What to Know About Adult Circumcision

Circumcision refers to a surgical procedure aimed at removing the foreskin of the penis. There are various reasons why adults may opt for this operation, including religious, cosmetic, medical, or cultural considerations.

In the United States, circumcision is quite prevalent, with research suggesting that approximately 71.2% (according to a Trusted Source) of males have undergone the procedure.

Certain health authorities, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), advocate for circumcision due to its potential to lower the risk of HIV infection through vaginal sex. Nevertheless, there is ongoing discussion regarding the advantages of circumcision.

Some individuals with an uncircumcised penis may choose to undergo the procedure later in life. It’s important to note that in adulthood, the process becomes more complex compared to infants, and the recovery period is typically longer.

What is a Circumcision?

1. Circumcision is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the foreskin, which is the loose skin covering the head of the penis. This procedure is most commonly performed on newborn infants.

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Urological Association recommend that doctors present circumcision as an option to parents or caregivers and discuss the potential risks and benefits associated with the procedure.

3. Circumcision during adulthood is less frequent. Adult individuals with uncircumcised penises have the autonomy to make their own decisions regarding whether they want to undergo the procedure. While some may choose circumcision for reasons such as aesthetics, hygiene, or religious beliefs, others may require circumcision for various health-related concerns.

Purported Benefits

Rarely is circumcision necessary for medical conditions, but it can help alleviate certain symptoms by reducing their severity and frequency.

Adults may consider circumcision for the following reasons:

Lower Risk of Certain illnesses

Circumcision has been associated with potential risk reduction for penile cancer, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, it’s important to note that studies focusing on risk reduction have generally examined populations as a whole rather than individual cases.

Personal, Cultural, or Religious Reasons

Circumcision is influenced by various cultures and religions that have hygiene guidelines suggesting or mandating the procedure. Consequently, individuals who convert to a new religion may contemplate undergoing circumcision to adhere to these practices.

Moreover, personal preference regarding the aesthetic appearance of a circumcised penis can also motivate individuals to choose circumcision.

Phimosis and Paraphimosis

Phimosis refers to the condition where the foreskin becomes excessively tight, making it difficult or impossible to retract it over the head of the penis. Similarly, paraphimosis occurs when the foreskin becomes trapped behind the tip of the penis after being pulled back.

Both of these conditions can cause discomfort, hinder sexual function, and increase the risk of developing harmful infections. Since they involve the foreskin, circumcision can be considered as a preventive measure to avoid the recurrence of these conditions.

In severe cases, paraphimosis can be a medical emergency, and circumcision may be necessary as a treatment option.

Posthitis and Balanoposthitis

Posthitis refers to the inflammation of the foreskin, whereas balanoposthitis involves inflammation of both the foreskin and the head of the penis. Studies indicate that balanoposthitis affects approximately 6% of males who are uncircumcised.

In cases where individuals experience recurring episodes of either condition and find that the symptoms persist despite treatment or self-care approaches, circumcision may be a viable consideration.


In situations where the foreskin tears during sexual activity or as a result of an accident, some individuals may choose to undergo surgery to have it removed. This approach may be considered more convenient or preferable compared to attempting to repair the torn foreskin.


In most cases, the surgical procedure itself does not lead to significant complications, according to trusted sources. However, it is important to note that the recovery process can be painful, and some individuals may experience anxiety or fear related to the surgery. Potential risks associated with circumcision include:

1. Excessive bleeding: There is a possibility that some individuals may experience more bleeding than normal during the procedure. Additionally, they may notice bleeding around the incision site for a few hours or days following the surgery.

2. Infection: Any skin injury can create an opportunity for bacteria to grow. During circumcision, a wound is created, which can become infected. Adhering to the post-surgical care instructions provided by a doctor can help minimize the risk of infection.

3. Anesthesia complications: As with any surgical procedure, there can be risks associated with anesthesia, such as allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, or difficulty awakening from general anesthesia.

4. Pain: It is normal to experience pain after the circumcision procedure. For some individuals, the pain can be intense or persist for several weeks or months. In rare cases, injuries to the penis or surrounding nerves may result in chronic pain or cause discomfort during sexual activity.


Following a circumcision procedure, the recovery process involves several key aspects:

1. Dressing and Pain Management: After the surgery, a doctor will apply a dressing to the surgical site, typically remaining in place for around 2 days. They may also prescribe pain medication to manage discomfort during the healing process.

2. Swelling and Bruising: It is common for individuals to experience swelling and bruising in the days following the procedure. These symptoms usually subside gradually over several days.

3. Rest and Healing: It is important to allow ample time for rest and proper healing. Engaging in activities that may irritate or strain the surgical area should be avoided during this period.

4. Follow-up Care: A doctor will provide instructions for post-operative care, including wound care and hygiene practices. It is crucial to adhere to these instructions to minimize the risk of complications and promote healing.

5. Recovery Duration: The complete recovery time can vary among individuals. While the initial healing may occur within a few weeks, it may take several months for the area to fully heal and for any residual discomfort to resolve.


Recovering from an adult circumcision typically requires a period of up to 6 weeks. During the initial 2 weeks, the penis may feel highly sensitive, and dissolvable stitches may remain in place for 2-3 weeks. To promote healing, it is recommended to keep the area dry for the first 48 hours and refrain from swimming for approximately 2 weeks.

During the first few days following the procedure, it is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothing. Sexual activity should be avoided for a period of 4 weeks, as it is common to experience pain during erections while in the recovery phase.

To alleviate itching and pain, applying petroleum jelly can be beneficial. It can also help prevent stitches from sticking to clothing. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be used to manage any discomfort experienced during the recovery period.

It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and individuals should consult their healthcare provider for personalized advice on post-operative care and pain management after adult circumcision.


Adults may opt for circumcision due to various reasons such as religious, cosmetic, medical, or cultural considerations. While circumcision is typically a straightforward procedure, it becomes more complex when performed on adults compared to infants, and the recovery period is usually longer.

It is crucial for anyone contemplating circumcision to have a discussion with a doctor or urologist. Consulting a healthcare professional will provide personalized guidance, address any concerns, and ensure that the decision aligns with individual circumstances and needs.

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