Sex and Love
Why chop a living piece of tissue off a baby boy? Religious beliefs are often the reason, but such traditions overlook the fact that circumcision is an abuse of the boy's right to choose his own destiny. Health reasons?
These too have often been cited, but research has shown there are no penis health problems in uncircumcised boys if they are taught how to wash their penises properly.
The truth is that circumcision in Western culture was supposedly a cure for masturbation. The startling difference between circumcised and uncircumcised penises can be seen in this picture set.
Happily, this nonsense is dying out. Only about half of all boys born in America are now circumcised, and it doesn't happen much at all in the rest of the Western world.
There's a lot of information on the internet about circumcision, and a great deal of angry campaigning from men who were circumcised at birth and greatly resent it.
The cases both for and against have raged backwards and forwards on the internet, but the anti-circumcision camp is clearly winning this debate - as indeed it should.
I say that strongly because I think it clear that circumcision is unnecessary, unnatural and destructive of sexual pleasure, both for a man and for his partner.
There is, in short, no justification for it, except perhaps when a boy has recurrent infections of the foreskin that won't clear up with treatment.
The skin of the glans and foreskin do not naturally separate until a boy is several years old. During the process of circumcision they are prematurely torn apart, often without anesthetic, and the foreskin cut off.
Such an act of cruelty would land a parent in court, yet the medical profession is able to conduct it with impunity. The consequence of circumcision is that the glans may heal with tiny scars on its surface. This may mean a man has a penis with a really over-sensitive glans, which gives him considerable discomfort in later life.
Read more about circumcision and the consequences of it, here. This is the most comprehensive site on the penis and circumcision on the internet.
And if a boy has hypospadias, it is very important that he isn't circumcised, as the foreskin tissue is often needed for surgical repair.
The most sensitive bits of the whole male sexual nervous system are the ridged bands just near the end of the prepuce or foreskin on its inner surface.
The ridged bands connect to the frenulum, and together they are a crucial part of the male sexual system. All of the skin on the glans and inner foreskin is specialized mucosal tissue which is only one or two cells thick, and thus the nerve endings it contain lie very close to the surface.
And the highest concentration of nerve cells lies within the ridged bands at the tip of the foreskin. The inner surface of the foreskin provides lubrication, protection and warmth for the sensitive surface of the glans.
The penile skin, including the foreskin, is longer than the shaft of the penis, a fact which allows the penis to glide effortlessly in its own natural sheath during intercourse. The glans is alternately exposed and covered as the foreskin moves back and forth as the man thrusts.
As he moves back during sex, the foreskin is drawn backwards and unfurled, exposing the sensitive muscosa of the glans and inner foreskin. As he moves forwards again, the inner foreskin glides smoothly over the sensitive mucosa of the glans.
One of the crucial functions of this structure is to keep the vaginal lubrication inside the vagina during intercourse. This happens because the skin of the shaft of the penis is effectively stationary at the entrance to the vagina.
As the penile shaft moves back and forth within the natural sheath of the penile skin, the seal between the vagina and the penis is maintained.
A major difficulty in convincing men that circumcision is unnecessary is that a man with no foreskin doesn't know what he is missing - he can't compare his sexual experience with that of a man who has a foreskin!
This doesn't mean that sex is a deficient experience for him, all it means is that it is different. In any case, orgasm is a whole body experience, and the intensity of a man's orgasm need not be diminished because he is circumcised; rather, it is the intensity of sexual stimulation and pleasure during sex that is different.
It's also possible that his partner may receive less pleasure during sex. In one study, scientists interviewed women with experience of both circumcised and uncircumcised men as sexual partners.
The women reported that they were more likely to experience vaginal dryness and soreness, and less likely to enjoy sex, with circumcised men than they were with uncircumcised men.
And the women were significantly less likely to have a vaginal orgasm, too. Worst of all, the women reported that circumcised men were more likely to have premature ejaculation.
Interestingly, the more experienced the women, the less the difference between their satisfaction with uncircumcised and circumcised sexual partners.
This implies a woman's sexual experience is important in determining how much satisfaction she gets from sex, regardless of what the man does.
But even so, there was still a clear difference in satisfaction, frequency of orgasm and amount of pleasure between sex with circumcised and uncircumcised men. Note, however, that circumcision may well mean men are more susceptible to penile yeast infections.
The women overwhelmingly agreed that sex with men in each category was very different.
Circumcised men, they said, tend to thrust harder and deeper, using long strokes, while uncircumcised men tend to thrust more gently and to make shorter thrusts. Circumcised men thrust harder because they lack the sensitive nerve cells that promote orgasm.
They need more stimulation to the nerves of the penis to reach orgasm.
The way it works seems to be this: when the penile shaft is withdrawn slightly from the vagina, the foreskin bunches up behind the coronal ridge so that the tip of the foreskin (which contains the highest density of fine-touch neuroreceptors in the penis) comes into contact with the coronal ridge (which has the highest concentration of fine-touch receptors on the glans).
This intense stimulation discourages the penile shaft from further withdrawal, explaining the short thrusting style that women noted in their uncircumcised partners.
And the lack of the penile sheath within which the shaft moves seems to cause a loss of lubrication so that sex is less comfortable for the woman, and minor abrasions can develop in her vagina. This is probably because the corona of the glans acts as a one way valve to prevent vaginal secretions being lost.
But when the penis is withdrawn too far, as it tends to be in circumcised men, who have no sensory input to limit how far they pull back, the valve mechanism doesn't work and the vaginal secretions are able to leave the vagina.
In conclusion, the researchers said that it seemed as though the uncircumcised penis offers a more rewarding experience for the female partner during intercourse.
And they also observed that the negative effect of circumcision on the pleasure of women sexual partners needs to be part of any discussion between doctors and parents about the possibility of circumcision on baby boys.
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