The foreskin is a mysterious little piece of tissue that many American men don’t have, and many sexual partners may be unfamiliar with its function. What is the foreskin, and what on earth do you do with it during sex?

Pull up a chair, concerned reader, and let your foreskin education begin.

What is it?

The foreskin, or prepuce, is a bilayer tissue that extends from the distal one-third of the penis shaft (the third farthest from the body) over the penis head (or glans). The foreskin is sometimes removed at birth (or even later in life), for religious, cultural or medical reasons, in a procedure called circumcision.

The vast majority of men in the United States, nearly 80 percent, are circumcised, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2014 article from the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal indicated rates of circumcision differ among ethnicities: 91 percent of Caucasians, 76 percent of Black people and 44 percent of Latinos.

Function & benefits