When you are born, the foreskin is stuck to the penis. It separates as you grow up. This allows urine to better exit the body and lets the skin pull back when you have an erection (get hard).
How Is Circumcision Done?
Circumcision is a quick procedure. It only takes a few minutes. It may be done in the hospital or at home a few days or weeks after you are born. It is also sometimes done later in life.
The foreskin is removed, and germ-fighting ointment is put on the wound to prevent infection. Complications are rare but could include:
Blockage of the urethra, the opening where urine leaves the body
Infection or poor healing
Irritation of the tip of the penis
Removal of too much or too little foreskin
Why Are Some Boys Circumcised and Others Not?
Parents decide whether or not to have a boy circumcised when he is born.
Not all baby boys are circumcised.
Things that can affect your parents' decision include:
Religious or cultural beliefs. Circumcision is a Jewish and Islamic religious practice.
Social beliefs. Your parents may worry you will "look different" if you do not have this surgery done.
Fear of possible risks related to surgery.
Medical reasons. Circumcision may lower your risk of some cancers and infections.
Why Wasn't I Circumcised?
Some reasons you might not have been circumcised include:
You may have been born with a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia.
You might have been born with other problems with the penis or foreskin.
Your parents may not have felt it was necessary for religious, social, or medical reasons.
Are There Benefits to Circumcision?
There are some medical benefits with circumcision. Here are some of them:
Circumcision lowers the risk of cancer of the penis. That is actually, though, a very rare type of cancer.
Boys and men who are circumcised have less chance of getting an STD. An STD is a disease you catch from having sex. An example is AIDS.
Males who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk of getting a urinary tract infection. That's an infection affecting your bladder, kidneys, or the tubes that urine goes through as it leaves your body.
If you're circumcised, there's no worry that you'll get an infection of the foreskin.
Circumcision means you'll never get phimosis -- a condition in which very tight foreskin gets stuck to the penis.
How Do I Care for an Uncircumcised Penis?
If you're not circumcised, you will need a couple extra steps to keep the penis clean:
First, gently pull the foreskin backwards.
Then, clean the skin underneath with soap and water.
You should do this every day.
Remember -- if your foreskin looks tight or is red or if there is pain in that area, see your doctor immediately.
Can I Get Circumcised as a Young Adult?
Circumcision may be done at any age. If you were not circumcised as a baby, you may choose to have it done later for personal or medical reasons. Your doctor may suggest circumcision later if:
You have repeated infections of the foreskin that do not get better with treatment.
You cannot pull the foreskin away from the tip of the penis.