Circumcision and the
If you have grown up with a circumcised penis, you may think the battle
between the pro and anti campaigners is completely over the top.
What, you may think, does it matter if someone has been circumcised or not?
The first point is that in most cases circumcision is done because it is
traditional, not because it is a medical requirement.
The argument that circumcision prevents penile cancer has long since been
disproved - and penile cancer is so rare anyway that this argument never had
So is circumcision justifiable on the grounds of tradition?
I guess that depends entirely on whether or not you can go beyond the
unquestioning acceptance of tradition as a good or necessary thing and act in a
more enlightened and thoughtful way.
I find it truly appalling that religious superstition dictates what we do to
our babies in the twenty first century. It's typical of the mentality of most
humans that they think it's acceptable to circumcise a baby (without any
aesthetic) just because its a sign of their status as a privileged group in
Make no mistake, circumcision is mutilation. It's not justifiable on health
grounds, it's indefensible on religious grounds, and it's an act of barbaric
cruelty on a baby whose body is being changed irrevocably without his
Furthermore, in the West, in the USA in particular, circumcision was actually
introduced as a means of discouraging masturbation.
Naturally enough, when the medical profession got their hands on the
practice, it became institutionalized. But when you consider how circumcision is
normally performed you soon see what a bizarre thing it is.
of all, the traditional approach has not been to use any anesthetic.
How can that be? The defense, as I understand it,
is that a baby's awareness of pain is incomplete.
Not very likely, as any
mother will tell you. The reactions of the baby reveal the trauma that the
the baby boy's foreskin is not
designed to separate from the glans until he is several years old.
off, as happens in post-natal circumcision, leaves scars on the delicate surface
of the glans which can produce severe discomfort later in life.
(The boy's foreskin is attached to his glans by a membrane called the synechia.)
The glans becomes dry and keratinized, and is both over-sensitive to cold
and the friction of underwear, and under-sensitive during sexual intercourse.
The glans is a delicate mucus membrane, not ordinary skin.
It was not
designed to be left exposed to the atmosphere - it was designed to be covered by
a protective foreskin. Talk about a double whammy! The loss of the
foreskin and the loss of a normal glans.
Then there is the issue of botched circumcisions. In my opinion these
accidents, by no means rare, have occurred with sufficient frequency to justify
a ban on the procedure unless it is absolutely medically necessary - which in
fact it never is.
Thirdly, those women who say that they prefer the appearance of a circumcised
penis are both naive - in that they are trying to appropriate the penis as
though they had some proprietorial ownership of it - and ignorant - in that such
fashions as what seems most attractive on the body are only the result of
culturally determined phenomena like circumcision in the first place.
Men who have been circumcised at birth talk of feeling mutilated.
And so they have been - without their consent, and often by permission of the
people who were supposed to be looking after the baby's best interests - its own
Elective circumcision of a baby boy at the behest of its parents is no more
or less than a criminal and barbaric act.
What effect does circumcision have on ejaculation?
I have heard from many women and men that circumcision massively affects a
man's ejaculatory capacity.
For men with premature ejaculation, it may make
things worse to start with, since the stimulation during intercourse is so much
more intense; later there is a period when the keratinisation of the glans
causes the man to ejaculate more slowly.
However, I would never recommend that a man be circumcised just for this
The same applies to delayed ejaculation - although some men I know in my sex
therapy practice have elected for circumcision in the hope it would cure delayed
How many men are circumcised?
In 1997, 76% of men in the USA were circumcised. The percentage is falling as
more and more doctors and parents realize the errors of their ways and leave the
exquisitely designed penis - a perfect organ for sexual pleasure of both the boy
and his future sexual partners - in the state that nature intended.
In the UK, only a small minority of boys are
routinely circumcised at birth (probably around 1%). The same is true in
Australia and most other enlightened Western countries.
circumcisions are performed because an ignorant health care practitioner has
misdiagnosed phimosis. Note: a ballooning foreskin when a baby urinates does not
indicate phimosis - it is normal!
The British Medical Association says that doctors can conscientiously object
to performing non-therapeutic circumcision on moral, ethical and legal grounds.
They actually state that circumcision is and invasive and radical procedure,
and conservative treatments have to be tried before circumcision, otherwise it
Circumcision has almost died out among the white population of the UK, and
presumably only Muslims and Jews practice it with any regularity.
This accounts for the drop in the prevalence of circumcision in the
population as a whole. In the generation born between 1956 and 1960, as many as
20 percent of men had a circumcision.
Nowadays, as we have seen, it is probably about 1%. Sikhs, Hindus, and
Buddhists circumcise about one baby in ten (but why?). Jews circumcise almost
all baby boys (98.7%), presumably excluding only those babies who have
hypospadias, where the foreskin may be incomplete and needed for repair of the
Unfortunately the incidence of hypospadias is as high as 1% in most
The functions of the foreskin
The foreskin does several
things, and it does them all well.
