Website disclosing circumcised status of Australian men: “not a fetish site”

At first glance you could be excused for dismissing a site whose primary feature is to track the circumcised status of Australian men as a fetish site.

While expecting quite justified accusations of hypocrisy, this is exactly what we thought when we stumbled upon the site Helmet or Hoodie.

Helmet or Hoodies?For international visitors who may not be familiar with the Australian terms, ‘helmet’ refers to the shape of the glans (or ‘head’) of the penis, which is left exposed after circumcision. Think of Darth Vader and you should immediately get the reference. ‘Hoodie’ refers to the foreskin covering the glans when the penis is left intact, and makes references to a hooded jacket which is Australia is given the same name.

The majority of the content on the site is a simply listing of celebrities with a note on their circumcised status – #hoodie for those who are known to be intact and #helmet for those who have been circumcised. Listings include actors, musicians, sportsmen, models and media personalities. Given the part of the body in question, it would appear that the site is at least a ‘curiosity’, and perhaps borders on what most would consider ‘fetish’.

But digging deeper reveals some more noble outcomes, either accidentally or perhaps intentionally from the the authors.

It is evident from the letters page that many who visit the site get reassurance about the status of their own penis, or to help them make decisions about cutting their own children. This includes men who were cut as children who can see that they are not alone, or men who were left intact who can see that their favourite celebrities are also intact, and expectant parents who can discover that the majority of younger Australian celebrities are intact.

Whatever the reason for visiting, the site is resulting in people becoming more informed, and for Australian men, more confident about their own genitalia.

The FAQ page at Helmet or Hoodie states that they are not a fetish site, and we agree.

Image courtesy of siraphat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australian hospitals, please stop covering up the forced cutting of our penises

Dear Australian hospitals,

Please respect the bodily integrity of our baby boys. Boys do not need to be surgically altered when they are born, and when this happens, please do not attempt to cover it up:

Sydney Children’s Hospital Foundation attempts to hide the truth on circumcision.

Dogs become new target for Central Coast wiener cutter

Woman with puppyWith circumcision rates for human babies dropping across Australia, one clinic on the New South Wales Central Coast is hoping to fill the void in their revenue by offering the service to pet owners.

“It’s embarrassing when we have friends over for a classy dinner, and there’s Bouncer rolling around on his back showing all that extra skin”, says Sharon – the clinic’s first dog circumcision customer.

“We are starting with dogs, but we can foresee a demand from owners of other animals. It’s only natural that circumcised pet owners would want their pets to look like themselves” say’s the clinic’s owner, Dr Nicholas.

Darren agrees. As a multiple trophy winner in ‘owners who look like their pets’ competitions, he has often felt a little sheepish accepting the awards, knowing that Bundy is actually quite different in one important area.

“I’d consider getting him done”, he says. “It’s not just so that I feel more confident in the competitions, but also because we’ve had a few awkward moments when he has walked in on me in the shower. I’ve never be able to find the right words to explain why we are different down there, so I figure it’s easier to just give him the chop.”

Dr Nicholas also highlights that there other benefits in addition to the purely cosmetic side of things, including a lower chance of getting the foreskin caught in leads, religious considerations and the ease of washing the pet.

While not commonly used in Australia, the clinic plans to import a ‘circumstraint‘ from the United States, to restrain the dogs during the procedure. For human babies, a strong nurse usually leans on the child, pinning his arms and splayed legs. But with a dog, there is the risk that it may bite the assisting nurse.

Dr Nicholas explains. “Just as when human babies scream and try to break free, we are expecting a similar reaction from the dogs. Most people think that this is a reaction to having the end of their penis cut off, but no, we understand this to be just a reaction to being held down…we think.”

Asked if he was worried if some might consider the procedure cruel and unethical, Dr Nicholas assured us that “everybody knows that puppies feel less pain that fully matured dogs, and it’s hard to argue that it’s unethical to do this to an animal when we do the same thing to thousands of human babies every year”.

“Besides, it’s the pet owner’s business and nobody else’s.”

Foregen makes good progress towards goal of foreskin regeneration

Since it was founded in 2010, I have been following the progress of Foregen, a not-for-profit organisation researching regenerative medicine to regrow the foreskin for circumcised men.

