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.

Jan 2021 : Please read the new summary.

The Reasons Phimosis was Rejected
as the Origin of the Practice of Routine Male Circumcision

Most of the anthropological literature on circumcision shows no awareness of the problems with phimosis which can be cured by this archaic form of surgery. (see Phimosis Through the Ages).

Even our present day Western medical literature shows little awareness of sexual problems due to phimosis. The extent and diversity of the sexual difficulties from phimosis have only recently reached the light of day, largely due to the anonymity of Internet where adult men have been able to record their experiences openly for the first time, (see "Passages to Manhood"). Thus inevitably, our anthropologists have been largely unaware of the sexual consequences of these conditions.

The only anthropologists who showed any understanding of foreskin conditions and their various disorienting effects were Bryk and Ploss.

Ploss - Phimosis and the Fertility misinterpretation
In 1884 Ploss wrote "Das Kind" (The Child). He died in 1885 and was unable to defend against a misinterpretation of his ideas.

He concludes the Jewish practice was due to thoughts of ensuring offspring and numerous posterity, and he backs this up with Bible quotes, (and an awareness of fertility would be expected among such an advanced literate people).

When he talks of natural peoples Ploss discusses the normal appearance of the adult penis and the questionable or worrying appearance of infant phimosis. He talks of phimosis "causing difficulties during sexual activity", "as being more or less an obstacle to coitus", even that circumcision occurred at an age preparing for merely "the enjoyment of sex" ... "which prepares for sexual adulthood". Among the natural peoples he suggests fertility as only one of many considerations.

The anthropologists who discussed Plosses theory interpret him as saying that circumcision was introduced because phimosis hinders fertility. Some supported this, others rejected it. However it is doubtful whether he would have agreed with this narrow interpretation.

Ploss showed no specific awareness of any of the actual practical difficulties with foreskin conditions. But possibly he would have argued the apparent hindrance to sexual enjoyment.

Eventually this theory was conclusively rebutted by the fact that hunting peoples had no idea of the causal sequence leading to fertility. but to therefore deduce that phimosis was not relevant to the origins of the practice is illogical. What about the other effects of phimosis which Ploss refers us to?

Actually one imagines fertility was far more the motivation for sex in the 1880s - among hunting peoples enjoyment of sex was probably the most significant motive!

The fact remains that the argument concerning fertility is the only argument against Ploss in the entire literature on this subject.

Bryk and Statistics
The Summary of Bryk gives quotes and references in full

He argues "the foreskin complex" as a general problem with foreskins and though he has a surface understanding of phimosis, adhesions and frenulum breve with their various forms and symptoms, he fails to understand them thoroughly.

"... the foreskin often places a decided restriction in the way, which is sometimes even painful, for after penetration the glans can be strangulated, which complicates the act, or, when the prepuce does not lay the glans bare, ..." - Here, Bryk describes paraphimosis and phimosis without actually naming them

Bryk continues quoting Eylmann and demonstrating his clear lack of understanding . "Cases of the sort where the opening is so small, that making love causes pain, and even urinating is not easy occur so seldomly that our discussion does not need to take them into consideration." - All the different degrees can not be jumbled together in one sentence. The degrees of phimosis which cause pain during sex do not restrict urination. (see Phimosis)--- Concerning the frenulum he writes "by which the glans of the penis is drawn crooked during erection, ejaculation is made more difficult". (see Frenulum)

Bryk discusses at great length the "foreskin complex" as though this were a general problem with foreskins, with mysterious disconnected symptoms however, he fails to identify the symptoms of frenulum breve and phimotic ring in their differing lengths and forms.

His discussion on phimosis ends with two quotes from the anthropological sources of his day

"Cases of the sort where the opening is so small, that making love causes pain, and even urinating is not easy occur so seldomly that our discussion does not need to take them into consideration."

" .. such random and always only sporadic and transient ailments of the foreskin, such as Gonorreah, phimosis and paraphimosis, as well as the rupture of the ligament do not demand such a generally practised preventative measure"

Bryk understands phimosis as a rarity and concludes "it contradicts the primitive way of thinking to anchor this occasional operation in the cultural practice"

Perhaps simply because he accepts phimosis as a rarity, he adopts his term "the foreskin complex" to indicate all the cumulative problems inherant in foreskins.

The ideas involved in refuting phimosis, became accepted and not worth further questioning. a) the natural peoples not appreciating the association between semen and fertility (based on the assumption that the problem with phimosis is restricting semen emission) and b) phimosis is a rarity.

Since 1960 any discussion of phimosis as origin for circumcision has vanished from the books.- The ommission by Bettelheim (1962) and Eliade`s Encyclopedia of Religion (1987) being notable recent examples.