Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. The foreskin is a sheath of skin that covers the tip of the penis.
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Circumcision may be done for cultural or religious reasons. It is usually done during the first few days of life. Circumcision may be done on older boys as a treatment for medical problems. Problems may include foreskin that is too tight or foreskin that cannot retract.
Circumcision may be associated with a decreased risk of:
- Urinary tract infection
- Phimosis—tightening of the foreskin, which can be severe enough to close off the opening to the penis
- Penile cancer
- Cervical cancer in sexual partners
- Certain sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV
Talk to your doctor about the risk and benefits of circumcision for your child.
Last reviewedMay 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.