Because I was a boy, it was legal for medical practitioners to restrain me, separate my foreskin from my glans and remove my foreskin. This is known medically as circumcision. It is also mutilation as it removed functional, healthy tissue and left a scar on my penis.
As an infant, I could not consent. As an adult, I have taken back control of my body and restored my foreskin.
Circumcision has a long history, with no definitive starting time or purpose. Various forms of genital cutting have been recorded in cultures from around the world: some cultures only cut boys, though all cultures that cut girls also cut boys. Genital cutting is also done on children who are born intersex, most often with the goal of ensuring the child fits into the gender binary.
Male circumcision, most commonly practiced by those of Abrahamic faiths, differs today from its origins. Named milah, this cutting involved the removal of the skin that extended beyond the glans. Today, circumcision involves the removal of the inner foreskin, the outer foreskin, the ridged band (the interface between the inner and outer foreskins) and, often, the frenulum (the band connecting the foreskin to the underside of the penis—similar to the connective tissue beneath the tongue).
Foreskin restoration—or even foreskin lengthening—also has a long history. In ancient Greece, men would sometimes tie a kynodesme (a piece of leather cord) around a short foreskin to pull it forward over the glans. In ancient Rome, a man might attach a ring to the end of his penis for the same purpose. Jewish men used both of these methods, as well as the method known as pondus judaeus: a weight that was tied to the penile shaft skin, with the goal of stretching the skin over the glans.
There is also a surgical procedure known as epispasm, in which the skin around the base of the penis is cut, the skin on the shaft of the penis is moved forward over the glans and the wound is covered until such a time as new skin forms. This procedure was also used by those who had foreskins that were shorter than they wanted them to be. This procedure is described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus in De Medicina in 47 CE.
I began restoring my foreskin over five years ago, as I was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the way my penis looked and functioned. I have never been happy with the visible scar from the circumcision, which I could see when urinating, showering, having sex or merely being in the nude. As I grew older, my glans was becoming less sensitive due to the chafing that the foreskin would normally prevent. The majority of my sexual interactions as an adult have been with men who are intact. As a result of my sexual experiences, I knew that I was missing out on what my intact partners experienced. Having always admired the foreskins of my partners, I had investigated and knew that foreskin restoration was possible. Now that I have begun restoration, my only regret is that I wish I had started earlier.
Modern foreskin restoration can involve a number of methods: from manual and taping methods to the use of various devices, colloquially referred to as tugging devices, as well as surgical procedures. I started with manual methods, found that the taping methods irritated my skin too much and then moved onto using a number of tugging devices. Initially, I also used silicone o-rings as a retainer, so as to keep what skin I had restored in place over my glans, protecting it from chafing; now that I have enough skin that my glans is covered, I rarely use o-rings.
The first few weeks of using a tugging device were interesting: applying the device to my penis was easy—the feeling of having something attached to my penis was the more difficult part. It took time to get used to that new sensation. Now that I have been restoring for a number of years, I can apply the devices that I use without looking and I no longer feel discomfort when I have a device attached to my penis. I now use two devices other than o-rings: a dual-tension device, which applies tension to the skin so as to promote cell growth and increase the skin on my outer foreskin and an inflating device that does the same but for the inner foreskin.
Now that I have a foreskin that is long enough to protect my glans from chafing, I am certainly enjoying sex more. Now that my glans has recovered some sensitivity, receiving oral sex is better than it has ever been for me. One of my partners assures me that my movements when I’m doing the penetration have changed for the better.
There are other benefits, not related to sexual gratification, too: I cycle regularly and I now feel my glans moving around in its protective sheath as my legs move up and down instead of being chafed against my clothing; when it’s cold, my penis has a hoodie which keeps my glans warm; and, importantly for me, I no longer see the scar from circumcision on my penis when I am in the nude.
The nerves that were severed when I was circumcised as an infant cannot be replaced, though my foreskin restoration has provided me with protection for my glans and improved my appreciation of sex. I was born with a foreskin and I shall die with a foreskin.