Circumcision isn’t just for babies. In Australia at least, it is becoming more common in adult men. This is one Australian man’s account of what to expect if you were thinking about going through with the procedure.
Talking about anything penis-related can be a touchy subject for men of all ages. Whether you’re worried about your penis size or worse, shrinkage, discussing anything below-the-belt is something men tend to avoid. So, what about circumcisions?
Cutting to the point, circumcision relates to the removal of the foreskin from the penis. The procedure is most commonly performed as a religious rite, for cultural reasons or as a preventative measure to relieve discomfort or to prevent more serious medical issues.
According to Bio Med Central, just over a quarter of the Australian male population is circumcised. However, these statistics don’t reveal when these men had their surgery performed. It is common to believe that the majority of procedures are performed on newborn babies. In religious and cultural circles, this is certainly the case.
But elsewhere, some of the older male population are electing to have the procedure performed. So, what is it like to get a circumcision as an adult male?
It’s a question recently answered by The Hook Up segment of the Triple J radio station in Australia, which saw host Hannah Reily speaking to listener Jack, who called into the show to speak about his experience of getting a circumcision when he was 23-years-old.
Jack revealed that he had experienced a low sex drive with his new partner, whom he has been with for nearly a year. However, he said “about halfway [into the relationship] I got circumcised and after that, sex started feeling really good for me and my sex drive went through the roof.”
He added that he suffered from phimosis, which is a medical condition that prevents the foreskin from being able to be retracted. Jack said “through ages 18 to 19, I was sleeping with people and it was painful. I would have the worst experiences. The doctors gave me an ointment to help loosen it up and I had to stretch it out because the skin was too tight, but because the skin was too tight and it was super painful to do, I didn’t really do it.”
“And then I was like, ‘I think I might just get circumcised,’ because it was just the biggest problem.”
“What would happen is when I would go to have sex I would have to be like ‘ok let’s do this so slow because this is so painful for me,’ and ultimately, it just wasn’t a pleasurable experience for me.”
“I had been through sex education but I didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. There’s an issue but didn’t put too much thought into it. It came to a point where I was just like maybe I can’t just come during sex. No girl was ever able to make me come. Sex wasn’t enjoyable. Is it really my thing? It was pretty crap.”
“I don’t think the doctors diagnosed me with phimosis, I basically just looked it up and it came up with phimosis and I just said ‘I have phimosis’.”
“Ever since I was 19 I wanted to get circumcised, I’m 23 now and last year I had enough funds and so I booked it in. I need to get this done because I’m now dating a girl and I want sex to be enjoyable.”
When it came to the day of the snip, Jack said he wasn’t scared about going under the knife and in fact felt pretty confident. Speaking of his experience, he said “they put a few needles in it and asked if it hurt, and I was like ‘ah yes it does!”
“They numbed it but they didn’t knock me out, I just closed my eyes. They literally got scissors and cut around it. I could feel the scissors cutting it and I’m just closing my eyes. I couldn’t feel it fully but you could feel your body was going through a traumatic experience.”
“When I first got it done I went back home and went straight back into my uni class and told my mates what had happened. They asked how I was feeling and I said I was feeling fine because the anesthesia was still in there.”
“But then an hour later the anaesthesia wore off and I was in the most immense pain. I was feeling the cut there. Imagine all the skin off your arm ripped off. The doctor didn’t prepare me for it, which was really interesting.”
“It took about a month to get back to normal and I feel like it was the best decision I made, I’m so happy. I feel like I can do anything with it, with no restriction.”
“Before I had it, sex was painful so turned me off a bit. I knew there would be pain there, I would be scared for a girl to go down on me or whatever. Now it feels amazing, I feel my libido has shot through the roof within the last year of getting it done.”
“People may think talking about their private parts is quite a private thing, but I’m open and happy to talk about it. If anyone wants to get it done, literally get it done. It will be painful for the first few weeks but after you’ll be so happy.”
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What the experts say
Host Hannah Reily spoke with Dr James Thompson, a Urologic Surgeon at St Vincents & St George Hospital in Sydney, to understand exactly what circumcision is, how it should be performed and who is getting them today.
Dr Thompson told The Hook Up a circumcision is “a procedure performed on boys to remove the foreskin, which is the excess skin that sits in the resting position covering the head of the penis. It can be performed a short time after birth, but this has progressively gone out of favour in Australia. These days the removal of the skin is usually because of a problem in a teenage or adult male.”
“I’ll typically see men who are aged between 18-40 at least twice a week. Only a small minority are circumcised as young boys for religious reasons or because their father or brother were, but most men aren’t these days. The majority of procedures are now performed on adults.”
“The most common reason for circumcision is because the foreskin can’t be retracted on a newborn. In about 98 to 99% of boys, by the time they reach puberty they can retract the foreskin. The reason is that a boy becomes sexually active and they have trouble retracting and it can cause pain during an erection or during sex, it can also split or, because it can’t be retracted, it can cause infection because the area underneath the foreskin can’t be cleaned properly.”
“Boys tend to ignore their health more than girls. They’re not as used to seeking medical help as girls. Girls are more used to seeing the doctor about below the belt issues. Boys are scared, and won’t want to talk about it with their friends.”
“Usually, when their partner points it out as an issue or difficulty with an infection, that is when they’ll then reluctantly come to see a doctor.”
How is circumcision performed?
“A circumcision is a minor operation,” according to Dr Thompson. “We prefer to do it in the operating theatre and most adult men prefer to be put to sleep by way of anesthesia.”
“The surgery takes around 30 to 40 minutes. We make a small incision at each end to remove a ‘cuff’ of skin and then stitch it back together with dissolving stitches. There is usually not much pain afterwards, although there will be some soreness. Taking some panadol is usually fine as a means to reduce pain.”
“After surgery, you should hold off from physical activity for a couple of weeks and obviously, you shouldn’t engage in any sexual activity for six weeks or so. I often get asked questions such as ‘what if I get an erection when I’m sleeping?’ but don’t worry, this won’t cause any problems, it’s only vigorous sexual activity you should refrain from.”
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“Guys rarely regret seeing a urologist to at least talk about it. Guys that have it move forward with confidence and more fulfilling sex lives. Don’t procrastinate, just get it checked.”
How much is circumcision?
The cost of circumcision can vary depending on your age and where you have the procedure performed. As Jack says in his story, he had to save up from the age of 19 until he was 23 to be able to afford it. He doesn’t disclose how much it cost him.
However, host Hannah also spoke with a man called Matt, who said the cost of his procedure was covered by the healthcare system in Australia, which she seemed surprised by.
Gentle Procedures Clinic in Revesby, Sydney, says the cost of circumcision for newborn babies is $400 but will increase as you get older, stating “The fees for an older boy or adult circumcision procedure at our greater Sydney clinic are based on the age of the patient.”
Australian men will be able to reclaim some of the cost back through Medicare.
Benefits of circumcision
Besides being able to reverse the effects of phimosis, there are other benefits to getting circumcised. These, according to Healthline, include a decreased risk of urinary tract infection (UTI), a decreased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and that it makes it easier to maintain good genital hygiene.
Downsides of circumcision
There are very few downsides or risks to getting circumcised. The main one would be you simply don’t like how it looks. Some men and women have a preference for aesthetic appearances and removing the hood could be seen as a disfigurement to some.