Women’s choices for a sexual partner are influenced by numerous personal, cultural, social, political and religious factors, and may also include aspects of penile anatomy such as male circumcision (MC) status. We therefore examine this in our recent paper.
Circumcised or uncircumcised penises?
In a recent study by Morris et al., (2019), the authors examine (i) whether male circumcision status influences women’s preference for sexual activity and the reasons for this, and (ii) whether women prefer male circumcision for their sons. The study found that, majority of women expressed a preference for the circumcised penis. The main reasons given for this preference were better appearance, better hygiene, reduced risk of infection, and enhanced sexual activity, including vaginal intercourse, manual stimulation, and fellatio. In studies that assessed mothers’ preference for Male circumcision of sons, health, disease prevention, and hygiene were cited as major reasons for this preference. Cultural differences in preference were evident among some of the studies examined. Nevertheless, a preference for a circumcised penis was seen in most populations regardless of the frequency of Male circumcised in the study setting.
In an earlier survey conducted by Wildman et al.,(1976) of undergraduate women at Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia, on viewing color magazine photographs of men with “well-formed body parts,” 89% preferred the circumcised penis and 11% preferred the uncircumcised penis.
Another study by Williamson and Williamson(1988), which centered on well-educated new mothers at a major Midwest medical center, 16.5% of whom had sexual contact with both circumcised and uncircumcised men, 92% believed the circumcised penis stays cleaner, 90% said it looked “sexier,” 85% said it felt nicer to touch, and 55% said that it “smells more pleasant.” Preferences for vaginal intercourse were circumcised, 71%; uncircumcised, 6%; and either, 23%; for fellatio, 83%, 2%, and 15%, respectively; for manual stimulation, 75%, 5%, and 20%, respectively; and looking at nude to achieve sexual arousal, 76%, 4%, and 20%, respectively. Of the 5.5% of women who had only ever had uncircumcised partners, all preferred the look of the circumcised penis. The authors concluded that “almost any sexual exposure to a circumcised penis swayed women to sexually prefer circumcision, with only 1% of the entire sample consistently preferring uncircumcised partners for all sexual activities,” all of whom were from the group who had only ever had sexual experience with uncircumcised men. No woman thought that an uncircumcised penis looked sexier.
In a more recent online study conducted by Adam & Adam(2014), by a company selling adult products involving at least 1,000 US adults age ≥18 years found that 54% of women preferred a circumcised penis, 33% had no preference, and only 3% preferred an uncircumcised penis, with 10% of women refusing to answer. This study was published only online and was not peer- reviewed.
A Canadian study also conducted by Bossio et al.,(2015) involving women aged 19–71 years, 74% of whom were born in Canada and 12% in the United States, and 61.2% of whom had attended college or university, found that women prefer circumcised penises.
Cortés-González et al.,(2008) study also conducted in Denmark survey 19 women who had experienced sexual intercourse with the same partner before and 2 months after Male circumcised found no difference in general sexual satisfaction (63% vs 68%) and most reported being quite satisfied with their sexual encounters both before and after. The women reported no difference in desire, vaginal orgasm, pain during vaginal penetration, oral or anal sexual activity, and frequency of sexual events before Male circumcision compared with 2 months after. However, a slight decrease in vaginal lubrication was noted, with adequate lubrication reported by 78% of women before circumcision, compared with 63% at 2 months after circumcision.
In Africa, we also found interesting studies conducted. For instance, one conducted by Kebaabetswe et al .,(2003) in 9 locations in Botswana, where most males were uncircumcised, involving interviews of women of 29 ethnicities found that 50% preferred a circumcised partner, 7% preferred an uncircumcised partner, 21% had no preference, and 22% were unsure. After an information session, these percentages changed to 79%, 2%, 11%, and 8%, respectively.
In South Africa, a study conducted by Lagarde et al.,(2003), in the Westonaria district, 60 km from Johannesburg, 25% of the respondents preferred circumcised men for sexual activity, 9% preferred uncircumcised men, 36% reported no preference, and 30% were unsure.
Additionally, another study conducted by Scott et al.,(2005), in rural Zulu women at the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, male partners’ male circumcision status was 7% circumcised, 59% uncircumcised, and 34% not known. The study found 68% of the female respondents preferred circumcised men. For 64% of the women, the key factor in this preference was a reduced risk of STIs.
