Adult Circumcision: My experience two years on.
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Blog home: http://davidlouis77.wordpress.com
Age when had the Circ: 37 (Date Nov 2008)
Age Now: 39 (Date: May 2010)
Before sharing my experience, I direct the interested reader to some of the finer anatomical aspects of the penis. The following link provides a good example of this:
http://www.cirp.org/pages/anat/ (anti-circ bias).
For general information and FAQs try: http://www.circinfo.org/ Again, anti circ bias, but credible in my opinion. It presents the view of Australian medical societies.
This site will provides a pro-circ treatment: http://www.circinfo.net
I considered a circumcision because during intercourse my foreskin would retract over my gland which I assumed (incorrectly) was the most sensitive part of my penis.
In fact, the frenulum is widely reported (see citations in wiki) as the most sensitive part of the penis and the foreskin, along with the moist gland (head) of the penis and the foreskin itself all being highly sensitive.
Often surgeons performing circumcisions will remove the frenulum or in my case, replace it with scar tissue, resulting in loss of the highly sensitive tissue. Morover, the gland without the foreskin to protect it, is exposed to the harsh drying and rubbing action of cotton underpants, quickly drying it out, and along with exposure to other elements like hot water of showers, the gland soon develops an additional dermis of skin to protect it from the harshness of the conditions to which it is now exposed. The outright removal of, or replacement of the frenulum with scar tissue, along with the drying out of the gland, and additional growth of dermis, all mean the sensitive nerve endings close to the surface of the gland become buried by a thick dermis of skin, resulting in less sensitivity of the gland. For this reason, Men who are often hyper sensitive and ejaculate prematurely are referred to undergo a circumcision (citation needed), to help reduce the sensitivity of the penis.
In all the Circ debates I had witnessed to date, they focus predominately on health benefits vs human rights of bodily integrity. There has been no debate to my knowledge, or rigorous scientific study, as to the risk that circumcision brings with it a very real and significant loss of sensitivity to the gland, frenulum and overall sensation in the penis. This is something I would find out the hard way.
Reason’s for having a circ.
My reason for having a circ was that I thought without the foreskin in the way, sex would be more pleasurable.
I have a healthy sized penis, it generally worked well, although I did feel the following was an issue: when not 100% erect, which when having sex with my wife of 10 years, I was not always fully hard, it was semi-erect, the foreskin in particular would not retract all the way back. Indeed, even with a fully erect penis, if I pulled my foreskin up, it would nearly cover the gland of my penis, maybe bar 1cm from the tip. I found in sex, even when I would pull the foreskin back, it would not stay back, often it would retract back over the gland of the penis – especially when lubricated by either my partners vaginal fluids or if using synthetic lubricants like ky-jel or similar. I always enjoyed sex immensely; the pleasure was always nice during the sex, not just the orgasm. However, often during sex the foreskin would retract over my gland and I would find myself reaching down pulling back the foreskin, so as to expose my gland fully against my partners vagina which I found the most pleasurable.
I reasoned that, with my foreskin gone, I wouldn’t have to keep reaching down and pulling my foreskin back. My gland would always be exposed to my partner’s vagina and hence, sex would be like the feeling when my foreskin is retracted – much better.
A early sexual partner mentioned in passing that she’d never seen a “non-circumcised” penis and that it looked “funny” which gave me cause to think that maybe it would be better to be circ’ed, but I never got around to it and besides, it was the only female who’d ever made mention of its “look” and even then, I didn’t really know if she meant “funny” to be one of aesthetic disapproval or just that she’d never seen one like that before. No other partner had since complained. I got married when I was 30 and my wife, who I’d met two years earlier, and I enjoyed a reasonably healthy sex life. However, it used to annoy me having to reach down their just about every time we had sex to retract my foreskin fully.
Some people have circumcisions because they have chronic hygiene issues with their foreskin, or complain of frequent urinary tract infections. My brother fell into this category and was his reason for undergoing an adult circumcision.
I cannot report the same complaints; I have never once had a urinary tract infection nor did I experience any problem with foreskin smells.
Prior to circumcision, the only time smell surfaced was when I had run out of my usual cleaning products or got lazy and didn’t wash around my gland by pulling the foreskin back. If I washed it properly which I do using a antiseptic wash (I like Blackmore’s antibacterial face wash or Thursday Plantations Tea Tree Skin Wash with some additional Pure Tea Tree oil added to increase the antiseptic properties) around the penis, bacteria is prevented from growing in the moist tissue and hence smells do not form. This in combination with using toilet paper to wipe away excess urine rather than the customary “few shakes” virtually eliminated all smell in my penis.
