Men Start Your Engines But First Check Under the Hood!

June 27, 2015

Men Start Your Engines But First Check Under the Hood!
This article appeared in the recent Baton Rouge Advocate on men’s health.

Celebrate Father’s Day with your health. Men need to let doctors look under the hood.

We have an attitude in our south Louisiana culture — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! In reality, men do more preventative maintenance on their cars and lawns than on their bodies. But, this attitude should never be applied to health.

Many men don’t receive checkups because they feel that they have a big “S” (for Superman) tattooed on their chests — but no one is Superman. On average, women live 5 to 7 years longer than men. That gap could close if men practiced preventive health as often as women. Fortunately, men’s attitude and behavior is slowly changing.

Not surprisingly, impotence drugs have lured men into the doctor’s office, which is half the battle and usually leads to a prostate screening. Over the years, public awareness campaigns, at-work health screenings and overall understanding of the male patient have aided in improving men’s health.

Before the 1990s, there were no male equivalents to the Pap test or mammogram. But now, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — the screening test for prostate cancer — is detecting problems early, giving men a myriad of treatment options and, more importantly, saving lives.
This means more time to enjoy their golden years, more time to walk their daughters down the aisle and more time to watch their grandchildren grow. Don’t wait for prostate cancer or other diseases to hit close to home; don’t wait for symptoms.
The only waiting should be done in your doctor’s waiting room.
Neil Baum
Professor of Clinical Urology At Tulane Medical School
New Orleans

It Has Finally Arrived-A Female Viagra

June 27, 2015

For nearly two decades men have had oral medication, Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, to help them obtain and maintain an erection to help them engage successfully in sexual intimacy. Now, at last, there is a female Vaigra.

The first “female Viagra” came one step closer to coming to market as a key advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration voted in June to recommend that the FDA approve the drug, flibanserin, for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction.

The drug is designed to boost the low sexual desire of otherwise healthy women. The FDA is expected to render a final decision by the end of the summer.

The drug has potential side effects which include fainting, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and low-blood pressure and may outweigh its benefits for some women.

But after an afternoon of emotional testimony from women who suffer from low sexual desire, the majority of committee members said that, with proper warning labels and education, the drug should be made available to women who now have nothing.

Studies have shown that the drug works better than placebo to boost women’s sexual desire, increased the number of sexually satisfying events and lowered women’s distress at the loss of their libido.

Bottom Line: The jury is not out on flibanserin but it certainly is a move by the pharmaceutical industry that recognizes that it takes two to tango and women should be included in the intimacy equation.

ED, Viagra and Melanoma-The Jury Is Still Out

June 27, 2015

Viagra remains one of the most popular drugs for treating erectile dysfunction or ED. The drug is quite safe and has been used by millions of men world wide. Recently there was a report of a relationship between Viagra and the potentially lethal skin condition, melanoma.

A potential link between erectile dysfunction drugs and melanoma may exist, but inconsistencies in the data make a cause-and-effect relationship questionable.
Men who had a history of using phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors (Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis) had a 20% greater risk of melanoma as compared with men who never used the drugs. However, the strongest association involved men who filled a single prescription for a PDE5 inhibitor. Total number of prescriptions filled did not significantly affect melanoma risk.
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Moreover, the PDE5 inhibitor-melanoma association pertained only to early-stage disease (stage 0-I), did not differ by type of PDE5 inhibitor, and was not limited to melanoma, as an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma was seen among users of PDE5 inhibitors. This was reported online in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are consistent with those of a similar study reported a year ago. However, the previous study was based on data that showed only whether a man had ever used a PDE5 inhibitor. Extracted from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the data were limited to the original PDE5 inhibitor, sildenafil (Viagra), and lacked details about use of the drug, such as the number of prescriptions filled.

The study was not able to prove cause and effect relationship. A longer follow-up and more detailed assessment of the dose and frequency of Viagra use at multiple times in the would be necessary for future studies.

