4 uncircumcised penis myths we need to stop believing

Let's put the stigma to rest once and for all, yeah?

4 uncircumcised penis myths we need to stop believing

Between bonneted and intact, uncut and unclipped, there are tons of slang terms for uncircumcised penises—ones that haven’t had the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis surgically removed. Unfortch, if your partner isn’t circumcised (or you, yourself, aren’t), you’ve probably heard more myths about uncircumcised penises than nicknames for them. Heck, even if you’ve never even come into contact with an uncut pecker, you've probably heard lies that say they’re “less clean” than circumcised ones, for example.

But the truth about uncircumcised penises is pretty anticlimactic in that they’re totally just...regular penises. As Hello Cake’s senior medical advisor Justin Houman, MD, a board-certified urologist who specializes in sexual health, infertility, and erectile dysfunction puts it, "both circumcised and uncircumcised penises can be healthy and function well sexually,” so long as their owners employ proper hygiene, practice safer sex, and receive regular medical check-ups, that is. Among other things, that means if you’re getting it on with someone with an uncircumcised penis, you’re at no greater risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection or coming down with a UTI in the aftermath than if you’d slept with someone circumcised.

It's time, once and for all, to put the rumors about this slight anatomical deviation to sleep for good, so we created this myth-busting guide to uncircumcised peens with the help of urologists and sexual health specialists. Here’s what they had to say.

Myth: Uncircumcised Penises Are Less "Clean" Than Circumcised Ones

A person's regular hygiene practice (or absence of) is the best indicator of cleanliness—not whether or not their penis is uncircumcised, says board-certified physical medicine specialist Dr. Michael Meighen, MD, author of A New You. “Both circumcised and uncircumcised folks need to regularly clean their genitals to prevent infection and odor.”

This myth exists because cleaning an uncircumcised penis requires a smidge more savvy compared to a circumcised one. “People with uncircumcised penises need to gently retract their foreskin and clean under it with mild soap and water to help avoid smegma build-up,” he explains. (Smegma is basically cheesy-looking genital discharge, and people with vaginas can get it, too.)

Sure, peeps with hat-free hardware may not have to take the extra, half-second step of retracting their foreskin while scrub-a-dubbing. But they do still need to clean their willies to prevent dead-skin, dirt, and bacteria build-up.

When not taking the proper hygiene steps, the penis-owner may notice that their phallus feels irritated, itchy, or inflamed. “They might also notice they are releasing abnormal discharge, pus, or foul-smelling substances, which can signal infection or poor hygiene,” says Dr. Meighen. Meanwhile, their sexual partner(s) may observe unpleasant odor, redness, abnormal discharge, or visible debris, residue, or smegma build-up.

Myth: You’re More Likely To Contract an STI From Someone With an Uncircumcised Penis

Fact: Anyone can transmit an STI if they currently have an STI and you have sex—and that stands regardless of what their penis looks like.

An STI can be transmitted when one pleasure-seeker makes skin-to-skin contact with and/or is exposed to the bodily fluids of a person with a current infection, explains sexual medicine specialist Joshua Gonzalez, MD, a sexual health advisor with Marius Pharmaceuticals, a health organization helping people achieve healthy testosterone levels. FYI: Vaginal intercourse isn’t the only kind of sex that can result in STI spread. Oral, anal, hand, and other genital-on-genital touching can, too, he says.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky: A few studies suggest that people who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk of contracting either HPV or HIV if they come into contact with the viruses, notes Dr. Meighen. But that doesn’t mean that being (or getting) circumcised is a substitute for safe sex practices—it isn’t! Being cut doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of contracting HPV or HIV—transmission is still possible! Plus,“being circumcised doesn’t protect an individual from other STIs like herpes (HSV), gonorrhea, chlamydia, or syphilis,” he says.

The truth? Your and/or your potential partner’s circumcision status should not be the thing that impacts whether or not you practice safer sex. Your and/or your partner’s current STI status is.

So, irrespective of your or their circumcision status, Dr. Meighen suggests talking openly with current and future partners about your STI statuses, getting tested regularly, and consistently using condoms (and other barriers) with lovers whose current STI status you don’t know, as well as those who are positive.