It is full of touch receptors which are necessary for full sexual pleasure.
It protects the sensitive glans penis.
It moves smoothly during sexual intercourse or masturbation and there is
evidence that it provides both partners with more sexual pleasure than the would
This comes from a study of women who had had
sexual partners with and without foreskins.
There was a preference among these sexually experienced women for sexual
partners whose penis was natural.
The reason seems to be that a circumcised penis acts to remove natural
vaginal lubrication, whereas the movement of the foreskin in the vagina keeps
sex lubricated and therefore more satisfying for both partners.
This is an intact or
This is the structure of the foreskin
Intactivism. Used by permission.
So what's the problem with circumcision?
Well, we have no right to take away the sexual pleasure of babies, as
happens with routine post-natal circumcision.
If you have been circumcised
and you're saying, "But I get plenty of sexual pleasure!" the rather obvious
answer is - do you have any idea how it would feel to be uncircumcised?
post circumcision sensitivity test.
As far as the question of vaginal lubrication, to which we referred above, is
concerned, consider the following research findings by two scientists.
Among 138 sexually experienced women 86% said they
preferred a non-circumcised sexual partner.
These women said that circumcised men were more likely to experience
premature ejaculation and less likely to make them come during intercourse
through vaginal thrusting.
These are major differences, and if they really represent the pleasure and
success of sex for women, then circumcised men and their partners are at a
The women also claimed that their vaginal secretions dissipated more quickly
during sex with the circumcised men and that they found intercourse less
pleasurable, with more friction.
Although you might say that the addition of lube would solve this problem,
that's not quite the point. The point is that men who are circumcised have a
number of problems in making intercourse pleasurable for their partners.
Another major difference reported by these women was the style of thrusting
employed by circumcised and uncircumcised men.
Over three quarters of the women said that circumcised men used longer,
harder and faster thrusts, while men with a complete penis used more gentle
strokes, thrust more shallowly, and were in contact with the clitoris and pubic
The implication here is that the removal of the touch sensors in the foreskin
of the circumcised men left them unable to gauge the depth and power of their
thrusts, or that they needed to engage in more vigorous intercourse to achieve
the same level of pleasure, and perhaps also that they lacked feedback on when
they were approaching orgasm - thereby meaning they came sooner, and experienced
more premature ejaculation.
The authors concluded that the near universal preference for uncircumcised
men as sexual partners was because the mechanism of movement of the complete
penis is very different to the way the uncircumcised penis moves in the vagina.
In an intact penis, the corpus cavernosa and corpus
spongiosum slide within the penile skin, while the skin next to the vaginal wall
moves very little. This means the penis is thrusting within its own sheath of
skin, with very little friction and very little loss of vaginal lube.
Taking this further, when the penis is withdrawn slightly from the vagina,
the foreskin bunches up behind the coronal ridge, so that the tip of the
foreskin (with its high density of sensitive nerve endings) is in contact with
the coronal ridge of the glans (which also has a high density of nerve endings).
This produces high levels of nerve activity, so much so that the man stops
his outward stroke, and therefore his thrusting style is shorter and more
sensitive than that of the circumcised man.
When there is no moveable sheath of skin, as in the circumcised penis, there
is friction of skin against skin in the vagina, with abrasion and even the need
for artificial lube.
The coronal ridge of the penis does exactly what it is supposed not to do -
it acts as a one-way valve, expelling the woman's natural lubrication as the man
As the circumcised man withdraws his penis form his partner's vagina, he does
not have the neural feedback from the missing nerve receptors of his foreskin.
He also lacks an ejaculatory trigger, since these nerve cells are part of the
mechanism of ejaculation.
To reach orgasm, the man who has a circumcised penis must add extra
stimulation to his glans and the internal structures of his penis by thrusting
He has both less control and reaches orgasm quicker than the uncircumcised
men. In doing so he removes a lot of the natural lube from his partner's vagina.
The women also observed that uncircumcised men appeared to enjoy intercourse
more than circumcised men, so that the men whose penis had been mutilated sought
more oral sex than the uncircumcised men.
The overall conclusion was that sex with a man whose penis is still intact is
a better experience for both the man and the woman.
Obviously, this needs to form part of the thought process parents go through
when they give so-called "informed consent" the the mutilation of their baby
References and further reading
Some medical-type pictures of normal
penises. The source of the information above.
Sex with an uncut penis
Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (who say "Don't circumcise
baby boys"!) No
small piece of skin
A website describing the normal
development of the foreskin or prepuce from birth through to age 18 CIRP
Foreskin restoration National organization
of restoring men
Historical context of circumcision and the biology, mechanism and medical and
social aspects of it today Circumstitions