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Circumcision Exposed
Rethinking a Medical and
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The Foreskin Advantage

NOTE: Links with a right-facing blue arrow will take you off this site.

Benefits enjoyed by males who are intact (not circumcised)

1. Full penis length and circumference. The "prepuce" (foreskin) constitutes 50% or more of the skin system of the penis [1]. If unfolded and spread flat, the average adult foreskin measures 60-90 square centimeters (10-14 square inches) [2], or about the size of an index card [see illustration]. The foreskin creates a visibly longer penis, especially when the foreskin extends beyond the head of the penis. Also, the double-layered tissue of the foreskin engorges with blood during erection and creates a visibly and sensually thicker shaft and glans.When the engorged foreskin retracts behind the coronal ridge of the glans, it often creates a wider and more pronounced "ridge" that many partners find especially stimulating during penetrative intercourse. The circumcised penis appears truncated and thinner than a full-sized intact penis.

2. Protection. The sleeve of tissue known as the foreskin normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and environmental contaminants. The glans is intended by nature to be a protected internal organ, like the female clitoris [see illustration]. The effect of an exposed glans and resulting keratinization on human sexual response has never been studied. Increasing reports by circumcised men indicate that keratinization causes a loss of sexual sensation, pleasure and fulfillment [3, 4].

3. Ridged bands. The inner foreskin contains bands of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue [1]. They constitute a primary erogenous zone of the human penis and are important for realizing the fullness and intensity of sexual response [5].

4. Gliding action.  The foreskin is the only moving part of the penis. During any sexual activity, the foreskin and glans work in unison; their mutual interaction creates a complete sexual response. In heterosexual intercourse, the non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth and pleasurable intercourse for both partners [Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)see illustration]. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, dragging vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for non-painful intercourse [6].

5. Specialized sensory tissue. In addition to the "ridged bands" mentioned above, thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors (Meissner’s corpuscles) constitute the most important sensory component of the penis [1]. The foreskin contains branches of the dorsal nerve and between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which are capable of sensing slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture [7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

6. The frenulum. This is a highly nerve-laden web of tissue that tethers the inner foreskin to the underside of the glans [see photo]. It is similar to the frenula found under the tongue, the upper lip and the clitoral hood (female foreskin). For many intact men, the penile frenulum is a male "G-spot" that is highly pleasurable when repeatedly stretched and relaxed during sexual activity [13]. Depending on the surgical method used, the frenulum is partially to completely destroyed by circumcision.

7. Proper blood flow. The foreskin contains several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this rich vascularization interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, damaging the natural function of the penis and altering its development [1].

8. Immunological defense. The soft mucosa of the inner foreskin produces plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies, and antibacterial and antiviral proteins [7, 14], such as the pathogen-killing enzyme called lysozyme [15 and Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)see explanation]. All of the human mucosa (the linings of the mouth, eyelids, vagina, foreskin and anus) are the body's first line of defense against disease. This benefit of the foreskin could be one possible explanation why intact men are at lower risk of chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases [16-21].

9.  Langerhans cells. These specialized epithelial cells are a component of the immune system and may play a role in protecting the penis from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV (AIDS) [Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)see explanation and 14-16, 18].

10. Proper lymph flow. The foreskin contains lymphatic vessels, which are necessary for proper lymph flow and immunological functioning.

11. Estrogen receptors. The foreskin contains estrogen receptors, whose purpose is not yet fully understood and needs further study [22].

12. Apocrine glands. These glands produce pheromones, nature’s invisible yet compelling signals to potential sexual partners. The effect of their absence on human sexual behavior has never been studied [23].

13. Sebaceous glands. The oils produced by these glands lubricate and moisturize the foreskin and glans, so that the two structures function together smoothly.

14. Dartos fascia. This is a smooth muscle sheath that underlies the scrotum, the entire penis and the tip of the foreskin. It is necessary for proper temperature regulation of the genitals (causing these structures to elongate in the heat and shrink in the cold). Approximately half of the Dartos fascia is destroyed by circumcision [7].

15. Natural texture and coloration of the glans. In the intact penis, the glans normally appears moist, shiney, and pinkish-red to dark purple. These visual cues often attract and excite a sexual partner. The glans of a circumcised penis is dry, rough and often light pink to bluish-gray in color [see photos].

16. Zero risk of serious infection or surgical injury.  Unfortunate boys who suffer botched circumcisions lose part or all of their penis from surgical mishap or subsequent infection. They are often "sexually reassigned" by castration and "transgender surgery." They are relegated to a life of hormone therapy and are compelled to live their lives as pseudo-females, the success of which has never been fully assessed [24-46].

