What is Adult Circumcision

Published: July 16, 2019
older man with surfboard at beach

What is circumcision?

Circumcision is a procedure where the foreskin is removed from the penis. Circumcision has been performed for thousands of years and is still commonly performed in the U.S. today for social, religious, cultural and medical reasons. (1) Commonly, circumcision is performed when boys are newborns and takes less than 10 minutes. (1) However, if a circumcision is not performed in the first few days of life, some men may decide to get the procedure as an adult.  

Who gets circumcisions?

Adult men can request to receive a circumcision for a variety of reasons. The majority of adult men are circumcised in the United States and sometimes being un-circumcised can simply make men self-conscious. (2) 

In other cases, it is recommended for adult men to undergo circumcision for health reasons including (3): 

Phimosis – This is when the foreskin doesn’t retract properly and tightens around the penis. This can cause pain or urinary problems because it can trap urine under the skin causing inflammation, infection or UTIs. (1)

Paraphimosis – This is an urgent medical situation when the foreskin gets trapped behind the head of the penis, limiting blood flow which can cause gangrene. Immediate treatment is required to reduce swelling but a recommended next step is often circumcision to prevent the situation from happening again. (1) 

Balanitis – This condition is when the head of the penis is inflamed or swollen which can occur due to an STI, skin irritation, or thrush. Because the condition is uncommon in men who are circumcised, it can be a recommended remedy to prevent another episode. (1) 

What are the benefits of circumcision?

Circumcision can help prevent recurrence if men have experienced any of the above health conditions. In addition, some research suggests that circumcised men have a lower risk for developing UTIs and for contracting STIs (including HIV, herpes and syphilis.) 

The benefits outlined here remain debated, and there are experts firmly on both sides of the argument.

What are the risks of circumcision?

As an adult, removing the foreskin is more involved than when it’s conducted on infants, and usually takes around an hour. Similarly, the recovery takes longer, and can last around two to three weeks. (3) No sexual activity is recommended for at least a month.

Whether the procedure is performed on an infant on an adult, risks are generally low. However, as with any surgical intervention, there are risks of complications including: bleeding, infection, improper healing, or improper reattachment of the foreskin. (3) 

If you’re interested in undergoing circumcision as an adult, it’s important to find a qualified surgeon with adequate experience. The surgical team at Virginia Urology is experienced in the procedure and can pair you with the right physician. Call us today to learn more.


  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/302234.php
  2. https://blog.medstarwashington.org/2019/04/09/why-some-men-get-circumcised-as-adults-and-how-it-works/
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/adult-circumcision

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