Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin on a male’s penis. It is a controversial issue that has been the subject of much discussion and research. Religious and societal beliefs about the necessity and benefits of the procedure vary in different regions of the world. Another contentious question is the most suitable time for circumcision, again there are diverse opinions regarding the issue. However, most medical practitioners suggest that infancy is the most optimal age for circumcision. In general, the issue rests on the parties involved. Where a child is concerned, it is his parents who have to make the decision. On the other hand, an adult male can take the decision for himself.
Circumcision takes only a few minutes and is usually performed using scissors or a scalpel to cut the skin cover. The patient may undergo some pain during the procedure, and it may take a few weeks before the wound heals completely.
Factors to Consider Before Circumcision
Factors to consider before deciding the age suitable for circumcision:
Cultural, social, and religious beliefs - Different cultural, social, and religious communities have different customs and beliefs regarding the right age for circumcision. Adherence to such norms is usually considered by parents before circumcision.
Most religious practices recommend circumcision at an early age.
- Health conditions - The health of the person being considered for circumcision is very crucial. For example, existing foreskin problems and bleeding disorders may affect the decision.
- Benefits of circumcision - Considering the benefits of circumcision may also help you choose the right time. In most cases, getting circumcised at an earlier age eliminates the risk of developing foreskin infections. This factor causes plenty of people to consider circumcision during the teenage years.
- Risks of circumcision - Like any other surgery, circumcision is accompanied by a number of risks, one of them is bleeding. A parent may decide not to have his/her child circumcised immediately after birth to avoid this. Other people may decide to forego the procedure to reduce other risks associated with it.
Depending on the decision, people are circumcised at different ages. The most common among them are:
1. Circumcision at Infancy
This is a case in which circumcision is done soon after a baby is born, usually between 24 to 72 hours after birth. The procedure is considered most beneficial as it reduces the risks of bleeding as the blood vessels in the penis are not fully developed.
2. Circumcision at 7 days
This is usually done for religious or cultural reasons. Many religious and cultural communities recommend that a child is circumcised 7 days after birth.
3. Circumcision during Adulthood
This is when the procedure is done to older boys or adults. There are a number of factors that can lead to this, including personal decision. However, some have claimed that getting circumcised adult reduces the sensitivity of one's penis head, a disadvantage that makes itself most apparent during sex.
As stipulated earlier, most doctor advice circumcision at an early age. Some prefer to perform the procedure within the first few months of birth; their reasoning is based on the fact that at this stage the blood vessels in the penis are not fully developed, this reduces the chances of pain, infection, and bleeding. Soon after birth the skin, the arteries and the nerves around the penis begin growing; any delay may cause unnecessary pain and discomfort. This school of thought stresses that at such a young age the child has no long-term memory and easily forgets any trauma or discomfort experienced during the procedure. Another point in case is that the infant does not move much during the procedure; this makes everything simpler from administering the local anesthesia to the incision itself. At this age, the chances of infection are very low and thewound heals quickly. Sutures are usually not required and the cosmetic outcome is good. The wound heals and the scar tissue fades within a few weeks. The post-operative care for young children is easier and simpler as compared to an older child. Older children may feel shy or uncomfortable in allowing the caregiver to handle their private parts, while, they themselves are incapable of taking proper measures.
The other proponents of early circumcision recommend it when the child is slightly older. They argue that anesthesia is usually required during the procedure which can have harmful effects on the body of a young child. However, there are several disadvantages to getting circumcised at a later stage. Risks of complication increase and the healing process are slower. Stitches may become necessary. The child will have to stay away from school for at least two weeks. One of the main disadvantages of getting circumcised at a later age is that the child retains the memory of the procedure. This may cause trauma and induce a fear in the child. The child may develop a fear of pain or reduced sexual pleasure due to the psychological barrier created in his mind.
The complications of circumcision increase with the age of the individual. The procedure becomes more complicated and the cosmetic outcome may not be very appealing. The scar tissues may remain and the healing is quite slow and painful.
Although an individual can get circumcised at any age, it is advisable to undergo the surgery at a young age to avoid complications.
The Bottom Line
The issue of the right age for circumcision is debatable, but it really is a decision that rests on the individuals concerned. Although the early teenage years are considered the best time for it, a person can get circumcised at any age.
There are many benefits of getting circumcised therefore it is best not to avoid or delay the procedure. Many parents out of the fear of hurting their child tend to postpone circumcision, however, it must be kept in mind that the earlier you get it done the better it is for the physical and mental health of the child.
To know if you can be circumcised, it is imperative that you go and seek medical advice.
- Males can get circumcised at any age, although the teenage years are considered the best time for it.
- Factors to be considered in deciding when one should get circumcised are cultural or social norms, religious beliefs, one's health, and the benefits and risks of circumcision.