17. Zero risk of death from surgery. Every year boy die from the complications of circumcision, a fact that the American circumcision industry ignores, obscures, or downplays [29-31].

18. Zero risk of delayed or diminished maternal bonding. Circumcision, even if anesthesia is used, causes unavoidable operative trauma and post-operative pain that has been shown to disrupt bonding with the mother, which in turn interferes with the first developmental task of every human, that of trust (trust in human contact, in personal safety, etc) [47-51].

19.  Electromagnetic "cross-communication." Anecdotal reports suggest that, without the mucosa of its foreskin, the penis lacks the capacity for the subtle electromagentic energy transfer that occurs during contact between two mucous membranes (the vaginal walls and the exposed inner lining of the foreskin). Such contact contributes to the full experience of sexual pleasure. These reports deserve further scientific study.

20. The foreskin is necessary for optimal health and well-being of the male, as well as contributing to fulfillment
in his sexual relationships.

Adapted for use by NOHARMM from a list compiled by
Gary L. Harryman (NORM/Southern California)


1. Taylor, J. R. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"The Prepuce: Specialized Mucosa of the Penis and Its Loss to Circumcision," British Journal of Urology 77 (1996): 291-295.

2.  Werker, P, Terng, A, Kon, M, Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"The Prepuce Free Flap: Dissection Feasibility Study and Clinical Application of a Super-Thin New Flap," Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 102 (1998): 1075-1082.

3. Money, J. and Davison J., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Adult penile circumcision: erotosexual and cosmetic sequelae," The Journal of Sex Research, Vol 19 No. 3, Aug 1983.

4. Hammond, T. "A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood," BJU International 83, Suppl. 1 (1999): 85-92.

5. Bullough, V. L. and Bullough, B. ed., "Circumcision: Male-Effects Upon Human Sexuality," Human Sexuality Encyclopedia,Garland, 1994.

6. O'Hara, K. and O'Hara, J., "The effect of male circumcision on the sexual enjoyment of the female partner," British Journal of Urology, 83, Supplement 1, (1999): 79-84.

7. Cold, C, Taylor, J, "The Prepuce," BJU International 83, Suppl. 1, (1999): 34-44.

8. Bazett, H. C. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Depth, Distribution and Probable Identification in the Prepuce of Sensory End-Organs Concerned in Sensations of Temperature and Touch; Thermometric Conductivity," Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry 27 (1932): 489-517.

9. Dogiel, A. S., "Die Nervenendigungen in der Haut der šusseren Genitalorgane des Menschen," [Nerve endings in human genital mucosa] Archiv fur Mikroskopische Anatomie 41 (1893): 585-612.

10. Winkelmann, R. K., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"The Cutaneous Innervation of Human Newborn Prepuce," Journal of Investigative Dermatology 26 (1956): 53-67.

11. Winkelmann, R. K., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"The Erogenous Zones: Their Nerve Supply and Its Significance," Proceedings of the Staff Meetings of the Mayo Clinic, 1959.

12. Erickson, J. A., "Three Zones of Penile Skin," Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)five photographs in Lander M. M., "The Human Prepuce," in Denniston, G. C. and Milos, M. F., eds., Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy, Plenum Press (1997): 79-81.

13. Seifer, Judith, R.N. (President, American Assn. of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists) "Ask men's health." Men's Health (October 1994): 133

14. Fleiss, P., Hodges, F. M., and Van Howe, R. S., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Immunological Functions of the Human Prepuce," Sexually Transmitted Infections, 1998.

15. Lee-Huang, S, Huang P.L., Sun Y., et al "Lysozyme and RNases as anti-HIV components in beta-core preparations of human chorionic gonadotropin," Proc Natl Acad Sci (U S A) 1999 (Mar 16);96(6):2678-2681.

16. Van Howe, R.S., "Does Circumcision Influence Sexually Transmitted Diseases?" BJU International 83, Suppl. 1 (1999): 52-62.

17. Laumann, E.O. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Circumcision in the United States: Prevalence, Prophylactic Effects, and Sexual Practice," JAMA 277, 1997.

18. Nicoll, A. Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Routine male neonatal circumcision and risk of infection with HIV-1 and other sexually transmitted diseases," Archives of Disease in Childhood (London) 1997;77(3):194-195.

19. Smith, G. L. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Circumcision as a Risk Factor for Urethritis in Racial Groups," American Journal of Public Health 77, 1987.

20. Cook, L. S. et al., "Clinical Presentation of Genital Warts among Circumcised and Uncircumcised Heterosexual Men Attending an Urban STD Clinic," Genitourinary Medicine 69 (1993): 262-264.