I can’t comment on the general hygene practices of uncircumcised males in Australian or global society, but when washing twice a day (morning and night) I never had any smell around my penis.
I decade ago I recall a friendly debate with three late twenty-something women who were all under the impression that a natural penis’s was more prone to smell than a circumcised male. I’m not sure if this goes to evidence that natural mens penis’s are more prone to smell or not. I have not found any scientific evidence on the matter and welcome any interested reader to post links to any such research.
In my case the reasons for having a circ were I thought it would feel better when having sex because of not having the foreskin in the way.
Being so busy I probably would never had gotten around to seeing a urologist and getting the circ, if it were not for a necessary hernia operation I required at age 37 as a result of some over judicious sit up routines. In a follow up post op visit, I had asked in passing my hernia surgeon, did he know of any good urologists – I’d like to talk to one about a circ. He said, that he did, and wrote me out the referral there and then.
In the mean time I did some research on the internet and had found the following website which had made the idea of a circ very positive: http://www.circinfo.net/men_circumcised_as_adults_tell_it_as_it_is.html
Contrary to its assurances otherwise, I’d say this is not a “balanced” site but rather a pro-circ site. I believe it is pro-circumcision and the comments carefully screened by the author.
I had looked through the information and decided I wanted as much “inner skin” left as possible because this was the sensitive part which I wanted, during sex, to be exposed to my partners vagina.
A few weeks later I’m in the urologists room explaining my reasons for wanting a circ.
He listened and said, yep, sure, no problem. The risks you need to be aware of are
a.) Like all operations, there is a risk of infection. However, it’s unlikely and if you do get an infection we can treat it with antibiotics.
b.) There’s a risk of bleeding but that will go away within a few days.
c.) There’s a risk of scarring, but this will also go away over time.
The surgeon proceeded to explain the technicalities of the operation in clear language, using diagrams, and told me that he would leave the frenulum as it’s important for blood flow to the penis.
I thought the operation was relatively free from risks and booked in for the operation.
What I know now of course, is that the big risk, the biggest risk of all when considering my reasons for a circ was the very real probability of diminished sensitivity to the penis. The surgeon’s advice should have been, in my opinion, something to the effect: “David, you’re coming in here for reasons of “wanting to improve your sex life by not having a foreskin present because you feel it’s getting in the way… BUT… are you aware that there’s evidence that suggests that many men, post circumcision, experience decrease in sensitivity to the gland, and as a result, reduced sexual sensation?”
That would have been, in my opinion, the proper warning to provide any man thinking of undergoing a circumcision. It’s everybody’s right to know, in clear unambiguous language, if a operation will result in diminished sensitivity to something as important as a sexual organ and associated consequences to sexual experience. I believe it’s as important for the same reasons that we are not allowed to commit battery (see battery side note) against one another – that everybody’s person is inviolable and should not be interfered with without proper consent.
|Battery Side Note:The elements of the tort of battery are:
(i) an act (not an omission): Holmes v Mather;
(ii) that is direct: Hutchins v Maughan;
(iii) the act is intentional or careless: Williams v Holland;
(iv) and causes physical contact with the plaintiff: Collins v Wilcock;
(v) without the plaintiff’s consent: In Re F.
That was to be my experience, a greatly reduced sensation of sensitivity in my penis. I was blissfully unaware, and looked forward to my operation, looking forward to what I thought would be greater sexual pleasure and better hygiene and more spontaneity of sex.
The actual operation went as well as can be expected. I had mine under local anaesthetic. I was very nervous and nearly pulled out after the surgeon had put in the local anaesthetic and poked and prodded and asked me if I could feel anything. I wanted to say, look, I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to do this, but due to embarrassment of being so indecisive, and not wanting to upset the surgeon, I said nothing.
My advice if you’re ever in that situation, if you’re never 100% sure about doing something to your body, then it’s probably your instincts telling you it’s wrong, don’t do it. My advice is listen to your instincts and leave, no matter who you upset.
The operation took about 45 minutes and was painless. The only pain was the local anaesthetic but that lasted for about 30 seconds and was no more painful during the 30 seconds than a tetanus injection. After completion, the surgeon wrapped my penis up in a light bandage and I was sent home to bed, told not to do anything for 2 or 3 days, and stay pretty much around home for a week, taking it easy, do nothing strenuous. I was also told to ice it regularly to reduce swelling.
