a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil) containing natural emollients and moisturizers helps to boost penis sensation, as well as maintaining even skin tone and texture and improving the skin’s natural elasticity. A quality penis vitamin formula may be applied directly to the area following cleansing on a daily basis for maximum benefit.