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Is Circumcision Healthy? There Are Pros & Cons

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If you're expecting a baby boy, then you have to make one of the most controversial parenting decisions of the day: whether or not to circumcise. Although there are plenty of religious and cultural reasons for circumcisions, it may be a good time to consider the real health benefits behind the practice. Is circumcision healthy, after all, and are there medical benefits to the practice?

To start, look at the way major health organizations regard the risks and benefits of circumcisions. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are indeed some potential health benefits to circumcision, including a decreased risk of urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, and even penile cancer. As further explained by the Mayo Clinic, circumcised men do appear to have lower rates of UTIs, STIs, and penile cancer. It is important to note, as the site also added, that rates of male UTIs and penile cancer are relatively low, and safe sexual practices are required for anyone to avoid contracting STIs. So although circumcision may help these conditions, they may or may not be a problem without circumcision.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also issued a statement concluding the benefits of male circumcision generally outweigh the risks. Universal circumcision, however, is not necessarily recommended. In order to reach this conclusion, the AAP utilized a multidisciplinary task force to examine the evidence on circumcision's health risks. It was determined to be safe enough to offer as a potential service. The AAP's site did further explain that clinicians should present the health risks and benefits of circumcisions to parents in an unbiased manner. At this time, it is still a personal decision for the parents to make in most cases.

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On the other hand, not all people feel that circumcisions should be such a common procedure. In fact, according to the advocacy group Intact America, the foreskin is an important body part that protects the penis, and cutting it provides no serious health benefits. And according to WebMD, uncircumcised penises are not more difficult to keep clean and hygienic, and the circumcision itself may cause your son pain.

With all of this information at hand, it's no surprise the decision to circumcise or not has become such a big question for parents. For many people, the decision is also influenced by their religious and cultural background as well, adding more layers of complexity to the circumcision decision. Your best bet as a parent is to discuss the health risks and benefits with your doctor, and give yourself plenty of time before the birth to make the decision.