After about 3 days, when the blood and bruising had eased I became quite nervous about what had happened. There was numbness all around, and my soft pink elastic frenulum, that attached the foreskin to the shaft of my penis, was no longer, rather, it was replaced with gristly numb tissue all stitched up. I started to worry about all the resulting scar tissue, if there was supposed to be this much pain and what if the numbness doesn’t go away.
Some 14 days later I went back to see the surgeon for a post op visit. He inspected, some stitches were starting to work loose, but otherwise the stiches were holding the outer skin of my penis to the inner skin. There was still a lot of swelling around the back of the penis where the frenulum was supposed to be, I thought it looked terrible and the surgeon said, “hmm, yes, that is an excellent result”. Further directing my attention to the swelling, pointing to the back of the penis, where the frenulum was, that’s normal and will be like that for up to 6 months. It will go down over time, just keep icing it and assured me that it’s otherwise normal. He also told me that as the pain starts to subside from the operation, I’ll notice that the penis will be itchy in my under pants, that’s also normal, and will go away over the next 6 months. He explained that the top dermis of the gland (the exposed head of the penis) will thicken over the coming months and so the itchiness will go away. I enquired if that would reduce my sexual sensitivity, feeling a bit like an idiot- why didn’t I ask this before the operation?? He stated it unlikely, but it’s hard to say, the research suggests some people experience greater sensation, some slightly less.
At that stage I was flabbergasted; I felt like saying ‘but asshole, I come in here asking for an operation to increase my sexual feeling, and you say no worries, risk were bleeding, scarring, infection, but nothing at all about “risk” of loss of sexual sensation until after the operation.” I said nothing, just hoping that it was too early to tell and give it some time.
I knew pretty much at or around this stage that my frenulum was replaced with scar tissue and that was a dire depression causing disappointment which I still have to this day. My once highly sensitive frenulum is now thick scar and has much less feeling than the skin one my arm. The surgeon told me the frenulum would remain, but that was not true. It was replaced with scar tissue and in my case, this is still a source of pain when my penis becomes erect – the less flexible scar tissue pulls tight and causes a dull pain.
After about 3 months I could have sex again. It was hard to tell if sensitivity was less or not, because of the pain was still reasonably acute upon erection. Also, I could not have sex for too long for the skin on the back of the penis near the fenulum would become too painful.
I would try to focus on the remaining sensitivity of the gland of the penis. From about three months to six months sensation in the glad was still good. I liked how I didn’t have to reach down to pull back any foreskin. Sex was still good out to about six months but then I started to notice a significant drop off in sensation over the following six months. Over the six month to twelve month period I noticed that my penis became less sensitive and itchy in my underpants and less sensitive to my partners touch. The rubbing of my penis in my underpants de-sensitized the gland. Also, I noticed, that initially, it was very difficult to have hot showers, with my gland exposed. Especially in the first few months. But from month 3 to 12, my penis went from one where I could not have it under the shower, to where, after a year I could have my penis directly exposed to the hot water of a shower without any pain or sensual discomfort in my penis whatsoever. At this stage the dermis of my gland was increasing in thickness which allowed me to not notice my penis in my underpants while in the shower, and over the same time period, the pleasurable sensation of sex started to drop off. I also started to lament the memory of the nice feeling of cold air as it would embrace my gland upon retraction of the foreskin. This was always an erotic act to me – the cool air against my moist gland would always cause some psychological palovian pleasure response prior to sexual intercourse. I now never experience that sensation any more.
By a year out I knew I was one of those people who were experiencing a bad circumcision. I had disgust with the surgeon for failing to warn me, and disgust with myself for letting this happen, and an overall feeling of bitter bitter disappointment of the loss of sexual feeling. Now, 30 months on, the foreskin removal is a horrendous loss to me and my sexual enjoyment.
