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

A look back at a penis obsessed year at the NT News

While most Australian tabloid newspapers wouldn’t shy away from a good story related to penises, it seems that in 2014 the NT News ran any story related to penises. And the stories didn’t even need to be relevant to the Northern Territory, or even Australia for that matter.

Searching for the keyword ