The wobbly flap of skin covering the rounded tip of the penis and safeguarding it is known as glans. This skin comprises nerves, blood vessels and a small amount of muscle called the foreskin. When your baby boy grows into a teenager, the foreskin separates from the penis.
If parents want their son to undergo circumcision, it is usually opted when the boy is still a baby. But the procedure could be done even after the boy grows into a teenager. MomJunction brings to you recovery procedures and pros and cons of teenage circumcision, so that you can decide whether or not it would be good for your son.
Facts About Teenage Circumcision:
- Circumcision is a surgical procedure where the doctor medically removes the skin present at the apex of the teen’s penis.
- As doctors never recommend teens to undergo a routine circumcision, most parents do not opt for it. Their decisions depend upon on cultural, religious, and personal beliefs.
- In the US, 55% of the babies get circumcised before leaving the hospital and country has a record of 3,000 routine circumcisions a day.
- Researchers conclude that teenage circumcision has its share of benefits and risks. One of the positive aspects is that it minimizes the risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes, and prevents urinary tract infections and penile cancer.
- The foul odors or bacteria buildup that occurs in the foreskin could hamper sexual health. The risks associated with it include infection, bleeding, severe pain, psychological trauma, and sexual dissatisfaction.
- Circumcision is believed to have a positive impact on sexuality as it is said that they can satisfy their partners better.
- Uncircumcised boys are at a higher risk of transmitting or acquiring the human papillomavirus (HPV), which could lead to cervical cancers.
[ Read: Erectile Dysfunction In Teens ]
Procedure Of Circumcision:
The procedure is pretty straightforward and quick, and is performed by doctors at a medical facility. The surgeon removes the foreskin and covers it with gauze after applying some petroleum jelly on the operated part. There could be a few complications, though these are rare.
- Excessive bleeding
- Blocking of the opening of penis called urethra, for urination
- Delayed healing and infection, or rashes
- Itching at the tip of the penis
- Elimination of surplus or insufficient foreskin (1)
Circumcision In Baby Boys:
In most cases, baby boys undergo circumcision at a tender age, just after their birth. There’re several reasons behind this:
- In religions like Jewism and Islam, it is a cultural and religious conviction.
- It a social block that the son could look different if he does not undergo circumcision.
- If done at a later stage, there could be high chances of medical and physical issues.
Teenage Circumcision – Circumcised Teen Boys:
As there is no age limit on when the procedure is to be performed, parents may get it done once the boy reaches teenage. A few medical and personal reasons for opting for the procedure at a later age are as under:
- Infections, rashes or itching, may repeatedly occur on the foreskin which does not easily get cured with medications.
- The foreskin is not pulled away easily from the apex of the penis i.e. the glans.
[ Read: STDs In Teens ]
Advantages Of Circumcision In Teen Boys:
As there are a lot of benefits (in addition to the ones mentioned in the facts) of this procedure, many mothers get it done for their teenagers. Read a few below:
- Cancer in the penis is a rare occurrence but it could occur if males have a genital lump, numerous sex partners, and smoke a lot.
- Rashes and itching of foreskin do not occur as frequently.
- Urinary tract infection may occur in the urinary bladder, kidneys or urinary tracts and tubes through which it gets eliminated from the body. Researchers conclude that circumcised males have lesser chances of being affected with this kind of infections than the uncircumcised ones.
- Circumcision makes it easier for your teens to maintain proper hygiene as he can wash the penis reasily. Due to the presence of the foreskin, it could become difficult to clean the uncircumcised penis properly. (2)
Care For Circumcised Teens:
After your son gets circumcised, the tip of his penis turns yellowish in color. Doctors suggest that till the operated portion is healed, one should not allow water or soap to seep into it. The bandage should be changed from time to time, as it would minimize the chance of any rashes or infection. The use of petroleum jelly will help the area to remain moistened and will prevent the bandage from sticking to the operated area.
There are several instances where a doctor has used plastic rings as an alternative to bandages. Usually in about eight days, the ring comes off. Your teen should check the area regularly and should not panic if there is a small amount of yellowish discharge from the incised region. But in the case of other discomforts (like the ones given below), you should see a doctor at the earliest.
