How Does Circumcision Harm ?

How Does Circumcision Harm?

Paul M. Fleiss, MD, MPH, is assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of  Southern California Medical Center. He is the author of numerous scientific articles published in leading national and international medical journals.
  • Circumcision denudes: Depending on the amount of skin cut off, circumcision robs a male of as much as 80 percent or more of his penile skin. Depending on the foreskin’s length, cutting it off makes the penis as much as 25 percent or more shorter. Careful anatomical investigations have shown that circumcision cuts off more than 3 feet of veins, arteries, and capillaries, 240 feet of nerves, and more than 20,000 nerve endings.31 The foreskin’s muscles, glands, mucous membrane, and epithelial tissue are destroyed, as well.
  • Circumcision desensitizes: Circumcision desensitizes the penis radically. Foreskin amputation means severing the rich nerve network and all the nerve receptors in the foreskin itself. Circumcision almost always damages or destroys the frenulum. The loss of the protective foreskin desensitizes the glans. Because the membrane covering the permanently externalized glans is now subjected to constant abrasion and irritation, it keratinizes, becoming dry and tough. The nerve endings in the glans, which in the intact penis are just beneath the surface of the mucous membrane, are now buried by successive layers of keratinization. The denuded glans takes on a dull, grayish, sclerotic appearance.
  • Circumcision disables: The amputation of so much penile skin permanently immobilizes whatever skin remains, preventing it from gliding freely over the shaft and glans. This loss of mobility destroys the mechanism by which the glans is normally stimulated. When the circumcised penis becomes erect, the immobilized remaining skin is stretched, sometimes so tightly that not enough skin is left to cover the erect shaft. Hair-bearing skin from the groin and scrotum is often pulled onto the shaft, where hair is not normally found. The surgically externalized mucous membrane of the glans has no sebaceous glands. Without the protection and emollients of the foreskin, it dries out, making it susceptible to cracking and bleeding.
  • Circumcision disfigures: Circumcision alters the appearance of the penis drastically. It permanently externalizes the glans, normally an internal organ. Circumcision leaves a large circumferential surgical scar on the penile shaft. Because circumcision usually necessitates tearing the foreskin from the glans, pieces of the glans may be torn off, too, leaving it pitted and scarred. Shreds of foreskin may adhere to the raw glans, forming tags and bridges of dangling, displaced skin.32

Depending on the amount of skin cut off and how the scar forms, the circumcised penis may be permanently twisted, or curve or bow during erection.33 The contraction of the scar tissue may pull the shaft into the abdomen, in effect shortening the penis or burying it completely.34

  • Circumcision disrupts circulation: Circumcision interrupts the normal circulation of blood throughout the penile skin system and glans. The blood flowing into major penile arteries is obstructed by the line of scar tissue at the point of incision, creating backflow instead of feeding the branches and capillary networks beyond the scar. Deprived of blood, the meatus may contract and scarify, obstructing the flow of urine.35 This condition, known as meatal stenosis, often requires corrective surgery. Meatal stenosis is found almost exclusively among boys who have been circumcised.

Circumcision also severs the lymph vessels, interrupting the circulation of lymph and sometimes causing lymphedema, a painful, disfiguring condition in which the remaining skin of the penis swells with trapped lymph fluid.

  • Circumcision harms the developing brain: Recent studies published in leading medical journals have reported that circumcision has long-lasting detrimental effects on the developing brain,36 adversely altering the brain’s perception centers. Circumcised boys have a lower pain threshold than girls or intact boys.37 Developmental neuropsychologist Dr. James Prescott suggests that circumcision can cause deeper and more disturbing levels of neurological damage, as well. 38, 39
  • Circumcision is unhygienic and unhealthy: One of the most common myths about circumcision is that it makes the penis cleaner and easier to take care of. This is not true. Eyes without eyelids would not be cleaner; neither would a penis without its foreskin. The artificially externalized glans and meatus of the circumcised penis are constantly exposed to abrasion and dirt, making the circumcised penis, in fact, more unclean. The loss of the protective foreskin leaves the urinary tract vulnerable to invasion by bacterial and viral pathogens.

What Are the Foreskin’s Functions?

The foreskin has numerous protective, sensory, and sexual functions.