Initial reactions from the foreskin restoration communities were full of hope. But once the initial excitement wore off the mood evolved to skepticism, with many asking the tough questions around the science, the funding model, the official charitable status of the organisation and even the motivations behind the directors.

microscopeIn a move to quash some of the doubt, Foregen President Vincenzo Aiello took to YouTube in this video with respected intactivist and TLC Tugger vendor Ron Low, to talk through the vision for the organisation, assure supporters of the transparency of the finances and to call for donations. Ron was also announced as Treasurer for the organisation.

Now they have demonstrated real progress including securing labs, carrying out successful testing with animal tissue, securing a source of human tissue, registering as a tax-exempt charity in the US and announcing a much requested crowd sourcing campaign, many of the detractors have been silenced.

The recent announcement of some of the above news has also attracted the attention of the mainstream media for the first time, with stories being featured in the UK’s Mirror and then the Daily Mail. Other news providers and bloggers then followed suit, with this Mama Mia piece being the first major Australian site to run with the story, albeit with an insensitive tone.

While I’ve had quite a satisfactory sex life with my current circumcised status, I’ve been I’ve been keeping an eye of Foregen’s progress, and would not have ruled out taking up the regeneration option should it ever become available. However, there is small but significant detail highlighted in the Mirror that leaves me a little squeamish:

This involves finding donor foreskins from dead bodies, stripping them of the donor’s cells (decellularization) to leave behind a tissue scaffold, and then populating that scaffold with the patient’s own stem cells, taken from their penis.

Using the organs and other body parts from those selfless souls who wish to leave them for others is now widely accepted. But the idea of having part of the penis from someone else attached to me brings visions of some low grade horror/pornography crossover movie. Would I be able to block out thoughts of the previous owner during love making?  How would my partner feel, or should I not tell her? Would I be obligated to disclose this information?

I applaud the progress that Foregen has made in their short history, and hope that thousands of men will finally feel complete once the procedure is proven successful.

I’m just not sure at this stage if the procedure is going to be for me.

 

Image courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The shared stupidity of culling sharks and cutting penises

Banning circumcision would make more sense than culling sharksAlthough I haven’t lived in Western Australia for a number of years, I still have friends and family who live in the South-West of the state, and are part of the beach and surfing culture of the area. Therefore I get frequent updates on the recently introduced shark culling strategy from people close to the issue. With the news coming through yesterday that the first shark has been caught and killed off the Dunsborough coast, I thought it was time to reflect on the similarities between this, and the issue of non-therapeutic male infant circumcision.

Both are about money

The Government assumes that if it can be shown to be doing something it will bring back the tourists and recreational divers with their much needed money, with the bonus of additional jobs created by the setting and 24 hour monitoring of baited drums. There is no money to be made, and no economic stimulus just leaving the sharks alone, just as there is no money to be made in not cutting penises.

Both are based on psuedo science

Scientists, 100 of them in all, have objected to the cull in an open letter to the Western Australian Government, similar to the way that international group of 38 physicians from 16 European countries denounced the American Acadamy of Pediatrics’ revised policy statement on male circumcision.

Both are based on fear and misunderstanding

Many of us have a fear of sharks, possibly made worse by certain feature films and media reports of the occasional attack. We also naturally fear the unknown, and there is much that we do not know about theses sharks. It is a shame that the resources have not been put into studying these creatures, so that we might learn more about their movements, feeding patterns, and ultimately gain an understanding of why they might attach humans. Just as many Australians have lived their whole lives without owning or experiencing a foreskin, then hear the myths perpetuated by some individuals, resulting in them fearing it so much that they must slice it away from their own children. If they only took the time to understand the 16+ functions of the foreskin they may think twice before doing so.

Neither have real-world examples to support them

Before deciding to undertake such drastic measures, you would think that there would be an example from somewhere around the world to show that shark culling is effective. The only previous shark culling program I could find was from Hawaii in the 1960’s and 1790’s, which resulted in no measurable reduction in the number of shark attacks. Similar to how real-world experience shows that there are no health benefits to routinely circumcising males. For example, the USA has one of the highest infant circumcision rates in the world, but also has a higher prevelance of HIV and STD infection than most European countries that do not circumcise their children.

Both don’t make sense on a cost/benefit analysis

The shark cull seems to be an awful lot of effort in an attempt to save one or two lives per year. Wouldn’t more lives be saved putting those resources into reducing drink driving, improving workplace safety, suicide prevention, pedestrian safety campaigns….the list could go on. Just as more lives could be saved by putting the health resources into just about any other real preventitive health initiative. As far as I know, no one has died in Australia from having a foreskin.

