The Guide to
Getting It On


To Circumcise or Not

Dear Paul,

Your book was one of the many resources we looked to when deciding whether to circumcise our son I am proud that we chose not to. However we keep getting conflicting advice on care of the foreskin. Help! Our pediatrician told us that we need to start pushing the foreskin back, almost halfway down the shaft (he is only 15 months old). My gut reaction is just to do what I have been doing and push it back only as far as it will go every now and then. I really do not want to mess up my son's penis. What do we need to do?

Montana Calling

Dear Montana,

We have a special foreskin section up on our website at It includes care of the foreskin for parents like yourself, as well as tips for the partners of grown-up guys whose mom and dad resisted chopping off the end of their infant son's penis.

Since I am not a physician, I cannot give you medical advice. What I can do is inform you that the advice your pediatrician has given you contradicts everything I've heard from foreskin-friendly physicians, and it will probably lead to more rather than fewer problems.

First, I want to warn you that you should never let a healthcare professional handle your son's penis without a firm warning against retracting your son's foreskin. And then, do not let them examine your child's penis without your watching. There are way too many physicians and nurses who will try to retract the foreskin even when parents say not to.

American medicine has always had a prejudice against the male foreskin, which is understandable when you consider that the only "medical" reason for circumcision has been for the physician and hospital to make extra money. In the only study ever done that supports circumcision, the parents of the uncircumcised boys were instructed to retract their sons' foreskins, just like your pediatrician has instructed you. It was this unfortunate instruction rather than the foreskin itself that caused these boys to have problems.

Retracting the foreskin of a young boy is one of the worst things you can do to it unless there is a specific medical reason.

During infancy and childhood, the inner surface of the foreskin is physically attached to the skin on the head of the penis. This protects the opening of the penis from irritation, infection and ulceration. By trying to retract the foreskin prematurely, you are literally ripping apart these delicate tissues that nature has "glued" together. Over time, the cells that attach these two surfaces together start to dissolve on their own.

To quote from the website of an organization called NOCIRC, "A boy should not be coaxed or urged to retract his foreskin. In early childhood, a boy will pull his foreskin out, away from his body, but as he gets older he will begin to pull it towards his body, too, and one day he will discover that he can pull it all the way back behind his glans. Many boys do not develop fully retractable foreskins until after puberty. The first person to retract a child's foreskin should be the child himself."

In our own internet sex survey, a lot of intact guys have reported that they didn't fully retract their foreskins until they were well into their teenage years. Also, when your son reaches puberty, you'll need to speak with him about retracting his foreskin when he is in the shower and washing around it.

You can get a list of foreskin-friendly physicians from the NOCIRC organization 415.488.9883.

If you are a young man and your foreskin has yet to retract, don't worry. Check out a couple of the sites that we have listed on our internet site, and find a foreskin-friendly physician to discuss the matter with.

©2010, Paul Joannides

Related Issues: Talking With Kids About Tough Issues, Relationship, Sexuality
Relationship, Sexuality

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In America, sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact. - Marlene Dietrich

Paul Joannides is the author of the Guide To Getting It On!--the Universe's Coolest and Most Informative Book On Sex. You can contact him at by clicking on the cover of the Guide that appears on his web site. All columns are the property of Paul Joannides and Goofy Foot Press

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