Many guys choose to be uncircumcised for a variety of reasons, from cultural or religious beliefs to the simple fact that they feel more comfortable with their natural state. Others may feel that an uncut penis is more attractive, or that it offers increased sensitivity during sexual activity.
An uncut penis has a hood of skin over the head (glans) called the foreskin, or prepuce. This hood naturally separates from the head of the penis as a boy grows up, a process called foreskin retraction.
Men with uncircumcised penises have a layer of skin covering the glans and head of the penis (called a frenulum). The foreskin is usually retracted when the penis is in a flaccid state, but moves to cover the glans when the penis becomes erect. The foreskin can get tight and may irritate the inner genital area. This can lead to a condition called smegma buildup, an unpleasant and painful inflammation of the foreskin. It can also block the flow of sperm during intercourse.
For some, the presence of the foreskin leads to sexual sensitivity that’s different from that of circumcised men. This is because the foreskin contains erogenous tissue. The ridged band of the foreskin contains nerve endings that are stimulated by movement during intercourse or masturbation, says Denniston.
Circumcision, however, removes this sensitivity. It’s important to maintain good hygiene to reduce the risk of infections under the foreskin, including smegma buildup. It’s also important to use condoms during sex to help protect against sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV, herpes, and HPV.
Some studies have found that circumcised men have a lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the penis, but other research shows no relationship between the two. In general, the foreskin doesn’t increase or decrease the risk of penile cancer or STIs. A man with a foreskin should talk to his doctor about the best course of action if there are concerns about his health.
The glans is the tip or head of your penis. It is a cone-shaped end that develops as the terminal end of the genital tubercle during embryonic development in both men and women. The glans contains the opening of the urethra, a tube through which semen and urine exit the body. The glans also houses the meatus, which is the tip of your prostate gland and is where sperm are produced. The glans is covered by a double layer of loose, retractable foreskin known as the prepuce. The prepuce can vary in length, but is attached to the ventral surface of the glans by a skin fold called the frenulum.
If you are uncircumcised, the foreskin may hang down past your glans. In this case, you should regularly retract and wash the foreskin and glans to prevent balanitis, an inflammation of the head of the penis characterized by pain, itching, discharge or a rash. It is important to use gentle soaps and not scrub too hard as this can cause irritation or infection.
Many men who are uncircumcised believe their penises are sexier than circumcised ones and report higher sexual satisfaction when engaged in foreplay. However, this is a false assumption. Circumcision does not increase sexual pleasure or sexiness and can lead to a number of health problems including urinary tract infections, glans enlargement, phimosis, paraphimosis, and other complications of the prepuce.
In circumcision, the foreskin — a layer of skin covering the head of the penis, also known as the glans — is removed. Circumcision is usually performed a day or two after birth, but some adults may undergo the procedure for medical reasons (such as phimosis) or religious or personal beliefs.
A boy who is not circumcised has a foreskin that covers the glans and the shaft of the penis. When the penis is erect, the foreskin retracts and exposes the glans. Uncircumcised men can also erect their penises by pulling back the foreskin and letting it fold over itself, but this is less common.
The word shaft has many other uses: it can describe a long pole or stick, a beam of sunlight or an arrow, the shaft of a sword or halberd, or the rotating rod in a mechanical device (such as a driveshaft or crankshaft). In slang, to get “the shaft” means to receive harsh or unfair treatment.
It is possible to live without having your foreskin circumcised, but it requires more attention to hygiene and can make the glans prone to infection. In addition, men who are uncircumcised have a higher risk of balanitis, a painful inflammatory condition that can cause itchiness, pain, discharge or a rash. Ultimately, the decision to be circumcised or not is a personal one and should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider.
A circumcised penis has a hole in the tip called the meatus through which semen and urine pass. A boy’s foreskin drapes over the head (glans) of the penis, and if the boys are not circumcised, this area can collect a thick, cheesy substance called smegma. This is a combination of skin oils, shed foreskin cells, and moisture such as sweat that can smell unpleasant. It also can cause a bacteria infection when it builds up for too long, Garrison says.
As boys get older, they may start to notice white “pearls” develop under the fused layers of foreskin and glans. These are smegma pearls, and they’re normal. However, if they aren’t cleaned properly, the smegma can build up to the point where it becomes entrapped and forms a cyst called phimosis. This can be painful and dangerous for the boy.
Uncircumcised boys need to regularly clean the foreskin with warm water and soap, just like you would your ears. This is particularly important before and during sex, as the foreskin can trap bacteria and sweat that can cause an unpleasant odor or even an infection. It’s also helpful to communicate with sexual partners about whether or not you have a penis, Garrison says. Often, people don’t realize that their partner is not circumcised and might be uncomfortable with the situation.