The Fantastic Foreskin

Circumcised men are employing weights and pulleys to cover themselves back up

And while taping your penis every day might seem like a chore, Woodgate says it's just like any other part of a person's normal routine.

"You don't even think about it — you brush your teeth, you comb your hair," he says, "Well, I cut a two-inch long piece of tape and put it on my penis and go. And it takes me all of ten seconds."

Woodgate says his boyfriend, who is circumcised, has been supportive of the restoration. It may have taken him a little time to get used to it, Woodgate says, but the couple is now at the point where Woodgate's boyfriend pre-cuts pieces of tape Woodgate can carry in his shaving kit when he travels.

Circumcised men are employing weights and pulleys to cover themselves back up
Circumcised men are employing weights and pulleys to cover themselves back up
The TLC Tugger hopes to improve the world, one penis at a time.
The TLC Tugger hopes to improve the world, one penis at a time.

While Woodgate says he's committed to using tape for the next 20 years, he wishes he could find a doctor willing to investigate the possibilities of true foreskin restorations. He'd like organ donation to include foreskin, for skin grafts that could do a whole lot more than tape or batteries.

He's going to be waiting a while.

The study of foreskin sensitivity has not been a priority among most physicians.

Because conventional American medical wisdom has historically decided circumcision reduced the chance of infection and was more hygienic overall, whether foreskin made sex more pleasurable just did not seem important.

But some physicians are convinced of the foreskin's extreme sensitivity — none more so than the members of the Seattle-based Doctors Opposing Circumcision. This advocacy group claimed a victory when its members coauthored a recent study that concluded — big surprise here — that uncircumcised men have more sensitive penises.

Published in the April 2007 issue of the British Journal of Urology, the study measured the sensitivity of 159 cut and uncut men with "Semmes-Weinstein monofilament touch-test sensory evaluators," which is a fancy way of saying the doctors tickled the dudes' junk with fishing line. (Under the journal's "conflict of interest" section, it reads "none declared." This is followed by the fact that the study was funded by the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, which seems fine, as long as no one looks at the group's acronym.)

The doctors claimed to have mapped the "fine-touch pressure thresholds" of cut and uncut penises — after controlling for things like type of underwear worn and education level, of course. In all, 19 pressure points were identified, and these were the portions removed or otherwise affected by circumcision.

Besides a critique of the study in the June 2007 issue of the BJU, the study seems to have been largely ignored. It appears that doctors just aren't that interested in foreskin. Most of the physicians interviewed for this story — well, at least the ones who returned phone calls — thought the idea of foreskin restoration was, A: stupid; B: delusional; C: both of the above.

Houston plastic surgeon Berkeley Powell, past president of the Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons, said with a bit of a chuckle, "I'm sitting here just kind of amazed. I didn't know this was going on. But I read your paper — this is what I read it for, to stay abreast of current events."

Powell reiterated the fact that restorers weren't actually restoring anything, but added: "More power to 'em for trying."

Michael Coburn, chief of urology at Ben Taub and a professor at Baylor, was surprised to hear about nonsurgical restoration: "Why are these people wanting to do that?"

As far as uncircumcised men having greater sensitivity, Coburn says, "There's not really any medical evidence to support that."

Still, many restoring men claim that the process has enhanced sex for both themselves and their partners. This concept was even the thesis for a book written by the wife of a restoring man, Sex as Nature Intended It. Author Kristen O'Hara cites a survey she conducted claiming that women prefer uncut men nine to one. O'Hara's Web site for the book includes testimonies from herself and other (unidentified) women who liken sex with a circumcised man to being pounded with a jackhammer, while uncut men are more gentle and responsive. As supporting evidence, she includes alleged testimony from a woman who writes that her first sexual experience involved a guy lying down beside her at a beach, spontaneously masturbating and then raping her. Her next sexual experience, a year later, was a pleasant romp with an uncircumcised man who did not rape her. Case closed.

Melissa Long swears that sex is better now that her husband is restoring. Previously, she says, sex had always been painful.

"It was almost like a relief to me to know that there wasn't something wrong with me," she says, later adding, "He's more sensitive, so he doesn't have to, like, thrust as hard — there doesn't have to be as much friction for him to get the sensation, so it's gentler." In an e-mail, she likened the before-and-after experiences to "going from watching TV on an old black-and-white set to a digital Technicolor plasma screen with surround sound."

Enhanced sex has been especially rewarding to Keith Akers, who started restoring about five years ago.

"I credit the restoration with the fact that I now have a 17-month-old son — who, by the way, was not circumcised," says the 47-year-old Atascocita man.

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