Circumcision is a controversial topic. Some countries have banned the practice while others are considering it. In Judaism, boys are not part of the tribe unless the excess is trimmed. Pro-circumcision advocates cite all kinds of benefits from lower incidence of STD’s, to better hygiene, to reduced risk of cancer. (Many of these studies are not applicable or were incomplete). To make matters more awkward, many women simply don’t like the look of an intact man or are conditioned to believe that hooded men are dirty.
However, what is missing is how circumcision affects a man’s sense of wholeness, his sexual performance and the trauma of being dismembered as an infant. Truthfully, most men have never really given much thought to a missing flap of skin but for those who have, their unasked for circumcisions cause a great deal of grief. I have deep compassion for those men.When a man’s first experience with his penis is painful and barbaric, it can deeply scar his psyche. I have noticed that men universally cover their privates and cower in empathetic agony at circumcisions or when it’s time for the family pet to get neutered. Could it be that this brutal practice goes against all of our natural proclivities?
Much to the chagrin of pro-circumcision believers, the foreskin is not superfluous. It serves a biological function just like every other part of the human body. It has 10,000-20,000 sensitivity-inducing (and toe curling) nerve endings and when it is lopped off, can cause the penis to chafe in pants, stunt sexual satisfaction and cause pain, shame and potentially blame. Some men (and women) feel that their sex lives suffer without the gentle friction between the foreskin and the head of the penis (I have found my intact boyfriends far more sensitive, attentive, and gentle than my pruned beaus). Other men compare their penis sizes with others and feel that they are not “good enough” because their package has been sliced, diced and reduced in size. For self-doubting or self-aware men, that is a lot to navigate between the sheets and in the locker room.
Most people say that boys hold no memory of their circumcisions and they are commonly sedated so there is no harm. That is ludicrous. Trauma is never ambivalent; the body always remembers even if brandy is used. In my healing practice, I see how the body holds memories associated with abuse or violence. It can result in inappropriate emotional responses, latent aches and pains, or strange phobias. When the body is safe to heal, intense memories often come up and out. While I have never cleared the memories associated with circumcision, I know other therapists who have. Their clients found the process profoundly life-changing and deeply healing.
What can a man to do if he wants to reclaim his foreskin? Luckily, there is a lot. Body work is a great option as is foreskin reconstruction or tugging. This process can be painful, time-intensive, and may be somewhat awkward. After spending an afternoon eagerly studying penises, I came across some good general tugging rules. Avoid sleeping when using most devices and start slowly. Most men jump in too quickly and end up hurting themselves by tearing delicate skin. The consensus is 1-4 hours of tugging per day over several months (however some devices can be worn for up to 16 hours). After some time, the foreskin will stretch out and cover the penis head. The reward is a new foreskin that is almost as good as the original. Sadly, once the nerves are gone, the sensation doesn’t return. The good news is that most men who tug report better sex, more sensitivity and a happy penis that is free in any clothing.
There are several different techniques that break down into three basic categories: Manual techniques that employ the hands to pull and stretch the penis causing the foreskin to grow, tugging devices that use weights, tape, or rings combined with elastics affixed to the leg, or fancy contraptions in silicon, stainless steel or plastic that use gravity to encourage growth. Tugging is a serious business.
In an effort to research effectively, I seriously considered putting out a request on Facebook to see and compare my friend’s penises and foreskins. What was I thinking? I can’t go around asking to see men’s penises for “research”. So morality prevailed and I decided against it. After surveying several websites, I recommend this one (http://www.restoringforeskin.org/beginners-guide-foreskin-restoration). It is a gold mine of unbiased information. Though I have had my fair share of penis, I think it is far better for a man to explain the nitty-gritty details. Since I don’t have a penis (or foreskin for that matter), I don’t know what hurts, is tolerable or is the fastest to achieve.
Obviously, this is a big, heated and somewhat embarrassing subject for men to discuss. Most men are not yet comfortable talking about the intimacies of their missing foreskins and how it impacts their masculinity. The great news is that you don’t need to feel penis shame, or disconnected from your body. There are options. The results are apparently empowering and sensationally wonderful, if you don’t mind a little tug on your tube.