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What is the Glans Penis?

By Erica Stratton
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The glans penis is the head of the penis. Also known simply as the glans, this part of the male anatomy has a slit-like opening called the urethra from which urine, pre-ejaculate and sperm is passed. Many anatomists have generalized that the glans penis is the most sensitive area of the male genitalia and thus the most reasonable place for sexual stimulation. Though preferences vary by person, the glans is anatomically a center for many nerve endings, which makes it similar to the female clitoris. The frenulum of prepuce of penis, or simply "frenulum," is also located directly beneath the glans.

The exact shape of the glans varies in men by the intensity of their arousal. In some men, the glans penis is much wider than the shaft of the penis, creating a "mushroom" appearance. In others, it is narrower.

The overall appearance of the glans penis in men also varies by whether or not they have been circumcised. In uncircumcised men, the foreskin is left intact. When the penis is flaccid, the foreskin covers the glans penis. In uncircumcised men, the glans is kept protected and oiled by the foreskin, which spreads lubrication and a waxy layer over it. When an uncircumcised man is aroused, the glans enlarges and the foreskin draws back so that it is fully exposed.

In circumcised men, the glans of the penis is left exposed. Without the covering of the foreskin, it is often drier than it is on an uncut male. There is also scarring around the base of the glans where the foreskin was removed. When a circumcised man becomes erect, his glans simply becomes enlarged, already being uncovered.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 30% of men in the world are circumcised. The method has become controversial in tandem with concern over female genital mutilation. Proponents of circumcision cite tradition, as well as studies pointing to a decreased risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for men whose foreskin has been removed. Those against circumcision point out that after the process, the glans is left uncovered and can lose a great deal of its sensitivity, limiting sexual response.

Circumcised infants are also at a greater risk for infection. When wearing diapers, their glans and urethra are unprotected from feces and urine. In some cases, the urethra will actually narrow to the extent that it may have to be surgically re-enlarged.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1006475 — On Mar 19, 2022

The shape of the penis head is interesting! It seems most look like a fireman’s helmet but there are different shapes. I had a buddy who had a penis called a “ knob” which was like a round bubble on the end. His was the only one I ever saw like that. Does anyone know how many “ knob” shaped penis heads occur, and how rare they are?

By anon1006030 — On Jan 15, 2022

No one mentioned that with the reduced sensitivity of the glans after circumcision, men can last a little bit longer than the uncircumcised. Most women I know prefer sex with the circumcised penis.

By anon1005967 — On Dec 30, 2021

Wait to see how the penis develops. If the glans grows to be very big and the foreskin is tight, then it may be best to get circumcised for comfort and cleanliness. I did it at the age of 40, after all that time not able to retract my foreskin, as my glans is really huge, and wish I had done it when young. My glans is now even bigger but comfortable. Also, I love the way it looks now.

By anon1002640 — On Jan 13, 2020

Circumcision is barbaric and predicated on a false religion. It definitely takes away from the sensitivity of the glans. Eviemae. I hope you do not have your son circumcised. He will thank you many times over when he is older. Men have ED and sensitivity issues as they age. Circumcision only compounds the problem immensely. He'll be fine in school gym class and elsewhere. All you have to do is explain to him what his foreskin is and how to keep clean.

By anon316610 — On Jan 29, 2013

@Eviemae: If it's not too late, then leave your son's penis natural. Every year, fewer and fewer babies are circumcised, and for good reason. It's an old and outdated practice. It may have some benefit for third world nation,s where people do not have access to bathing. But here in the States, circumcision is being recognized as a human rights violation.

In 10 - 15 years when he is in a locker room, the majority of boys will be natural. He will most likely feel bad that he was circumcised and a very special and sensitive part of his body was taken from him.

By anon178550 — On May 21, 2011

God is the one that initiated circumcision in the first place, when He made covenant with Abraham. But just like so many things that God says or initiates, mankind wants to do just the opposite, we think we know what is best.

By blackDagger — On May 06, 2011

Is the glans penis really the most sensitive part of the male genitals? It seems like it would all be about the same, but I guess it might depend on the person as well.

By Eviemae — On May 04, 2011

I have always heard that is easier to keep a man’s penis clean if he is circumcised and that if a person doesn’t clean around the glans on their penis well they will smell pretty bad or even get infections.

I am about to have a son, and I am trying to make a wise decision about whether to have him circumcised or not. His father is circumcised, and I’m afraid that if he sees his dad when he’s older he’ll think there is something wrong with him if he isn’t.

However, I also feel that it might just be best to leave the little guy just like God made him and spare him the pain.

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