In theory, a causal association between PDE5 inhibitor use and melanoma has biologic plausibility. Several studies have provided evidence of interaction between PDE5 and melanoma.

A Swedish study of the 435 men who used PDE5 inhibitors and developed melanoma, 275 had filled one or more prescriptions for sildenafil and 224 had filled at least one prescription for Levitra or Cialis.

Overall, men who used PDE5 inhibitors had a slight increase for melanoma versus nonusers. The risk of melanoma did not differ significantly across the three types of ED drugs.

Bottom Line: What’s my advice. Whether you use Viagra, Levitra, or Cialis, or not, I suggest you make use of plenty of sun screen. Nothing less than a SPF of 35. Also, if you are at risk for melanoma, i.e., are light completed, have frequent exposure to sun, then see a dermatologist at least once a year for a total body examination.

FAQs on Vasectomy

June 27, 2015

Many men want the opportunity to plan the number of children they have – and many women want to finally be able to share the responsibility of contraception with their partner.
So as we mark Men’s Health Month, an awareness campaign on why the snip is not really the snip and why a little more conversation can mean a lot more action. It’s time to get informed.
1. Will vasectomy make me impotent?
A lot of men worry that a vasectomy will lead to a reduction in sexual performance or desire – not surprising really when in some cultures they use the same word for vasectomy and castration! But it can actually improve your sex life because of the peace-of-mind it brings. Having a vasectomy is liberating – imagine never having to worry about unwanted pregnancies again. Instead of frantically rummaging through the bathroom cabinet for a condom, hoping that the mood won’t pass, you can do it whenever you like!
2. What will happen when I ejaculate?
Having a vasectomy does not affect your hormones, ejaculation or orgasm. There’s no noticeable change in what your semen looks like, what it smells like, even what it tastes like. You will still have erections and produce the same amount of semen. The only difference is that the semen won’t contain sperm, as instead of travelling out of your penis, they will be naturally reabsorbed by the body.
3. Does it involve a lengthy operation?
Vasectomies only take 10-15 minutes. The same time as your morning shower or a coffee break from work and unlike the former means you and your partner never have to worry about contraception or unintended pregnancy again.
4. Should I be scared of going under the knife?
It may be known as the snip but at Marie Stopes UK we use a no-scalpel technique. A fast-acting anaesthetic is given before the procedure to numb the area and the sperm-carrying tubes (vas deferens) are sealed using heat. There are no hormones and nothing to insert, no stitches are needed. The procedure is also thought to be less painful and less likely to cause complications than a conventional vasectomy. A form of sedation is also available at some of our centres and can be requested at the time of booking.
5. Will it take ages to recover?
The recovery involves little more than a few days of guilt-free rest and relaxation. You can start having sex as soon it feels comfortable to do so and should be fit to return to work and after a couple of days unless you have a very physically demanding job. If you are uncomfortable, a regular painkiller such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen should do the trick and since you have got your feet up thanks to doctor’s orders, why not book one in to coincide with some good TV? Olympics 2016 anyone?
6. What is the failure rate?
Vasectomy is more than 99% effective. Out of 2,000 men who are sterilized, only one will get a woman pregnant during the rest of his lifetime. However it takes a number of weeks to clear the tubes of sperm after the treatment, so you will need to use another method of contraception until you have been given the all clear. I ask you to ejaculate 15 times and then bring in a specimen for me to exam under the microscope.

7. How risky is it?
Vasectomy is a very common and safe procedure. It is always worth arming yourself with all the facts, but ultimately vasectomy is the safest permanent contraception method on earth. The potential complications are much rarer than for a woman getting her tubes tied and most men experience no problems whatsoever.
8. Can I reverse my vasectomy if I change my mind?
The decision to opt for a vasectomy remains a highly personal one in which the potential risks and benefits must be considered, including the possibility that you may change your mind. Vasectomy reversal is possible but success is not guaranteed and depends largely on how long ago it was done so it is much better to consider it a permanent procedure.

