With technology at our fingertips, growing numbers of men are discovering the truth about what happened to them as newborns: that genital cutting (circumcision) is a painful neonatal surgery without medical need that takes away the foreskin, an integral part of a male's penis, and leaves scars and calloused skin in its place. Processing this information can be enormously emotional and difficult. If you are a man or the partner of a man who was circumcised, this page is here to support you and to share the options available to you for restoring some of what was taken from you.
Whatever you now think or feel about your circumcision, your pain, anger, sadness, and sense of loss are real, valid, and serious. Perhaps you feel mostly fine, but wish that you still had your foreskin. Perhaps you are devastated by what you are missing and are suffering deep emotional and/or physical pain. Perhaps you were a victim of not just genital mutilation, but also medical malpractice or a complication that left you with a badly-damaged penis. Whatever your feelings are, you are not alone. Websites such as Men Do Complain and Bloodstained Men are dedicated to showing that many men are not OK with what was done to them without their consent. You do not have to suffer in silence. You do not have to be strong. You are a victim and you have the right to be heard.
Male circumcision is harmful in a number of ways, and some of the damage can not be reversed. The loss of the approximately 20,000 nerve endings cannot be undone, and the erogenous tissue of the foreskin is permanently gone. However, the following three functions of the foreskin can be restored:
1. Covering the glans – The penis glans (head) is meant to be an internal organ just like the clitoris of a female. Once exposed, the circumcised glans becomes dry and calloused, a process called keratinization. The foreskin keeps the glans moist and sensitive. A restored foreskin will keep the glans covered, allowing it to be moist and lose its calloused layer of cells. The glans is also protected from the rubbing of clothing, and minor bumps or pinches.
2. Gliding action – The foreskin provides a smooth and comfortable feeling during intercourse. This adds to the comfort of both partners. If a man restores his foreskin, this function will benefit them both.
3. Natural lubrication - When the glans is covered and kept moist, it can provide its own lubrication during sex. Circumcised men often need artificial lube before intercourse or other stimulation to keep themselves and/or their partners from being irritated by the dryness. A moist and lubricated glans is a benefit in any sexual activity.
Foreskin restoration, involves tugging or pulling on the skin where the foreskin used to be. The tension causes the skin to stretch and grow. It can extend onto the glans and eventually cover it. Achieving a covered glans takes consistent, regular tugging, and is a multi-year process. A man can tug and stretch his foreskin manually with just fingers, or he can tug it using medical tape or a specially-designed device. The devices use a variety of straps, hardware, silicone cones and more to gently and persistently grow new skin. If a man prefers not to restore, but still wants his glans to be covered, devices exist for this as well.
Resources for Foreskin Restoration
Foreskin Restoration Devices
Foreskin Substitutes and Retainers
The Future of Foreskin Restoration
Surgical procedures to cover the glans already exist, but men have found the cost, poor cosmetic outcome, and low success rates to be prohibitive. A new company, Foregen, claims that they will be able to use stem cells to re-grow the complete foreskin, nerves and all. They are currently raising funds for the project and working towards human trials which should be ready in the next few years.