Losses from Circumcision
Dr Peter Ball MB,B Chir
Last updated on 9th August 2003
Many people think circumcision removes nothing more than a little extra skin. However, circumcision removes several critical components of male sexual anatomy. This list enumerates everything currently known to be physically lost after circumcision.
Alongside these physical losses, it is important to remember that whenever a child is circumcised, by far the greatest loss is his choice to make decisions about his own body and his own sex life when he becomes an adult.
Further information on the anatomy of intact male genitals, and a diagram, can be found on the anatomy page.
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The Foreskin which comprises up to 50% (sometimes more) of the mobile skin system of the penis. If unfolded and spread out flat the average adult foreskin would measure about 15 square inches( the size of a 3x5 inch index card). This highly specialised tissue normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing(keratinisation), and contaminants of all kinds.The effect of glans keratinisation has never been studied.
[1. M. M. Lander, "The Human Prepuce," in G. C. Denniston and M. F. Milos, eds., Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy (New York: Plenum Press, 1997), 79-81. 2. M. Davenport, "Problems with the Penis and Prepuce: Natural History of the Foreskin," British Medical Journal 312 (1996): 299-301.]
The Frenar Ridged Band, the primary erogenous zone of the male body. Loss of this delicate belt of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue reduces the fullness and intensity of sexual response.
[Taylor, J. R. et al., "The Prepuce: Specialized Mucosa of the Penis and Its Loss to Circumcision," British Journal of Urology 77 (1996): 291-295.]
The Foreskin's 'Gliding Action' - the hallmark mechanical feature of the normal natural, intact penis. This non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth , comfortable, pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a oneway valve, scraping vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for pleasurable intercourse.
[P. M. Fleiss, MD, MPH, "The Case Against Circumcision," Mothering: The Magazine of Natural Family Living (Winter 1997): 36-45.]
Nerve Endings Nerve Endings
to the Brain
- Fewer Nerve Endings means
Fewer SensationsCircumcision removes the most important sensory component of the foreskin - thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors called Meissner's corpuscles. Also lost are branches of the dorsal nerve, and between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types. Together these detect subtle changes in motion and temperature, as well as fine gradations in texture.
[1. R. K. Winkelmann, "The Erogenous Zones: Their Nerve Supply and Its Significance," Proceedings of the Staff Meetings of the Mayo Clinic 34 (1959): 39-47. 2. R. K. Winkelmann, "The Cutaneous Innervation of Human Newborn Prepuce," Journal of Investigative Dermatology 26 (1956): 53-67.]
The Frenulum The highly erogenous V-shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; frequently amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, either of which destroys its function and potential for pleasure.
[1. Cold, C, Taylor, J, "The Prepuce," BJU International 83, Suppl. 1, (1999): 34-44. 2. Kaplan, G.W., "Complications of Circumcision," Urologic Clinics of North America 10, 1983.]
Muscle Sheath Circumcision removes approximately half of the temperature-sensitive smooth muscle sheath which lies between the outer layer of skin and the corpus cavernosa. This is called the dartos fascia.
[Netter, F.H., "Atlas of Human Anatomy," Second Edition (Novartis, 1997): Plates 234, 329, 338, 354, 355.]
The Immunological Defense System of the soft mucosa. This produces both plasma cells that secrete immunoglobulin antibodies and antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as the pathogen-killing enzyme lysozyme.
[1. A. Ahmed and A. W. Jones, "Apocrine Cystadenoma: A Report of Two Cases Occurring on the Prepuce," British Journal of Dermatology 81 (1969): 899-901. 2. P. J. Flower et al., "An Immunopathologic Study of the Bovine Prepuce," Veterinary Pathology 20 (1983):189-202.]
Lymphatic Vessels the loss of which reduces the lymph flow within that part of the body's immune system.
[Netter, F.H., "Atlas of Human Anatomy," Second Edition (Novartis, 1997): plate 379.]
Oestrogen Receptors The presence of estrogen receptors within the foreskin has only recently been discovered. Their purpose is not yet understood and needs further study.