Bottom Line: A vasectomy is the most effective method of permanent contraception. The no-scalpel, no-needle technique is associated with less pain and discomfort, less blood loss, and a quicker return to normal activities than the conventional scalpel plus incision technique.

Adult Bedwetting-Don’t Depend on Depends!

June 17, 2015

For most adults they remain dry at night and diaper free from time they are toddlers until they end up in a nursing home. However, there are times when even adults have problems with bedwetting.

When you think of bed wetting, you usually think of children and toilet training, but adults can have bedwetting too. Bedwetting can be categorized into two general types, primary and secondary bedwetting. Primary bedwetting means that the person was never successfully toilet trained and wet the bed for as long as he or she can remember. Secondary bedwetting means that the person was successfully toilet trained and confidently dry at night for a period of time, but subsequently developed bedwetting.

The onset of bedwetting in adults is most often the result of a more serious underlying problem than when it occurs in children. This means that if a man or women develops bedwetting, it demands prompt evaluation and treatment.

Causes of Bedwetting in Adults
In women, it’s probably a previously undiagnosed neurologic condition. After urethral obstruction, neurologic conditions are the second most common cause in men. Neurologic conditions can cause bedwetting by one of two mechanisms. Firstly, the bladder may cease to work at all and there is a large amount of residual urine in the bladder, which simply spills over at night – this is called overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence is most commonly seen with ruptured discs and spinal cord tumors. It is also seen after operations for cancer of the female cervix and uterus and after surgery for rectal cancer. Secondly, there may be involuntary bladder contractions which result in incontinence. This is most often seen with such conditions as multiple sclerosis, cerebrovascular accident, Parkinson’s disease and other degenerative neurologic diseases.
Patients who present with bedwetting need an evaluation consisting of history, a physical exam, a urinalysis, and testing of the bladder and the muscles (sphincter) that are responsible for holding the urine inside the body.

Bottom Line: Many times bedwetting can be treated with medications. Nearly everyone with the problem can be helped and significantly improved after a thorough evaluation has been conducted and the cause of the problem has been identified.

Myths and Misinformation On Prostate Cancer

June 10, 2015

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, following lung cancer, with 250,000 new cases discovered each year. There are many areas of confusion about prostate cancer. Let me debunk a few of these myths.

Myth 1: Prostate cancer surgery will end your sex life and cause urine leakage.
Fact: Your surgeon may be able to spare the nerves that help trigger erections. Then you will probably be able to have an erection strong enough for sex again. But it may be a while. Recovery can take from 4 to 24 months, maybe longer. Younger men usually recover sooner.
If you still have trouble, ask your doctor about treatments for erectile dysfunction. Cialis, Levitra, and Viagra are common medications that can help. Your doctor will tell you if these are right for you.

Other prostate cancer treatments, such as radiation and hormone therapy, also can affect your sex life. Urine leakage may occur after surgery, but it’s usually temporary. Within a year, about 95% of men have as much bladder control as they did before surgery.

Myth 2: Only elderly men are at risk of prostate cancer.
Fact: Prostate cancer is rare for men under 40. If you are concerned, ask your doctor if you need to get tested earlier. Age isn’t the only factor. Others risk factors include:
Family history. If your father or brother had prostate cancer, your own risk doubles or triples. The more relatives you have with the disease, the greater your chances of getting it.
Race. If you are African-American, your risk of prostate cancer is higher than men of other races. Scientists do not yet know why.
You may want to discuss your risks with your doctor so you can decide together when you should be tested for prostate cancer with a screening PSA test and a digital rectal examination.

Myth 3: All prostate cancers must be treated.
Fact: You and your doctor may decide not to treat your prostate cancer. Reasons include:
Your cancer is at an early stage and is growing very slowly.
You are elderly or have other illnesses. Treatment for prostate cancer may not prolong your life and may complicate care for other health problems.
In such cases “active surveillance” may be an option to consider. This means that your doctor will regularly check you and order tests to make sure your cancer does not worsen. If your situation changes, you may decide to start treatment.

Myth 4: A high PSA score means you have prostate cancer.

