The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently proposed advising circumcision for adult men because, they report, it can reduce HIV transmission up to 60%, HPV up to 30%, and genital herpes up to 45%. (The foreskin provides a better environment for pathogens to flourish, increasing the chance of transmission.) Since the new CDC proposal, which asks doctors to discuss the procedure with their uncircumcised patients, was submitted for a “public comment” period, it’s received a largely negative response. The main argument? A condom provides better protection. Even the CDC’s own fact sheet on condoms states: “Laboratory studies [show] that latex condoms provide an essentially impermeable barrier to particles the size of STD pathogens.” Bottom line, gentlemen, you can keep or remove that skin glove, but the latex one should always stay on.
When men choose circumcision later in life, it’s rarely for health reasons, says Jean-Francois Eid, M.D., a renowned urologist who performs the procedure. “They just feel the penis will look nicer circumcised.” (Most U.S. men—65%—get the clip job done shortly after birth.)
If you’re considering the procedure, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind. First, while the operation’s relatively painless (even during recovery) and lasts just a couple hours, the decision on how much skin to remove is “a bit of a guessing game,” says Eid; the same applies to infant circumcision. For adults, the only way to tell is to medically induce an erection (we’ll spare you the medical details).
But more worrying, a loss in sexual sensitivity is a real possibility, says Eid, as removing the foreskin exposes the sensitive skin on the penis gland, which then rubs against underwear and pants, thickening the skin.