About Circumcision

Circumcision is a common, minor surgical procedure that occurs about 1.2 million times per year throughout the United States.  The same procedure (including sterilized equipment) that occurs at the hospital and the doctor's office will occur at your home.

In addition to the religious significance, there are some medical benefits.  These include a reduction in urinary tract infections (on the order of 3 to 10 times less frequent than in those who are not circumcised) and an almost complete elimination of penile cancer.  Sexually transmitted diseases are less likely to be transmitted if you are circumcised (including AIDS).  There is no evidence that circumcision affects sexual function or the ability to feel pleasure.  In fact, a survey of adult males suggested less sexual dysfunction in circumcised men. As with any medical procedure, it is important to know about the risks.  These include bleeding, infection and a poor cosmetic result.  Fortunately, these occur at a rate of approximately 0.2%, and most of these are minor bleeding.  More serious complications are extremely rare.

It is clear that anesthesia is acceptable by halacha (Jewish law) and may even be an "obligation". Rav Shlomo Zalmen Auerbach and Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashev are cited (Nishmat Avraham 5:84) as ruling that a Mohel is "obligated" to use anesthetics if it is medically sound to use them, even though it represents a departure from the traditional procedure. The pain of circumcision CAN be significantly reduced.  I use a combination of four separate methods for pain relief.  First, I have the parents apply a topical anesthetic to the entire penis 60-90 minutes before the procedure.  Second, I have the parents give the baby a weight-based dose of Infant acetaminophen (generic Tylenol) one hour before the Bris. Third, a local anesthetic is administered several minutes prior to the start of the Bris. Lastly, I give the baby a pacifier (provided by the parents) dipped in grape juice during the Bris. All anesthesia is subject to the desires of the parents and the recommendations of the pediatrician. With or without anesthesia, some parents report increased fussiness in the baby right after the circumcision but this is self-limited.

Please feel free to ask me any further questions regarding the benefits and risks of circumcision.  More detailed discussion of the benefits and risks of circumcision may be found at 
http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/585.full.pdf+html released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2012. Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits identified included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed this statement.

After you have had a chance to have all your questions answered, I will have you fill out a routine medical consent form prior to the Bris. This can be found on page 19 of the Parent’s Guide to Ritual Circumcision download from the website

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