- The yellowish tip turns red even after 3-5 days of the operation and gets worse by the day.
- Continuous and excessive bleeding.
- Accumulation of pus in the region or infection or rashes.
- Problem in urinating normally after six to eight hours of the operation.
Teenage Circumcision Statistics:
There are no proper statistics to present the number of males who undergo circumcisor. But a group of doctors based in Seattle opposing this procedure state that about 85% of people in the country are not circumcised. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of USA gives us the data that in 2002, about 60% of teenage boys were circumcised.
A region-wise survey gives different statistics. In 2002, 81% of teenagers underwent circumcision in the Midwest. The number was lower in the Northeast at 69% and further down at 64% in the South. West saw a huge dip at 33%. The decline in the number is mainly believed to be due to religious beliefs as Hispanics, who rarely undergo circumcision, mostly reside in the Midwest.
[ Read: Urinary Tract Infection In Teens ]
Uncircumcised Teen Boys:
In an uncircumcised male, the foreskin starts to come off the glans when they are infants, by a process called foreskin withdrawal. Although it starts in infancy, there are cases when it takes years for the process to begin. By the time a teenager reaches adulthood, the major part of the foreskin can be entirely withdrawn. One should never forcefully retract the foreskin as it may cause distress and blood loss.
Care Of The Penis In Uncircumcised Teen Boys:
During his teenage years, your uncircumcised teen should maintain proper hygiene. He should be able to retract the skin and wash it regularly to keep it clean. It will keep his penis protected from diseases and rashes. The American Academy of Pediatrics has provided the below-mentioned guidelines to clean the foreskin:
- The foreskin should be retracted very gently from the glans.
- The inside of the foreskin and the glans should be rinsed and cleaned with mild soap and water.
- Thereafter, the foreskin should be left to return to its natural position.
Consulting a doctor for any clarification in case there’s an issue, is always the best. (3)
Effects Of Teenage Circumcision:
- The surgical removal of the foreskin is painful.
- Doctors often prescribe painkillers to the teens, so that the pain subsides after a few days.
2. Cosmetic Issues:
- The removal of the foreskin could cause an unusual scar.
- A condition called buried penis may happen, in which the penis remains hidden under the scars.
3. Sexual Dissatisfaction:
- After undergoing circumcision, the glans of your teen become less sensitive.
- Counseling them on their ability to have sex or helping them through any trauma is good as they may not be very upfront about it. (4)
[ Read: Gynecomastia In Teens ]
Recovery From Teenage Circumcision:
Recovery from the procedure isn’t very difficult. This is how your teen should be able to do so:
- After the surgical procedure, your teen can have a normal life.
- However, it is better for him to stay away from sports and strenuous activities for a while, as they might cause discharge from the operated region.
- Taking sponge baths after the incision is better instead of a direct shower.
- Regular baths can be taken thereafter. However, the incision part should be cleaned very vigorously. Only lukewarm or foamy water should be used.
3. Incision Care:
- The penile region remains bandaged after the operation. It is advisable to remove the bandage two days after the operation.
- If the bandage gets dislodged from its position soon after the operation, which is a common case, you should get in touch with the doctor immediately.
- The easiest and simplest way of taking off the dressing is to shower for 10 minutes and then slowly open the bandage.
- The area can be kept open for some time to dry and Vaseline, or other petroleum gels can be applied several times to prevent friction between the inner side of the cloth and the incision region.
- Friction against clothes can worsen the case leading to pain.
- Wearing loose clothes should help in the circulation of air by preventing the incision region from drying.
- A yellowish fluid discharge is a common occurrence and your teen shouldn’t be alarmed by it. A clean cloth or tissue can be used to clean it. However, if he experiences pain along with it, see a doctor immediately.
5. Pain Relief:
- The doctors may prescribe medicines like Tylenol or Tylenol with codeine for pain relief. Do take medicines only as prescribed by the doctor.
You should stay in touch with your son’s doctor until he is healed completely.
Do you think circumcision is the right thing to do for a teenager? Let us know your opinion here.