Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin at the end of the penis. Some parents choose to have their baby circumcised because of religious, cultural or social reasons. The decision is up to you.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend circumcision to be routinely done for all newborn. However, the AAP states that the preventive health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure.


  • There are risks of complications from the surgery. Although they are not common, they include bleeding, infection, cutting the foreskin too short or too long, and improper healing.
  • The foreskin protects the tip of the penis. Without it, the tip can become irritated. This can make the opening of the penis too small. In rare cases, surgery is needed to fix this problem.

Health benefits

  • slightly lower risk of getting a urinary tract infection during the first year of life (This risk is already low.)
  • lower risk of getting cancer of the penis over a lifetime (This is a rare cancer.)
  • much lower risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, including genital herpes, human papilloma virus and syphilis
  • much lower risk of getting HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
  • reduced risk of cervical cancer in sexual partners
  • prevention of infections in the foreskin
  • prevention of an uncommon condition that makes it impossible to retract (pull back) the foreskin (also known as phimosis)
  • easier genital hygiene

If you choose to circumcise, check with your insurance provider about coverage and copays. Talk with your baby's health care provider about surgery options. You will have to sign a consent form for the surgery.

How to manage pain

A circumcision is painful. Your doctors will use a local anesthetic at the time of the surgery to decrease the pain. This is safe and reduces both pain and stress.

Your doctor may also choose to give acetaminophen at the time of the circumcision to help with pain control. Infants can be extra tired after the procedure and may not feed as well or as often for up to 24 hours after the procedure.

Learn more information about how to take care of a circumcised penis.

Source: Allina Health Patient Education, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, eighth edition, ob-ah-90026
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/06/2021