Fact: Not necessarily. Your PSA could be high due to an enlarged prostate or inflammation in your prostate. The PSA score helps the doctor decide if you need more tests to check for prostate cancer. Also, your doctor is interested in your PSA score over time. Is it increasing, which could be a sign of a problem? Or, did it decrease after cancer treatment, which is great.

Myth 5: If you get prostate cancer, you will die of the disease.
Fact: You’re likely live to an old age or die of some other cause. That doesn’t mean checking for prostate cancer is not important. Most men with prostate cancer die with the cancer and not from it.

Bottom Line: I hope this article puts the perspective of prostate cancer back in its proper perspective. The diagnosis is common and help is available for most men with prostate cancer.

Hair Today-Not Gone Tomorrow

June 10, 2015

Nothing is more devastating to men than erectile dysfunction, inability to father a child, or losing the hair on their heads. Hair loss is a natural part of the cycle of hair growth. Each hair on your head will grow for two to three years before it starts a resting phase. At that time, it begins to fall out. Typically, about 90 percent of your hair is growing at any given time and about 10 percent is resting. That makes regular hair loss minimal and even difficult to notice.
When hair loss becomes excessive, resulting in thinning hair or bald patches on the scalp, factors other than the natural cycle of hair growth and loss are responsible.

Although hair loss is often associated with men of a certain age, it can affect men and women of any age. Hair loss can range from a receding hairline to thinning hair to complete hair loss. Hair loss can also affect eyelashes and eyebrows.
The medical name for hair loss is alopecia. There are several different types of alopecia including:
Alopecia areata, thought to be an autoimmune condition
Androgenetic alopecia, or hereditary hair loss
Cicatricial alopecia, caused by scar tissue in the hair follicles, for which the exact cause is poorly understood.

Abnormal or excessive hair loss can be caused by factors such as:
Major stress or trauma—an illness or undergoing a major surgery
Fungal infections like ringworm
Diabetes
Lupus
Anemia
Emotional stress
Eating disorders or nutritional deficiencies including protein and iron
Changes in hormone levels caused by thyroid disease
Changes in hormone levels caused by pregnancy or menopause
Side effects of medications including anticoagulants, antidepressants, birth control pills, and heart medications
Excessive vitamin A intake
Trichotillomania, a condition that causes people to pull out their hair
Genes, which can account for hereditary hair loss and hair thinning
Chemotherapy and other treatments for cancer
Hair damage from harsh chemicals/dyes used for styling

Oral, injected, and topical medications can help stop hair loss and promote new hair growth. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical hair treatment, and finasteride is a prescription topical medication. Other treatment options may include:
Corticosteroid injections
Anthralin and sulfasalazine, two psoriasis medications
Immune system suppressors such as cyclosporine
Spironolactone
Laser treatments
Photochemotherapy
Transplanting hair
Removing hairless sections of the scalp (scalp reduction), then expanding the scalp to stretch skin with healthy hair growth
Replacing bald areas with parts of the scalp with healthy hair growth (scalp flaps)
You can also take steps to mask hair loss and balding spots. You may want to try a new hairstyle or experiment with fashion accessories such as scarves, hats, or even a wig. Some men opt to shave their entire head for a new look. Don’t forget that your exposed scalp is vulnerable to sunburn and sun damage, so protect this skin with sunscreen and a hat any time you’re outdoors.
If you’re having trouble coping with the effects of hair loss, there are support groups available for both men and women; participating either in person or online can be helpful for dealing with the emotional aspects of this situation.

Bottom Line: This is a common problem affecting many American men. You don’t have to wear a toupee, a wig, or use a comb over as a solution. See your doctor.

See more at: http://touro.staywellsolutionsonline.com/YourFamily/Men/HealthIssues/Conditions/1,4548#sthash.WTHwU48K.dpuf

Prostate Enlargement-Eating Your Way To Prostate Health

June 3, 2015

The prostate gland, which is located at the base of the bladder and surrounds the urethra like a donut, enlarges in men after age 40 and continues to grow and obstruct the flow of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. This problem affects millions of American men and impacts their quality of life. This blog will discuss reducing the symptoms using dietary modification.

