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Care of the Uncircumsized Penis

Question of the Week

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Updated October 31, 2004

Q. My husband and I decided against circumcision for our now 9 month old son. We recently have moved and our new Doctor says we should pull his foreskin back when bathing him to clean the head of his penis. Our previous Doctor told us there was no need to do this. That our son would be able to clean it himself once his foreskin moves back on it's own. (Around 10 years old - puberty)

We have looked in books and asked other parents, but it seems no one can give us a clear cut answer.

What are the risks and outcomes of both? What is recommended by the majority of Doctors? What is the percentage of boys who have to be circumcised later in life? What is the main cause of this surgery?

Jackie, Winnipeg, Manitoba

A. I think that your first doctor was right. Unfortunately, while more and more parents are coming to understand that circumcision isn't a necessary medical procedure, many are unaware of what to do with their child's uncircumcised penis.

And it does seem that one of the biggest problems that leads to children needing a circumcision later in life is improper care of their uncircumcised penis, with this improper care usually involves a parent being told to retract their child's foreskin before it is ready to be retracted.

The best advice that a parent can follow is to simply 'leave it alone' and let a child retract and wash his penis once he discovers that it is retractable. See this guide to the Care of the Intact Penis for more information.

Many of the problems that occur with an intact penis involves parents or health providers who forcibly retract a child's foreskin before it is ready to be retracted. Keep in mind that the foreskin sometimes doesn't retract until well into puberty.

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