What Is Lost?
"To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants
should be given accurate and unbiased information."  

Circumcision Policy Statement
American Academy of Pediatrics
March 1, 1999

When a baby boy's normal intact penis is circumcised, this is what is lost -- forever:

*1. The foreskin, which comprises up to 50% (sometimes more) of the mobile skin system of the penis. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin would measure about 15 square inches (the size of a 3 x 5-inch index card). This highly specialized tissue normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and contaminants of all kinds. The effect of glans keratinization on human sexuality has never been studied.

*2. The frenar band of soft ridges -- the primary erogenous zone of the male body. Loss of this delicate belt of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue reduces the fullness and intensity of sexual response.

*3. The foreskin's "gliding action"-- the hallmark mechanical feature of the normal, natural, intact penis. This non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth, comfortable, pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, scraping vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for pleasurable intercourse.

*4. Thousands of coiled fine-touch mechanoreceptors called Meissner's corpuscles, the most important sensory component of the foreskin, encapsulated Vater-Pacinian cells, Merkel's cells, nociceptors, and branches of the dorsal nerve and perineal nerve. Altogether, between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can feel slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture are lost.

*5. The frenulum, the highly erogenous V-shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; frequently amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, either of which destroys its function and potential for pleasure. 

6. Approximately half of the temperature-sensitive smooth muscle sheath called the dartos fascia.

7. The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa. This produces both plasma cells that secrete immunoglobulin antibodies and antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as the pathogen-killing enzyme lysozyme.

8. Lymphatic vessels, the loss of which reduces the lymph flow within that part of the body's immune system.

9. Estrogen receptors - the purpose of which is not yet fully understood and needs further study.

*10. The apocrine glands of the inner foreskin, which produce pheromones - nature's powerful, silent, invisible behavioral signals to potential sexual partners. The effect of their absence on human sexuality has never been studied.

*11. Sebaceous glands, which lubricate and moisturize the foreskin and glans, normally a protected internal organ - like the tongue or vagina.

12. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, a first line component of the body's immune system in a whole penis.

13. The pink to red to dark purple natural coloration of the glans. The connective tissue which protectively fuses the foreskin and glans together while the penis develops is ripped apart during circumcision, wounding the glans and the foreskin remnant, leaving them raw and subject to infection, scarring, pitting, shrinkage, and eventual discoloration.

*14. Some of the penis length and penis circumference because its double-layered wrapping of loose and usually overhanging foreskin is now missing, making the circumcised penis truncated and thinner than a full-sized intact penis.

*15. Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this rich vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, damaging the natural function of the penis and altering its development.

16. Every year boys lose their entire penises from circumcision accidents and infections. They are then "sexually reassigned" by castration and "transgender surgery," and expected to live their lives as "females."

17. Every year many boys lose their lives from the complications of circumcision, a fact the billion-dollar-a-year circumcision industry in the U.S. obscures and ignores.

18. By encoding violence on the brain the infant's bonding with its mother is disrupted, with indications that the innate sense of trust in intimate physical contact is inhibited or lost, and in its place a sense of betrayal is instilled in the infant.

(*19. Although never studied scientifically, contemporary evidence suggests that a penis without its foreskin lacks the capacity for the subtle neurological "cross-communication" that occurs only during contact between mucous membranes and which contributes to the experience of sexual pleasure. Amputating an infant boy's multi-functional foreskin is a "low-grade neurological castration" [Immerman], which diminishes the intensity of the entire sexual experience for both the circumcised male and his partner.)

*Loss of each of these items reduces sexual pleasure, gratification, and fulfillment.

Immerman, R. S. and Mackey, W.C., "A Proposed Relationship Between Circumcision and Neural Reorganization," J of Genetic Psych, 1998.
Immerman, R. S. and Mackey, W. C., "A biocultural analysis of circumcision," Social Biology 1998;4:265-275

Compiled by Gary L. Harryman
4/6/99 - Last Revision 5/25/99

See Also: Glossary
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