If you have a baby boy, you likely will be asked whether you want him to be circumcised. Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin, which is the skin that covers the tip of the penis. It's a good idea to think about this before going into labor because it is often offered before a new baby leaves the hospital.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend routine circumcision because the medical benefits do not outweigh the risks. But parents also need to consider their religious, cultural, and personal preferences when making the choice to circumcise their son.
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Recent studies suggest that circumcision also might help prevent spread of HIV. But so far, circumcision only has proven effective at lowering risk of HIV infection in men who have vaginal sex with women who are infected with HIV. More research is needed to learn what role circumcision might play in preventing HIV. Practicing safe sex, including using a condom, is the best protection against HIV.
These risks are higher when circumcision is performed on older babies, boys, and men.
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about the risks or possible benefits.
Source: WomensHealth.gov, Office of Women's Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Content last updated Sept. 27, 2010.