Question: I am six months pregnant with my second son. We didn’t have our first son circumcised, but recently we heard that “the benefits outweigh the risks”. We are very confused and don’t know what to do, as everyone is telling us something different.
Answer: Congratulations on keeping your first son intact. The foreskin is an amazing and complex part of the penis, serving many important health and sexual functions. Various claims that circumcision has medical benefits (including reducing HIV) have been made over the last 150 years, all to be disproved later. As a result circumcision has been described as “an operation looking for a reason.” Many doctors are against it and you can read about that at Doctors Opposing Circumcision. Even if circumcision were to be conclusively proven to have any significant health benefits (which is unlikely) the pain and shock experienced by the baby, and possible sexual problems later in life, are not factored into the equation, leading to a false conclusion. (You can learn more about that at NOCIRC as well as watching a very informative video). When all the factors are taken into consideration, keeping your baby intact is by far the wiser choice to make.
The foreskin is the most sensitive and highly innervated part of the penis, and babies who experience pain much more more acutely than adults definitely experience being cut as painful. Circumcision also dulls the adult man’s sexual pleasure (and often that of his partner). Fortunately since most circumcised men have never known what it feels like to have a foreskin, they consider what they experience during sex to be normal and as a result many men don’t have any strong feelings about it. A significant number do experience sexual problems at times though and a number of these land up in psychotherapy because of the impact these problems are having on their relationships.
THE AMAZING FORESKIN
Recent studies have found that the foreskin is not just a little flap of skin, but in fact the most highly innervated part of the entire penis, with the most sensitive part of all being the “ridged band” just under the very tip. This is packed full of Meisner’s corpuscles, which are very sensitive to fine touch. The glans, which is designed to be an internal organ is sensitive mainly to pressure and pain. When an intact man makes love with his partner, the foreskin rolls backwards and forwards over the glans. As he moves, an intact man actually “glides” in and out, making the pleasure sensation continuous for him and his partner. A circumcised man in contrast, has to thrust or “pump” to get enough stimulation to reach orgasm. This is far less pleasurable for both of them as stimulation comes in bursts and because it causes friction, older couples may abandon sex earlier as it becomes painful rather than pleasurable.
Also because an intact man doesn’t have to pull away and then thrust forwards, it is more likely that his pubic area and that of his partner will remain in contact, so that he is constantly stimulating her clitoris. For that and other reasons, the partners of intact men are more likely to experience vaginal orgasm than partners of circumcised men. Interestingly, the foreskin is actually far more sensitive than even the female clitoris, having many more specialised nerve endings. Because an intact man doesn’t need to pull out so far to thrust back in, the lubrication in his partner’s vagina stays in place, as does his own. That makes for smoother and more sensuous stimulation for both of them, and artificial lubricants aren’t needed, making the sexual experience far more satisfying for both partners than if the man had been cut. When the foreskin is removed, a man loses about four fifths of his penile sensitivity, the most sensitive part remaining being the scar where he was cut, which is sometimes oversensitive, resulting in a feeling that combines elements of both pleasure and pain.
Above is an excellent video on the foreskin (prepuce) why it is there, what it does, all the highly specialised nerve cells it has, and why it is important to keep it intact for a really good love-life.
For people who have had their baby boys circumcised and may later regret it, it may be helpful to remember that you did what you believed to be best for your baby at the time. If your child is upset about it you can reassure him that he can “regrow” his foreskin using a small device that he would need to wear for a few years. This device uses weights and/or gentle tugging to stretch the tiny bit of foreskin that is left and new cells and mucus membranes grow over time. Men who have successfully regrown their foreskin to the point where it once again covers the glans, say they are amazed at how much sensitivity they have regained. Their partners are usually very happy too, because they are now able to “glide” (as nature intended) instead of having to “thrust” during lovemaking, making the experience more pleasurable for both of them, and making it more likely that the woman will achieve orgasm. Recent research with stem cells suggests that regrowing the foreskin is going to be quicker and easier in the future too.
If you are still in need of help or support, here is a list of organizations around the world who offer advice and counselling
Helpful Sites Around the World.
Written by Pat Törngren © 2012
No comments from something that is hitting the headlines. I would really like to hear from people how they feel about this…
My warm appreciation to Peaceful Parenting / DrMomma.org for their permission for me to use their picture. In the past they have published some of my work and you can find it here:
Wow Patty, I just read this now. I consider myself a huge intactivist, but I had no idea of the natural way of lovemaking. I knew that the foreskin was very sensitive and it’s loss results in not only physiological, but psychological changes as well, I did not know however, of the way sex SHOULD be. It’s not very often that i’ve come across an intact man *blushes* and my husband too, is circumcised. when i discovered the procedure i felt awful that my husband had been put through that and a little resentful towards his parents for doing that to him. I am trying to convince him to restore his foreskin but it is a work in progress! Well done on a truly informative article. Perhaps you could do another article on the medical myths of this procedure? About UTI’s, HIV etc?
Hi Mands, Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I have another article in the pipeline that covers the issues you suggest. I think when people understand the reason why the foreskin is there, and both the medical and sexual advantages of keeping it there, as well as simple instructions about how to keep it clean, they are more inclined to keep their babies intact.
Well I already knew most of this information. But I wanted to mention that it isn’t only older couples that experience that. I’ve had sex with one uncircumcised man, and it wad the only time sex hasn’t been painful. I am almost 23 and married 4 years to a very tightly circumcised man. And let me just say we rarely have sex, its hard to even force myself to do it. His birthday was 3 days ago and he still hasn’t gotten it and its sad, I feel bad. He hates that he was circumcised, as do I. We are missing out. So as I was saying, it didn’t only happen when you get older. I wish people realized it hurts women too 🙁
Hi Courtney, I am really sad to hear that you are having this very unhappy experience. Today many men are regrowing their foreskins, using a small device to stretch the tiny bit of foreskin that is left, if there is enough to grip. I believe one of the devices used is called the “hugger”. There is a closed group on facebook where men who are restoring, are helping each other. They can also refer people to doctors for help. If you would like to email me at email@example.com I would be happy to help refer you to the group (it’s a “secret” group to protect the members who are discussing intimate things — or will be — it has just bee created. There are people there who will make your husband feel at home and safe).
Countries in Europe are taking the lead in getting male infant circumcision stopped: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74NJSOjBTNI
A mother shares her grief about having her sons circumcised without first researching the subject and finding out the impact it would have on her babies for the rest of their lives: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm2b__6i4EI
I just thought I’d mention the fact , that I live in a country where most men are circumcised. I think pleasure is a matter of talent and , that thing called love. That is from my humble experience.
Hi Meira, Yes, if we love someone, we are going to make it work somehow. However when a baby boy is circumcised, four fifths of the most sensitive penile tissue is removed, and that is certainly going to impact his life and that of his partner, no matter how much they love each other. I see you live in Israel, so I understand the problem. Are you aware that there is a growing movement among Jewish people to perform a “Bris Shalom” or bris without cutting? Here is a link where you can learn more about this, I do hope it helps:
You will find a huge amount of information if you click on the index to the left of the site. I hope it helps.
And here is a link to an article describing how a “Bris Shalom” is carried out: