Male circumcision is a surgical procedure involving removing the foreskin that covers the penis’ tip. Circumcision can be performed at any age, but it is most prevalent in infants since it is less hazardous than circumcision in teenagers.
Circumcision may be more or less acceptable in teenage boys, and informed consent is required for this treatment. While circumcision may have some physical benefits, pushing it on your teen may negatively influence their emotional health.
Read on to learn more about teen circumcision, its benefits, and how to recuperate after the procedure. This post also discusses the hygiene habits for uncircumcised adolescent boys.
Facts About Teenage Circumcision
Teenage circumcision can be a ritual or part of their religion for some ethnic groups. Some parents may delay circumcision until puberty and teenage years to let their children be involved in decision-making. However, infancy is considered to be the optimal age for clinical circumcision due to a lesser risk of complications and a better cosmetic outcome (1).
These are some facts about circumcision (2).
- The tradition of circumcision is common in Islam and Judaism.
- Newborn circumcision is done as a part of cultural belief for some tribes in Africa and Australia.
- Countries with ritual neonatal circumcision often perform the procedure on the seventh or eighth day after birth.
- Although routine circumcision for newborn boys is not mandatory, The United States of America has more non-Jewish and non-Islamic men who have undergone circumcision.
- Infant circumcisions have fewer risks than adolescent circumcision.
- Circumcision may slightly lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV and urinary tract infections.
- Circumcision prevent phimosis, a condition where the foreskin becomes tight and difficult to retract.
- Medical conditions, such as recurrent balanoposthitis (recurring inflammation of the foreskin and head of the penis) and phimosis can be the reason for circumcision in adolescent boys.
- The use of local anesthetic reduces the pain of circumcision.
- It is highly recommended that circumcision be done by a surgeon in a sterile and hygienic environment.
- Penile hygiene is easier in circumcised men.
- The medical staff highly recommends adhering to the law and following the necessary ethics of circumcision, and taking consent prior to the procedure. Forced circumcision could impact your teen’s mental health.
Circumcision Is A Personal Matter
Parents of young children mostly opt for circumcision due to religious or social reasons. However, the situation can be different when considering circumcision at a later age. Teenagers are more sentient than infants and can have their own perceptions and reservations about the procedure.
You may discuss with your teen regarding his willingness to undergo a circumcision procedure. He may have concerns and queries regarding his reproductive health, especially regarding sexual function. It is always better to seek medical attention and make an informed decision with your teen.
Although male circumcision is chosen for preventive health reasons, a teen can still remain healthy without the procedure. Forced procedures could be considered as “male genital mutilation”, which can have a serious impact on the child’s psychological health.
How Is Circumcision Performed?
The circumcision procedure is done by a general surgeon, urosurgeon, pediatric urologist, or pediatric surgeon in a hospital. Your teen’s primary care doctor may refer to a specialist if circumcision is required due to medical reasons. However, if it is done for religious reasons, it is usually performed in the newborn period after the hospital discharge, as a ceremony. Home circumcision and self-circumcision can often result in complications such as bleeding, infection, etc.
The following are some salient points about the procedure.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using local anesthesia before the procedure. It can be administered through anesthetic creams or injections by an expert.
- The procedure involves the separation of the foreskin from the head of the penis (glans penis). It is followed by cutting a slit on the foreskin. Clamps are placed, and the entire foreskin is removed after bleeding stops (3).
- Temporary clamp devices or plastic rings are often placed on the penis for several days after the procedure to prevent bleeding.
Traditional circumcision may involve partial removal or a cut in the foreskin at some places. Surgical circumcision may give better results than traditional procedures. Circumcision may be risky for children or teens with clotting disorders due to bleeding risk.
Circumcision For Phimosis Treatment
Preteens and teens may have to undergo circumcision as a treatment for phimosis or any other medical condition requiring foreskin removal (4). The complications of phimosis can be more severe than those of circumcision and may interfere with the quality of life.
A specialized medical team gives phimosis treatment after informed consent from the adolescent boy.
Complications Of Circumcision In Teens
The complications of circumcision may include (5):
- Wound infection
- Delayed wound healing
- Excess skin removal
- Insufficient skin removed
- Erectile dysfunction
Circumcision by an expert may not cause serious complications. Bleeding and pain do occur in most cases but subside eventually.
Some teens may become conscious of the appearance of their penis after the procedure. However, this is most likely when the teen is forced to undergo the procedure.
Care For Children Getting Circumcision Before Adolescence
Infant circumcisions may not have as many complications as teen circumcision could have. However, proper care, as recommended by the doctor, could reduce the possibility of these complications.
A pediatrician may share the following postoperative instructions (6).
- The penile head may look red for some days
- Some amount of blood or yellow discharge can be seen generally during the healing process
- The teen may experience discomfort for a few days
- It may take one to two weeks for complete healing
- Keep the penis clean
- Gauze dressing with antibiotic creams is replaced with fresh dressing as per doctor’s directions
You may seek medical care if your child has a high fever or any other complications during postoperative days.
Postoperative Care For Adolescent Circumcision
The most common complications of teenage circumcision are bleeding and wound infection.
The following measures are recommended for teenage boys after circumcision (7).
- Physical activity should be limited, while normal activities can be resumed. Rough and active sports should be avoided for up to two weeks. Heavy workouts and games may cause bleeding from the incision.
