Should I circumcise my son? The baby boy debate

For those prospective moms who are nearing the end of pregnancy and know that they are having a boy, it may be time to collaborate with dad and think about whether to circumcise your baby before being discharged from the hospital. Depending on the parents, this could be a relatively easy decision, but others need to do their research.

In the U.S., about 55 to 65 percent of baby boys undergo circumcision within the first 10 days of life, according to the Nemours Foundation. The routine surgical procedure removes the foreskin from the tip of the penis. If you choose to do it, it's best to do it as soon as possible, because an older boy is more likely to have complications and has to be put under general anesthesia, which always has risks.

Circumcision may prevent STD infections

When it comes to the decision process with parents who are going back and forth, there are plenty of pros and cons for the procedure. A recent study published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that uncircumcised males may be more likely to get infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) later in life.

Overall, the rate of male circumcision in the U.S. has decreased over the past 20 years. However, it's still significantly higher than that in Europe where 10 percent of the boys receive the procedure and in Denmark where only 1.6 percent do. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University reported that if these same rates were observed among American males, there would be an estimated 12 percent increase in HIV-infected men, 30 percent rise in human papillomavirus infections and an even bigger jump in cases of male urinary tract infections.

Women may be affected by their uncircumcised partner

Circumcision does not solely affect males. Females who engage in unprotected sexual activity with uncircumcised men are more likely to get an infection than those whose partners are.

"Our economic evidence is backing up what our medical evidence has already shown to be perfectly clear," said Aaron Tobian, the senior investigator of the study. "There are health benefits to infant male circumcision in guarding against illness and disease, and declining male circumcision rates come at a severe price, not just in human suffering, but in billions of healthcare dollars as well."

In addition, many parents struggle with the fact that the procedure isn't painless for the newborn. In response to such a concern, the National Institutes of Health discussed that injecting local anesthetics into the penis can lower the amount of pain and distress observed in infants.

What were your reasons for circumcising your baby boy? Or why didn't you? If you didn't, would knowing that circumcision could prevent health complications later in life have changed your mind? Leave your answers in the comments section!