So you’ve decided not to circumcise your son?! That’s great! Circumcision is an unnecessary often traumatic procedure for a newborn and studies now show that it does not protect males against penile infection. You can read more about that here or here.
You aren’t alone in this choice to leave your son’s foreskin intact, more and more parents choose to skip circumcision. The problem with this new shift is that many parents and health care providers DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR THE INTACT PENIS.
My good friend texted me a day or two after the birth of her son. The nurse at the hospital had tried to retract and clean her brand new baby’s penis. Many of you might be shaking your head in disbelief because you already know that newborn foreskin DOES NOT and SHOULD NOT RETRACT. The nurse helped further “educate” my friend by telling her to retract and clean the baby’s penis regularly. WRONG AGAIN!
While I’d like to go on a rant on that CRAZY, MISINFORMED and IGNORANT nurse….I’ll try to contain my rage. Circumcision has been such a norm in our society that we have lost the age old wisdom of how to care for a very important male body part. Most young boys were taught by their fathers how to care for their intact penis. Now, there’s a lot of confusion and false information floating about and I want to clear it up once and for all.
So why am I such a penis expert???? Well…I’m not, but a good friend of mine is an expert. Full disclosure: her son as well as her husband are not circumcised, nor is her husband’s father or grandfather. They KNOW how to care for the intact penis. They have done it for generations problem free. So let me share with you some of their secrets.
1. Don’t Pull it back…..really don’t do it
This is the most important point. Before my son was born I was told by many well meaning people to make sure and clean my son’s intact penis often. The human body is created so perfectly that the foreskin PROTECTS your baby’s penis from bacteria and it DOES NOT RETRACT. “When the foreskin is left intact there is an antibacterial agent under the foreskin that helps prevent infection”(source). Your son’s foreskin will probably retract when he is 5 or 6 years old but it may even be as late as at the start of puberty. Pulling it back introduces bacteria under the skin which is exactly what we DON’T want. Caring for the intact penis is all about being laissez faire.
NOTE: In the past few days of this post going live a reader shared this experience they had with their pediatrician: “Our ped, as part of an early exam, clearly ASKED us first, then gently placed index fingers on either side of son’s penis to make sure the tiny opening had a tiny amount of flex to it. He was explicit that this would be gentle and was only to observe that nothing was fused where it should not be. So to be clear, we didn’t, nor do we…retract our sons intact penis…our ped just gently observed the opening to ensure proper development and prevent a need for intervention down the line.” Her pediatrician is caring for the intact penis PERFECTLY and what he did is NOT considered retraction
2. Pull it forward or Wipe it off
Rather than pulling the foreskin back, the best way to clean an uncircumcised penis is to gently wipe it off. If you see a little baby poop got inside the tip pull the skin forward while your child is in the bath tub. This is the best way to encourage the penis to clean itself by pushing anything unwanted out.
Once your son is a little older and the penis retracts on its own you can teach your son to rinse it while in the shower or bath. Do NOT EVER use soap on the retracted penis, even the mildest soap will irritate it.
3.Care for it like you would extremely sensitive skin
As I said earlier, make sure to use the mildest soap possible when your child bathes. BE CAREFUL as many of the mainstream brands that are specifically marketed towards babies are toxic and irritating. You can read more about that here . If you are looking for a mild gentle soap you can buy it here. I don’t ever recommend using conventional diaper cream either. You can make you own diaper ointment here or you can buy a gentle diaper ointment here.
4. Keep a watchful eye
Just like any part of your child’s body, if you notice something unusual keep an eye on it. A couple of times my son’s penis has looked red on the tip simply from being pushed in an awkward way in his diaper. Just keep an eye on it but remember not to mess with it. Usually the irritation will go away on it’s own within a day or two. If it’s not getting better follow your “Mama” instinct and call your doctor or care provider.
Remember the intact penis is completely natural and it’s designed to take care of itself!!!
ONE LAST THING! Please share this post with your friends so we can get the word out on how to properly care for our intact children!