I sometimes hear about parents who refuse to do their research about circumcision. They have made their mind up about it and just want to ‘get it done’. That’s fine for them. They may not want to read about the immediate damage and risks from the operation itself, or the life-long damage it causes, but one day, their circumcised son will read these things. He will ask himself ‘why?’ He may even go to his parents and ask them the same question.
If you are, or plan to be one of these parents, it might be wise to start preparing your answers. To help you prepare, these are the top 5 most disturbing things your son will eventually read about his circumcision:
1. Circumcision may have made his penis smaller. While not the most serious complication, this is one of the first things that will get your son’s attention. We all know that size doesn’t matter, but we also know that every teenage boy will get out the measuring tape at some point. An Australian study found that the average size of a circumcised man was 8mm shorter than that of an intact man. It is believed that the growing erection is tethered by the reduced skin length, and cannot extend to its full size. This is validated by men who have restored their foreskins, with many reporting a subsequent gain of 1/2 to 1 inch in length.
While many will agree that length shouldn’t matter, girth is considered by many to be important. Circumcision will reduce penis girth between the glans (head) and circumcision scar. An intact man has a double layer of skin here resulting from the foreskin retracting to this position, while in a circumcised man this is obliterated, leaving just a single layer.
2. His circumcised penis is more likely to cause discomfort to his partners Most men like to think they are capable of pleasing their partner. So it will no doubt be disturbing for him to find out circumcision will likely cause her discomfort. The foreskin is designed to slide over the glans during sex, creating a ‘smoother ride’. When it is gone there is an unnatural friction, which she may find irritating and even painful. There will also be reduced pleasure for him, but this will come as less of a surprise given that he has probably already had some experience. This aspect deserves it’s own post, but for those who want to read up on how circumcision affects enjoyment for both partners check out sex as nature intended it.
3. The irritation is not normal, and is slowly de-sensitising his penis That chaffing feeling in his trousers is actually not normal. The glans is supposed to be covered and protected by the foreskin, and when it is not there the friction against clothing and bed sheets can be very annoying. In addition, over time that friction is creating a thin calloused layer, gradually turning the glans from a highly sensitive, mostly internal organ into a de-sensitised, dry and leathery external one. This is suspected to be one of the contributing factors to the high level of erectile dysfunction in Australia.
4. Just how much he is missing Many people think that only a small amount of tissue is lost from circumcision. The truth is that while it may appear that a small amount of skin is taken from a baby, when the boy becomes an man, that lost skin is estimated to be between 10 and 15 square inches. The lost skin is also more richly nerve-laden than normal skin. In fact, to call it skin is a misnomer, as the foreskin is a complex series of structures including the frenulum, ridged band and mucosal tissue. All of these structures have important functions relating to protection and sexual activity.
5. He has more hair on his shaft While every man is different, generally speaking most intact men have very little hair on the penis shaft. But your son will read that an erect circumcised penis will draw skin up onto the shaft from the scrotum to accommodate the increase in size. This results in the hair from the scrotum ending up on the shaft where it doesn’t belong.
You might find that thinking about your son and sexual activity makes you a bit uncomfortable. So on that basis, why would you even think about circumcising him as a baby and altering every single future sexual experience?