Published March 5, 2022
Revised March 11, 2022
The glans is the rounded head at the tip of the penis. The shape of the glans has been compared to a cone, a mushroom, a firefighter's helmet, and an acorn. In fact glans is a Latin term that means "acorn." The tip of the glans contains the meatus, the opening through which urine and semen are released.
This article will describle the role of the glans and the role of the foreskin with respect to the glans. In addition we will examine statements that intactivists have made comparing the relative value of the glans to that of the foreskin.
PROTECTION OF THE GLANS?
Intactivists say that the foreskin provides several essential protections for the glans. The foreskin is said to protect the glans from sunburn, frostbite, nerve damage, drying out (keratinization), and injury. In our 2017 article on the 16 foreskin functions, we reviewed and refuted these alleged benefits. 
Jason Fairfield of the Blood Stained Men considers the foreskin and the glans equivalent in value. He wrote, "From a functionality standpoint, [they are] equally valuable and important to health, development, and sex."  Yet the assertion that the foreskin protects the glans implicitly concedes that the latter is more valuable than the former.
ROLE IN SEXUAL INTERCOURSE
In her book Sex As Nature Intended It, Kristen O'Hara went further, touting the foreskin as the most valuable part of the penis. "The foreskin steals the show and plays the leading role during the performance of sexual intercourse - it's the SUPERSTAR of the sexual connection between a man and a woman."  [emphasis in the original]
An intactivist meme even discounted the idea that the glans - and the shaft - play any role in sexual functions. "The shaft and the glans are not sex organs. The glans enables urination and the shaft is just what it is, a holster, which also allows penetration for the woman, although the shaft provides very little pleasure." 
This notion is, of course, absurd. Heterosexual intercourse involves vaginal penetration by the glans and the shaft. The friction of the glans and shaft against the walls of the vagina provides sexual pleasure for both partners. The meatus - the opening in the glans that releases urine - also enables ejaculation during orgasm.
The glans has a spongy texture that during sexual arousal is firm enough to facilitate vaginal penetration, yet soft enough to protect both male and female partners. A 2002 study in Washington state supposedly showed that circumcision increases the force necessary for vaginal penetration by a factor of 10.  Readers shouldn't take the study seriously, however, since it consisted of the researcher having sex with a Styrofoam cup.  A 2015 Canadian study found that circumcision had no significant effect on a partner's level of pain during vaginal intercourse.” 
A 2003 Greek study involved pre-operative and post-operative tests on five subjects who received a medically necessary glans amputation. The tests indicated that the presence of the glans decreased pressure on the copora cavernosa, the tissue inside the shaft that fills with blood during the erectile state. The researchers reported, "Such results clearly demonstrate that the glans protects the corpora by limiting the ICP [intracavernosal pressure] reached during sexual intercourse." Additionally, female partners of two of the patients reported increased vaginal pain during post-operative intercourse. The researchers postulated that "after glansectomy, the penetrating penis transmits forces directly on the sensitive anterior vaginal wall without any absorption by the glans, resulting in vaginal discomfort during coitus." 
MOIST OR DRY
Some say that the foreskin keeps the glans soft and moist, preventing it from drying out. They say that the glans of a circumcised man is chaffed and subject to friction, and that circumcised men are uncomfortable when wearing boxer shorts. We are unaware of any empirical studies comparing the non-sexual experiences of circumcised and uncircumcised men.
Apparently the image on the left in the Your Whole Baby meme  is supposed to be a close-up of a glans of a circumcised penis. Yet we've never seen a glans that resembles sandpaper, as in that image.
The Intact America tweet  claims that exposure to bodily waste and clothing can "cause the glans to dry out, become tougher, and lose sensitivity." In actuality, following the circumcision procedure, the wound is covered by a gauze pad to protect the penis from bodily waste. In fact circumcision decreases the risk of infection. [12-14] Notably Intact America provided absolutely no evidence for its claims. See our article "Of all the nerves" for an analysis of penile sensitivity. 
Those who say that moist is preferable to dry seem to believe that a moist environment provides lubrication to better facilitate vaginal intercourse. The Canadian study found that women with circumcised and uncircumcised partners “did not differ significantly on their self-reported responses ... measuring ... vaginal lubrication...” 
