View random article

What Is Foreskin?

The foreskin is found on male reproductive organs, and is a continuation of the skin around the penis that stretches to cover the glans penis at the tip of the penis. The foreskin retracts on its own or can be pulled back to expose the glans.

The purpose and use of the foreskin is in dispute. Some believe it increases sexual pleasure. Removal of the foreskin to leave the glans exposed can be a personal, cultural or religious choice. The procedure to remove the foreskin is called circumcision. Religious and cultural beliefs to justify circumcision are connected to ritual sacrifice, the increase of fertility, and the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. This is a common practice in some regions of Africa, amongst Orthodox Jews and some Muslim sects. Certain cultures circumcise boys within a few days or a few weeks of birth. Others do so during adolescence as a rite of passage. A medical doctor, religious leader or traditional leader can carry out the circumcision. In adulthood, a man can also decide to have the foreskin surgically removed by a doctor. Evidence points towards circumcision reducing the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections as the foreskin often keeps bacteria within its folds if not cleaned well.

Some sociologists argue that male circumcision is mutilation and should be a personal choice taken in adulthood and not forced upon a boy. A medical foreskin replacement procedure can be performed if a man wants the foreskin back. Medical research uses circumcised foreskin to develop anti-aging and anti-wrinkle treatments.

Featured in Health