Getting it back

By David Kenney

Penis envy usually involves jealousy over the size and girth of another man’s ‘main vein.’ Surprisingly, it also applies to some circumcised males and their ‘uncut’ counterparts.

Amidst the circumcision debate, there is a growing movement of grown, circumcised men who seek to reclaim their lost foreskin. The ‘little snip’ is actually monumental.

Circumcision was long believed necessary to prevent penile cancer, guard against sexually transmitted diseases and other urological disorders, however, such traditional attitudes are changing with the advance of medical studies. In fact, the foreskin or prepuce is useful, sharing a protective and sensory role for the penis. Without a foreskin to keep it soft, the penis head hardens and loses feeling,according to Canadian pathologist John R Taylor.

In the 1996 British Journal of Urology, Taylor stated that the foreskin’s nerves "may be compared with similar nerve endings in the fingertips and lips." Once circumcised, Taylor says, the penis head continually desensitizes. This point is still debatable as some men circumcised later in life claim their sex life is unchanged, but increased sensation is one reason why some men attempt foreskin restoration.

This choice is not necessarily just about sex, however. Some men feel betrayed, inadequate, incomplete and genitally mutilated by a surgical procedure they probably didn’t choose. By reclaiming their foreskin, they may renew both their physical, emotional and mental health.

Foreskin restoration involves one of two options: plastic surgery or a variety of do-it-yourself methods. Reconstructive plastic surgery involves incisions on the shaft of the penis, pulling the skin forward to create a new prepuce. However, this surgery may include complications and the presence of unsightly scars.

Non-surgical foreskin restoration is, quite literally, a stretch. Remaining shaft skin can be pulled forward over the head of the penis and held in place by using a number of adhesives and devices: tape, o-rings, ball bearings, cones and even modified tuba, trombone, and sousaphone mouthpieces. Proper and continual use of these items is necessary to ensure both skin stretching and growth. In one to three years, a retractable hood of skin over the penis head will appear and provide much of the gliding action of an original foreskin, though the substitute will never be a physiological match of the skin that was removed.

Before considering and attempting foreskin restoration, interested men should contact their physician or a support group for help. In Canada, there is the Circumcision Information Resource Centre in Montreal and chapters of NORM (the National Organization of Restoring Men) in Toronto, British Columbia and Montreal.

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