  • Protection: Just as the eyelids protect the eyes, the foreskin protects the glans and keeps its surface soft, moist, and sensitive. It also maintains optimal warmth, pH balance, and cleanliness. The glans itself contains no sebaceous glands-glands that produce the sebum, or oil, that moisturizes our skin.11 The foreskin produces the sebum that maintains proper health of the surface of the glans.
  • Immunological Defense: The mucous membranes that line all body orifices are the body’s first line of immunological defense. Glands in the foreskin produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme.12 Lysozyme is also found in tears and mother’s milk. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, an immune system component, abound in the foreskin’s outer surface.13 Plasma cells in the foreskin’s mucosal lining secrete immunoglobulins, antibodies that defend against infection.14
  • Erogenous Sensitivity: The foreskin is as sensitive as the fingertips or the lips of the mouth. It contains a richer variety and greater concentration of specialized nerve receptors than any other part of the penis.15 These specialized nerve endings can discern motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations of texture.16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • Coverage During Erection: As it becomes erect, the penile shaft becomes thicker and longer. The double-layered foreskin provides the skin necessary to accommodate the expanded organ and to allow the penile skin to glide freely, smoothly, and pleasurably over the shaft and glans.
  • Self-Stimulating Sexual Functions: The foreskin’s double-layered sheath enables the penile shaft skin to glide back and forth over the penile shaft. The foreskin can normally be slipped all the way, or almost all the way, back to the base of the penis, and also slipped forward beyond the glans. This wide range of motion is the mechanism by which the penis and the orgasmic triggers in the foreskin, frenulum, and glans are stimulated.
  • Sexual Functions in Intercourse: One of the foreskin’s functions is to facilitate smooth, gentle movement between the mucosal surfaces of the two partners during intercourse. The foreskin enables the penis to slip in and out of the vagina nonabrasively inside its own slick sheath of self-lubricating, movable skin. The female is thus stimulated by moving pressure rather than by friction only, as when the male’s foreskin is missing.
  • The foreskin fosters intimacy between the two partners by enveloping the glans and maintaining it as an internal organ. The sexual experience is enhanced when the foreskin slips back to allow the male’s internal organ, the glans, to meet the female’s internal organ, the cervix-a moment of supreme intimacy and beauty.

The foreskin may have functions not yet recognized or understood. Scientists in Europe recently detected estrogen receptors in its basal epidermal cells.24 Researchers at the University of Manchester found that the human foreskin has apocrine glands.25 These specialized glands produce pheromones, nature’s chemical messengers. Further studies are needed to fully understand these features of the foreskin and the role they play.

What is Lost to Circumcision

When a baby boy’s natural and intact penis is “circumcised,” this is what is lost forever:

*1. The frenar band of soft ridges–the single most pleasure producing zone on the male body. Loss of this densely innervated and reactive belt of tissue reduces the sensitivity of the remaining penis to about that of ordinary skin.

2. Approximately half of the temperature reactive smooth muscle sheath called the dartos fascia.
3. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, a component of the immune system.
*4. An estimated 240 feet of microscopic nerves, including branches of the dorsal nerve.
*5. Between 10,000 to 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can discern slight motion, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture. This loss includes thousands of coiled fine-touch receptors called the Meissner’s corpuscles – the most important sensory component in the foreskin.
6. Estrogen receptors the purpose and value of which are not yet fully understood.
*7. More than 50% of the mobile penile skin, the multi-purpose covering of the glans, that shields all of the specialized penile skin from abrasion, drying, and callusing (by keratin cell layering), and protects it from dirt and other contaminants. The debilitating sexual consequences of keratinizing the glans have never been studied.
8. The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa, which may produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as lysozyme, also found in mothers milk, and plasma cells, which secrete immunoglobulin antibodies.
9. Lymphatic vessels, the loss of which interrupts the lymph flow within a part of the bodys immune system.
*10. The frenulum, the very sensitive “V” shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; usually amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, which destroys its functionality.
*11. The apocrine glands of the inner foreskin, which produce pheromones—nature’s powerful, silent, invisible behavioral signals to potential sexual partners. They contribute significantly to sexuality. Their loss is unstudied.
12. Ectopic sebaceous glands, which lubricate and moisturize.
*13. The essential “gliding” mechanism. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin measures about 15 square inches, the size of a postcard. This abundance of specialized, self-lubricating mobile skin gives the natural penis its unique hallmark ability to smoothly “glide” in and out within itself—permitting natural non-abrasive masturbation and intercourse, without drying out the vagina or requiring artificial lubricants.
14. The pink to red to dark purple natural coloration of the glans, normally an internal organ, like the tongue.
*15. A significant amount of the penis circumference because its double layered wrapping of loose foreskin is now missing making the circumcised penis defectively thinner than a full-sized intact penis.
*16. As much as one inch of the erect penis length due to amputation when the connective tissue is torn apart during “circumcision.” This shared membrane tightly fuses the foreskin and the glans together while the penis develops. Ripping it apart wounds the glans, leaving it raw and subject to infection, scarring, and shrinkage.
*17. Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this dense vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, obviously damaging its natural function and possibly stunting its complete and healthy development.
18. Every year boys lose their penises altogether from botched “circumcisions” and infections accidents happen. They are then “sexually reassigned” by transgender surgery and must live their lives as females.
19. Every year many boys lose their lives from the complications of medically unnecessary circumcisions. The cause of these deaths are a fact the billion dollar per year circumcision industry willfully obscures and conceals.
*20. Although not yet proved scientifically, there is considerable new evidence that an incomplete penis loses its capacity for the subtle electromagnetic “cross-communication” that occurs only during contact between two mucous membranes, and which contributes to the perception of sexual ecstasy. In other words, medically unjustified foreskin amputation of boys ultimately diminishes the intensity of orgasms for both men and women!

Gary L. Harryman,
14 February 1999

 http://www.mothersagainstcirc.org/fleiss.html

http://www.cirp.org/pages/parents/lostlist/

 

Dr. Ronald Goldman

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