Intact or Circumcised: Teasing in the Locker Room

A new study out of the University of Iowa, in the center of a Midwest state that continues to see a high rate of newborn circumcision, demonstrates that boys who remain intact throughout high school, even with circumcised peers, do not face teasing as a result of being intact as often as parents fear, nor do they wish they had been circumcised.

Dr. Chris Cooper, the study’s senior author, points out that while only 10% of young men (ages 17 to 24) were teased about their penis in middle or high school, and 47% witnessed someone else being teased at least once, 83% of those instances were due to penis size -- not whether or not a student was intact. Across the board, 97% of respondents, both intact and circumcised, said they were happy with their own penis and did not wish for it to be different.



Parents of young boys seeking circumcision or circumcision revision commonly cite concern that their sons may be teased in middle or high school due to the appearance of the penis. There are no current data to substantiate or refute the likelihood of such teasing. We explored the validity of this concern by investigating the extent and frequency of teasing regarding penile appearance.

Materials and Methods

An anonymous questionnaire was administered to undergraduate men at the University of Iowa. Participants answered questions regarding middle and high school demographics, school sports and gym class participation, and any teasing experienced or witnessed due to penile appearance in locker rooms.


A total of 290 men completed the questionnaire. Mean subject age was 19.2 years (range 17 to 24). Of the individuals surveyed 98% were required to participate in high school gym class and 96% participated in a school sport. Of the subjects 10% were teased about their penile appearance and 47% reported witnessing someone else being teased. The most common characteristic singled out was penile size. Having an [intact] penis or a 'strange' penile appearance accounted for 33% of the witnessed penile teasing. Only 3% of the cohort wished that they had a different penile appearance.


Teasing in the locker room about penile appearance occurs frequently. While our study is limited to one Midwestern university population, it appears that parental concerns regarding teasing related to penile appearance are valid, although most causes of teasing may not be alleviated by surgical therapy.


Alexander, Siobhan E. et al. "Teasing in School Locker Rooms Regarding Penile Appearance." The Journal of Urology, Volume 193, Issue 3, 983-988.

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1 comment:

  1. I adopted two school-aged boys from separate foreign countries, and in time I told them they could have a circumcision like many of their school mates. They both said no without hesitation and that was that! I learned from them that there are no problems or health risks for an intact guy if he's clean and careful. Looking back at growing up, I knew guys who were and not circumcised, whose brothers were the same or different, even (fraternal) twins not the same, like the article says, most or all teasing about a penis was its size, or just one more thing some unlucky guy got teased about, but rare. But it does bring up the obvious question of why anyone would cut off part of a new baby, or any child, just for looks of something rarely seen. You can't tattoo a baby or pierce anything more than their ears, so why can you cut a piece off, and why would you (really) want to?


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