These diagrams shows an uncircumcised penis and a circumcised penis*. More information about circumcision is provided below.
What is the foreskin?
- Everyone who is born with a penis is born with foreskin.
- Your foreskin is a sensitive layer of skin that covers the head of your soft (non-erect) penis.
- Usually when your penis is erect (hard), your foreskin pulls back behind the head of your penis.
- You may be able to pull your foreskin back fully but don’t ever force it.
- If you have concerns about how far your foreskin retracts, talk to your health care provider.
Why don’t I have a foreskin on my penis?
- Your penis may not have a foreskin because it was removed when you were a baby during a process called circumcision.
What is circumcision?
- Circumcision is a surgical procedure that removes your foreskin.
- Circumcision is usually done on infants soon after they are born but it can also happen later on in life.
Why is circumcision done?
- Some religions (like Judaism and Islam) believe that penises should be circumcised.
- Some families may circumcise their children because other family members were circumcised and they want everyone’s penis to look the same.
- Some people make a decision based on what the majority of people in their region do because they want their child to fit in.
- Sometimes, later in life, penises are circumcised because they may be getting irritated or infected.
Is sex better or worse if you are circumcised?
- No. You can enjoy sex and touching whether or not you’ve been circumcised.
- The tip is a very sensitive spot for both circumcised and uncircumcised penises.
I’m not circumcised. Is that a problem?
- Not at all. In fact, the majority of people in the world who have penises are not circumcised.
How do I clean around my foreskin?
- If you have a foreskin you will need to clean it to avoid the buildup of sweat, semen, vaginal fluids, or bacteria.
- To clean around your foreskin, pull your foreskin back and wash the area with warm water.
- Do not force your foreskin back if you feel discomfort.
Should I clean my foreskin after sex?
- You may choose to clean your foreskin after sex but this not necessary.
- Although it will not protect you from STIs as well as using a condom would, it is not a bad idea to wipe away any semen or other fluid from the foreskin after sex. That is because these fluids can increase your chances of getting an STI if you have been exposed.
- For more information on STIs check out the STI section.
If you have questions about this topic, feel free to contact one of our peer educators. [Link]
*We know that these aren’t the words everyone uses for their bodies (eg. trans folks), and support you using the language that feels best for you.
Last Edited: October 2020