For parents-to-be weighing whether or not to circumcise their male infant when he’s born, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may help make that decision a little easier. The Associated Press reports that the CDC released a draft of elective circumcision guidelines based on a plethora of research that show the benefits of male circumcision outweigh any risks.These are the first federal guidelines on the controversial practice of circumcision, which involves surgically removing some or all of the foreskin from a newborn male’s penis. The CDC will receive public comment for the next 45 days before finalizing the guidelines next year.The CDC started working on the proposed guidelines seven years ago, after multiple studies in Africa showed circumcision may help stop spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The research found that the relative risk for HIV infection was 44 percent lower in circumcised men. However, research has not found that circumcision conclusively helps stop the spread of HIV between gay men.While male circumcision isn’t risk-free and can cause pain, bleeding and infection, more serious complications are rare, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, the health benefits are numerous: Along with reducing the risk that a man will get HIV from an infected female partner, having a circumcised penis also lowers the risk of other STDs, penile cancer, and infant urinary tract infections. Male circumcised partners also help protect their female partner’s health, since male circumcision reduces the risk of her acquiring HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer, as well as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and genital ulceration.The procedure is also highly cost-effective, based on a large, retrospective study of neonatal circumcision in nearly 15,000 infants, considering the estimated number of health problems it would prevent, from infant urinary tract infection and HIV infection to penile cancer, inflammation of the foreskin and glans, and phimosis, a condition where the male foreskin cannot be fully retracted from the head of the penis, according to the CDC.The CDC circumcision guidelines will no doubt spark controversy, but it’s important for parents and others to keep in mind that these are just that — elective guidelines.Related Articles:Why Penis Pictures Aren’t Pretty