Both have less extreme and invasive alternatives

It is a sad reflection on our society that we often seem to be drawn to the most violent ‘solution’ to problems. The number one solution to reducing shark attacks, for those who are concerned about their own safety, is to simply stay out of the water. Just as abstinence or careful selection of sexual partners is the solution for those men who are intact and worried that this status may put them at higher risk of STDs (which, by the way, is a myth.) For those who do still want to enter the water, there are devices that can be worn to deter sharks, just as those who wish to engage in more promiscuous activity can wear a condom.

Both are futile attempts to prevent things that are extremely rare

Even if the culling of sharks was sucessfull in completely eliminating shark deaths, it would only be saving one or two lives per year. In the same way that pro-circumcision advocates claim that circumcision can reduce the risk of penile cancer. Even if circumcision did reduce the risk, the disease in developed nations occurs in only 1 in 100,000 men and even then, mostly occurs in elderly men.

Proponents of both use semantics and euphemisms

WA Fisheries Minister Troy Buswell has stated that this is not a cull, but a ‘shark mitigation strategy’, which sounds much more scientific and less barbaric. Just as the pro-circumcision crowd fights hard to keep the euphemism ‘circumcision’ while many are now referring to the procedure as ‘male genital mutilation’.

 

One could find parallels between any debate that has fear and economics pitted against science and logic, and some may see this as an attempt to ride on the coat tails of another, seemingly unrelated cause. And they may be partially right. The goal of this post is to raise awareness of the stupidity of non-therapeutic infant circumcision with those who can see the same types of stupidity in culling sharks. But equally, I also hope that those who are against infant circumcision might be introduced to the shark culling issue, raising awareness for both of these important causes.

Image courtesy of Luigi Diamanti / freedigitalphotos.net

Foreskin restoration growing in popularity in Australia

Some of us were circumcised as babies, and we are absolutely fine with it. Some of us are uncircumcised (intact) and fine with it too. A small percentage of men who were left intact decide to have it done later in life – mostly for medical reasons but sometimes for cultural reasons. And that’s fine too.

But there are some men who were circumcised and are not happy about it. For this group, in the past it was a case of just having to accept it, or being told to ‘get over it’ when these concerns were expressed to others.

Now it seems that more and more Australian men are learning that there is actually something that can be done about it.  The news.com.au website today published an article called Meet the circumcised men who want to restore their foreskins. The article explains the basic concept of putting tension on the remnant foreskin to encourage the growth of new cells, to gradually grow the skin over the glans. While not re-growing some of the specialised structures and tissues, the result can closely resemble and function like a real foreskin.

While foreskin resotoration was well known in Roman times, the art was lost until it was rediscovered in the 1970’s. The proliferation of the internet in the 1990’s made it possible to share the knowledge and techniques more widely. However, I believe that today was the first time that the Australian mainstream media, albeit an online outlet, has dedicated an entire article to foreskin restoration.

Unfortunately it seems that no comments are being published, so I’ll make some corrections and highlight ommissions here.

Firstly, the article portrays foreskin restoration as a process that is so disruptive to normal life that it is almost impractical to do. Most restorers I have connected with have managed to easily fit the routine into their lives with only minor adjustments. In addition, the article omits to mention that their are other methods that are less invasive, especially the manual methods where the restorer needs to only use their hands to gently stretch the skin at various times throughout the day – usually at toilet breaks.

My next comment on the article is that the ‘top doctor’ the author spoke to at the Australian Medical Association appears to have no knowledge of the natural restoration process. His comments were in relation to surgical restoration techniques, which was not the topic of the article. Ironically, he warned that surgery would result in a scarred penis – much like the scars caused by the original circumcision surgery.

Finally, I found it odd that the article ends with links and phone numbers to mental health and depression services. Is the author suggesting that only men with mental health issues would worry about being circumcised and consider restoration? Is this an attempt to dismiss the real concerns of men?

In any case it is good to see the media finally taking the topic of foreskin restoration seriously, and exposing many more Australian men to the benefits of restoring.

Top eight tips for making your penis larger (or at least how to not make it any smaller)

We all know that penis size doesn’t matter but given the number of spam emails promising you a longer and thicker organ there is clearly a demand, or at least an interest in penile enhancement. While most of these claims are, sometimes literally, snake oil potions, are there any proven methods that can make your penis bigger? Well there are actually a couple of scientifically proven ways to do this. And given that the proven methods are so few, I thought I’d beef up this post with with some other strategies to at least make sure that what you were given does not get any smaller.

