26/11/2009 15:38 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Dilemma Of The Day: To Circumcise Or Not?

Q: I want to have my new son circumcised, it's an important part of my culture, plus I think it's cleaner and healthier. My husband is from a different culture to me. Our son is 2 weeks old now and my husband still isn't sure.

A: The medical benefits of circumcision in this country are very small and as long as your son washes properly, being circumcised won't mean he is any cleaner or healthier.

There is some evidence that circumcision may protect against HIV transmission in heterosexual males. However in the UK and other countries where rates of HIV infection are low, complications from circumcision are deemed a higher risk than this small benefit.

So, your problem effectively comes down to culture, and I can't know how important this issue is to you. I think this is something you are going to have to thrash out with your husband.

Make sure you both understand all the facts before you discuss your ideas of pros and cons. Circumcision is the removal of part, or all of the foreskin. Adults who undergo the procedure often say that they have reduced sensitivity.

It is practiced in Judaism, Islam, in many African countries, and is common in the US.

It is a controversial issue and people feel strongly on both sides of the argument. Complications are rare but infection or bleeding may occur.

Bear in mind, your son might prefer to 'look like his Daddy' as he's growing up. You could consider leaving him intact for now and letting him decide for himself what to do when he is older.

Babies who are circumcised have been proven to feel severe pain. Circumcision due to cultural and religious reasons is usually done without an anaesthetic, but it is surely hard to justify causing pain in a tiny baby when it could be avoided.

Please look carefully into pain relief if you do decide to go ahead, and treat your son gently afterward.