Circumcision and the penis

One of the most common queries of all is about little white pinpoint spots on the penile skin, which are known as Fordyce spots. White pearly lumps on the edge of the penile glans are called pearly penile papules, and are extremely common. A urologist can remove them with cryogenic techniques.

Another common penile problem is a curve in the penis when it becomes erect. You can see from the penis size statistics on  this site that a bend in the penis is actually extremely common. It's only a problem when a boy is born with a significant bend in his penis, or when a man's penis is injured during intercourse and then forms a curve which is too severe for intercourse take place.

Penile surgery for bends is now sophisticated, so it is possible to deal with Peyronie's disease with a surgical solution, but if you are going down this road please make sure that the surgeon you choose is an expert in this area.

Peyronie's disease is caused by scarring in the elastic wall and spongiform tissue of the internal chambers, the Corpora, of the penis. It's not know why this happens, although it's almost certainly to do with a series of minor injuries, and sometimes a single major injury, in which the erect penis has been bent back or twisted sharply.

One of the most common causes of trauma to the penis is woman on top sex positions, when the woman rises too high up while riding an erect penis, which then slips out of her vagina, before she lands on it as she descends.

Indeed, this trauma can be so severe that it leads to a condition known as penile fracture; this is nothing to do with breaking a bone, as you might expect; it's actually a tear in the tunica albuginea inside the penis. Penile fracture is an extremely painful problem, and requires urgent surgical attention.

By the way, if you have Peyronie's disease you may notice a hard scar or plaque inside the body of your penis when it's flaccid: this is the hard calcified lump which is responsible for the bend in the penis on erection. In the early stages of Peyronie's disease, you may also notice that your erection is quite painful.

Although Peyronie's disease can stabilize, and sometimes even improve with time, this can be a lengthy process -- up to two years.

Nonetheless, it may be useful waiting for a while because the treatments that have been developed for Peyronie's disease, including vitamin E, Potaba, steroids, ultrasound, and surgery, all seem to have a variable success rate.

The most common operation for Peyronie's disease is the Nesbitt procedure, in which the bend of the penis is reduced by removing a piece out of the wall of the corpora opposite the scar. This will straighten the penis, but will resort a shortening of the penis and possibly a loss of sensation.

Finally, the last problem is worth mentioning in this section is phimosis -- the inability to pull the foreskin back over the glans.

It's a misconception that young boys have phimosis because the penile glans normally adheres to the foreskin until a boy is about six years old. Before this, forcible retraction of the foreskin must be avoided, since it can result in scar tissue formation and an oversensitive glans.

If the foreskin is genuinely non-retractable at puberty it tends to be because the opening of the foreskin is narrow; this can be dealt with using steroid treatment as described on this website.

Illustration from Intactivism. Used by permission.


Circumcision means the removal of the foreskin, the fold of skin that surrounds the glans of the penis. A great many men in a great many societies have been circumcised, either because their religion or culture requires it or because circumcision is thought to be more hygienic.

The operation is a very simple one which, if it is properly done, causes little discomfort. It can be performed at any age; in some cultures it is delayed until adolescence and performed as a puberty rite, but in Western societies it is usually done shortly after birth. Circumcision makes no difference whatsoever to a man's sexual behavior.

Q "Surely circumcision must affect your sex life in some way?"

A: "No. It makes no difference to sexual excitement, erection, the ability to reach orgasm or the ability to have a pleasing and complete sex life with a partner. People sometimes think that a circumcised glans is less sensitive, because it is always exposed, than an uncircumcised glans. There is no evidence for this at all."

Q. "Just why is circumcision done?"

A: "A circumcision is performed only on those boys whose parents request it. It is a rather common practice in the United States, Canada and in some other countries, but most people in Europe, for example, are not circumcised. The primary reasons for circumcision are religious and cultural.

Thus Jews, Muslims and others have their male children ceremonially circumcised to comply with religious and cultural beliefs that have been handed down for centuries.

The secondary reason for circumcision is supposedly cleanliness, in order to prevent the accumulation of a white, cheesy secretion, which gathers under the foreskin and can possibly lead to irritation, infection or offensive odor.

The substance, called smegma, is a natural secretion from glands in the corona area, but its accumulation can be avoided simply by moving the foreskin back and washing the area daily. Circumcision, although not dangerous, is seen by more and more people as an extreme step to remedy the occurrence of smegma."

Q. "What about the high rate of cancer in women who have intercourse with uncircumcised men?"

A: "There has been speculation that women who have intercourse primarily with uncircumcised men contract cervical cancer (cancer of the neck of the womb) more frequently than women who have sex mostly with circumcised men. It has been suggested that smegma (the secretion that collects under the foreskin) may be responsible for transferring a virus that may encourage cervical cancer. These claims have not been proven."

Q "My friend is 16 and his doctor says he has to have a circumcision now. Can this be true?"

A: "Yes. Although circumcision is often performed when the boy is very young, it may be left until about the age of puberty and can in fact be done at any age without harmful results. Circumcision may be necessary for your friend because he has phimosis.

This is a condition in which the skin covering the head of the penis is too tight to roll back painlessly when required during urination, masturbation or intercourse. The discomfort that results from this tightness of the foreskin is easily corrected by circumcision."


Some psychiatrists believe that circumcision - the removal of the foreskin - is symbolic castration - the removal of the penis or testicles. The idea is that the powerful father is expressing his dominance over his infant son.

This early act is said to remain in the unconscious mind of the boy and to have an enduring effect on his relationship with his father.

 In contrast to this powerful symbolism, it appears that many men today have rather neutral feelings about their own circumcision. It is, something that happened to them when they were infants and they really do not recall the event or attach any significance to it.

They accept it because the religious aspect may be important to them, and/or they may believe that there are positive hygiene benefits.

There is, apparently, no medical advantage to circumcision. The back-to-nature movement, which says things are best left as they naturally are unless they are defective, is reinforcing the medical research, and many parents are now preferring not to have their sons circumcised.

Cosmetically, some men feel their uncircumcised penis is not as attractive looking with its wrinkled skin around the glans. Others, however, like not being circumcised as the foreskin makes the penis look longer.

Men are also concerned about how women feel about circumcised and uncircumcised penises. Generally, women are more interested in a person than in his foreskin - or lack of it.

Of course, Jewish women who want to be true to their religious beliefs will choose a Jewish man who is circumcised. But they're choosing a Jewish man, not a circumcision, a person rather than an operation.


Circumcision is a word from the Latin meaning "cutting round." It later acquired the sense of "cleansing" or "purifying. " Historically, it appears that the practice of circumcision originated among the Egyptians and was then adopted by the Hebrews. In Genesis 17: 10-13, circumcision was established as a covenant between God and Abraham.

Abraham was over 90 years of age at that time and he circumcised himself after the covenant was established. Other than the religious meaning, the origin and significance of circumcision is still unclear.

Some have called it a tribal mark used to distinguish and separate Jews from other people. This may have been true in earlier times, but today circumcision is quite a common procedure throughout the world.

In many parts of the world where circumcision has a special cultural or religious significance there are established rituals attending the operation. In Australia the Aborigines called the circumcision ceremony the dhapt, and performed it when a boy was ten or 11 years old.

The men of the community would take the boy off and perform the ceremony away from the women. In the ceremony, a man lay on his back with the boy on top of him facing upward.

The man held the boy in position and the foreskin was removed by a sharp stone, sometimes jagged quartz. Bleeding was stopped with hot coals and wet leaves. This ceremony was part of the boy's training in stoicism and suffering, preparing him for battle.

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