- Sponge baths are ideal until the second day of surgery. Bathing or shower can be done as usual after the second day of surgery. Do not rub or scrub the incision while bathing; you may ask your teen to pat it dry.
- The dressing on the incision is removed on the second day after surgery, if it does not fall off. Let the teen soak in the shower for ten minutes for easy removal.
- Apply antibiotic ointments prescribed by doctor or vaseline to prevent dry edges that may stick to clothes.
- Avoid tight clothes to prevent bleeding due to pressure on the penis.
- Paracetamol may be given for pain.
The follow-up visit can be after two to four weeks of surgery. It is essential to go to the doctor at this time to ensure proper healing.
Advantages Of Circumcision In Teen Boys
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. AAP leaves the decision making to parents and promotes the use of anesthetics for the procedure (8).
The health benefits of circumcision may include (9):
- Easy hygiene: It is easy to wash and clean a circumcised penis. However, uncircumcised boys can learn to wash beneath the foreskin.
- Reduced risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs): Circumcision may reduce the susceptibility towards developing urinary tract infections caused by pathogens.
- Reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases: Circumcised males may have less chance of contracting sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV. However, the use of condoms remains essential for HIV prevention.
- Prevention of phimosis: Circumcision helps in the prevention of phimosis, a condition where the foreskin becomes tight and difficult to retract.
- Reduced risk of penile cancer in circumcised men.
- Reduced risk of cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised males.
These risks can be avoided by uncircumcised men, as well, with proper hygiene practices and care. Circumcision does not affect fertility or the ability to experience sexual pleasure in men and their sexual partners.
Penis Care In Uncircumcised Teen Boys
Routine bathing is enough to clean an uncircumcised penis in teens. Retracting or pulling back the foreskin to clean is not advised for babies and toddlers since this may cause scarring and pain (6).
You may teach your teenage boy to retract the foreskin during the shower and clean gently. The foreskin should be placed back to the head of the penis after cleaning. Leaving the foreskin retracted for too long could increase the risk of paraphimosis, which is swelling and pain due to the squeezing of the penile head by the foreskin.
Female genital mutilation or female circumcision is a custom or ritual of cutting female genitalia in some communities. This can be the partial or total removal of external female genitalia of female infants and teenage girls for non-medical reasons.
According to the World Health Organization, female genital mutilation is a practice adopted by cultures with no health benefits and can lead to long-term problems. Female circumcision is a violation of human rights since it may cause long-term physical and psychological complications (10).
Circumcision in teenage boys can be done at any age. However, it can be with fewer adverse effects in younger kids compared to adolescents and adults. Uncircumcised teens can also keep the genitals or sexual organs clean with proper techniques.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to circumcise teenagers without surgery?
In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) prequalified a new device, called PrePex, for male circumcision that requires no surgery and no local anesthesia injection. You may speak to your healthcare provider about PrePex’s safe use for your teen (12).
2. Does circumcision in teenagers affect sperm?
No. Circumcision doesn’t affect sperm or fertility (13). Sperm production happens in the testicles (testes) and not the penis. Thus, the removal of the foreskin has no effect on sperm count or quality (14).
3. Does circumcision in teenagers affect their penis size?
No. Adolescent circumcision does not affect penile length and size. However, a small study suggests that newborn male circumcision (NMC) may lead to shorter penile length (15).
It is recommended to get the procedure done by experts to avoid complications. You may also try to approach traditional providers with experience and knowledge about the procedure for ritual circumcisions to avoid complications.
Infographic: Can Forceful Circumcision Cause Psychological Harm In Teens?
Forceful circumcision can be traumatic and cause psychological damage. Teenagers can make decisions related to the body, and forcing them to undergo unwilling procedures can negatively impact their mental health and relationship with their parents. Go through the infographics to learn more about the psychological effects of forceful circumcision in teens.
- Male circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin of the penis tip.
- While it may have physical benefits for teenagers, it can also have negative effects on their emotional health.
- Circumcision is known to lower the risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
- However, it can also result in complications such as swelling, bleeding, infection, and pain.
2. Male circumcision; The World Health Organization
3. Abdullahi Abdulwahab-Ahmed and Ismaila A. Mungadi; Techniques of Male Circumcision; The United States National Library of Medicine
4. What are the treatment options for phimosis?; The United States National Library of Medicine
5. Complications of Circumcision; Stanford Medicine
6. Male Circumcision; BetterHealth; Victoria State Government
7. Post-Operative Care for Adolescent Circumcision; UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital
8. Where We Stand: Circumcision; American Academy of Pediatrics
9. Circumcision; Health Service Executive of Ireland
10. Female genital mutilation; The World Health Organization
11. Teenage Circumcision – Getting Circumcised as an Older Boy; Gentle Procedures Clinic
12. Minja Milovanovic et al.; Perceptions of the PrePex Device Among Men Who Received or Refused PrePex Circumcision and People Accompanying Them; Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes; NCBI
13. Circumcision and Male Fertility: Is There a Link?; aLife Limited
14. Body System: Reproductive Male; Nationwide Children’s
15. Jong Kwan Park et al.; Prospective investigation of penile length with newborn male circumcision and second to fourth digit ratio; Canadian Urological Association journal; NCBI