Dear Dr. Joe,
What's the deal with adult circumcision? Is it crazy painful? What's the recovery like? Can a guy expect sensitivity to be reduced?
Here's the deal. Have you ever had stitches? It's about that painful, which, let's be honest, ain't all that bad. The "pain" is usually more psychological: "Holy crap! Someone's cutting my dick!" Truthfully, there may be some discomfort, but there is rarely any significant pain. In fact, one patient of mine had sex the night of his circumcision. This was, of course, a really bad idea! But it does demonstrate that the pain is tolerable, if not negligible. If performed using a "local" anesthetic, you're entirely awake for the procedure. You'll remember the injection of the numbing medication, which should be the most painful part. Most of the time, though, I perform circumcisions under light sedation. In this case, the most you'll feel is the IV placement.
Afterwards, you can expect a little soreness. Maybe even a little itching, like when a scab heals. After a few days, you shouldn't have any discomfort at all, and then you'll just be impatient to get back to using the darn thing.
The main question, however, is why? Why, that is, are you considering a circumcision? Is this for cosmetic appearance? Or do you have a problem - chronic infections, scarring, tethering of the foreskin, etc.? If there are no complicating factors, then circumcision is a pretty fast, straightforward procedure. If the foreskin is already inflamed, then the process can be a bit more complex, but the penis should still heal well. If you are interested in whether or not to consider circumcision, check out my article from several months back.
Sensitivity? Heck, I'm not sure. There are in fact studies on this issue - you can imagine the questionnaire! Unfortunately, they are completely inconclusive. Some guys insist that they are actually more sensitive post circumcision. Others are convinced that life was grand before the cut. Most don't really notice any change at all. Consider this: the world is filled with millions of circumcised and uncircumcised men, and, last I checked, almost all of them enjoy sex.
So, if you're going for the snip, just relax and you'll be fine. Don't over-think it. Recovery takes about a week, but I usually recommend that patients wait about a month or so before resuming sex or masturbation.
- Dr. Joe
Dr. Joe earned his undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. After attending the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, he completed his residency training in urological surgery at the Los Angeles County Medical Center. He lives and works in Chicago, IL. Keep an eye out for his upcoming blog at docjoe.net.