This site discusses phimosis in its specific forms of phimotic ring, frenulum breve, adhesions or skinbridges. During erection these conditions inhibit the relationship between foreskin and glans. This functionally restricts the erection, and thus has an effect on the sexuality. With our culture's attitudes on health care, it would be appropriate to encourage early prevention.

2012 : note from author: My previous idea of monitoring boys before puberty is impractical, unecessary and now only of historical interest. please see Postscript.


My original interviewed sample group before going on-line, covered an extended circle of friends I have in Germany and England ... we are talking about a group of around 120 people (approx. 30 women and 90 men) between 25 - 40 yrs.old and though there are limits to my social flexibility, I believe this represents a fair cross section and the findings give a good general survey. A sort of street level impression, the grass roots of a taboo. (Since being on line I have had contact with a far more limited cross section of the general public - ie. mainly only those with actual problems).

People's reactions when I started talking about foreskin conditions were generally not very welcoming. The subject was completely refused by about 10%. Often I felt this was a gut reaction, and I could sympathise because when I first got involved with the subject it used to make me feel bad in my stomach ... These days I usually introduce the subject by talking about male initiation in the modern world . . . the response is very much better.

My first surprise was that women were generally far more able to think about the subject than men were. The majority of the older women I questioned had sons or lovers with whom they had experienced the problems. It is obvious who men with these problems have talked to. Around thirty women informed me of as many cases.

Mature women reported sometimes up to 3 or 4 cases, (ie far more than the men ever did) while many of these stories may be the nature of exaggerated rumours what is very interesting is that in some social groups in Germany, there is obviously a grapevine of information among women warning young mothers about the possible requirement of male cirucmcision. One young mother reporting that two older colleagues had warned her to check her young boy.

I spoke with around 15 cases personally. In Germany I heard more cases of puberty problems and it was generally men from the UK who discovered late. Though some of these men encouraged my research, generally they didn't particularly want to remember the episode. Most of them had not understood what had happened to them, or why the operation had been necessary. Some felt their case was a rarity and thus not worth complaining about. Simple rips of the frenulum and partial phimosis causing pain during masturbation were fairly common experiences. (e.mail writers only rarely report these, (or when reported in e.mail only as part of a longer story)).

From around 70 "normal" happily foreskinned men many had never heard of foreskin conditions. I often sensed a feeling of disgust as soon as I broached the subject. I was informed by a few "of course it's not taboo", however on asking it was clear they had never talked about the subject before.

Some had heard one story (e.g. of a friend in childhood who had stretched the foreskin) and genuinely believed that was the entire subject. Often I heard: "So, you discover it, you receive treatment, it's simple, and why make all this fuss"

Something else worth mentioning, is that among those unhappily and happily foreskinned males I spoke with, if a converstaion developed, there was a remarkably clear 45 minute time limit, not that anyone looked at a clock, but I believe I noticed more clearly than in 20 years of teaching, that 45 mins is the limit for new information.

And then came my second surprise (surely from a far too small sample but), all four men who had been circumcised at birth were open minded and have discussed the subject for at least 2 hours, and all of them of their own accord have started to talk about the subject again! Why is there such a remarkable difference in the ability of different people to consider this phenomenon, does this taboo stem from uncircumcised societies, are those men circumcised at in childhood more open to thinking about the foreskin? - (In this context it is worth considering that almost everyone involved with the subject on-line - both pro and anti - are circumcised).

If a conversation developed, by far the most frequent question and usually the first was "Why did it take you so long to discover?". this was often the first and the only question which occurred. It is in my opinion the main answer to the question. "Why hasn't anyone else said anything?" This question must have embarrassed a million men into silence.

It surprised me how often therapists and psychologists asked this; surely such late discoveries occur frequently with lots of people in lots of different walks of life.

From a psychological or behavioural perspective I had a condition which was painful at puberty, and, people avoid pain. To summarise: the lack of awareness was probably stimulated by uncomfortable experiences previous to puberty, a learned experience of difficulty at puberty, and this was reinforced after puberty, for example every time I masturbated, i.e. in the same way any other habit develops and reinforces itself. - and I believed I was normal, and you ... I never thought an anatomical inhibition was possible.

When the conversation continued and developed a few people understood the problem as a handicap and said that there are methods of coping with handicaps so that they don't lead automatically to a disintergration of the personality.

When a handicap is conscious one has the choice of confronting it, and in coming to terms with it, one can even turn it to some greater strength. In addition, once they are recognised, most handicaps are accepted by society, there are self help groups, therapists, doctors understand and the sufferer is at least acknowledged by others. Let alone accepted by anyone else, this is often unknown and unrecognised by the sufferer himself

A real handicap is something which cannot be corrected. These conditions are often not recognised and once the individual does realise he can seek treatment, and (unless the doctor or parents prohibit a youth under 18) they are then very simply cured and never needed be a problem. Up until they are treated, it would be more correct to consider as an inhibition.

From the response I received and the sort of questions I was asked, I find it understandable that the men concerned, prefer to forget the whole experience, rather than confronting it and risking (even in their own mind) the possible risk of being judged as making a big fuss about their own little problem-ridden penis....Thus no-one talks, thus there is a taboo ...

There is a large block of habitual, routine and, it could easily be called, phimotic thinking on this subject. If people had never heard of the subject then it would be far easier to talk with them. Most people had some half-forgotten crazy idea in the back of their heads about circumcision - "Wasn't it meant to cure masturbation?". As I tried to describe that "people avoid pain", many people assumed I was trying to tell them that the operation itself was painful ... the traditional operation and the modern medical one lie world's apart ...

It was often suggested to me that the Jews and the Muslims must know the reason why they circumcise. When I attempted to explain my ideas to a Rabbi he said "We have no interest in why it should be done ... God commanded it."

The most common red herring people get lost with is undoubtably: "should boys be circumcised or not?" Coupled with this, to confirm the confusion, is the popular idea that whether one is circumcised or not makes no difference to the sexuality (and all this goes hand in hand with the rumour that `everyone's normal'). Such generalisations support socially acceptable myths about manhood without taking into consideration the individual conditions which do not meet the norm, where the foreskin is restrained, trapped, inhibited or painful.

I found a great many men had secret worries or pride, on size and shape of their penis. It is then curious how deep and fixed the idea is among "normal men" that : what you've GOT physically is not important, - it's what you ARE that counts.

The popular modern myths about manhood maintain a sort of male status quo or public image which most men with doubts or pride can adjust to, however exactly because a public admission of pride or worry about one`s genital equipment is socially unacceptable, then this self-image remains private and possibly embarrassingly hidden, ... what seems unfair in this context is that those men with a bent or shorter phallus have to eat the hard cheese, while those with a straight 7 inches can contentedly maintain the myths.

Male identity and mandhood in the modern world need far deeper discussion to arrive at a realistic answer to these questions. Relevant to this discussion is that sexual problems due to parental or environmental phenomenon are commonly understood and recognised, such problems are in fact culturally accepted, psychologists and friends are far more receptive to such ideas.

On the other hand, the idea that anatomical conditions can lead to seuxual and in turn psychological problems seems against every advance our culture has made in understanding.

It is blatantly clear to me with my personal experience (thorn in the side of the theorist, abhorent to the true scientist, however it is by my personal experience that I am so sure ... ) that problems with the genitals are not all in the mind and sexual problems are not exclusively caused by parental and environmental influences.