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Urology and Health

Male Foreskin, Erectile Dysfunction

Is Circumcision Why We Need Viagra?

By Dr. W. Gifford Jones

March 3, 2002

When I researched this column on circumcision my initial reaction was "Wow". I thought the topic would be as easy to write about as rolling off a log but it consumed hours. I hadn't realized the male foreskin had triggered so many medical articles and so much controversy. Now I'm convinced that most families make a decision on circumcision without knowing much about this procedure. The question is, has male circumcision has increased the sale of Viagra?

For some families the decision is easy. They believe circumcision should be performed for religious as well as for sound medical reasons. But if that's not the case, what should you do? A good start is a lesson on anatomy and its sexual implications.

First, the foreskin doesn't cover just a small surface of the penis. The skin removed by circumcision measures from three to five inches in length. That's about half of the total skin of the penis. Besides, inside the foreskin there's a band of tissue that moves in and out like an accordion. This gliding motion triggers sexual reflexes and contributes to sexual pleasure.

So wouldn't sensible babies cry out to parents , "you had better think twice before removing such a significant portion of my anatomy. And have you ever considered how this will affect my sex life?" Some might even add in these litigating times, "do it and I'll sue you for a million."

Due to recent research of Dr. John Taylor male babies now have even greater grounds for being upset. Taylor is a retired pathologist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 1996 he and his colleagues published a report describing anatomically 21 foreskins in the British Journal of Urology.

Dr. Taylor and his colleagues found a "ridged band", 1.25 centimeters (half an inch) in width, that runs around the inside tip of the foreskin never before mentioned.

A detailed microscopic examination of the foreskin revealed it's not merely a piece of skin. Rather, it's loaded with blood vessels and nerves. Remove it and you also amputate a large part of the sexual portion of the penis. That in itself should warrant a class action suit by millions of males!

Erectile dysfunction (ER) is due to several causes. But I wonder how much Viagra is being sold today because of too much snipping of the foreskin?

So why is circumcision being done? One lame argument claims it prevents cancer of the penis, an extremely rare problem. But you don't amputate breasts to prevent cancer of the breast!

Studies do show that circumcision decreases the number of urinary tract infections during the first year of life. But is this a valid reason for amputation that may decrease the pleasures of sex for 75 years?

What about complications from the procedure? Luckily they're rare, but there have been some terribly botched jobs. Some have resulted in severe injuries to the penis and urethra (the tube that carries urine through the penis). Other babies have suffered from infections and hemorrhage.

So if you don't have religious views about circumcision what is the best decision? Due to the updated anatomy lesson from Dr. Taylor, saying "thanks but no thanks" to circumcision seems to be a logical conclusion. Surely nature put the foreskin there for a valid reason and it's rarely prudent to disagree with nature.

I'm sure some readers will argue, "I"ve enjoyed good sex for years and I was circumcised". Maybe so but they could also be living in a fool's paradise. Have they considered how much better sex would have been without the snipping!


W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of The Harvard Medical School. He’s been a ship’s surgeon, hotel physician and family doctor and later trained in surgery at McGill in Montreal, University of Rochester N.Y. and Harvard. His medical column is published by 60 Canadian newspapers and several in the U.S. He is the author of seven books. Dr. Walker has a medical practice in Toronto. . He can be reached at letters@canadafreepress.com


W. Gifford-Jones M.D Most recent columns

W. Gifford-Jones M.D is the pen name of Dr. Ken Walker graduate of Harvard. Dr. Walker's website is: docgiff.com.
Dr. Walker can be reached at info@docgiff.com















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