Another recent study by Maraux et al.,(2017), which involved a large population of women in Orange Farm, where the rate of Male circumcision had increased from 17% in 2008 to 53% in 2010, found an increasingly favorable perception and knowledge of male circumcision in surveys conducted before and after the rollout. The number of female participants was 1,258 in 2008, 1,197 in 2010, and 2,583 in 2012. The preference for having sexual activity with a circumcised man increased during this time, from 48.7% in 2008 to 65.8% in 2010 and 73.7% in 2012, as did the perception that most women prefer circumcised men (64.4%, 71.6%, and 73.7%, respectively) and that male circumcision increases pleasure during sex (41.5%, 47.8%, and 59.6%, respectively). Acceptance among those with uncircumcised partners in having their partner undergo Male circumcision also increased (89.7%, 95.7%, and 93.3%, respectively). Most of the women knew that circumcised men still needed to wear condoms for HIV/STI protection.
In Kenya, a study by Westercamp et al.,(2010), which involved mostly ethnic Luo women in Kisumu, where the male circumcision prevalence was 11%, 63% reported a preference for circumcised sexual partners; this preference was especially pronounced in women aged 20–39 years.
Interestingly, in Tanzania, one study by Layer et al.,(2013) found many unmarried women said that they would refuse to have sex with an uncircumcised man. Several married women reported threatening to leave their uncircumcised husbands if they did not undergo circumcision. They also mentioned the improved ease of sexual intercourse after male circumcision.
In Malawi, one study by Shacham et al.,(2014) found that women were 3.9 times more likely than men to believe that being circumcised was better for men’s health and 9.1 times more likely to report that circumcised men were more likely to please women sexually.
In Zambia, one study by Zulu et al.,(2015) in Lusaka found that sexual satisfaction of the female partners increased in 63%, decreased in 13%, and did not change in 16%. It also found that the look of the penis was better for 61% of the women, worse for 15%, and no different for 15%. Penile cleanliness after male circumcision was reported as better by 70% of the women, not different by 14%, and worse by 11%. 149 of the 159 female partners (94%) said that they would recommend male circumcision based on their and their partner’s experience with the procedure.
In Uganda, Moses et al.,(1998) also found that women from tribes that do not practice circumcision reported deriving greater sexual pleasure from circumcised men.
We found mounting studies supporting that women prefer circumcised penises for many reasons. On the other hand, an uncircumcised penis retains the foreskin, which covers the head of a nonerect penis. When the penis is erect, the foreskin pulls back to reveal the glans. A circumcised penis has no foreskin, which exposes the glans when the penis is both erect and nonerect.
Though there were no Ghanaian studies on circumcision and sexual preferences, we found one Interesting study by Ahinkorah et al.,(2020) which investigate the association between male circumcision status and engaging in multiple sexual partnership among 1, 948 men in Ghana. The study found that men who have been circumcised were more likely to engage in multiple sexual partnership compared to those who have not been circumcised.
Also, Maison et al., (2020), found that, the majority of medical circumcisers in Ghana have no formal training for circumcision resulting in more injuries (Appiah et al.,2016).
Due to this, we hold the view that, Circumcision should always be performed by a trained medical professional after consent has been given by the male or, in the case of minors, by the parent(s) or guardian(s). Women can choose to have a sexual partner who is a circumcised or encourage an uncircumcised partner to undergo the procedure. Importantly, a woman’s preference for a circumcised male partner is more than simply a sociocultural preference, as might apply to pierced ears, given the reduced risk of STIs and disease for women with circumcised male partners.
Position on penis size?
According to Healthline.com(2021), uncircumcised (Uncut) foreskin can make your penis look slightly bulkier when it’s flaccid . During an erection, the foreskin retracts and almost disappears, so it won’t affect how big your penis looks when it’s erect. Additionally, Circumcised (Cut) penis size is based mainly on your genes. These determine the phenotype, or physical expression, of your penis. The take home is that; Penis size is also based on blood flow to the penile tissues. Hence, removing a layer of skin tissue — the foreskin — doesn’t have any impact on other penile tissues or how big your penis appears when erect. However, it may have slightly less “bulk” when it’s flaccid .
About the Authors
Noble Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, is the president of Nyarkotey college of Holistic Medicine and currently level 400 LLB Law student at the Kings University College. He is also the author of the book” The Law and Naturopathic Medicine Practice in Ghana”, and Lawrencia Aggrey-Bluwey, is a coauthor, Clinical Nurse, Health Services Manager and an Assistant Lecturer with the Department of Health Administration and Education, University of Education, Winneba. She is also a PhD student in Health Policy and Management, at the University of Ghana, Legon.