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Circumcision, the glans & the foreskin

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Like many a man who was circumcised as a child, I've developed a number of problems in later life. Mostly this is about the rubbing of my dry, keratinized glans on my underwear, although there's also the issue of discomfort during masturbation (no moist glans, no smoothly gliding foreskin, means there's always a need for lube).

I've seen men writing on the internet furious that they were circumcised without their permission, and still raging about what they call mutilation many years later.

Why such strong emotions? Well, my own consciousnesses is a bit higher than it used to be, and I'm pretty angry about this whole thing myself. I only realized this quite recently when I saw a piece of research which suggests that women actually enjoy intercourse more with men who are intact, uncut, not mutilated.

The reason is this: the penis moves within a sheath of foreskin when a man has intercourse. This gliding movement actually gives the man the sensations of thrusting but minimizes his movement inside the woman's vagina.

This means her natural lubrication is preserved, so the friction is reduced, and the risk of abrasion to her and her partner is greatly reduced. In other words, intercourse is more comfortable for a couple if the man has a foreskin.

(Fink, K.S., et al, “Adult Circumcision Outcomes Study: Effect on Erectile Function, Penile Sensitivity, Sexual Activity and Satisfaction.” Published in The Journal of Urology Volume 167 (2002): page 2113.)

What's more, the women reported that men who had a foreskin were more pleasurable sexual partners because they were more sensitive while thrusting. My interpretation of the research is that men who are circumcised lack the touch receptors of the foreskin that allows their body to gauge how deep or hard they are thrusting, so that they thrust - as the women said - deeper and harder.

Again, this tends to remove the woman's natural lube. What's more, circumcised men lack the nerve cells on the foreskin that control progress towards orgasm and ejaculation, so that the deeper and harder thrusting may actually be needed for these men to reach orgasm.

Well, you may say, you can always add lube. And so you can, but that misses the point. For me, sex is a wonderful thing and anything that reduces the pleasure for either partner - even if it can be compensated for by adding lube - detracts from the pleasure, the spontaneity, the sensation and the connection between me and my partner.

Aha, you may add, but don't women prefer the way a circumcised penis looks? In my experience, this depends on whether they have seen any uncircumcised penises - it's not unusual for American women never to have seen an uncut penis. No wonder they prefer circumcised penises - that's what they grew up with!

The thing is this: I'd like to know what I'm missing. I don't feel I'm complete, and all because the doctors removed my foreskin without my permission.

The cultural norm is changing, thank heavens, and about time too: nowadays routine infant circumcision is becoming less and less common. I think it is abuse to cut off any part of a child's body - that's true no less for his penis that anything else.

I'd like to know what I'm missing because it might make sex better (though how would one ever know?) and because I hate the discomfort of my glans rubbing on my underwear. This happens because the glans is not covered with ordinary skin - it sports a specialized mucus membrane which is  designed to be covered and protected by the foreskin. When it has the protection of the foreskin removed, the glans penis dries out and becomes thick, in an effort to protect itself from exposure to a world it was never meant to see....

The question arises as to why parents have so cravenly given in to the doctors who have insisted on routine circumcision of baby boys - and without anesthetic at that. This barbaric practice - still defended in some communities as a traditional religious rite - amounts to nothing more or less than child abuse of the most brutal kind.

The penis is the most personal organ in the body, the one which can potentially give the greatest pleasure. It seems perverse that we mutilate it. Perhaps there's some deep guilt in the human psyche that means we cannot easily allow ourselves the full allowance of sexual pleasure that Nature has given us. Whatever collective emotions - guilt, rage, self-hatred - the medical profession is acting out by circumcising young boys, it is time it stop this practice.

Yes, I have strong feelings on the matter of my penis - which man does not? The discomfort I've experienced over the years from my dry glans has been considerable.

This discomfort is worst in cold dry weather and least in warm weather. I know this is a problem for many men, and using skin creams or soft cotton underwear does not really help.

When a baby's foreskin is removed, the natural adhesions between the foreskin and the glans are ripped apart. They would not normally separate until several years of age, and they would do so in a way that left the surface of the glans intact. This abnormal process of ripping the two skin surfaces apart tears the synechial membrane of the penis apart.

