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Circumcised Men Want it All Back

Louanne Cole, Ph.D.
S.F. Examiner
p. C-7, Wednesday, October 15, 1997

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Q: I am seeking your advice in this somewhat delicate matter which I would dearly love to share with my women friends (whom I'm sure would find it most amusing, to say the least), but I'm sworn to secrecy. My husband of many years recently expressed his feelings of anger and loss at the fact that he was circumcised as a baby. He says that it was a totally unnecessary and senseless surgery that has deprived him of protection for the head of his penis and undoubtedly caused him to lose some sensation, not to mention that it was done entirely without his knowledge or consent! More recently he told me he had found some information on the Internet about foreskin restoration which involves taping and stretching the remaining skin to form a kind of substitute foreskin. He has started to do that. Based on the experience of others who have done this, he says that the process may take a year or more to produce significant results. Obviously, he can't recover what was cut off from him so long ago, but he says that it will be worthwhile if it makes him feel better and if he does regain some sensitivity. Is this a sign of male menopause or what? As far as I can determine he has very adequate sensitivity and has never experienced any kind of problem that I am aware of. I've even offered to knit him a cap to wear over the head of his penis but he's said "No thanks" to my idea. Furthermore, I don't particularly care for the appearance of uncircumcised penises. Is this something I should just chuckle about quietly and allow to run its natural course, hoping he tires of the daily taping routine? Or might it produce some real benefits for him? Are significant numbers of other men also trying to return to their "natural glory"? Or is this an isolated case?

A: Your husband is actually part of a growing number of men who as adults are questioning a surgical procedure that was routinely performed on most infant males for several decades in the U.S. And now he and they are doing something about it. Fortunately (in my opinion), many parents, physicians and nurses no longer allow the often unanesthetized cutting away of such highly sensitive skin and tissue. Down from its peak level of 85 percent in 1980, circumcision occurred for about 63 percent of infant boys in the U.S. in 1994. According to the National Center of Health Statistics, parents on both coasts have dropped the practice more quickly than in the Midwest, with the West showing a rate of 34 percent circumcising in 1994.

The technique your husband is using to restore the protective function of his former foreskin has been practiced for several years. For more information on the whys and how-tos, read "The Joy of Uncircumcising! Restore Your Birthright and Maximize Sexual Pleasure" by Jim Bigelow (Hourglass Book Publishing, 1992).

Many men who were circumcised as infants have a hunch that the skin on the head of their penis has changed. If they made comparisons with an uncircumcised man they would see and feel the difference, a thickening of the skin.

The cap you proposed knitting would need to be made of slightly moist skin and would only be removed during bathing and sexual activity to accomplish its task. Otherwise, it's no different from the rubbing against clothing an uncircumcised man typically experiences.

If you're curious about the experiences that men report as adults stemming from their circumcision send for the report "Awakenings: Preliminary Poll of Circumcised Men" available for $25 from NOHARMM at P.O. Box 460795, San Francisco, CA 94146.

You mentioned that you don't care for the look of intact penises. Should the aesthetics of genitals be reason enough to cut parts off? I don't think so. Most women would no want men surgically redesigning their external genitals - although unfortunately that does go on in certain parts of the world.

Louanne Cole, Ph.D. is a board-certified sex therapist with an office in San Francisco. Send your questions for Sex Matters to: Sex Matters, Style, San Francisco Examiner, P.O. Box 7260, San Francisco, 94120 or you can e-mail to:

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