While the controversy over male circumcision rages on ... those in favor claim important health benefits, while those against the circumcision of baby boys call it "torture" and "mutilation" that causes psychological harm and leads to a major loss of sexual enjoyment.
Meanwhile, some men are taking their penis into their own hands and using non-surgical methods to restore their foreskin.
It's undoubtedly true that circumcision makes it easier to keep the penis tidy, and plenty of scientific studies show that foreskins, particularly when linked with poor hygiene, can be a factor in contracting a number of diseases, including cancer and AIDS. But it seems logical that the removal of the nerve-rich prepuce, and the exposure of the head of the penis to callusing, can't be great for sexual sensation.
Foreskins can also be a decorative accessory particularly in the United States, where circumcision has been the norm ... meaty foreskins are fetishized. Uncut men were once the objects of curiosity in the shower room, but now they're more likely to be objects of envy. There's even a porn magazine, Foreskin Quarterly, dedicated to the "natural" look of uncut men. Some people view foreskins as "exotic" or "working-class," and many of the stars of foreskin porn are men of color.
Still, much of the case against circumcision rests on first-hand testimonials, rather than scientific studies. But, it's hard to argue against men who were circumcised as adults and now complain their once-happy penises have become "numb sticks."
But to claim, as one book does, that the high rate of circumcision in the United States is linked to rising rates of divorce and violent crime betrays a certain fanaticism on the part of some in the pro-prepuce camp. More reasonable-sounding is the judgment of the Canadian Pediatric Society: "The overall evidence of the benefits and harms of circumcision is so evenly balanced that it does not support recommending circumcision as a routine procedure for newborns."
Give me Some Skin
So let's say you're cut but want your prepuce back. What, short of expensive, painful plastic surgery, can be done?
Well, there's "foreskin restoration" a technique involving the slow stretching of the skin over the glans, or head, of the penis. This is generally done, at least at the beginning, with the strategic application of surgical tape. Eventually other devices, including stretching-weights and foam-rubber cuffs to keep the skin extended, can be used.
The process can take several years to complete, though some claim they regained sensitivity shortly after starting the stretching. Anti-circumcision folks cite glowing testimonials of stretching's successes, including better sex. But there is at present no really scientific study of foreskin restoration.
Though first-hand testimonies claim that "uncircumcising" has restored sensitivity and sexual performance, a number of penis experts have found no real difference in responsiveness between the cut and the uncut. Indeed, one study found that circumcised men had more extensive and varied sex lives.
Without scientifically valid research on restoration, questions remain.
- Does stretching truly restore lost sensitivity?
- Are the results permanent?
- How much of the reported "increased sensitivity" is due to psychological factors -- or to all the kneading and touching a penis gets during the stretching process?
But in a day and age when penises are pierced and tattooed, a little skin-stretching seems harmless enough. As long as it's done gently and gradually, there would seem to be little danger in giving restoration a try
After all, it's your tool.