Adult male circumcision?

Originally Published: November 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 30, 2012
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Dear Alice,

I'm a guy who's considering being circumcised. What sort of health benefits are there to the procedure? Are there any drawbacks? Also, how much of the foreskin is removed? A little bit? Most of it? All of it, right down to the base of the head? Or what?

—Considering Clipping

Dear Considering Clipping,

Circumcision is the surgical removal of all or part of the foreskin, the skin that covers the head of the penis. The procedure is usually performed for religious, cosmetic, and/or hygienic reasons. Circumcision also can alleviate problems that arise from certain medical conditions, such as phimosis, where the foreskin is so narrow that it is difficult, if not impossible, and painful, to pull back. As a medical procedure, circumcision has both health benefits and risks. However, in August 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics modified its policy on circumcision to state that the preventative health benefits of infant circumcision clearly outweigh the risks of the surgical procedure.

Proponents of adult circumcision advocate it for a number of reasons, including:

  • Cleanliness or ease of maintaining hygiene
  • Lowered risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV — the virus that causes AIDS) human papillomavirus (HPV — the virus that causes genital warts), and syphilis.

Before having surgery, it is important to be aware of any risks or potential complications as well. Critics of adult circumcision point certain disadvantages, including:

  • Temporary pain after the operation
  • Temporary irritation of the glans (the head of the penis)
  • Different and/or decreased sensation during sex
  • Risk of complications and/or surgical errors (again, as with any surgery)

Also, for what it's worth, health care providers recommend that after circumcision a man abstains from any kind of sexual activity for four to six weeks to allow for a full recovery. In fact, even having an erection in this period of time after the procedure can cause complications, such as discomfort, pain, and disruption of the sutures. Moreover, some men may find arousal, erection, and/or ejaculation to be so uncomfortable that they may not mind the break from sex.

Some critics may also argue that after the surgery, some men may find that their penises just aren't what they used to be, aesthetically speaking. On the other hand, some advocates of circumcision may believe that circumcised penises are better looking. In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Regular cleaning of the foreskin and the glans usually alleviates most potential hygienic problems. Additionally, both circumcised and uncut men can always practice safer sex techniques to prevent transmission of STIs.

From this point, your best bet is to speak with your health care provider. If circumcision is the final choice, then you are encouraged to discuss a variety of topics about the operation (including the amount of foreskin that is removed, healing time, etc.) with a surgeon, usually a urologist.

Alice

August 31, 2012

515703
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated the evidence is clear: males who are circumcised are much less (from 40-85%) likely to catch and pass on STDs. When my son was born in 1991 we chose...
The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated the evidence is clear: males who are circumcised are much less (from 40-85%) likely to catch and pass on STDs. When my son was born in 1991 we chose that he not be circumcised. At that time, there was no evidence like there is today. He is now 21, and am asking him to consider the procedure.

May 28, 2009

21551

Alice,

I had it done about 10 months ago and wish I'd gone for it decades ago. I'm a man in my fifties without a sexual partner, but my (solo) sex life has improved enormously since then....

Alice,

I had it done about 10 months ago and wish I'd gone for it decades ago. I'm a man in my fifties without a sexual partner, but my (solo) sex life has improved enormously since then. Masturbation without a foreskin does require the use of lubrication, but the orgasms are much, much better. Yes, the glans loses some sensitivity, but if you've had a tight foreskin all your life — as I had — your glans has been over-sensitive to the point where it couldn't tolerate direct stimulation. I had increasingly frequent infections up until last year, but not a single problem since then. Yes, you'll be uncomfortable for a week or two, and it took me about 6 weeks before I could masturbate comfortably and maybe 3 months before I could begin to enjoy the full benefits. But it's definitely worth it!

December 4, 2008

21490
To the reader:

The foreskin is composed of special, erogenous nerve cells, and it provides a comfortable sheath within which your glans is stimulated. If you get circumcised, you will lose the...

To the reader:

The foreskin is composed of special, erogenous nerve cells, and it provides a comfortable sheath within which your glans is stimulated. If you get circumcised, you will lose the "extra data" these nerves provide your brain, and the mechanics of sexual stimulation will change for you and your partner — not always for the better, according to some.

Mostly, those who choose to get circumcision later in life are those who have a problem with their foreskins, such as phimosis or some sexually transmitted disease, though both of these problems are treatable without circumcision. If these are not your problem, it's probably best to keep yourself clean and enjoy your foreskin — a man without a foreskin can never enjoy his foreskin.

October 8, 2008

21478
To the reader,

After being "natural" for years, my wife suggested that I get circumsized due to bouts of itching and infections. I had grown up with circumcized boys and men and envied them since...

To the reader,

After being "natural" for years, my wife suggested that I get circumsized due to bouts of itching and infections. I had grown up with circumcized boys and men and envied them since they were always clean and dry. I had the procedure done and am happy to report that I'm happier than ever. My wife is extremely pleased since I'm "skinless" without any smegma or stink. My "new" largely expanded glans gives me a new lease on life, bringing her to orgasmic delights previously hidden. It's terrific! Go for it.

October 11, 2002

20454
Dear Considering Clipping, I am a male in my late 30s and I was born in a foreign country, but decided to get it done. I decided to get the procedure done about 5 years ago and wish I would have...
Dear Considering Clipping, I am a male in my late 30s and I was born in a foreign country, but decided to get it done. I decided to get the procedure done about 5 years ago and wish I would have done it sooner. Like Alice said, do talk to a doctor before getting it done. I called ask a nurse and I went to the doctor and got it done. It takes two to three weeks to heal, but once it heals, the sex, to me, is much better than before. Sex is not a chore anymore and you stay a lot cleaner now, too. Good luck and take care. Concerned