‘Should I Get Circumcised as an Adult?’ — Ask Dr. Harry Fisch
Lewis is 22 years old but isn’t circumcised—which is the removal of the foreskin of the penis. He says the woman he’s with doesn’t like the look of his penis as it is, and he’s wondering if it’s too late to have the operation.
Dr. Harry Fisch’s Advice:
This raises a great issue. Ten years ago, I would have said no—the risks of surgery don’t warrant the operation for purely cosmetic reasons. But recent studies have shown that, in fact, circumcision can help lower the risk of many serious infections.
Men who are circumcised have a much lower chance of getting HIV, a 35% lower chance of getting human papilloma virus and about a 30% lowered risk of getting herpes. As a matter of fact, in Africa they are recommending men get circumcised to help avoid HIV transmission.
The reason circumcision can make such a difference in your health is simple. Here’s how it works: in uncircumcised men, the foreskin covers and protects the tip of the penis, which makes the skin there more delicate and prone to microscopic abrasions and infections. When you get circumcised, your penis undergoes a process called keratinization, where the top layer of the inner foreskin becomes thicker. This provides additional protection during sex. So, the best way to deal with the potential of getting an infection here is by getting rid of the foreskin entirely.
My recommendation is to get the operation. The risk of complications during surgery is very low, but the potential benefits are quite high. And if the women in your life don’t happen like the look of your penis right now, that’s just one more reason to get the operation done.
The surgery itself is not very painful, but full disclosure, during the weeks that follow you’re not supposed to have an erection or have sex while the stitches heal. It’s definitely easier to have the surgery done when you’re an infant, but in your case, it’ll be worth the effort.
Dr. Harry Fisch is a board certified urologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Medical College of Cornell University.