Supporting Vancouver Island families to make healthy, safe choices based on scientific evidence
For parents who protect their children’s fundamental right to bodily integrity under Canadian law, the question may arise:
What special care is needed for my baby’s intact genitals?
The wonderful news is that absolutely no special care is required. At birth, the foreskin is fused to the glans penis (head of the penis) to protect the penis from irritation. As you can imagine, diapers soiled with urine and feces can be a very murky place, so this protection is much-needed. This connection between the foreskin and glans, called synechia, breaks down slowly, over time. The majority of young men will be able to retract their foreskin by the end of puberty.
Cleaning before that point is simple: wipe or wash the outside of the penis, like you would a finger. Once a child or young man is retractable, the cleaning is: Retract, Rinse, Replace. No soaps should be used underneath the foreskin. Absolutely NO attempt to retract the foreskin should be made, by anyone other than the child himself. Forcibly retracting the foreskin before the synechia has dissolved can result in skin tears, pain, inflammation, infection, and scar tissue.
Doctors who are not educated on the normal development of the foreskin may cause harm to your baby during well-baby visits, routine check-ups, and so on. Before any health care professional begins to examine your child’s genitals, it is important to inform them that they do not have your permission to retract your son’s foreskin, even a small amount. For further information on this topic, including how to catheterize the intact child, please see this page.
If you feel that your doctor may not respect your wishes, you may want to consider having them sign an Intact Care Agreement.