The controversial procedure can impact your health and sex life. Here’s what the research shows
Most guys have no choice in whether they have a foreskin or not. Nearly 60 percent of male newborns in the U.S. get circumcised at birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But your parents’ decision about that tiny bit of skin has far- and wide-ranging implications. Here’s how it affects you, for better and for worse.
You last longer . . .
Getting cut may delay your orgasm, recent research from Turkey suggests.
In the study, men who got circumcised as adults timed how long it took them to climax both before and after they were snipped. The guys lasted an average of 20 seconds longer after going under the knife.
(This minor difference is not a reason to get cut now, nor a reasonable treatment for premature ejaculation, the researchers stress. For scientifically proven techniques to last longer in bed—plus step-by-step instructions on how to give her an orgasm—check out How to Pleasure a Woman.)
Other scientists speculate that circumcision makes your penis less sensitive, which could explain the difference—but research is still mixed on whether that’s the case.
. . . But so does she
One Danish study finds that women who are married to circumcised guys are more likely to report sexual difficulties, including trouble reaching orgasm.
Men’s Health Sex Professor Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., says there may be something to this. In her book Sex Made Easy, she writes of her own personal experience: “I could feel his foreskin move along my vaginal walls during sex. It was a new sensation to me and a wonderful one. . . . Feeling his foreskin also seemed to make it easier to experience orgasm during vaginal intercourse.”
This isn’t to say that all women prefer uncut guys—as with anything sex-related, individual preferences and anatomy play a role. But for some ladies, it seems that the fleshy crown may heighten sensation.
You’re less likely to get cancer
Before you get bitter about the female orgasm thing, thank Mom and Dad for this: Circumcised men are less likely to get penile and prostate cancer, research finds. Foreskin can harbor inflammation and STDs like HPV, both of which may contribute to cancer growth, the researchers say.
Still, that doesn’t mean every man needs to get cut. Wear a condom to protect against STDs and keep your penis squeaky clean (shower after sex, retract your foreskin when you wash up) to prevent inflammation, experts say. (Related: Does Your Penis Smell?)
You’re safer from STDs
Getting snipped slashes your risk for HIV and some other STDs, according to the CDC. In one study, Baltimore men with known exposure to HIV were twice as likely to become infected if they were uncircumcised.
Scientists are still figuring out why this may be the case, but one theory is that the foreskin is simply more susceptible to HIV infection than the skin on your shaft, according to the CDC. Another possible explanation: The foreskin is prone to tearing during sex, which would give viruses an easy pathway into your body. Or it could be that the folds in your foreskin provide an environment for viruses and bacteria to thrive.
Whatever the case, know that circumcision doesn’t count as total protection or a substitute for condoms. Wearing a rubber is still the best way to protect yourself from STDs if you’re sexually active.
Condoms stay put
Using a rubber can be trickier with uncircumcised penises, Herbenick says. The foreskin can make for a clumsy application and it slips and slides inside the condom, which can eventually push it off.
If you’re uncut, try using a roomier rubber, like a Trojan Magnum or Ecstasy, she suggests. Pull your foreskin back before rolling on the condom, then push your foreskin back into place while holding the base of the condom in place. This allows your foreskin to move freely during sex and helps the rubber stay put. Make sure to stop and readjust during the deed if you notice slippage, says Herbenick.
Kiera Aaron contributed reporting to this article