Experts have been unable to understand the origin of the practice of routine male circumcision. Most of the literature shows no awareness of phimosis - its frequency - or the sexual and erectile problems which can be cured by circumcision. If routine circumcision had been introduced for this most obvious reason of eliminating difficult foreskins; then the importance of an alternative modern method, suitable to our culture's attitudes in this day and age, would be clear.


Is it merely coincidental that so many ancient peoples had discovered such a great variety of simple solutions and effective methods of preventive treatment, and even a way of monitoring for phimosis?

The custom predominates in Africa, the Middle East and Australia; occurs more sporadically in New Guinea, and also among some tribes of American Indians - leading to that wonderful tale about the Conquistadors who, as they landed in America, reasoned that the natives must be a lost tribe of the Jews. (68)

The time honoured operations of partial circumcision, dorsal slit and frenular incision require far less complexity of tool building than the modern full circumcision, (e.g. a clamp to trap the glans inside before guillotining off the overhang of the foreskin), and they are fully efficient methods of treating foreskin conditions.

Apart from the more normal forms of male circumcision which ancient tribes practiced, there are a number of individual variations.

"Long pendulous foreskins are apparently a thing of beauty for some tribes in New Guinea who deliberately stretch them by suspending weights from the penis" (45).

There is the possibility of "removing some of the foreskin and leaving the remainder as a flap, as practiced by the Maasai and Kikuyu of East Africa, or cutting the foreskin away but retaining it as two flaps, as practiced by the Tikopia of Polynesia" (46).

"The most rudimentary form of male circumcision is a simple gash of the prepuce", "the simple process of tearing the prepuce with the fingers", or "a wedge-shaped piece is excised" (47).

Several cultures perform an incision of the frenulum, "the inhabitants of the Loyalty Islands... and, . . on Tahiti" (49). In a fascinating description of the practices of the Luo a large variety of traditional cures for frenulum breve are described including: "One method ... the use of Okoko ... the male soldier ant. The boy to undergo the operation had to sit with his legs apart. The Okoko would then be caught and its incisor like proboscis placed squarely on the connective tissue that joins the penial foreskin to the male organ. The Okoko would then tighten grip to sever through the connective tissue." (87)

Interesting is that "In some Turkish families the foreskin is retracted straight away after birth, and this is done periodically, in order to prevent adhesions" (48).

One traditional form of monitoring which has come to light is: "In India a bit of stick is used as a probe, and carried round and round between the glans and prepuce, to ascertain the exact extent of the frenum, and that no unnatural adhesions exist." (60).

Circumcision, stretching and many of these old fashioned incisions, would dismiss any possibility of danger from phimosis, adhesions, and would leave little for the frenulum to pull on.

Is it merely coincidental that so many ancient peoples had discovered such a great variety of simple solutions and effective methods of preventive treatment, and even a way of monitoring for these preputial problems?

Even those ancient genital embellishments which were totally unrelated to this present theme were performed consciously ... and, whatever the method, a boy's penis was examined or treated early, by an older member of the culture.

Our culture is probably exceptional in it's omission of any such custom. This is particularly surprising when the medical approach in our culture usually emphasises early checks and a preventative attitude.

More Ancient Methods of Modification