In episode three of Sisters Without Shame, we take a look at men’s health. (They have problems too, you know.) We help a friend in crisis who says that he is very worried following penis complications that came from getting circumcised.
Limpopo general practitioner Dr Vusi Khosa believes that our friend’s age could have been a factor.
Khosa explains, “Circumcision is a common procedure. Regional and societal attitudes differ on whether there is a need for a male to be circumcised and, if so, at what age.”
In a nutshell, the older you are the more complicated things become. “A young age is ideal because the wound heals faster. The older you are, the more susceptible to complications you become.”
“When it comes to circumcision, whether it’s traditional or medical, we recommend getting it done early, preferably between the ages of 7 and 10.”
The snip is complicated
Bleeding is a major complication because the penis is a vascularised organ.
“The majority of the complications occur on the ventral side, also known as the base, where arterial bleeds are common and must be properly attended to because bleeds in this area are sensitive.
“You can expect stitches to tear as well as clots. Infections are common in the elderly owing to delayed wound healing, which makes them vulnerable to infections.”
If left untreated, the consequences could be physical, medical, psychological and social.
“Dressing appropriately and cleaning the infected area with antiseptic solutions are ideal to get the wound to heal.”
“If the wound is not treated, the penis may become gangrenous, resulting in discharge and a bad odour. In rare cases, the penis may fall off.”
People with underlying illnesses such as diabetes, and individuals on chronic steroids, are also susceptible to infections.
Does medical circumcision impact tradition?
Traditional circumcision is intricately related to culture for young males, notably in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, and medical circumcision may hinder an individual from receiving the teachings that take place at the “mountain” for young men.
“A growing trend is for people to choose medical circumcision first, then attend the traditional initiation for cultural initiation so that they may be on par with their peers.”
Whether you get the snip is entirely up to you. But Khosa does say that the brothers with the foreskin should always practice good hygiene.
“Bacteria and fungus can accumulate in the foreskin, causing smegma (a thick yellow discharge). Getting circumcised is not only medically correct, but also hygienic and safe,” says Khosa.
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