Fifty percent of men over the age of 60 suffer from an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). By the age of 85, over 95 percent of men will live with BPH.
The good news is that a diet rich in certain vitamins and minerals can keep your prostate healthy and lower your risk of BPH. And because being overweight is another risk factor for BPH, making nutritious food choices is a great way to lower both your weight and your symptoms of the enlarged prostate gland.

The symptoms of the enlarged prostate gland include frequency of urination, dribbling after urination, and getting up at night to urinate multiple times.

Sesame seeds are rich in zinc, a mineral essential to the health of the prostate. Men with either BPH or prostate cancer have lower levels of zinc in their bodies — sometimes up to 75 percent lower than healthy prostates.

Zinc that comes from food is easier to absorb than zinc supplements. Help your body by snacking on sesame seeds. Or try oysters, adzuki beans, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, which are all high in zinc.

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are healthy fats that can protect you from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis. Fatty acids also help in the synthesis of prostaglandin. Fatty acids deficiency may lead to prostate problems.

If you’re not a fan of fish, you can get your omega-3s from walnuts, ground flax seeds, canola oil, and kidney beans.
It is a known fact that Asian men have a lower risk of developing BPH than Western men. One possible reason is that Asian men eat more soy. Soybean isoflavones have been linked to a lower risk for an enlarged prostate. Eating more soy may reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer.
For other sources of soybean isoflavones, try low-fat soymilk, tempeh, roasted soybeans, soy yogurt, and meat substitutes made with soy.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that might play a role in fighting BPH. Not all vitamin C is the same, however. Only vitamin C obtained from vegetables lowers your risk of an enlarged prostate. Fruits don’t offer the same benefit. Bell peppers contain more vitamin C than any other vegetable. One cup of raw bell peppers contains 195 percent of your daily requirement intake of vitamin C. Other vegetables to try include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, the bright carotenoid that gives tomatoes its red color. Lycopene may lower the risk of developing prostate cancer. It can also help men with BPH. Lycopene also helps lower the blood level of antigen, a protein connected to prostate inflammation and BPH.
Tomatoes and tomato products (such as tomato sauce and tomato juice) are the best source of lycopene. You can also get this carotenoid from watermelon, apricots, pink grapefruit, and papaya.

Avocadoes are rich in beta-sitosterol, a plant sterol. Beta-sitosterol can help reduce symptoms associated with BPH. Men taking beta-sitosterol supplements have better urinary flow and less residual urine volume.
Beta-sitosterol can help strengthen the immune system. It can reduce inflammation and pain, as well.
Besides avocadoes, other foods rich in beta-sitosterol include pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, soybeans, and pecans.

Eating more vegetables can help lower your risk of BPH. Green leafy vegetables are especially important because they are rich in antioxidants. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli also reduce the risk of prostate problems, including BPH and prostate cancer.
People who eat onion and garlic regularly might also have a lower risk of BPH. Onions and garlic are often used in natural medicine to fight infection and help strengthen the immune system.

Bottom Line: Prostate gland affects the majority of men after middle age. The symptoms can affect a man’s quality of life and even impact his productivity in the work place. There are dietary modifications that may reduce the symptoms. If these are ineffective, speak to your doctor as there are medications and treatment options that can restore a man’s urinary health.

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)– A Primer

May 25, 2015

Urinary tract infections are one of mankind and womankind’s most common maladies. Most of these infections are a source of irritation and bother but if left untreated can cause significant kidney damage. This blog will discuss this common condition and what can be done to prevent and treat common UTIs

A UTI is when bacteria gets into your urine and travels up to your bladder. UTIs cause more than 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year. About 40% of women and 12% of men will have symptoms of at least one UTI during their lifetime.

