I’m not circumcised, but I feel like everyone around me is and I’m worried that girls are going to get weirded out when they see my penis. Should I warn them?
Great question! It sounds like you’re feeling pretty self-conscious about your penis, and you’re definitely not alone. Lots of people don’t like or feel weird about about specific parts of their body, and aren’t sure how to handle it.
For those who aren’t familiar, the foreskin is a bit of skin that covers the head of the penis.
Everyone who is born with a penis has a foreskin. Sometimes, families decide to have all or part of the foreskin cut off for religious or cultural reasons, often by a medical professional or religious leader soon after birth. This is called circumcision.
In certain areas of the world, circumcision is common. For example, in the United States around 70% of men are circumcised, though that number is decreasing. In other countries–like the UK, where around only 1 in 5 men are circumcised—it’s much more common to have a foreskin. So even though it may feel like you’re the only person to not be circumcised, you’re definitely not alone!
We’re sure you already know this, but we’ll say it anyway: having a foreskin is completely normal. If you find yourself feeling self-conscious about it, remind yourself that foreskin is normal and common. Of course, feeling comfortable with your body is easier said than done. Learn more about how to cultivate a positive body image.
It sounds like you feel mostly fine with your body, but aren’t sure how others will react. If you ever begin to feel deeply self-conscious about having a foreskin, talk to a medical provider about what you’re feeling.
As for how to handle other people when they see you naked…
Getting naked with someone else for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience for anyone, especially when it’s new! Keep in mind that your partner will probably also be a bit nervous or self-conscious—you’re not the only one putting yourself out there.
Chances are your partner will understand that bodies—including penises—come in all shapes and sizes. They could very well understand that penises have foreskin and not even blink when they see yours. If they’re surprised by your foreskin though, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Being surprised doesn’t mean they’re “weirded out” or judging you. It just means that they’re unfamiliar with this particular part of the body.
How you handle other people is completely up to you. You can wait to see what your partner’s reaction is once your pants come off, and explain (or not) then. Or, you could bring it up when it seems like things are going to get hot and heavy, to gauge their reaction. If you feel comfortable, sharing your concerns with your partner could help build intimacy and trust with each other. All are completely fine ways to handle the situation.
Keep in mind, though, that you should never feel like you have to apologize for your body.
You don’t have to make a big deal about it. Say something like, “Just so you’re not surprised, I have a foreskin.” Or: “Just so you know, I’m not circumcised, so my penis looks a little different than you may be used to.”
If your partner makes a big deal about the way your penis looks, or makes you feel bad about being uncircumcised, think seriously about whether this is someone you want to be intimate and vulnerable with. You deserve to be treated with respect, and it’s not ok for others to make you feel bad about your body.
Have more questions about health or your body? If you’re 10-22 years old in NYC, call 212-423-3000 to get confidential health care at no cost to you at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center. No immigration restrictions, no insurance needed.