21. Tanne, J.H., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"U.S. has epidemic of sexually transmitted disease," BMJ 1998;317:1616.

22. Hausmann, R. et al., "The Forensic Value of the Immunohistochemical Detection of Oestrogen Receptors in Vaginal Epithelium," International Journal of Legal Medicine 109 (1996): 10-30.

23. Ahmed, A. and Jones, A. W., "Apocrin Cystadenoma: A Report of Two Cases Occurring on the Prepuce," British Journal of Dermatology, 1969.

24. Cleary, D. G. and Kohl, S., "Overwhelming infection with group B beta-hemolytic streptococcus associated with circumcision," Pediatrics, Vol 64, no 3, (September 1979), pp. 301-303.

25. Williams and Kapila, Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Complications of Circumcision," British Journal of Surgery, Oct 1993.

26. Diamond, M. and Sigmundson, H. K., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Sex Reassignment at Birth," Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 1997.

27. Money, J., "Ablatio Penis: Normal Male Infant Sex-Reassigned as a Girl," Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1975.

28. Bradley, S. J. et al, Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Experiment of Nurture: Ablatio Penis at 2 Months, Sex Reassignment at 7 months, and a Psychosexual Follow-up in Young Adulthood," Pediatrics 1998.

29. "Baby bleeds to death after circumcision," Miami Herald, June 21, 1993.

30. "Boy in coma most of his 6 years dies," Associated Press, July 10, 1992.

31. "Circumcision that didn't heal kills boy," NewsNet5 - Cleveland, Ohio, October 20, 1998.

32. "Permanent foreshortening and disfigurement of the penis," Associated Press, November 30, 1995.

33. Palmer, J. M. and Link, D., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Impotence following anesthesia for elective circumcision," JAMA 1979; 241:2635-6.

34. Pearlman, C. K., "Reconstruction Following Iatrogenic Burn of the Penis," Journal of Pediatric Surgery 11 (1976): 121-122.

35. Persad, R. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Clinical Presentation and Pathophysiology of Meatal Stenosis Following Circumcision," Brit Journal of Urology 75, 1995.

36. Lerner, B. L., "Amputation of the penis as a complication of circumcision," Med Rec Ann 1952; 46: 229-31.

37. Levitt, S. B., Smith R. B., Ship A.G,. "Iatrogenic microphallus secondary to circumcision," Urology 1976; 8: 472-4.

38. Gearhart, J. P. and Rock, J. A., "Total Ablation of the Penis after Circumcision with Electrocautery: A Method of Management and Long-Term Followup," Journal of Urology 142 (1989): 799-801.

39. Gluckman, G. R. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Newborn Penile Glans Amputation during Circumcision and Successful Reattachment," Journal of Urology 153 (1995): 778.

40. Kaplan, G. W., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Complications of Circumcision," Urologic Clinics of North America 10, 1983.

41. Stefan, H., "Reconstruction of the Penis Following Necrosis from Circumcision Used High Frequency Cutting Current," Sbornik Vedeckych Praci Lekarske Fakulty Karlovy Univerzity (Hradci Kralove) vol. 35, no. 5 (Suppl) 1992, pp. 449-454.

42. Strimling, B. S., "Partial Amputation of Glans Penis during Mogen Clamp Circumcision," Pediatrics 87 (1996): 906-907.

43. Taddio, A. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Effect of Neonatal Circumcision on Pain Response during Subsequent Routine Vaccination," Lancet 349 (1997): 599-603.

44. Talarico, R. D. and Jasaitis, J. E., "Concealed Penis: A Complication of Neonatal Circumcision," Journal of Urology 110 (1973): 732-733.

45. Kirkpatrick, B. V. and Eitzman, D. V., "Neonatal Septicemia after Circumcision," Clinical Pediatrics 13 (1974): 767-768.

46. Lee L.D., and Millar A.J.W. "Ruptured bladder following circumcision using Plastibell device," British Journal of Urology 1990; 65: 216-17.

47. Cansever, G., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Psychological effects of circumcision," Br J Med Psychol 1965; 38: 321-31.

48. Marshall, R. E. et al., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Circumcision: II. Effects upon Mother-Infant Interaction," Early Human Development , 1982.

49. Goldman, R., Blue_ArrowD096.gif (140 bytes)"Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma," Vanguard Publications, 1997.

50. Prescott, J. W., "Genital Pain vs. Genital Pleasure: Why the One and Not the Other?" Truth Seeker 1 (1989): 14-21.

51. Immerman, R. S. and Mackey, W.C., "A Proposed Relationship Between Circumcision and Neural Reorganization," Journal of Genetic Psychology, 1998.

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