While it’s commonly believed that a majority of Australian men might be circumcised, the gap between uncircumcised men and circumcised men is smaller than you’d think. In fact, a 2010 CDC study showed that in 2007, 55.4 per cent of newborn male babies left the hospital circumcised — a 10 per cent difference than in 1979 when that percentage was 64.9 per cent.
But why is foreskin still so stigmatized? Here, four anonymous men explain what it’s really like to be uncircumcised.
How old are you?
Man 1: Thirty-one.
Man 2: Twenty-six.
Man 3: Twenty-nine.
Man 4: Thirty-one.
In general, how do you feel about being uncircumcised?
Man 1: Very positive. I've never really had any misgivings or concerns about it. I've never felt embarrassed or ‘other.’ It doesn't often come up in conversation, but when it has even other guys haven't had much to say beyond ‘Oh, that's weird.’ But for me, it's not weird, it's normal.
Man 2: Honestly it's not something you think about day to day or at all until someone brings it up. My parents never made the decision to snip and I feel like it’s been a blessing because i have more sensitivity down there.
Man 3: I love it.
Man 4: I feel fine about. I didn't know the difference until I was about 14. I always wondered why porn penises looked different.
How do you think sex might be different if you were circumcised?
Man 1: It's hard to imagine how it would be better. There are a lot of nerve endings in the foreskin, so [I have] a lot of sensation. I feel like I'd be missing out on something if I were circumcised.
Man 2: From what I hear, one doesn't have the sensory endings once the skin is snipped, so I guess I might not feel as much. Another aspect I hear is that it feels better for the girl when the guy is uncircumcised, so maybe girls wouldn't enjoy it as much. With all this said however, I do remember from sex-ed, that the brain is the most important aspect of sex — so I keep that in mind as well!
Man 3: Oral sex definitely wouldn't feel as good. Being uncircumcised makes the head of my penis really sensitive to any kind of stimulation.
Man 4: I've thought about that and I honestly don't think it would be different at all. I just make sure to pull it back before putting a condom on so it won't break.
How do your partners usually react when they find out you’re uncircumcised?
Man 1: Fortunately, I haven't had any negative reactions. Most have either been neutral or excited.
Man 2: There has never been any shock value or hesitation once they find out — and to be perfectly honest, I don’t have a lot of extra skin down there, so it’s "neat" in that sense. Also I have never prefaced any sexual interaction with a heads up about being not being circumcised — there's other stuff to worry about.
Man 3: They usually find out because I tell them after the fact. They're pretty shocked because, unless I point it out, they don’t really realize it on their own.
Man 4: Most don’t know the difference. When you get hard, it pulls back usually anyway, if not, I do it myself. I once dated a girl and after two years she said how she hated uncircumcised penis and thought they were gross and was so happy I was cut....and she wasn't dumb by any means. If you take care of yourself it's not a big deal at all, and most women won't notice.
What’s the best reaction you’ve ever gotten from a partner about being uncircumcised?
Man 1: Probably from my current partner who actually prefers uncircumcised [guys]. She was pleasantly surprised when she found out, so that was definitely something that reinforced my feeling that there's nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, she's even brought it up a few times over the years that she's glad about it.
Man 2: I guess there have been a couple double takes here and there like - Oh, well this looks different — but at that point you’re too enthralled to care.
Man 3: A girl asked me if she could play with it...and then proceeded to play with it for a few minutes like she'd never seen a penis before.
Man 4: [The woman who didn’t know, mentioned above, was the best reaction] She had no idea I wasn't and was so embarrassed. She had a preconceived notion about them being gross and after two years, hadn't noticed I wasn't. It totally changed her opinion, obviously.
Given that most guys here are circumcised, have you ever had a partner react negatively or surprised?
Man 1: Surprised, sure. It is unusual in a statistical sense. But luckily I've never had a partner scoff or turn me down because of it.
Man 2: Never negatively, but surprised, yes.
Man 3: Every woman I've ever been with has been pretty surprised, but in a good way. There's like this sense of wonder that comes with knowing there's this new kind of penis out there that they've never seen before.
Man 4: Definitely surprised, as mentioned above. Besides her it has never been brought up once and I've never noticed even the slightest reaction or hesitation.
Have you ever considered adult circumcision?
Man 1: No. Absolutely not. I can't see any possible upside to it.
Man 2: No way. Absolutely not.
Man 3: Absolutely not.
Man 4: No. If it ever caused a medical issue I would obviously consider it and take a doctor’s recommendation. Besides that I see absolutely no reason to get it done.
If you have sons, would you want to circumcise them?
Man 1: No. My partner and I are fortunately on the same page about this. We see no reason to make such an irreversible decision for a child —especially when I don't see any benefits.
Man 2: No, they can make the decision if they want later in life. It just seems unnecessary.
Man 3: I'm up in the air about it. On one hand, I'd like to spare them the confusion of realizing that their penis looks different from other penises. I thought I was a freak the first time I watched porn and saw what another dude's dick looked like. On the other hand, I'd want it to be something they decide to do on their own. Also I've heard horror stories about botched circumcisions. I don't think I'd ever be able to forgive my parents if they decided to have me circumcised and I wound up with a raggedy-looking penis as a result.
Man 4: I would not have them circumcised.
What advice do you have for a woman who has started hooking up with an uncircumcised guy for the first time?
Man 1: Once erect, it's essentially the same; it just looks slightly different. It works the same way, does all the same things, and I'd assume feels about the same. There's really no reason to think sex will be much different or even different at all just because someone is or isn't circumcised. And who knows, maybe it does feel better for the woman as well, but you'll never know until you try it.
Man 2: Make sure they clean their junk and peel back the extra skin while doing so — seriously, it can get gross down there.
Man 3: Just don't freak out about it. You wouldn't like it if a guy got all weird after seeing your vagina, so don't do that to him after looking at his penis. Ask him to show you how it works, what's different about it, and then see if he lets you mess around with it. Seriously. Obviously every penis is unique, but an uncircumcised penis has additional features that need to be accounted for.
Man 4: If the guy takes care of himself there should be no issues whatsoever... You probably won't even notice. One thing I've noticed is sometimes a woman will pull back way too hard and it hurts... But that probably hurts circumcised guys too. If there are issues with cleanliness just get him to take better care of himself. I shouldn't have to say it but wash yourself! Tell him to pull it back when he pees, and if necessary clean with toilet paper after. You can even leave it pulled back most of the day.
What’s a misconception that you want to clear up about being uncircumcised?
Man 1: I always read articles that suggest an uncircumcised guy has to be extra diligent about cleaning himself to avoid infection and I just think, ‘Wait, do circumcised guys not clean their junk when they shower?’ I've never had any issues with cleanliness because I wash my whole body when I bathe. I don't know how other men go about showering, but for me that includes my penis. I'm not sure where this myth about foreskins getting extra dirty comes from, but it definitely has not been my experience.
Man 2: I didn't realize there were misconceptions out there about being uncircumcised...time to see what the internet has to say...
Man 3: Being uncircumcised isn't what gives you a dirty dick. Poor hygiene is. As long as you're careful about washing it everyday you'll be alright.
Man 4: That it's gross and dirty. It would only be that way if the guy neglects hygiene in general.
Answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
This article originally appeared on Men's Health.