Our Filipino culture has popular practices that have been passed to us and that we continue to pass them on to our children. One of these practices is tuli or circumcision for boys, especially during the summer. Below are some myths and facts about tuli or circumcision for Filipino parents.
Much has been said about circumcision in the old days. For one, it was considered a sacred practice and symbolic ceremony that signified a boy’s passage into manhood. It was also regarded as a magical event to guarantee virility, or a method to repress or increase sexual pleasure. And if regular bathing was deemed impractical then, circumcision was seen to assist in maintaining hygiene. It was also a way of identifying a man’s social status. These and more have been said of circumcision, and its importance has been debated for years. But how should a 21st century Filipino parent regard it now?
Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Maria Teresa Corpuz, a general surgeon at Bethany Hospital in San Fernando City, La Union, to help straighten out the myths and facts about tuli or circumcision.
Q: What is circumcision?
A: Circumcision is simply the removal of the excess prepuce (or foreskin) of the penis. The operation can last for about 30 minutes.
Q: Are there different kinds of circumcision?
A: There are two styles of circumcision: the dorsal slit and the German cut. The dorsal slit is just a simple cut on the prepuce, while the German cut is a cut made around the prepuce area that will result in a longer bleeding period.
Q: When is the best age and time to undergo circumcision?
A: It can be administered to boys at any age or at any time, but preferably 7 years old and above, during the summer when kids have more free time out of school. It’s the choice of parents if they want it at birth.
Q: Is there any difference if it is given at birth or later in life?
A: Yes, only in terms of anesthesia. For babies or infants, general anesthesia will be given. For 7-year-olds, a local anesthesia will be used.
Q: How long is the recovery period?
A: Recovery is about a week.
Q: What are the benefits of circumcision?
A: It’s more of personal hygiene lang talaga. Some say circumcision could prevent penile cancer. But there’s no scientific evidence that supports this. In the past, studies showed that penile cancer didn’t occur as much with circumcised males but the studies have been proven to be flawed because they didn’t consider other risk factors, like smoking, personal hygiene, and number of sexual partners.
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Ed’s note: One health benefit cited in another article on circumcision is avoidance of UTI (urinary tract infection).
Q: Is it true that uncircumcised men can’t impregnate women?
A: There is no truth to that. They can still have babies even if they aren’t circumcised.
Q: Should circumcision be a mandatory procedure?
A: It really depends on the parents and their culture. Some boys are forced to undergo the procedure because of peer pressure. Minsan, tinutukso sila ng mga kaibigan (when they haven’t been circumcised). Sila rin ang kawawa. In some cultures, it is perhaps compulsory. But, as I have said, circumcision addresses personal hygiene more than health or medical concerns.
Q: Can you give parents tips on how to keep the affected area clean after circumcision?
A: Make sure to clean the affected area with cotton swabbed with Betadine. Then cover with gauze. After urinating, make sure there’s no urine left on the affected affected area. You may also use a pain reliever, upon your doctor’s advice. Infections may happen, so go to your doctor when it does occur.
As Filipino parents, it’s totally up to you to decide whether you want your child to undergo tuli or circumcision. As mentioned by Dr. Corpuz, circumcision is a concern of culture and personal hygiene and has no major bearing on your child’s health (other than avoiding UTI, of course).
Sources: Dr. Maria Teresa Corpuz, general surgeon at Bethany Hospital. Contact No:www.malecircumcision.orghttp://www.beverlyhills.ph/centers_urology_penis_dorsalSlit.php“Can Penile Cancer Be Prevented?” www.cancer.org