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Subincision is a form of body modification consisting of a urethrotomy, in which the underside of the penis is incised and the urethra slit open lengthwise, from the urethral opening (meatus) toward the base. The slit can be of varying lengths.

Historically, subincision is traditionally performed around the world, notably in Africa, South America and the Polynesian and Melanesian cultures of the Pacific, often as a coming of age ritual. In recent years, however, the practice has been taken up by some gay men in the western world for the purpose of sexual pleasure or aesthetics. As subincision removes a mans ability to pass urine or ejaculate from the penis, his penis is left as an object of pleasure only.

Disadvantages include the risk of surgery, which is often self-performed, and increased susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Among heterosexual men, the ability to impregnate (specifically, getting sperm into the vagina) may also be decreased.

Subincision greatly affects urination and requires the subincised male to sit while urinating. The scrotum can be pulled up against the open urethra to quasi-complete the tube and allow "normal" urination, while a few subincised men carry a tube with them to aim.

Cultural traditionsEdit

Related modificationsEdit

  • Splitting the urethra only to the base of the glans is called meatotomy.
  • Some people split the top of the penis as well, to achieve genital bisection.
  • Splitting the glans, but not the shaft, is known as headsplitting.
  • Splitting of the top of the penis only is known as superincision.

External linksEdit

See alsoEdit



  • Roheim, G´esa (1949) The Symbolism of Subincision. The American Iago 6:321–328.
  • Bettelheim, Bruno (1962) Symbolic Wounds: Puberty Rites and the Envious Male. New York: Collier.


  • Firth, Raymond, (1963) We the Tikopia: A Sociological Study of Kinship in Primitive Polynesia. Boston: Beacon.
  • Martin, John (1981) Tonga Islands: William Mariner’s Account. Tonga: Vava’u Press.
  • Diamond, M. (1990) Selected Cross-Generational Sexual Behavior in Traditional Hawai’i: A Sexological Ethnography, in Feierman, J. R. (Ed.) Pedophilia: Biosocial Dimensions. New York: Springer-Verlag, p422-43


  • Kempf, Wolfgang (2002) The Politics of Incorporation: Masculinity, Spatiality and Modernity among the Ngaing of Papua New Guinea. Oceania 73(1):56–78.
  • Hogbin, Ian (1970) The Island of Menstruating Men: Religion in Wogeo, New Guinea. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland


  • Cawte JE, Djagamara N, and Barrett MG (1966) The meaning of subincision of the urethra to aboriginal Australians. Br. J Med. Psychol. 39: 245-253.
  • Morrison J. (1967). The origins of the practices of circumcision and subincision among the Australian Aborigines. Medical Journal of Australia, January 21, p. 125-7.
  • Montagu, Ashley (1974) Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines: The Procreative Beliefs of the Australian Aborigines. 2nd ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • Pounder, Derrick, J. (1983) Ritual Mutilation: Subincision of the Penis among Australian Aborigines. American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology 4(3):227–229.
  • Abley, Mark. Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages.


  • Margetts, E. L. (1960) Sub-incision of the urethra in the Samburu of Kenya, East Afr Med J 37,2:105-8

de:Subinzision fr:Subincision he:פיום שופכה ja:尿道割礼 fi:Syväviilto

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