What is circumcision and why is it performed?

Circumcision is a surgical procedure performed to remove the foreskin; that is, the skin that covers the tip of the penis. Sometimes it is done for health reasons and other times for cultural or religious reasons.

Most commonly, circumcision is performed in newborn boys, no more than 2 days old. The Jews carry it out at 8 days old. In some cases, it is necessary to practice it in older men for problems such as phimosis, paraphimosis or balanitis.

This type of procedure most commonly performed in the United States and in some regions of Africa and the Middle East. It is less common in other areas of the world. Circumcision, generally speaking, has advantages; however, it also carries some risks.

Why is it done?

There are different ways to carry out circumcision.

In principle, circumcision is carried out for cultural reasons. In the Jewish and Islamic religions, it is a mandatory doctrinal tradition. Something similar occurs with some aboriginal communities in Australia and Africa.

Also, there are cases in which this intervention is recommended for medical reasons.. For example, the foreskin may be too tight and there are difficulties in retracting it; that is, move it back. Also, it is done when there is inflammation at the tip of the penis (balanitis).

In certain contexts, it is a measure that helps reduce the risk of contracting some sexually transmitted diseases. However, despite its benefits, this procedure is not recommended for all children.

How is circumcision performed?

Most commonly, circumcision is done while the newborn is still in the hospital. In those cases, authorized parental consent will be required. If the child is older, he or she will need to go to the hospital for the procedure to be done.

The intervention is performed under local anesthesia. An injection at the base of the penis or a numbing cream may be applied to the penis. Also, a paracetamol suppository is often put into the rectum to reduce discomfort. There are several techniques to carry out this procedure. The most applied are the following.

Gomco clamp

In this case, the intervention is carried out with an instrument called a stylet. This allows the skin, or foreskin, to be separated from the head of the penis. After this, the following steps are carried out:

  • A bell-shaped device is placed, on the tip of the penis and under the foreskin. In some cases, an incision is required to carry out this step.
  • The foreskin is extended upward, putting it over the hood.
  • A clamp is placed around the foreskin to reduce blood flow to the area.
  • The foreskin is cut and removed with a scalpel.

Read also: Caring for the baby's penis

Mogen clamp

A stylet is also used here, as with the Gomco forceps. However, in this case the bell device is not used, but the foreskin is extended upwards. Then, is inserted into a metal clamp with a slot.

The clamp remains fixed, while the foreskin is cut with a scalpel. Then wait a few minutes. When it is certain that the bleeding is controlled, the clamp is removed.

Bell or Plestibell technique

The procedure is basically the same for the Gomco forceps. The difference is that this case A clamp is not used to interrupt the blood supply, but a piece of suture thread.

Also, there is a plastic ring that is not removed after making the cut, but is left there. It falls off on its own after about three to seven days.

Recovery from circumcision

Recovery from circumcision takes three to seven days.

In all cases, the healing process on the penis takes between seven and 10 days. Some discomforts such as redness, swelling and / or bruising may arise. In some cases, there is also discharge of a yellowish fluid from the penis.

Some bleeding and pain is normal after circumcision. The area can be bathed in a normal way, without the use of cotton or special products. Soap and warm water is enough. Also, Vaseline is commonly applied to the penis to reduce discomfort.

If a bandage was put on, it is best to renew it every time the diaper is changed, in the case of babies. In older children or adults, the doctor will indicate the measures to follow. The important thing, in all cases, is to keep the area clean.

The warning signs are as follows:

  • Persistent or very heavy bleeding.
  • Progressive redness at the tip of the penis.
  • Appearance of vesicles with pus.
  • Fever.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • In the case of babies, if they are too restless after the circumcision, it is advisable to consult with the doctor.

Which has benefits?

Circumcision can have a number of health benefits. Among them, the United States National Library of Medicine notes the following:

  • It would reduce the risk of urinary infections. The available data indicate that these types of infections would be less frequent in circumcised men.
  • Lower risk of sexually transmitted diseases. Research suggests that circumcision may reduce the risk of getting diseases like HIV.
  • It would decrease the probability of suffering from penile cancer. This type of cancer is rare, and even less so in circumcised men, according to data in an article titled Penile Cancer. Review of the clinicopathological characteristics.
  • Ease of hygiene. Circumcised men carry out penis hygiene more easily.
  • It would prevent diseases of the penissuch as phimosis, paraphimosis, balanitis, and balanoposthitis.

Don't miss: How do you know if you have phimosis?


Although there is a myth that circumcision affects fertility or sexual function, there is no scientific data to support it. On very rare occasions, this surgical procedure leads to negative consequences such as the following:

  • Surgery can have uncomfortable effects. These include pain and unusual complications such as infection or bleeding.
  • Adverse effects of anesthesia. It is also rare and almost always occurs in patients with other medical problems. There may be an allergic reaction or other inconveniences such as an irregular heart rhythm, breathing problems, etc.
  • Incomplete removal of the foreskin. Improper practice can leave a foreskin left on the penis. This problem can be corrected with surgery.
  • Injury to the penis. Damage to the head of the penis can occur, but the probability is minimal.

The benefits of circumcision outweigh its risks

Generally speaking, the benefits of circumcision far outweigh the risks. However, parents should weigh the decision very well, before carrying out the procedure. It is best to inform yourself well and choose what best suits your ideas and expectations.

Similarly, it is possible to wait for the child to grow up to decide for himself. In general, circumcisions in adult men are usually performed for some health difficulty, but they can also be carried out by personal decision.