Intactivists seem to be confused over the difference between a dry organ and one that is dried out. Dry means free from moisture. A dry penis is a good thing, as harmful bacteria thrive in a moist environment. Urologist Dr. George Lee explained that "the moist glans of the penis can create the ideal environment for pathogens to incubate, making it susceptible to infections. This may include bacteria, fungus and sexually transmitted infections such as herpes and HIV.” 
Keratinization - dried out - refers to a thickened skin. The only study on keratinization found no difference between circumcised and uncircumcised men.  It’s been demonstrated that a dry glans is less susceptible to infection than a wet glans, even with good hygiene. [16-18]
Several intactivists have described the glans as an internal organ. They say that removal of the foreskin changes the glans into an external organ.  These claims signify a misunderstanding of the terms.
An external organ is an organ located on or near the surface of the body. An internal organ is an organ located inside the body. "Most of the male reproductive system is located outside of the man’s abdominal cavity or pelvis. The external structures of the male reproductive system are the penis, the scrotum and the testicles." 
The testicles are classified as external organs.  During his entire life a man will never see his testicles, which are contained inside the scrotum. Yet the testicles are external organs - because they are located outside the body. If testicles - which are always contained in the scrotum - are external organs, then the glans, which is outside the body and visible during sexual activity and urination, is certainly external.
The only time that the penis is an internal organ - is during sexual intercourse.
 "The 16 Foreskin Functions - a critical analysis"; Circumcision Choice; November 22, 2017
 Jason Fairfield tweet; December 25, 2021
 O’Hara, Kristen with O’Hara, Jeffrey; "Sex As Nature Intended It"; Turning Point Publications; 2002
"About organs"; Circumcision Choice; August 15, 2020
 "15 inches of errogenous tissue?"; Circumcision Choice; March 21, 2020
 Donald Taves; "The Intromission Function of the Foreskin"; Med Hypotheses; 2002
 Andrew Gross; "The Styrofoam Vagina"; Circumcision Choice; May 15, 2018  Jennifer A Bossio et al; “You either have it or you don’t: The impact of male circumcision status on sexual partners”; Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality; 2015
 D G Hatzichristou et al; "Protective role of the glans penis during coitus"; International Journal of Impotence Research; October 16, 2003
 See also: Jill Seladi-Schulman, PhD; "Everything You Want to Know About the Glans Penis"; Healthline; May 8, 2020. "While the penis is rigid when erect, the glans penis itself is softer. This helps to act as a shock absorber during sex."
 Your Whole Baby tweet; January 14, 2020
 Intact America tweet; March 11, 2022
 EJ Schoen et al; "Newborn circumcision decreases incidence and costs of urinary tract infections during the first year of life"; Pediatrics; April 2000
 D Singh-Grewal et al; "Circumcision for the prevention of urinary tract infection in boys: a systematic review of randomised trials and observational studies"; Acute paediatrics; May 12, 2005
 Michael L. Eisenberg et al; "The Relationship between Neonatal Circumcision, Urinary Tract Infection, and Health"; The World Journal of Men's Health; March 2018
 "Of all the nerves"; Circumcision Choice; March 2, 2018
 Lee, George, “To cut or not to cut?”; The Star Online; November 20, 2016
 Szabo, R and Short, R; “How does male circumcision protect against HIV infection?”; BMJ; 2000
 Krueger, H., & Osborn, L.; “Effects of hygiene among the uncircumcised”; The Journal of Family Practice; 1986
 O’Farrell, et al; . (2006). “Association between HIV and subpreputial penile wetness in uncircumcised men in South Africa”; Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, pp 69–77; 2006
 O’Farrell, N et al (2007). “Low prevalence of penile wetness among male sexually transmitted infection clinic attendees in London”; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, pp 408–409; 2007
 "Does being born a healthy male require surgical correction?"; Doctors Opposing Circumcision; uploaded January 2016. "The glans is a mucoid internal organ, like an eyeball."
 "Male Reproductive System"; Cleveland Clinic; last reviewed November 7, 2016
 "The Male Reproductive System"; Lumen. "External Male Sex Organs: Most of the male reproductive system is located outside of the man’s body. These external structures are the penis, scrotum, epididymis, and testes."