James' Story

For me, being circumcised as an adult can best be summed up as follows- imagine being given a taste of something really special- a really lovely, natural feeling- and then having that taken away from you. One feels an overriding sense of being cheated, disempowerment and injustice.

At the age of twenty-two I was circumcised. The operation was the result of phimosis ie a tight foreskin which had led to problems with sexual activity (mainly quite intense pain in the glanse area). I was originally recommended to try using steroid cream and manually stretch the foreskin by a GP. Having tried this for a short time, with limited results, I returned to the GP who referred me to a Urologist. He suggested the circumcision. 

Trusting the urologist’s judgement, I decided to go along with it, not really knowing what it entailed. I believed that a very small amount of skin at the tip of the foreskin would be removed- sufficient to allow the foreskin back over the glanse as would happen during normal sexual activity. At no point was I given advice on what the operation actually involved, or the possible physical, physiological or psychological impact the operation might have on me. There were no before-and-after diagrams, photographs or explanations just an assumption that I knew what a circumcision was. Evidently, I didn’t. Had I been shown pictures or diagrams I would have been much more reticent and probably would have persisted with manual stretching- with research I have discovered that it in the case of phimosis, this eventually gets results.

For the last sixteen years since the operation I have tried to adjust to the loss of my foreskin. I have had sexual partners since the operation but have found sex (and masturbation) to have some but minimal pleasure. In fact, masturbation has proven quite difficult. I experience quite a lot of pain and discomfort around the operation scar. The glanse, in it’s unprotected state has become dry and desensitised. I feel I have lost an integral part of my penis and sexual functioning. It feels so irreversable. A major repercussion of the operation has, in my belief, been a lack of sexual intimacy. I believe that the foreskin is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution- it contains thousands of nerve endings and protects the glanse from irritation and chafing. The foreskin is not a useless piece of skin but a wonderfully erogenous tissue with both a physical and sexual function.

I whole-heartedly support Foregen in their efforts, through regenerative medicine, to ‘reclaim the foreskin’ for men who were circumcised at birth (clearly a decision taken out of their hands) or for those (like myself) who were circumcised as adults- the result of (in my opinion) misinformed medical opinion. How wonderfully empowering it would be for circumcised men (and for their partners) if this research bares fruit and they were able to experience sexual activity the way evolution intended it (not a man with a scalpel). For those people for whom circumcision is an important part of their culture or religion, respect must be shown and the ambitons of the research need not be thrust on everyone, but for those who are genuinely interested it would be great if it was there as an option.

How brave and necessary this research is and how empowering it could be to the millions of men who never had a say in the matter.

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