Loss of penile sensitivity
The tissue in the penis is much like the inner lining of the mouth. Under that membrane teems thousands of nerve endings just below the surface of the membrane. It’s not just skin as one would find on the hand, or any exterior of the body, it’s a membrane. Fluids can transgress it’s surface. Indeed, bodily fluids can pass through the membrane, which, if a man is having sex with a female partner infected with a STI, is how the STI virus can pass through the membrane of his gland (head) and into his blood stream, thus infecting him. (citation needed) This occurs more easily in an natual penis because his membrane is thinner. A circumcised penis, shortly after circumcision, starts to rub against underpants and clothing. That frictional rubbing against cotton or other material dries the membrane out and in response it starts to thicken. This thicker membrane explains (scientific citation needed) why circumcised men have less chance of contracting STI’s. The naturally thicker dermis of a circumcised penis creates a natural barrier to STI’s transgressing across their membrane. A natural condom if you will. Also, if looked at carefully the gland’s surface, rather than being a moist smooth membrane (as it was prior to the circ), post circ, the surface is cracked and dried. As the dermis builds up over time, the surface colour of the gland transforms from a dark pink/purple to a light pale pink.
Explanation for other males differences in sensation
I guess everyone’s experience will be somewhat varied; for example, a lot of my foreskin has been removed, to the point that even when my penis is flaccid, the gland is uncovered by any skin and exposed to the rubbing and friction against my under pants.
If another person had a partial circ, where if the penis is flaccid, some foreskin still covers most of the gland, I suppose that much of the friction against one’s underpants would not occur. Hence, they may not have such a thickness of dermis grow over the gland and hence would not report sexual loss or perhaps very little, compared to myself.
My summary is as follows:
It’s a terrible thing to do to yourself! In my case, the dermis has thickened to such a degree that I feel very little in the end of my penis. Sexually, I compare it to worse than any sex I can remember with a condom on when uncircumcised. That is, I would prefer to have had sex with an natural penis with a condom on then with the circumcised penis I have now.
If you want to get some idea of what a post circumcised penis feels like then pull your foreskin back, put a condom on, jump under a really hot shower. Can you tolerate the hot water from the shower stream landing directly on your gland of your penis. If not, add another condom (2 condom layers) or more layers, until you can handle it. Once you can handle it, that’s the sensitivity, which you will experience, post circ. Now have sex with that many condom’s on and record your subjective sense of sensitivity loss.
I’m not sure how to relay the experience onto a female. Perhaps, imagine the same, open your labia major to the hot water of a shower stream, (the hottest you can comfortably stand under) and think about how painful that is. You may not be able to tolerate it at all, it being fair too sensitive to direct contact of hot water. Then try putting some layers of gladwrap over your vulva until you no longer feel the pain of the water. Then touch around yourself with that gladwrap there, and assume that is the best sexual touch you will ever have. That is sensitivity post circumcision.
Why write about it?
To warn others! To contribute to an aspect of the debate I feel has been largely overlooked by the academic world. I wish I had read something like this prior to having my operation. When I went looking I found numerous debate about human rights, health and hygiene matters, but very little on loss of sexual sensation. It was only when googling “dangers of circumcision” I found negative opinions. I was most influenced by the first hand reports on the benefits at the following site, a site I’d advise the interested reader to treat with extreme caution: :http://www.circinfo.net/men_circumcised_as_adults_tell_it_as_it_is.html. I doubt the voracity of the first hand accounts given my result.
I hope my blog post will assist with your decision making. That you aware of the very real risks of loss of sexual sensation. Perhaps this risk is worth it especially if you are battling with chronic hygene of the penis or other issue. My advice is to not mess with what nature has given you lightly. If chronic infection is a problem, try a tea tree based antiseptic based wash first before taking this extreme and never to be undone procedure.
I especially hope that parents thinking of having their children circumcised reflect on my experience before taking the trespass to person and tyrannical action of imposing on their child a decision that is rightly theirs to make when they are an adult and have full access to information, both pro’s and con’s, in order to make an informed decision that’s best for them, not what’s best for their parents. In my opinion, parents nor anyone else should be allowed to allowed to commit such acts of battery upon their children. No one, no one at all, has a right to take the choice of risk of significant sexual diminished experience from another human being! Every human has a right to decide for themselves what risk they wish to place upon their sexual experiences. Only an adult who has had a chance to consider the scientific arguments, the scientific research, and then perhaps read some positive stories noted on circinfo.net and the negative ones such as mine will be in a position to make such a significant decision. In hindsight, a urologist who performs circumcisions are not well placed to give such advice. Firstly, they have a conflicted interest for they benefit financially when a person chooses a circumcision. So it’s in their interests to encourage the operation. Second, is Abraham Maslow insight of law of the instrument: It is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. I submit that a surgeon has both an incentive and narrowness of vision to treat every problem as to be fixed with a snip.