The foreskin and penis are really still developing when a baby boy is circumcised: as I mentioned before, the glans and foreskin don't separate until about three years of age age. The analogy I've seen used for the ripping apart of the foreskin and glans is the tearing apart of a strip of Velcro. Ouch!

It seems balanitis is more common in circumcised boys - this is an itchy fungal infection of the glans penis. (I don't know if it is more common in adults who have been circumcised, but it has certainly been a problem for me from time to time.) This might be because parents of a circumcised boy do not know they still have to clean his penis - it seems to me more likely the problem is that the circumcision makes the penis more vulnerable to infection.

There's a report in the British Journal of Urology by van Howe and his colleagues which reports that about a third of circumcised boys under the age of 3 years develop skin bridges or adhesions. These are complications that arise when the two damaged surfaces of the glans and foreskin left by the circumcision heal together.

The raw surfaces left when a circumcision is performed will naturally heal together and may form skin bridges and other adhesions. If the remains of the foreskin are extensive, it will tend to heal onto the glans. Because there is no interstitial synechial membrane, the adhesions will not break down later in life.

Dr. Van Howe said that for complete and clean healing of a routine infant circumcision, the circumcised baby's penis must have skin over the glans retracted and cleaned regularly until one and a half year of age. He stated that a circumcised penis needs more care than an intact penis. Indeed, because of the adhesion of the foreskin to the glans, a normal penis needs no special care. British Journal of Urology, Nov 1997, number 80: pp. 776-782.

There is only one good thing about my circumcision. And that's because there's a bunch of loose skin left that huddles up at the edge of the coronal rim when I make love to my partner. She tells me that as I thrust into her, this skin rubs across her G spot in a most pleasant way - in fact, with enough intensity to bring her to a G spot orgasm. This is a profound and exciting event for us both, for I have never found anything to be as sexually exciting as being inside a woman when she reaches orgasm.

See the premature ejaculation page of this site for information on how I can make love in a way that both helps me last longer and helps her reach orgasm.

The foreskin has many functions: Functions of the foreskin It has many sensitive nerve endings, which control a man's sexual response and determine the time of his orgasm. it produces or preserves smegma, which oddly enough, has a vital role in sexual mating. And the foreskin, as we have already seen, may make sex better for a woman: the research.

What these researchers found was that in a group of sexually experienced women, the women reached orgasm more easily with uncircumcised men. They also preferred sex with uncircumcised men. They rated circumcised men lower as lovers, and stated very clearly that circumcised men gave them less satisfying feelings during sex than a man with a foreskin.

The women also said that the men with the circumcised penises tended to thrust harder and deeper, with long thrusts, compared to the slower, more gentle and more satisfying strokes of unaltered.

This is because the movement of the penis in its sheath of foreskin allows penile movement in the vagina with the least loss of vaginal secretions. Also, the intense stimulation produced by the nerve cells of the foreskin when a man withdraws somewhat from his partner, discourages him from further withdrawal, meaning his thrusts are shorter than they would be for a man with no touch receptors n his foreskin.

Worst of all, circumcision removes up to half of the skin of the penis. This lessens the amount of skin available for the corpus cavernosa and corpus spongiosum to glide against. This means that the skin of the penis now has to glide against the vaginal wall, but this removes the woman's natural secretions, which can leak out because there is no foreskin present to stop them leaking (the foreskin normally acts as a one way valve).

And because a circumcised man tends to withdraw further on his strokes than a normal man, the loss of vaginal secretions is made even worse. All in all, it's no surprise that women with sexual experience prefer uncircumcised men.

 

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Other pages on the penis and testicles

Penis size
Penis variations in pictures
Penis enlarging/ body mod
Circumcision
Foreskin restoration
The effects of circumcision
Arousal and erection
More on erections
Ejaculation and orgasm
The testicles and scrotum
Masturbation
Condoms and contraception
The prostate gland
The penis and peeing
Wet dreams
Ejaculation problems
The life history of a sperm
Pre-ejaculatory fluid precum
Boys and puberty
Night-time erections
Penile pain
Penile questions
Avoiding The Mid Life Crisis

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Penis facts and penile functions
The penis, masculinity and sex
A Cultural History Of The Penis
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