Sexual Health

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Sexual Health Guide

Susan Cody HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.

ASK

Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!

I’ll be honest; I had to do a lot of research before sitting down to write this article. I have only come into contact with one uncircumcised penis during my short stint as a single adult woman, and it didn’t really seem to be that big of a deal at the time.

However, when it comes to uncircumcised penises, there’s more than meets the eye . Approximately 50% of men are “uncut,” which is really how the penis is meant to be in the first place (not many men outside the United States are circumcised). Circumcision originated among ancient religious populations as a way to purify man by removing the source of his sexual pleasure. This tradition has held its ground into the 21st century, which can lead to quite a bit of confusion when a woman unexpectedly comes into contact with a penis au naturale.

It may surprise you to learn that the foreskin itself, before it is separated from its owner, is extremely sensitive to pleasure. During circumcision two very important things are removed that will never grow back: the frenulum, the band near the tip of the penis that connects the foreskin with the glans, and then of course, the foreskin and all the nerve endings that go along with it.

Not only are these sources of pleasure eliminated during circumcision, but the shaft of the penis is left unprotected and slowly loses its responsiveness through a process called keratinization. In an article published in Fathering Magazine, Rio Cruz explains that “the male glans and inner foreskin, just like the clitoris and inner labia of women, are actually internal structures covered by mucous membrane that, when exposed to the air and harsh environment through circumcision, develop a tough, dry covering to protect the delicate, sensitive tissue.”

The main difference in having sex with an uncircumcised penis is that the foreskin acts as a glider of sorts, and it stays in place while the glans and shaft continue to thrust. This leads to less friction in the vagina and thus a more pleasurable experience for the female.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Add a Comment247 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Rick in Toronto, the true origins of male circumcision are unknown but it is known that it was practiced about 1,500 years before it's supposed inclusion in Genesis as The Covenant between God and Abraham. It was practiced by Egyptian Priests. I say "before it's supposed inclusion in Genesis because in fact, it was not included in the original manuscripts that survive to this day and appears to have been added after The Temple burned about 550 B.C.

The first record we have as an effort to attenuate the sexuality of men was in the 12th century when Moses Maimonides wrote:

"Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally. This gave the possibility to everyone to raise an objection and to say: How can natural things be defective so that they need to be perfected from outside, all the more because we know how useful the foreskin is for that member? In fact this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must indubitably be weakened. The Sages, may their memory be blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision."

March 20, 2010 - 4:20am
Hugh7 (reply to Anonymous)

Before Maimonides, Philo (Judaeus) of Alexandria, 1st Century Jewish philosopher:

"To these [reasons for circumcision] I would add that I consider circumcision to be a symbol of two things necessary to our well being. One is the excision of pleasures which bewitch the mind. For since among the love-lures of pleasure the palm [prize] is held by the mating of man and woman, the legislators thought good to dock the organ which ministers to such intercourse, thus making circumcision the figure of the excision of excessive and superfluous pleasure, not only of one pleasure, but of all the other pleasures signified by one, and that the most imperious.

The other reason is that a man should know himself and banish from the soul the grievous malady of conceit."

- Of the special laws, Book I (ii), in Works of Philo, trans. F. H. Colson, Loeb Classical Library, 1937, Vol. VII, p. 105

March 23, 2010 - 1:51am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I'm curious as well. Modern circumcision started in the Victorian era as a way to "cure masturbation" by reducing sexual pleasure. Obviously it didn't work, but that was the idea. Everyone knows that the Jews were commanded to circumcise, but unless I am much mistaken circumcision predates Judaism, and the origin of it really isn't known.

February 16, 2010 - 8:28pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I prefer the term natural instead of uncircumcised - uncircumcised sounds like there is something missing or unfinished. The ultimate is to be whole or natural. Until I met my current boyfriend, I always had to use some form of lube when having sex. Because he's natural(intact foreskin), his penis has a natural lubricant that allows him to glide in me without chafing or irritating sensitive tissue.
Mother nature knew what she was doing, when she design the male genitalia. Unfortunately, the pro-circumcisers don't know what they are doing and don't know what they are destroying, when they remove the male foreskin.

