We're all about celebrating and loving bodies in all of their different shapes and forms. From acceptance to sex, there's no topic that's too taboo to talk about when it comes to our bodies and health. Let's take uncircumcised penises, for example. It's a topic that many have questions about but isn't really discussed when compared to circumcised penises. That's why we decided to get in touch with an expert to give us all of the facts.
Ahead, Dr. Alex Shteynshlyuger, a New York City-based director of Urology, spills the tea on uncircumcised penises, including what circumcision actually means, common myths, and how it affects sex with partners. Whether you're having sex with someone who has an uncircumcised penis, or debating if you or your child should undergo the process of circumcision, here are 10 facts everyone would benefit from knowing.
Uncircumcised penis facts:
1. Everyone born with a penis has foreskin.
Everyone who is born with a penis will have that skin, known as the foreskin. Many medical professionals debate about the importance of the foreskin. While some say it has no real purpose, others argue that it serves a protective function. The procedure to remove it is called circumcision and it's fairly common and typically done on newborns in certain parts of the world, says Dr. Shteynshlyuger.
2. You can get circumcised as an adult.
Circumcision in the United States is most commonly performed on babies. However, Dr. Shteynshlyuger says you can get the procedure done as an adult. "Adult circumcision takes about one hour to perform," he says. "It can be performed under local anesthesia. While most [people] are able to return to work the next day, it takes about a month until the area heals completely and you can resume sexual activity."
3. The decision to get circumcised (or not) can be for many different reasons.
Why someone decides to get themselves or their child circumcised varies per person. Dr. Shteynshlyuger says, "Some adults get circumcised because they experience a medical problem such as foreskin pain or infection." Therefore, choosing to get circumcised can be a form of preventive care. Others may choose to get circumcised for cosmetic reasons, while for some families, it's a religious ritual or tradition.
4. Having an uncircumcised penis does not affect sexual functioning.
Because the foreskin covers the head of the penis, the most sensitive part of the penis, many believe it can disrupt sexual functioning and drive. However, Dr. Shteynshlyuger explains that it does not affect libido (sex drive) or erections.
5. The foreskin can cause some discomfort in some people.
"Sometimes the foreskin can create problems that can cause pain or discomfort such as tightness (medically known as phimosis) or inflammation in the foreskin," says Dr. Shteynshlyuger. In addition, skin tags can appear underneath the penis (also known as the frenulum) and cause tightness that triggers pain during sex. Circumcision can alleviate these concerns.
6. Uncircumcised penises are not more sensitive.
Studies show that there's no significant difference in the sensitivity among those who are circumcised and those who are not, says Dr. Shteynshlyuger. When both groups underwent genital and non-genital sensory testing in the 2007 study, they found that there was more of a difference in penile temperature when aroused.
7. There is no evidence that suggests uncircumcised penises positively or negatively affect female pleasure.
While anecdotally some women prefer circumcised penis and others prefer uncircumcised penises, there is no evidence that circumcision affects female sensation in any tangible way, explains Dr. Shteynshlyuger.
8. Uncircumcised penises are not naturally unhygienic in comparison to circumcised penises.
Despite what you might have heard, uncircumcised penises aren't more or less hygienic than circumcised penises. While circumcised penises might be quicker to clean, Dr. Shteynshlyuger says as long as you wash the inside of the foreskin, it's easy to maintain adequate hygiene in uncircumcised people.
9. Uncircumcised penises don’t cause more infections when having sex.
Let's set the record straight—vaginal infections and UTIs can be caused by having sex with a partner who has poor hygiene, but having an uncircumcised penis does not directly cause more infections because it depends on how often the penis is cleaned. It's all about taking care of yourself for the sake of your health and your partner's.