Circumcision: Myths & Misconceptions
Males are born with a sheath of skin, called the foreskin, that covers the tip of the penis. Circumcision is a medical procedure in which the foreskin is removed. To do this, the foreskin is pulled back to expose the connections to the rest of the penis. Those connections are cut, and then a large part of the foreskin is removed so it cannot cover the penis anymore. Once healed, the penis appears as one piece without a sheath, with only a slight change in the color of the skin where the foreskin was attached.
Circumcision has been in practice for thousands of years, yet many myths and misconceptions still exist, often affecting people’s view of the procedure. Let’s take a look at some of those perceptions.
Myth: Circumcision is painful
Reality: In the early days of circumcision, yes, the procedure did hurt. This was mainly because anesthetics were not widely available. This is one of the reasons the procedure was mainly performed on children who were less than a month old; they would not remember the pain or any subsequent trauma.
This experience has largely changed, especially in adult circumcisions. Adults who decide to be circumcised are anesthetized before the procedure. They will experience some discomfort during the healing process and receive pain medication. As long as the medication is well managed, pain should not be a problem.
Myth: Circumcisions are for sexual health
Reality: Generally, uncircumcised penises are not inherently better or worse than circumcised penises. There has been some research to indicate that circumcision reduces the risk of contracting urinary tract infections as well as sexually transmitted infections. However, while the American Academy of Pediatrics cites these studies as reasons to circumcise infants, the benefits are not significant enough to make the procedure routine.
Claims that circumcision reduces penis sensitivity are disputed, as this is a highly subjective experience.
Myth: Adult circumcision requires a long recovery
Reality: The healing time for circumcision varies by person but happens in two phases.
The first phase starts the day of the procedure and generally lasts three to four days. You’ll have dressings around the penis and use an ice pack to reduce swelling and bruising.
The second phase can last several weeks. You should be able to return to normal physical activities, such as working out, in about four weeks, and engage in sexual activity after six weeks.
Myth: Circumcised penises are more attractive
Reality: This is entirely subjective for the man and his partner. Some people find a circumcised penis more attractive; others do not.
Drawing on your own experiences may be an important part of deciding whether to get circumcised, but this is a highly personal choice and is ultimately yours to make, and not a partner’s.
Make a decision
If you are faced with the decision to get a circumcision as an adult, consider your personal preferences alongside medical research. If you are in a committed relationship, you should consult with your partner as well as your doctor, and be sure to mention any other medical conditions to your doctor, as they could affect even minor surgical procedures.
Ultimately, make sure that you base your opinions on fact and not fiction before you make a final decision.