However, Dr. Saint-Vil warns that in clinical cases, circumcision sometimes shows the work of a specific paediatrician or doctor that adds to the risk of complications. Parents should imperatively enquire about the doctor’s skills before entrusting him with their child, says the paediatric surgeon.

When problems occur, the little patients often must be transported to the Sainte-Justine hospital.

The most common complication that doctors face is haemorrhage. “If the child is brought quickly, we can stop it. The other post-surgery risk is phimosis; too much skin is left around the glans and it ends up covering it. There is also a risk of burn and sometimes too much skin is taken off. It is then necessary to graft skin”, says Dr. Saint-Vil, mentioning that these incidents can lead to death.

These problems occur after 5% of the interventions performed in Quebec. In Sainte-Justine, at least one baby every month must receive a transfusion because of a haemorrhage caused by circumcision.

Benefits questioned

Circumcision slightly reduces the risk of penile cancer in adulthood. A circumcised man in a million is diagnosed with penile cancer every year while the proportion is three per million for men who have not undergone this operation.

Some doctors claim that circumcised men enjoy a greater protection against AIDS. “My opinion is that there are better ways to be protected against AIDS…”, replies Dr. Saint-Vil.

We often hear or even read about the link between circumcisions and enhanced sexual pleasure, it is a myth”, says the paediatrician.

In fact”, he concludes, “in the balance between advantages and disadvantages, the risks, the pain and the possible complications far outweigh the benefits of this delicate surgery”.

Parents who choose not to subject their baby to this must still clean their male organs, warns Dr. Saint-Vil. “They must also know that it is normal not to be able to pull the skin covering the glans before their boy is two years old. It is better not to try until he is nine months old. They can then progressively expand it by trying to pull down the foreskin”, he explains, noting that every parent should be able to replace the skin after the age of two and a half. And of course, you must clean the glans regularly with a washcloth.

Image de Josée Descôteaux

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