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Does My Son Need to Be Recircumcised?

Q. I think my 10-month-old needs to be recircumcised. I'm horrified! Please help!


A. I suggest you get a second opinion, perhaps with a urologist. If your son can pee straight and strong, and if you can see the glans (the smooth tip of the penis), there's likely no medical need for taking off more skin. But I can understand wanting to remove more if you chose circumcision and he doesn't look like he's had the procedure! Obviously, circumcision is a highly personal decision. It can help decrease the risk of urinary-tract infections, penile cancer, and possibly HIV. And for social or religious reasons, many families feel strongly that their child should have one. But many others feel equally strongly that circumcision is a bad idea, because it is painful (although this can be helped with medication) and because the foreskin may protect the tip of the penis. Also, as you've discovered, things can go wrong, the most significant being bleeding and infection. That's why seeing a specialist can help you weigh the risks and benefits of a second procedure.

Claire McCarthy, M.D., is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Send her your health questions at