By John Dugan | Foreskin is a hot topic of debate in the U.S. Some argue that circumcision is necessary for penis health; others assert that the procedure is barbaric and completely unnecessary. This debate tends to weigh heavily on uncut men, leading to anxieties and insecurities concerning their manhoods.

But some of the stigma around foreskin can be vanquished by learning the facts about the sheath. The following may help uncut men improve their body image.

Worldwide Majority

Part of the reason that foreskin is of particular concern for American men is that circumcision is common in this country. Therefore, uncut men form a minority. However, worldwide, only about one-third of men are circumcised. Taking a global perspective, then, uncircumcised men actually form a notable majority.

Decline of Procedures in U.S.

Circumcision is not as popular as it used to be in the U.S.; according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a branch of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the circumcision rate for baby boys fell from 64.5% in 1979 to 58.3% in 2010, meaning that, in the near future, circumcised men will form a narrower majority. When foreskins are more common, stigma surrounding them will likely decrease.

Rate Varies Significantly Across the U.S.

Some uncircumcised men within the U.S. are actually in the majority, at least regionally. In the western states, only about 40% of boys are circumcised. The rates are highest in the Midwest, right around 70%.

Unclear Medical Benefits

Over the past several decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has taken a few different positions, none of which clearly endorse circumcision. In the 1970's, the AAP stated there was no medical indication for the procedure; in '89, it recognized that there are potential medical benefits to the surgery, and since has stated that, though there may be benefits, there is not sufficient evidence to support circumcision on newborns as a standard practice.

Studies in Perspective

Some men may have heard that having foreskin makes them more prone to contracting HIV and penile cancer. And there are some studies that indicate this to be true. But they need to be contextualized. The study that found foreskin to be correlated with HIV infection was conducted on African men having heterosexual sex. The vast majority of infections in the U.S. take place among homosexual men, meaning the reduced risk may not translate well for U.S. men.

Penile cancer is extremely uncommon in the U.S., affecting fewer than 1 in 100,000 men. It is believed to be more common in uncircumcised men because they are more likely to contract varieties of HPV, which increases penile cancer risk, and because they accumulate smegma, which may also be linked to risk. But practicing proper hygiene by removing smegma buildup frequently, along with practicing safe sex, can mitigate these factors. Also worth noting is that being circumcised as an adult does not lower penile cancer risk (some research suggests this may actually increase risk).

As foreskin becomes more the norm, uncut men may experience a newfound sense of confidence in their bodies. In the meantime, men should understand that there is nothing inherently wrong, dirty or unhealthy about their natural sheaths.

Some men do notice an odor coming from the member that they suspect has to do with foreskin and smegma, and this may be so; smegma attracts bacteria, and if it is allowed to build up, it can produce an off-putting smell. Proper hygiene is generally sufficient to take care of this. Men should avoid strong anti-bacterial soaps, which may be too harsh for the penis. If men want an extra boost in the anti-bacterial department, they can invest in a penis health creme (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) with vitamin A, a natural bacteria-fighter. In addition, this crème serves as a natural moisturizer, helping to keep the penis skin smooth, soft and supple. Circumcised or not, healthy penis skin is always something worth maintaining.

Visit for more information about treating common penis health problems, including soreness, redness and loss of penis sensation. John Dugan is a professional writer who specializes in men's health issues and is an ongoing contributing writer to numerous online web sites

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