The urinary tract makes and stores urine, one of the waste products of your body. Urine is made in the kidneys and travels down the ureters to the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is emptied through the urethra, a tube that connects the bladder to the skin, when you urinate. The opening of the urethra is at the end of the penis in a male and in front of the vagina in a female.
The kidneys are a pair of fist-sized organs in the back that filter liquid waste from the blood and remove it from the body in the form of urine. Kidneys balance the levels of many chemicals in the body (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorous and others) and check the blood’s acidity. Certain hormones are also made in the kidneys. These hormones help control blood pressure, boost red blood cell production and help make strong bones. The ureters are two tubes that carry the urine down to the bladder.

Normal urine has no bacteria in it, and the one-way flow helps prevent infections. Still, bacteria may get into the urine from the urethra and travel up into the bladder.

Signs of UTI
When you have a UTI, the lining of the bladder and urethra become red and irritated just as your throat does when you have a cold. The irritation can cause pain in your belly and pelvic area and may make you feel like urinating more often. You may even try to urinate but only get a few drops and/or feel some burning as your urine comes out. At times, you may lose control and wet yourself. You may also find that your urine smells bad or is cloudy.
Kidney infections often cause fevers and back pain. These infections need to be treated at once because a kidney infection can quickly spread into the bloodstream and cause a life-threatening health issue.

Causes of UTI
Large numbers of bacteria live in the rectal area and also on your skin. Bacteria may get into the urine from the urethra and travel into the bladder. They may even travel up to the kidney. But no matter how far it goes, bacteria in the urinary tract can cause problems.
Just as some people are more prone to colds, some people are more prone to UTIs. Men are less likely to get a UTI.
Some factors that can add to your chances of getting a UTI are:
Body Factors
Women who have gone through menopause have a change in the lining of the vagina and lose the protection of estrogen that lowers the chance of getting a UTI. Some women are genetically predisposed to UTIs and have urinary tracts that make it easier for bacteria to cling to them. Sexual intercourse can also affect how often you get UTIs.
Birth Control
Women who use diaphragms have also been found to have a higher risk when compared to those who use other forms of birth control. Using condoms with spermicidal foam is also known to be linked to greater risk getting of UTIs in women. Women are more prone to UTIs because they have shorter urethras than men so bacteria have a shorter distance to travel to reach the bladder.
Abnormal Anatomy
You are more likely to get a UTI if your urinary tract has an abnormality or has recently had a device (such as a tube to drain fluid from the body) placed in it. If you are not able to urinate normally because of some type of block, you will also have a higher chance of a UTI.
Anatomical abnormalities in the urinary tract may also lead to UTIs. These abnormalities are often found in children at an early age but can still be found in adults. There may be structural abnormalities, such as outpouchings called diverticula, that harbor bacteria in the bladder or urethra or even blockages, such as an enlarged bladder, that keep the body from draining all the urine from the bladder.
Immune System
Issues such as diabetes (high blood sugar) also put people at higher risk for UTIs because the body is not able to fight off germs as well.
Can UTIs be Prevented?
There are steps women can take to avoid UTIs:
1 Urinating after sex may lower the risk of UTI by flushing out bacteria that may have gotten into the urinary tract during intercourse.
2 Certain forms of birth control, such as spermicidal foam and diaphragms, are known to increase the risk of UTIs in women. Check with your health care provider about other types of birth control.
3 Drink plenty of fluids to keep well hydrated.
4 Don’t put off urinating when you need to and don’t rush to finish. Holding in urine and not draining your bladder fully can increase your risk of UTIs.
Wipe from front to back to keep bacteria around the anus from getting into the vagina or urethra.

Bottom Line: UTIs are a common condition that affects millions of men and women. this blog will hopefully provide you suggestions for preventing UTIs. For more informatiion call your doctor.