February 15, 2010 - 11:36am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

"The science is clear: there is NO DIFFERENCE in sexual pleasure for men or women regarding circumcision. "

I beg to differ. I have never experienced sexual pleasure in my life until I used a cone to hold the skin to my glans. The longer I stick with that the better it feels when I do anything. You show me any study showing no difference, I can counter with another study showing a large difference.

"Home techniques to re-create the foreskin do NOT work"
I have personally seen this work on several guys, and have heard testimonials from thousands more that is has worked and they have regained an amazing amount of pleasure.

"The World Health Organization also endorses circumcision as a PROVEN way to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS."
WHO is the only one. No other medical association in the world endorses the procedure. AAP is the most widely quoted in the US and it has never recommended it. I also have two problems with the proven thing. One science doesn't prove anything. Science proposes a hypothesis and scientists try and disprove the hypothesis. The longer the hypothesis stands the stronger it is, but it is never proven.

The other problem I have is the evidence is circumstantial at best if you look at the raw data. The circumcised group was told to wait for 6 months while they recover while the intact group went off and resumed their lives. Guess what? The intact group got a head start. By the end of the study intact and circumcised males were getting HIV in similar numbers, and the last couple of months more circumcised males got HIV than intact males. The researchers concluded the project a major success and ended the project early. Kinda like they wanted those results huh?

What we are really after is the relationship between circumcision and the lifetime risk of HIV/AIDS. Another study was conducted in New Zealand which simply gathered circumcision status and tested for HIV. When corrected for age, economic differences etc, there was no statistically significant difference between circumcised and intact.

Also just for a parting shot. If you want me to I can show you several studies showing how female circumcision lowers HIV rates. I'm assuming that's completely different though.

February 12, 2010 - 12:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This article is simply wrong, wrong, wrong.
The science is clear: there is NO DIFFERENCE in sexual pleasure for men or women regarding circumcision. Almost every circumcised man (and his partner) is satisfied with their circumcision, and almost every uncircumcised man (and his partner) is satisfied with their lack of circumcision.
Circumcised penises do NOT lose sensitivity over time.
Home techniques to re-create the foreskin do NOT work, and can be dangerous.
The World Health Organization also endorses circumcision as a PROVEN way to reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS.

February 12, 2010 - 11:46am
buffydaddy (reply to Anonymous)

Bravo, someone understands epidemiology. If you study the epidemiology of penile cancers, they also generally describe the disease associated with uncircumcised men. See this link, from no other than the "American Cancer Society." http://www.cancer.org/docroot/cri/content/cri_2_4_2x_what_are_the_risk_f... (Hopefully this is a credible source for the writer and readers). It is also more than coincidental that cervical cancers are found much less commonly in the wives of Jewish men. To be more accurate, I have never condoned circumcision for all "comers." Chronic phimosis, chronic infection and ulcerations of the foreskin, HPV of the foreskin, and any mucosal skin area for that matter breeds further contagious disease.These patients that fail to respond to mainstream therapy are indeed good and sensible candidates for elective circumcision to protect their health and inevitably the health of their partner. Lastly, no academician would ever assert that dryness of the vagina comes from too much friction from circumcized men. There are too many more reasons gynecologically to explain that. Ask your own gyn for this info. Dr. Buffman (not Buffington).

March 17, 2010 - 11:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to buffydaddy)

Buffy Daddy: That is no longer true. Penile cancers are associated with the HPV virus and it does not discriminate. It is estimated that 70% of American men and women have been infected with the HPV virus, the same infection rate you would expect of any highly virulent asymptomatic infectious pathogen. It is clear from the Great American Circumcision Experiment that circumcision has provided no protection from this virus.

The study about Jews is also specious and was discredited about 3 decades ago. Jews are insular by nature and because of this insularity, can not be compared to other populations.