1. Don’t get yourself circumcised
While it may be too late for many Australian men, if you have been lucky enough to escape the knife up to this point you should make sure you continue to avoid the procedure. (If you are one of the unlucky ones don’t despair – check out number 2 below.)

The obvious effect that circumcision has is to physically reduce the size of the flacid penis. It is self evident that if you cut of part of your penis you will have, well, less penis. As comedian Will Anderson quipped on the television show Good News Week, in response to a proposed Californian bill to make circumcision illegal, “what man is going to look down and say gee, I think I want to make this smaller”.

While many Australian men think that this effect is only on flaccid penis size, there is evidence to suggest that there is also an effect on erect penis size. An Australian study has shown that a circumcised penis is on average 8mm smaller than an intact (uncircumcised) one. This is thought to be due to the restrictive skin on a circumcised penis ‘tethering’ the glans and inner parts of the shaft during an erection. In addition the erect girth also becomes smaller as you lose the double layer of skin just below the glans.

2. If you have been circumcised, restore
While medical evidence may be scant, there is strong anecdotal evidence that undergoing natural foreskin restoration can increase penis size. By natural foreskin restoration I am referring to the process of applying tension to the remnant foreskin over a long period of time to trigger a process called mitosis, whereby the skin cells multiply. The end result is that the remnant foreskin grows in length to have a similar look an function to a normal foreskin.

There are two reasons why this can also have an affect on penis size. The first is the reversal of the tethering effect (outlined in point 1 above). It stands to reason that if the tight foreskin caused by circumcision can make the penis shorter by tethering it to the body then loosening that skin will release it and allow it to grow to its full potential during an erection. Note though that this effect is often only experienced by men who were unfortunate enough to receive a very tight circumcision, and those who restore from a more generous base may not experience any increase in length.

The second is the theory that the frequent tension causes mitosis not only in the foreskin but also in the penile shaft.

Many many report increased length of around 1 inch as a result of foreskin restoration. My personal experience is that I started with an average penis length of 6 2/8 inches, and after almost completing the restoration process my length is still 6 2/8 inches. However, I did only first measure myself after 3 months into the restoration process.

3. Stop smoking
Did you really need another reason to stop smoking? Well apparently a study has shown that men who stopped smoking experienced an increase in size. Or more accurately their penis size reverted to the normal size it would have been if they had never started smoking.

4. Start jelqing
I must admit, this is one I have actually tried. It sounds like an attractive proposition: stroke your penis every day (umm..that’s what I do every day anyway) and it will grow. But the ‘stroking’ is more intense than my usual efforts. The idea is to force blood up from the base to the glans to cause minor damage to the vessels. I won’t describe it any more than than in case I get it wrong. Which would be likeley because it is such a complex process. From warm-up wraps to warm downs, stricts regimes of sets and reps with various levels of hardness, different grips, days on and rest days. I tried my own regime at each bathroom break and I decided that after three months that if I had even one millimeter or growth then I would continue. My total gains were 0mm.

5. Traction devices
While the skeptical general public usually laughs off the suggestion that any device could make your penis longer it seems that the medical and scientific community is now saying that these traction devices might actually work. Similar to foreskin restoration, the devices work by applying tension over a long period of time, which induces cell growth. Read more on one of the more popular traction devices here.

6. Penis pumps
While traction devices have some scientific backing, the efficacy of the penis pumping devices is less certain. While some studies have shown an increase others have shown no change. They work by creating a vaccum around the penis which causes an engorging of the penile blood vessels. Over time (and again, six months is usually required) the vessels can grow, resulting in an increase in length. Penomet is one of the more popular brands.

7. Diet and exercise
If improving blood vessels can result in increased size, then perhaps diet and excercise can acheive the same thing? Sounds plausible to me but I am yet to find any solid evidence to suggest that diet and excercise can do anything other than improve the strength of your erection (which is not a bad thing anyway).

8. Lose weight
This is another one that falls under the category of getting your penis size back to what it naturally should be. As you gain weight around your pubic area (to get technical, the mons pubis), the growing area of fat can effectively ‘swallow’ the base of your penis. It’s pretty simple really – the more that gets buried in this layer of fat the less you have to show. If you needed further incentive to finally lose weight perhaps this is the reason to get you started!

Eight is an unconventional number for any ‘top’ list.  I had intended this to be a ‘top ten’ list but simple could not find enough methods with any sort of legitimacy to make the cut. If I have missed anything though please add them as a comment below.