Getting the HPV vaccine is crucial to help reduce the risk of HPV infection, as well as protect against mouth, throat, head and neck cancers caused by HPV, adds Dr. Gonzalez. And anyone who may be at risk for HIV transmission should talk to their provider about PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, he says. (ICYDK: PrEP is a medication that can be taken by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of contracting HIV if they are exposed to the virus.)

Myth: You're More Likely to Get a UTI From Someone With an Uncircumcised Penis

You might be tempted to blame the oh-so-burny symptoms associated with a urinary tract infection (UTI) on your uncut companion, but you’re just as likely to get the teeth-gritting infection from a circumcised partner.

Dr. Meighen explains: UTIs can occur anytime foreign bacteria get the opportunity to enter the urinary tract (through the urethra). Most commonly, these uncomfortable infections happen when the bacteria that naturally lives in and around the bum get brought to the front, usually as a result of back-to-front wiping or banging, he says.

Occasionally, the bacteria are carried to your body from the genitals of the person you’re having sex with, where they ultimately migrate to your urethra. (Field trip!) That’s why, while UTIs are not STIs, people who have sex are at a heightened risk for UTIs compared to people who are celibate.

But the circumcision status of your bedmate does not impact the likelihood that they will introduce infection-causing particles to your intimate parts, says Dr. Meighen. “Bacteria is the culprit of UTIs,” he says. And, again, an individual's cleaning protocols pose the greatest influence on the presence (or absence) of bacteria, not whether or not they’re circumcised.

That said, testing positive for a UTI after going to Pound Town with someone does not mean that their genitals weren’t clean. Again, it’s possible your own poop particles just got pulled into your vagina.

To reduce the risk of getting a UTI, Dr. Meighen recommends “staying hydrated, urinating after sex, wiping front to back, and using fragrant-free washes.” Taking a cranberry supplement may also help reduce the risk of a UTI, as cranberry contains a compound (called xyloglucan oligosaccharides) that has been shown to keep bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, he says.

Oh, and if you do start to experience the tell-tale symptoms of a UTI (pain and burning while urinating, the frequent need to pee, and incomplete emptying), seek prompt medical attention for diagnosis and treatment, he says. Left untreated, a UTI can travel up the urinary tract and become a kidney infection, which ultimately puts you at risk for blood infection and sepsis. No thanks!

Myth: Uncircumcised People Are Less Likely to Have Erectile Dysfunction

Warning: We are entering highly contentious territory! The relationship between circumcision (or not) and erectile dysfunction (ED)—defined as the persistent inability to get and maintain an erection—has been a subject of study, says Dr. Meighen. “But the results have not been not conclusive, and the topic remains somewhat controversial,” he says.

One study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicates that uncircumcised folks may have a slightly lower risk of erectile dysfunction. Meanwhile, another published in Sexual Medicine found the opposite: that being circumcised might slightly lower the risk of erectile dysfunction and even improve sexual satisfaction.

Dr. Meighen says that the findings of these (and similar) studies should not be taken as proof in either direction. Various factors influence sexual function, and no clear link has been established between circumcision status and sexual function, he explains.

Being circumcised (or not) might affect how men perceive their body image, which could consequently affect their sexual life, note other researchers. But given that different populations have different attitudes towards the procedure, it is essential to consider the communities or social environments where research participants are from before making definite claims.

All and all, most experts agree that there is no link between circumcision and erectile dysfunction. “There are other complex factors that contribute to erectile dysfunction, including vascular and heart health, psychological factors, and overall health,” says Dr. Houman. Indeed, hormone imbalances (like low testosterone), depression, anxiety, diabetes, and surgery can all cause ED.

Given that ED is a common side-effect of other mental and physical health conditions, if you’re experiencing any erectile changes, Dr. Houman suggests talking to your healthcare provider. Depending on the underlying cause, they may be able to help you solve the issue with medication or lifestyle changes, he says.

In sum, penile cleanliness and sexual function satisfaction are influenced by a wide range of factors, but circumcision status just isn’t one of them! So, whether your peen is snipped or un-snipped, go grab those sexy gray sweats and start swaggering about with some BDE—or should we say UDE? 🔥

Credit: Cosmopolitan