99% of phimosis cases can be resolved by gentle stretching exercises over a period of a few weeks with no surgical intervention required. Given a prevalence of about 1% for phimosis and a non-surgical remedy rate, only about 1 in 1,000 men would benefit from infant circumcision. It is also suspected that many cases of phimosis are actually caused by doctors advice to mothers to retract the foreskin of infants for cleaning thereby damaging the preputial sphincter. The AAP now recommends against this practice so the incidence of phimosis should decline even further. Surgery to prevent this rare condition is over kill as the risks of the procedure are much higher. A recent survey found that for every dollar spent on infant circumcision, another 48 cents are spent to address the complications.

The cause of the cronic infections are the same exact bacterials, virals and fungals that affect females. It is a simple scientific fact that these pathogens can not discern or discriminate between male and female cells and the same medications used to resolve these infections are equally effective in male use. The difference is that male circumcision as a treatment is socially acceptable and female circumcision is not. Physicians will not even use the simplest of diagnosis tools at their disposal to accurately diagnose these infections for treatment. They just instantly jump to a Rx of circumcision.

The mucosal areas of the foreskin exude two enzymes, langerin and lysozime that are an essential part of the immune system eliminating diseases in the vast majority of males and females. While circumcision could have a benefit if it were not for these enzymes, it also nullifies their effectiveness resulting in a sum zero effect

Dryness of the vagina can be caused by male circumcision especially in older women. The corona of the circumcised penis acts like a squeegee pulling vaginal fluids from the vagina and the penile sheath moving in and out also pulls lubrication. Conversely, the sheath of the natural penis moves up and down the shaft of the penis during coitus and essentially "sticks" to the vaginal sphincter creating an effective seal and dam keeping the vaginal fluids in the vagina.

It is also expected that this dryness and the resulting excessive friction is the primary contributing factor in female arousal disorder, a condition that can make sexual relations painful or even impossible for post menopausal women.

March 18, 2010 - 9:57am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

this makes so much sense - it would be interesting to have some stats relating to the proportionate amount of circumcized men and their reports of dry vagina's. I would bet that it would be significant, (in that those women who sleep with intact men, are those without all this dry vagina prob). For me , I can't imagine being dry, I've always had a very high sex drive and also always been extremely wet.

December 15, 2012 - 3:41pm
buffydaddy (reply to Anonymous)

Oh Anonymous, where do you get your facts exactly? At least you should cite some credible sources so that we may verify and compare facts. Are you disputing statements from the American Cancer Society?? Oh and by the way, religious bigotry has no place here, as far as I know,that is, if you were implying that Jews are "narrow minded." And once again, you got this jewel from where???

Anonymous, I wasn't implying that only uncircumcised males can contract penile cancer, but the statistics overwhelmingly point to the fact that uncircumcised men are greatly more affected than those men circumcised. IF you can accept the argument for a moment, that HPV is still the leading cause of cervical cancer, then, why would you suppose that Jewish wives of circumcised husbands rarely contract cervical cancer??? I am curious where you contrived or retrieved your statistics on , "99% of phimosis can be resolved with simple stretching." Please provide me with the exact source.

And what about diabetic men with severe phimosis, are they too remedied by "simple stretching of the skin?" Anonymous, with regards to your statement regarding dryness of the mature female vagina, ("Dryness of the vagina can be caused by male circumcision especially in older women." "The corona of the circumcised penis acts like a squeegee pulling vaginal fluids from the vagina and the penile sheath moving in and out also pulls lubrication. Conversely, the sheath of the natural penis moves up and down the shaft of the penis during coitus and essentially "sticks" to the vaginal sphincter creating an effective seal and dam keeping vaginal fluids in the vagina." ) From what outer space resource did you glean this information? Actually the major source of dryness in postmenopausal women is insufficient hormonal levels and atrophy of the tissues with attended dyspareunia. Squeegy effect?? Oh, come on now, let's get real !! I don't think that even the most amateurish window cleaner would buy that one !

March 18, 2010 - 9:58pm
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

Improved

1548 Health

Changed

572 Lives

Saved

427 Lives
1 lives impacted in the last 24 hrs Learn More

Take Our Featured Health Poll

Do you think sex gets better as you age? :
View Results