Prepuce health and childhood circumcision: Choices in Canada

Emmanuel O. Abara

Abstract


Introduction: Worldwide, almost 100% of boys are born with penises with a “hood” called prepuce or foreskin. In the course of the boy’s life, the prepuce can be circumcised, can become affected by diseased (e.g., phimosis), or a can become infected and hurt the neonate (and his sexual partner) in adulthood. The objectives of this report are to: 1) review the state, function, fate, and care of the prepuce in childhood, with focus on the neonate, in Canada; 2) understand the current practice of childhood male circumcision in terms of age, indications, performers, techniques, outcomes, and education; and 3) consider ways to sustain a good healthcare professional-parental dialogue for safe practices that are accessible, acceptable, and culturally sensitive in the care of the prepuce.

Methods: A literature review was carried out in the English language through the major databases: PubMed (MEDLINE), EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science (WOS) Core Collection, LILAC, WHO/UNAIDS, Clinical Trials (www.clinicaltrials.gov), Google Scholar, and grey literature. Search words included: prepuce, diseases of prepuce, prepuce in the neonate, prepuce in the neonate in Canada, male circumcision, childhood male circumcision, neonatal circumcision, neonatal circumcision
in Canada, complications of neonatal circumcision in Canada, and circumcision adverse events.

Results: From 1970‒1999, three of 10 Canadian newborn males were circumcised for religious, cultural, and medical reasons. The rest of the neonates, if alive, are living with their prepuce; <4% expected to require treatment for afflictions of the prepuce at some point. There are several providers of circumcision with different levels of training and competencies and using a diversity of devices and techniques. Neonatal and childhood circumcision in Canada is carried out to fulfill parental wishes, as well as for medical, religious, and cultural reasons. Appropriate informed consent and education regarding choices of care of the neonatal prepuce and genitals are vital.

Conclusions: Going by current prevalent rate of circumcision in Canada, most Canadian newborn males are likely to live out their lives with an intact prepuce. Despite the age-old debate, childhood
circumcision is likely to remain. There is need for careful and proper discussion of the potential risks and benefits, including alternatives, costs, and personal/psychological factors. Acceptance, access, and
judicious choices in a culturally sensitive environment will offer the Canadian neonate desirable care of the prepuce for life.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5489/cuaj.4447