Glans penis

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The glans penis (or simply glans[1]) is the sensitive bulbous structure at the distal (furthest away) end of the human penis. The glans penis is anatomically homologous to the clitoral glans of the female. It is generally completely or partially covered by the foreskin, except in men who have been fully circumcised (had foreskin surgically removed).

The glans is also commonly referred to as the "head of the penis", although has a number of slang terms, usually also associated with the act of masturbation.

Medical considerations in reassignment surgery

For trans women there are two factors regarding the glans penis when it comes to reassignment surgery. If the patient has been circumcised, this leaves less material for use in the labia or clitoral hooding. The color and shape of the clitoris will also vary compared to one of a person assigned female at birth.

In trans men, phalloplasty is not yet at the point where an anatomically correct, not less sexually sensate, glans penis can be created. Glansplasty is often combined with medical Tattooing to better create the desired effect although other procedures are required to complete phalloplasty.

Anatomical details

The glans penis is the expanded cap of the corpus spongiosum. It is moulded on the rounded ends of the corpora cavernosa penis, extending farther on their upper than on their lower surfaces. At the summit of the glans is the slit-like vertical external urethral orifice. The circumference of the base of the glans forms a rounded projecting border, the corona glandis, overhanging a deep retroglandular sulcus (the coronal sulcus), behind which is the neck of the penis. The proportional size of the glans penis can vary greatly. On some penises it is much wider in circumference than the shaft, giving the penis a mushroom-like appearance, and on others it is narrower and more akin to a probe in shape.

The foreskin maintains the mucosa in a moist environment.[2] In males who have been circumcised, the glans is permanently exposed and dry. Szabo and Short found that the glans of the circumcised penis does not develop a thicker keratinization layer.[3] Several studies have suggested that the glans is equally sensitive in circumcised and uncircumcised males,[4][5][6] while others have reported that it is more sensitive in uncircumcised males.[7][8]


  1. OED 2nd edition, 1989.
  2. Prakash, Satya; Raghuram Rao, K. Venkatesan & S. Ramakrishnan (July 1982). "Sub-Preputial Wetness--Its Nature". Annals of National Medical Science (India) 18 (3): 109,112.
  3. Szabo, Robert; Roger V. Short (June 2000). "How does male circumcision protect against HIV infection?". British Medical Journal 320 (7249): 1592,4. doi:10.1136/bmj.320.7249.1592. PMID 10845974. Retrieved on 2006-07-07.
  4. Masters, William H.; Virginia E. Johnson (1966). Human Sexual Response. Boston: Little, Brown & Co, 189,91. ISBN 0-316-54987-8.  (excerpt accessible here)
  5. Bleustein, Clifford B.; James D. Fogarty, Haftan Eckholdt, Joseph C. Arezzo and Arnold Melman (April 2005). "Effect of neonatal circumcision on penile neurologic sensation". Urology 65 (4): 773,7. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2004.11.007. PMID 15833526.
  6. Payne, Kimberley; Thaler, Lea; Kukkonen, Tuuli; Carrier, Serge; and Binik, Yitzchak (May 2007). "Sensation and Sexual Arousal in Circumcised and Uncircumcised Men". Journal of sexual medicine 4 (3): 667–674. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2007.00471.x. PMID 17419812.
  7. Sorrells (April 2007). "Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis". British Journal of Urology International 99 (4): 864,869. doi:10.1111/j.1464-410X.2006.06685.x.
  8. Yang, DM; Lin H, Zhang B, Guo W (April 2008). "Circumcision affects glans penis vibration perception threshold". Zhonghua Nan Ke Xue 14 (4): 328,330. PMID 18481425.

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