Prior to my own experience, I felt that circumcising a infant or young child is barbaric and criminal. Post Circumcision, given the real loss of sexual sensation I’ve experienced, and the associated consequential loss of sexual enjoyment, my view is even more extreme. It’s cruel, horrendous and completely devoid of respect for the child, arguably, completely without love. Callous, uncaring and a blatant disregard for the child’s future sexual enjoyment. If you blissfully disregard such remarks as irrelevancy then check the definitions of psychopath in either ICD10 (See F60.2 Dissocial personality disorder) or DSM-IV (301.7 Antisocial Personality Disorder) You may find it reflective.
For adults who are thinking of the procedure I can only advise, do your research. The loss of sexual feeling, in my experience, has been major.
In closing, to give some of my comments on some of the debatable matters I’ve come across:
1.) It’s more hygienic, there’s less chance of urinary tract infection etc – have a look at the first link above, I think the scientific jury is not convinced on that point. My experience is that, yes, maybe, but it’s a marginal difference, and at what cost? For those who have hygiene issues with their penis – try tea tree oil washes or ask their doctor for more stringent antiseptics or antibiotics. I’m sure with twice a day washing with appropriate products, drying of the penis properly, and being consistent that hygiene will be manageable and that there will be no smell or infection whatsoever.
2.) There’s less chance of a STI – Yes, but at what cost to your sexual enjoyment. I’d suggest, rather than undertake an operation that will diminish your sex enjoyment for life, for those partners you don’t know are STI free, use a condom. The great thing about that temporary decrease in sexual experience (wearing of the condom) is that it’s temporary – when you do meet a steady state partner, you can enjoy truly sensational sex.
3.) A circumcised penis is more aesthetically pleasing: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My opinion is that my dried crackly pale pink gland is nowhere near as attractive or nice looking as my smooth dark pink gland of pre-circumcised days. However, if this is something that is important to you or your partner, then maybe the risk of loss of sexual sensation is worth it for you. Also, depending upon the type of circ you have, perhaps your experience will be less severe than mine. Indeed, there are many comments on the web (see link above) where men purportedly state that their sex life is much better post circ compared to pre. I am not sure how true those remarks are. I can only relay you my experience which has not been good. In fact, I describe my loss of sensation as horrendous. Moreover, by adding this view to a blog, I invite others to post honest accounts of their comparative pre and post adult circ experiences.
4.) In cases where there is medical necessity, such as phimosis, where the foreskin does not retract fully, I’d suggest, rather than removing the foreskin completely, it may be more beneficial to your sexual sensation to have the surgeon open the top of the foreskin so the skin can retract fully. In my experience, the foreskin is a vital and necessary component in keeping the gland membrane moist, protected and highly sensitive.
5.) This blog post has been about one males experience having a circ performed in adult life, and the significant loss of sexual gratification I experience with a circumcised penis to what I recall with my uncircumcised or natural penis. I believe the natural experience was orders of magnitude better. The circumcised penis a shadow of its former self.
I hope this will kick start a discussion, a place where other males can post their experiences. I’ll revisit it as soon as I can and add in as many much needed scientific citations as I can in coming weeks or months to improve this entry. In the mean time I hope this information has been helpful and if you’re another adult circumcisee please share your experience with a post entry or a link to your own blog or other.
The Alternative View
My brother also had a circ a few months after I had mine, completely independently of me and my reasons. His experience has been more positive than mine. So in an effort to reduce the negative bias of my experience, I’ll do my best to get him to post his experience as soon as I can.
Also feel free to ask any further questions that you feel require explanation and I’ll do my best to answer.
Some other links which may be of interest:
In the second link, I can personally completely discount Prof Brian Morris’s comments:
Prof Brian Morris: Research shows there is no difference in sensitivity in a circumcised vs an uncircumcised penis. There is only on research study that has been done on sensation, of the erect penis and this research shows, published this year by Kimberly Payne in Canada, that there is no difference.
My comment to Prof Brian’s 60 minutes chat remarks is that this has certainly not been my personal experience. For the reason’s I note above, as to why the sensitivity drops off, explaining how it occurs (rubbing against underpants etc) as explained to me by my urologist, not to mention that most circumcisions remove the frenulum, I’m highly doubtful of any research that concludes that a circumcision results in neither more nor less sensitivity. In all cases, I would rationale, it reduces in less sensitivity. It may be the case, that some men prefer a less sensitive penis. That is another argument.