Circumcision is an operation to remove the foreskin of the penis. This may be performed in both younger or older men if they are experiencing problems with their foreskin.
Why might I need a circumcision?
A circumcision may be recommended in men of any age who are experiencing problems with their foreskin. This may include problems such as:
- A tight foreskin that cannot be retracted (phimosis)
- A foreskin that retracts but cannot be pulled back easily (paraphimosis)
- Recurrent infections under the foreskin (balanitis)
- A chronically inflamed foreskin (balanitis xerotica obliterans or BXO)
- Tearing of the foreskin or pain during sexual activity
What are the benefits of circumcision?
Aside from fixing the problems caused by a tight, infected or inflamed foreskin, circumcision offers some additional benefits:
- Hygiene – the penis is easy to clean
- Prevents infections under the foreskin (balanitis)
- Lower risk of HIV transmission during sexual activity
- Lower risk of developing cancer of the penis
What are the downsides to circumcision?
The main drawback of circumcision is that some men do not like the look or feel of their penis after the procedure. This is regardless of how good a job technically the circumcision was performed. It is very difficult to predict beforehand who will be satisfied or dissatisfied after the procedure. Because of this, we would only recommend circumcision when the degree of trouble caused by an abnormal foreskin outweighs the risk of dissatisfaction with the end result. We do not advocate circumcision for healthy foreskins unless there is a specific cultural or religious reason for doing so.
Will sex feel different after circumcision?
The head of the penis (glans) may be more sensitive after circumcision which can change the feel during sexual activity. Whether this is a good or bad thing varies greatly between different men. Over time, men get used to this and sexual function is rarely a problem in the long term.
How is circumcision performed?
Circumcision may be performed under either a local or general anaesthetic. Most men will opt for a general anaesthetic as this is more comfortable. An incision is made around the circumference of the penis, just behind the head. The foreskin is removed and the skin of the shaft of the penis is stitched back into place. Dissolving stitches are used which will fall out after about a week. Almost all men go home the same day with simple painkillers.
What will my penis look like after the operation?
There is typically some swelling in the days immediately after the procedure. While this may look a little ugly, rest assured this will settle down and look quite different once it has healed up. Wound complications such as breakdown or infection are quite rare.
How soon after the operation can I have sex?
This will probably be fairly obvious once the swelling has resolved and the penis feels normal again, with erections no longer uncomfortable. This generally takes around six weeks.