What to expect after adult circumcision: a timeline for healing

If you’ve just been circumcised as an adult you may be wondering what to expect as your body heals.

This timeline should give you an idea of what to expect. It is based on guidance provided by the British Association of Urological Surgeons and the UK National Health Service. It should supplement the information your doctor has given you.

Everyone heals from circumcision at different rates. You may find that you reach some milestones sooner or later than this guidance. Don’t try to rush your recovery.

You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following: temperature, increased redness, persistent pain, bleeding or throbbing of the penis, or an unpleasant smell from the site of the wound.

24 hours after circumcision

You will experience some swelling and bruising on the penis. This can last several days.

If you experience pain you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen as necessary.

Your dressing should fall off within 24 hours; if it does not, or becomes wet or urine stained, remove it. Try to keep the area dry for 24 to 48 hours. You should avoid swimming or soaking in a bath and sex or masturbation.

You may find the head of your penis is very sensitive during this time. It might dry out and scab over: this is normal. You can apply some Vaseline to the area to help prevent it sticking to underwear and to help with the sensitivity.

You may want to take one week off work or school. You should avoid strenuous physical activity or sport.

1 week after circumcision

Swelling and bruising should subside.

2 Weeks after circumcision

You may start to swim or soak in a bath again. If you had stitches they should have dissolved or been removed by now.

You should be able to restart exercising and resume sports.

Four weeks after circumcision

You may begin to gently masturbate and have sex – the longer you wait, the better your recovery will be. You may find you have to masturbate in a different way now that you are circumcised.

Six weeks after circumcision

Your penis should settle into its final cosmetic appearance and sensation, although it can take several months to fully settle.

Several months after circumcision

The scar tissue will continue to soften and fade over many months. At this stage sexual function should stabilise. Whilst there may be minor changes, orgasm and sensation should now be complete.

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