It’s not unusual if you’ve never encountered an uncircumcised penis here in the states. Even though circumcision seems to be the norm in the U.S., around the world, two thirds of men are not. And even in the U.S., circumcision rates are dropping with time. A CDC report from 2013 said that male circumcision rates had dropped from 64.5 percent in 1979 to 58.3 percent in 2010.
If you’re hooking up with someone who is uncut for the first time, you might have some questions. Should you do anything differently? Will it feel the same? Here, six guys open up about what they wish their partners knew about their uncut penises.
1. He might not be insecure or self-conscious of it at all.
Just because uncut dudes are rarer, doesn’t mean that their uncut status is something shameful or a source of insecurity for them. “I think for some uncircumcised men, it has just never been any kind of problem in terms of anxiety ahead of time, or how things go once you’re with somebody,” says Harry*, 39. He also adds that any reaction people have given him regarding his uncircumcised penis has been neutral or better. Cultural context is also important. While circumcision might be the default in the US, being uncut is the default in many other countries. “I was raised to think about [my lack of circumcision] as a good and natural thing (maybe unfairly to circumcised men), so it just always seemed fine.” he adds.
2. Handjobs might be easier.
With the foreskin still intact, you don’t need as much lube to pull off a handy as you would with a dude who is cut. As long as your hands are on the foreskin and rolling it back and forth over the shaft and head of his penis, the foreskin can act as a sort of alternative to lube in terms of protecting his penis.
3. You might have to experiment more with condom positioning.
While it’s a matter of personal preference for the guy if he prefers to wear condoms with his foreskin pulled back, or with the condom over his foreskin, either way is fine. Talk to your guy and see if he has a preference, and see if he’s tried it both ways before. “For me, it took a few rounds to figure out that I like to pull my foreskin back under the condom,” says Harry.
4. If you like how someone’s uncircumcised penis looks and feels, say so.
Given the prevalence of circumcision, some uncircumcised men may feel insecure. “Being uncircumcised in today’s age was certainly a source of insecurity,” Henry, 27, tells Cosmopolitan.com. “However, my natural penis has never held me back and I have come to appreciate my turtlenecked apparatus… Reassurance from a sexual partner regarding any insecurity can go a long way.”
If you’re having fun with someone’s uncircumcised penis, tell them. Some people report that they enjoy sex with an uncircumcised penis more than with an uncircumcised one, and positive feedback = never a bad thing, especially for guys who may feel like they’re in the minority.
5. He might be worried about what his friends think.
Henry expressed that while he’s open about not being circumcised with his partners, it’s a different story with his guy friends. “I never talk about it with other guys,” he says, and even though “guys talk about their dicks all the time … fear is absolutely a factor because being different is stigmatized.” So again, that reassurance can go a long way.
6. Uncircumcised penises are just as clean as circumcised penises if they’re, well, cleaned.
You may have heard of a little thing called smegma, the combo of fatty oils and dead skin cells that can accumulate between penis and foreskin (or between labia, for that matter). But it’s not as though this substance can’t be easily cleaned from a penis.
“Many people in the U.S. think [uncircumcised penises are] dirty or gross, but it’s really not as long as you bathe regularly, which I would hope most guys are doing anyways,” Danny, 21, tells me. “I would assume hygiene issues aren’t exclusive to men with foreskin,” Nate, 29, adds. “I think everyone should clean their genitals, especially if there’s a chance to receive oral.” So there you go. If his hair and fingernails aren’t covered in dirt, there’re good odds he takes care of his junk. If you see last week’s bacon, egg, and cheese still sitting in his car, however, run the other way.
7. Don’t stress about STIs if you’re taking the same safe-sex precautions as you should anyway.
“I wish my partners understood that it’s [my penis] not dirty … when you clean it and practice safe sex, which everyone should be doing,” Jack says. “I’ve actually been turned down for sex multiple times when my partners have seen that I’m uncircumcised, which is really disappointing since it’s usually based on misinformation.”
And while research does indicate that circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV transmission, in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics has concluded that newborn male circumcision’s health benefits aren’t great enough for the association to recommend it. Its official stance is that parents should decide. And if you and your uncircumcised partner are using a condom every time, you’re good to go.
8. Uncircumcised penises may be more sensitive in general.
“Sometimes you have to be more gentle with the head than you would be with a circumcised guy,” Danny says. “Usually, using the foreskin to slide up and down over the head feels much better than using your hand to rub on the head directly. Many guys find that to be too sensitive for them.”
Jack, 18, echoes that partners should be cautious in certain cases: “The only time it might be too sensitive is if you pull the skin back and rub on the head directly with your hand,” he says. “For me, that’s usually too sensitive and feels uncomfortable, so I usually prefer if my foreskin is played with instead.” And when in doubt about what does/doesn’t feel too sensitive, ask!
9. That said, the foreskin can also prevent stimulation in specific circumstances.
Further proof that no two penises are alike! In Nate’s opinion, “Keeping the foreskin back is very important if you’re stimulating the head. This is especially true if performing oral on one that may not be fully erect.”
Otherwise, the foreskin can act as a barrier, so don’t shy away from pulling it back if your partner wants you to. “The skin itself isn’t all that sensitive,” Nate says. “Just don’t pull on it really hard!”
10. You can have fun with an uncircumcised penis in different ways than a circumcised one.
“Things that might be different that feel good to an uncircumcised guy are sliding the skin up and down over the head during a hand job or oral, and licking the head, especially the underside, which is the most sensitive,” Danny says. “Pulling the foreskin up over the head and the partner sticking their tongue under it feels really good too.” New adventures!
11. It’s possible he has considered adult circumcision, but either way, it’s his choice.
Jake, 19, says, “When I was younger, I [considered it] but that was because I was insecure and made to think you should be circumcised. Now I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want anyone to.” Adds Harry, “asking somebody to surgically alter their body, and one that they likely have a lot of feelings about (for better or worse), isn’t something that should be taken lightly.” So basically, don’t ask him to undergo a major medical procedure because you’re unfamiliar with his dick. Not that you would, but still, just putting that out there.
12. Beware of phimosis.
Phimosis is the inability to retract the foreskin covering the penis. While babies are almost never born with completely retractable foreskins, they usually develop them by the time they’re teens if they’re not circumcised. Possible causes of phimosis in adulthood include infection, scarring, and inflammation, and the condition is pretty rare — but if you’re hooking up with someone who has it to any degree (or has other difficulty pulling back the foreskin), never force the foreskin back. “This is very painful for the guy and could actually cause the skin to tear, so definitely talk to the guy first and see what he likes,” Jack says. “It definitely depends on the guy.” The most important takeaway: Ask a guy with an uncircumcised penis what he’d like you to do with it — and then have fun with it. You may even find that you prefer it.