Lop It Off- What You Need To Know About Circumcision

May 25, 2015

Circumcision has been performed on men and baby boys from the beginning of recorded history. The procedure is certainly controversial. This blog will discuss the pros and cons of circumcision and a hope that the article will help you make an informed decision for yourself and for your little boys.
Circumcision is the removal of the skin that covers the tip of a baby’s penis. In recent years, newborn circumcision has been a hot topic of debate. Differing opinions and advice may leave many new parents with more questions than answers.
Your choice of whether to circumcise your son may be a question of religion or custom. For instance, circumcision is part of Jewish and Muslim traditions. In other cases, parents may simply want their son to look like his father or other male family members.
But the trend in the United States is clearly changing. The rate of circumcision is falling. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 8 of every 10 boys born in the US were circumcised. Today, 5 or 6 of every 10 boys are circumcised. Circumcision rates in the US vary by region. Fewer boys in Western states are circumcised. The north central region has the highest rates of circumcision.
Only about one in three males are circumcised worldwide. Around the world, the highest rates for circumcision are in the Middle East, South Korea and the US. In Latin America, most of Asia and in Europe, circumcision is rare. It is on the rise in Africa, where studies have shown that circumcision lowers the risk of getting HIV. This is because the foreskin is different from skin on other parts of your body. It’s not like the skin on your arm, for instance. The foreskin has a type of cell called Langerhans cells, which are more likely to attach to HIV cells. Based on these findings, in 2007 the World Health Organization endorsed circumcision as a way to help stop the spread of HIV. Still, this thinking has not
taken hold in parts of the world where HIV is not as wide spread. In fact, the Royal Dutch Medical Association in the Netherlands called for a ban on circumcision in 2010. They stated that the procedure is “medically unnecessary and violates children’s rights.”
In the US, the American Urological Association (AUA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) each have policy statements on circumcision. Both groups recommend the procedure be offered as a choice to parents. The AUA “believes that neonatal circumcision has potential medical benefits and advantages as well as disadvantages and risks.” The AAP states that “health benefits [from circumcision] are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns… [But are enough] to justify access for families choosing it.” Parents should talk with their child’s doctor about the health risks and benefits. With those facts, parents should then think over what will work for their family. They should keep in mind their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices.
So what should parents know about the health risks and benefits of circumcision? Of course, circumcision can cause pain and stress for the patient. To lessen pain for newborns, an anesthetic (pain killer) may be used. With newborns, there is some evidence that babies may be less likely to feel discomfort 7 to 10 days after birth. This is because newborns have a high level of endorphins (substances made by the body that reduce pain). Also, as with any surgery—even a minor one—there is also a risk of bad
side effects. When circumcision is not done properly, the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) or penis may be hurt. In rare cases, death has even occurred. Still, circumcisions done by skilled doctors rarely have bad side effects. And the problems that result are often not serious. The most common side effect is bleeding or infection. To help avoid problems, parents choosing to circumcise should make sure that whoever is doing it is skilled and practiced. Parents should also feel free to ask any questions they may have.
After circumcision, caring for the penis is simple but important. Wash the area gently with warm water. Pat dry and put on a new bandage with antibiotic ointment each time you change the diaper. The healing process should take about a week. It is normal for there to be a little swelling, redness and maybe blood at first. Still, it is important to have your baby seen by his doctor if these problems last several days or get worse. Also talk to a doctor if the baby gets a fever or does not have a wet diaper within 12 hours of circumcision. Almost all side effects are easily treated.
On the plus side, circumcised boys are less likely to have a urinary tract infection (UTI) in their first six months. As they grow older, circumcised males are also less likely to get penile cancer. Still, this type of cancer is rare in the US. And uncircumcised males can prevent penile cancer with good hygiene and keeping the area under the foreskin clean.
Parents who opt out of circumcision should wash their baby’s penis with soap and water with each bath. Parents should also be sure to teach their son good hygiene and care for his penis as he grows older. Treat the foreskin gently and make sure not to pull it back forcibly. Once it starts to retract, often around age five, it is important to clean under the foreskin with soap and water often. See a doctor if there is any swelling, pain or if the foreskin is itchy.
Bottom Line: The circumcision decision is not an easy one for parents to make. However, there are advantages for having this procedure on your little boys. Speak to your doctor for more information and more details.


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