Men with foreskins in the United States may feel self-conscious, and partners may not be sure what to do with a sheathed member upon their first encounter with one. For most men, the decision as to whether or not to be circumcised is made by their parents when they are newborns, informed by certain ideas about penis care. Few men elect to go under the knife later on in life unless a rare medical condition occurs. It’s important for intact men to know the facts about the uncircumcised penis, and their partners should be apprised as well. Several misconceptions regarding the foreskin can cause psychological aversions that are not only offensive but groundless as well. Learn the facts about foreskin and start loving what nature made.

1) Smegma isn’t dirty. Most people have heard that uncircumcised men are more prone to infections because of a dirty little secretion beneath the foreskin called smegma. Smegma isn’t necessarily dirty; it may actually contain antibacterial properties, though researchers differ in opinion on this matter. Smegma only becomes problematic if it is allowed to build up, at which point bacteria can build up as well, leading to an increased risk of infection and foul odor. Proper hygiene is enough for most men with sheaths to avoid infections or smells.

2) The intact form a majority. While this is untrue nationally, it’s certainly true internationally. Only about a third of adult males around the globe are cut, according to the World Health Organization. The rate is much higher in the U.S. - around three-quarters of men are circumcised here.

3) The medical benefits of circumcision are questionable. While some studies in Africa have found that cut men have a lower risk of HIV, this was not consistent for men who contract the virus through anal intercourse, the main method of transmission in the United States. Also, intact men have higher rates of penile cancer, but the condition is extremely rare to begin with, even among the intact. Though the CDC pushed to promote circumcision in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that the health benefits are not great enough to endorse it.

4) There’s nothing ugly about foreskin. Some men and women maintain that the foreskin is aesthetically displeasing. Though people have personal preferences, there’s nothing inherently "ugly" about the prepuce. It makes about as much sense to say such a thing as it does to say that labia are ugly. Really, this judgment likely comes from a lack of familiarity with the sheath or from misconceptions about the cleanliness thereof. If a partner is turned off by foreskin, it’s likely due to narrow-mindedness, which is indisputably ugly.

5) Some partners enjoy foreskin. Retracting the foreskin with a hand or mouth can be a pleasurable extra step for a partner, uncovering that sensitive glans (head of the penis) and exposing it to his or her touch. Some partners revel in manually stroking the sheath over the glans as well.

6) The prepuce provides lubrication. Naturally lubricated, the intact penis may require less additional lubrication both during solo and partner play.

7) The organ may be more sensitive. Studies have varied in results, but some maintain that the penile head of uncircumcised men is more sensitive and therefore more susceptible to pleasurable sensations than the constantly-exposed glans of a circumcised man’s member. This makes sense theoretically; a head that is constantly exposed to friction may experience a loss of sensitivity as the skin toughens in response to that friction.

It’s important for men to be comfortable with what they’re packing, and for partners to be open-minded. If a man finds himself with a partner who has not encountered an intact penis before, he may educate his partner about foreskin - how to gently retract it, how to engage it during manual play, etc. He may also benefit from dispelling any misconceptions the partner may harbor concerning uncleanliness.

Men who want to show their intact penises a little extra love on top of a solid daily hygiene routine can apply a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Such a product has benefits for any penis, intact or not, as it contains moisturizers like Shea butter and antibacterial vitamin A to cut down on odors and infection risk.