Circumcised vs. uncircumcised: What's the difference?

By: Medically reviewed by Karen Richardson Gill, MD, FAAP, specialty in pediatrics, on July 10, 2019 — Written by Beth Sissons
Source: Medical News Today

Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes the foreskin of the penis. In an uncircumcised penis, the foreskin remains. The main differences include appearance and hygiene practices.

People may have a circumcision for many different reasons, including:

religious reasons, such as if a person follows the Jewish or Muslim faith
cultural reasons
a family history of circumcision, so a person may decide to continue the tradition
personal preference
for health reasons, such as if a person is prone to frequent foreskin infections
One 2016 study estimated that 37–39% of males across the world have a circumcision. The researchers estimated that 71.2% of males in the United States have a circumcision.

According to the American Urological Association, the areas of the world with the highest rates of circumcision are:

the Middle East
South Korea
the U.S.
The lowest rates of circumcision are in Europe, Latin America, and most of Asia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S., rates of circumcision among newborn males decreased by around 10% between 1979 and 2010.6

An uncircumcised penis retains the foreskin, which covers the head of a nonerect penis. When the penis is erect, the foreskin pulls back to reveal the glans.

A circumcised penis has no foreskin, which exposes the glans when the penis is both erect and nonerect.

Effects on sex
Studies have been inconclusive regarding penile sensitivity in uncircumcised and circumcised males.
Scientific studies have produced conflicting reports on the effect of circumcision on sex.

For example, one 2013 study looked at the sexual sensations of 1,059 uncircumcised males and 310 circumcised males. The group of circumcised males reported lower rates of sensitivity in the glans than the uncircumcised males.

A 2013 review looked at studies into the effect of male circumcision on sexual function and enjoyment. The review found that in the most accurate studies, circumcision had no negative effects on sexual function, sensitivity, pain, or pleasure during sexual intercourse.

However, one 2012 study found that there was not enough scientific evidence in some previous research to suggest that circumcision affects sexual function. The study concluded that circumcision has no negative long-term impact on sexual function.

A 2016 study compared the penis sensitivity of 30 circumcised males with that of 32 uncircumcised males ages 18–37. The study found that there was minimal difference between penile sensitivity in the uncircumcised and circumcised males

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