What It's Like To Get Circumcised As A Grown Man

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What It's Like To Get Circumcised As A Grown Man

The good, the bad, and the very, very painful.

My wife has this energy and bright smile that a quiet, shy guy like me was immediately attracted to—but it wasn't exactly love at first sight. When we were in college, she actually dated my best friend for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the semester senior year. Luckily, that didn't workout, and we started seeing each other soon after.

About two weeks into our relationship, we were already talking about marriage—and by spring break, we were engaged. We got married a year later.

Her conservative Jewish family accepted me right from the start, even though I had no interest in converting. I was raised Mormon and then steered away from that and every religion. But when we were engaged, we started going to Jewish services each week. I was kind of just going with her in solidarity, but I started getting really into the Hebrew culture and language and eventually religious values.

Not long after we got married, I decided that I wanted to convert—despite the fact that my wife once joked that she never wanted to marry a Jewish guy. 

One major part of the process is being circumcised. I knew it was coming, but I was basically in denial that I would actually have to do it.

Toward the end of my conversion, though, the rabbi brought up the fact that I would have to get my foreskin removed. My immediate thought was, "Is there some way I can skip that part?" He said that unless I had a physical incapability, I really needed to do it because it's a very important part of the tradition. Then—and here's the kicker—he said, "All of the men I've converted who weren't circumcised went through with the circumcision." So I thought, "Well, if these other guys can do it, so can I."

Maybe it was peer pressure, but I decided to go for it. 

The bris, or circumcision ceremony, was done in a hospital operating room—which is totally different than how the ceremony goes down for babies. The room was freezing cold, and I had to lay there naked with my rabbi, a mohel (the person who normally performs the bris ceremony for babies), the surgeon, and nurses—some of whom were women—surrounding me.

I've never felt more exposed in my life. My wife decided to stay in the waiting room, and I don't blame her. 

They started the procedure by putting iodine on my penis to sterilize it, which was also very cold. After that, they injected the base of my penis with anesthetic so it wouldn't hurt as badly during the procedure—but the shot itself was really, really painful. The mohel made the initial cut on my foreskin and then the surgeon went in to finish the job. I didn't watch, but he made an incision at the glans of my penis right below the head, removed the foreskin, and stitched the skin back up. I think I had 18 stitches total. 

While it took a few weeks for the skin on my penis to heal, that actually wasn't the most painful part. Surprisingly, the toughest part was waiting for my newly exposed (and very sensitive skin) to get used to my underwear. For a few weeks, my briefs felt like steel wool when my skin would brush against them. 

One month later, I was finally cleared to have sex again. I know what you're wondering, but sex didn't really feel that much different for my wife or me. One thing that did change, though, was how she saw my penis. She used to joke that my uncircumcised penis reminded her of the Jawas from Star Wars. They're these little hooded guys that only show their eyes. Now she thinks it's way more attractive

Ultimately, getting circumcised was a key part of my conversion experience. It helped me feel like I was really joining the Jewish community (especially since it was also the time that I received my Hebrew name). Converting to Judaism has changed my life and completely altered how I think of God. Regardless of what my penis looks or feel like now, it was an important step I needed to take to complete my journey toward becoming Jewish. 


This article was originally published at Women's Health. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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