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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Circumcision in boys

Poka kirimata ki ngā tama

The foreskin is the loose skin that covers and protects the end of the penis in uncircumcised males.

The operation to remove the foreskin is called circumcision. While once very common, circumcision is now hardly ever done in New Zealand, and pēpi (babies) are rarely circumcised.

Medical experts do not recommend routinely circumcising healthy pēpi. All operations have risks, and for circumcision, the risks outweigh any possible benefits.

Most circumcisions are done for religious or cultural reasons. Sometimes boys need to be circumcised for medical reasons such as if the foreskin becomes too tight (a problem called phimosis) and medical treatment fails, but this is uncommon.

If your boy needs to be circumcised for medical reasons, your general practice team will refer you to a paediatric surgeon or urologist. The public health system will pay for this.

If there is no medical reason, you'll have to pay to see a private paediatric surgeon or urologist following a referral from your general practice team.

Circumcision should only be done by a trained doctor who can deal with any complications. Appropriate pain relief should be used. Circumcision should be done in sterile conditions in a safe, child-friendly environment.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.


See also:

Tightness of the foreskin (phimosis)

Page reference: 63026

Review key: HIPEN-13872