Finally, circumcision might have a small protective effect against AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "some research suggests that circumcised men may be at a reduced risk for developing syphilis and HIV infections." Some scientists blame any increased risk in uncircumcised penises on increased mucosal cells that can allow infection to enter more easily. What's more, microorganisms can flourish in a warm, moist area under the foreskin.
Circumcision aside, the AAP policy states that behavioral factors continue to be far more important in determining a person's risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases that circumcision status.
The bottom line: A man should continue to wear a condom and practice monogamy to keep STDs at bay.
Don't Look Back
There's no quickie answer to whether reduced sensitivity meaningfully affects a circumcised man's sex life. "Whether there's a significant difference is somewhat in the eye of the beholder," says sex researcher and educator Herb Samuels, Ph.D., who doesn't believe that diminished pleasure should be a determining factor in the circumcision decision.
To circumcised men who are concerned they're missing out, Ruth Westheimer, Ph.D., popularly known as "Dr. Ruth," says, "I tell them that, as long as they are having orgasms, this is not something that they should be worrying about."
With the pros and cons of making the cut still under debate, religion, culture and personal preferences might reign as the biggest considerations in whether to part with the penis's foreskin. If his parents picked circumcision and a man wants his foreskin back, forget about it, though plastic surgery can construct something similar. Before going under the knife, however, a man should know this: American women's preference, according to surveys described in Reuben's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, is a circumcised penis, which the women say is cleaner, sexier and nicer to handle.
When a woman's clitoris, hood and labia are removed, the operation is called female circumcision. But the practice is better known as "female genital mutilation," because it eliminates a woman's ability to enjoy sexual sensations.
There are no health reasons for the surgery, most commonly performed in some African, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, and in fact it is often performed in unsanitary conditions, which can increase the chance of serious health problems.