The world of medicine is certainly no stranger to debate. And when it comes to the topic of circumcision – it’s a next-level discussion.
With only about one in three guys around the globe having endured the cut for themselves, it’s amazing to think how “abnormal” an uncircumcised schlong can look in the eyes of so many.
But is it really the enigma it’s chocked up to be? And furthermore, what does it mean for the bedroom?
FIRST OFF, WHAT IS IT?
Circumcision refers to the surgical removal of the foreskin. The foreskin is the piece of ultra-sensitive tissue that covers the tip of the penis. It’s typically performed on newborn babies for religious and/or personal reasons that can range from hygienic and aesthetic preferences, to preventative health measures. Although if a guy so chooses, it’s something that can be done later in life to treat certain (fairly uncommon) medical conditions, too.
LET’S BACK UP
As with most religious traditions, circumcision has been around for thousands of years. It’s a required rite of passage in Judaic and Islamic beliefs. Certain indigenous tribes throughout Africa and Australia mandate it as well. But as far as its rise to popularity in the United States, that’s a whole other story.
During the early 20th century, doctors began touting the operation as a way to reduce the rate of certain STDs, promote “better” hygiene and – most importantly – lessen the desire to masturbate among males (figures, right?). On top of that, the procedure also became a status symbol. Back in the day, hospital births, and medical treatments weren’t something everyone could afford.
From that point on, the psyche developed. In the eyes of Americans specifically, circumcision was now seen as the new normal. Although, despite U.S. rates peaking to about 85% of men in 1965, the snip standard has been on an interestingly steep decline ever since the ‘70s. As debates about its necessity have raged on for decades, we’re now looking at only about 58.3% as of 2010.
SO WHAT’S ALL THE FORESKIN FUSS?
Even though the procedure’s pros can include decreased risks of UTIs, contracting certain STIs like HIV and penile cancer in general, many experts are quick to note these perks don’t have much to do with circumcision itself. Men already have an extremely low susceptibility to UTIs. Regular safe sex practices are still the absolute most effective in preventing STIs. And penile cancer is rare in and of itself—regardless of one’s circumcision status.
Which means, surprise! Even in the medical/scientific community, there are a LOT of mixed feelings about it. So coupled with the fact that the perks exist but aren’t enough to make it AAP-mandatory, and as with all procedures, complications can occur – it’s something that parents have to individually decide on their own. And often times, that’s where stigma enters the picture.
Because of the extra hood of skin, many perceive circumcised penises as “cleaner” than their uncut counterparts. However, as long as you wash it up well, there’s no inherent hygienic difference between the two. Since the procedure was so common for so long, it’s also what people are accustomed to seeing. So there’s added pressure to conform to what’s seen as “normal” as well.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR SEX
So what about when it comes to the bedroom? Well that’s another hotly contested topic.
Scientifically speaking, circumcised or uncircumcised – it shouldn’t make a difference. Some research over the years has claimed the surgery decreases sensitivity, whereas others have stated the opposite. But what can be very real is the psychological side of things.
IT’S ALL PERCEPTION
A lack of circumcision can lead to self-consciousness. This is because having the foreskin can be perceived as “abnormal.” Being afraid of a partner’s judgement or having to explain things in the bedroom can lead to performance anxiety without a doubt, so the most important way around it is to be open with each other from the start.
Not that it’s necessarily first date fodder (unless you’re planning to go straight for it), but as always communication is lubrication, so all it requires is a quick rundown of personal preferences. With a foreskin in the mix, there might be a few extra steps like pulling it back before putting on the condom; but on the flip side, there’s also potential pluses like increased amounts of natural lubrication and special stimulation from the tissue’s “ribbing”.
So in other words: don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
Even though ankle socks might be what you’re used to, just know there’s never a true “normal” when it comes to anything regarding sex. A penis is a penis, and it can be great in any package; all it takes is communicating with your partner to figure out what feels best for the both of you.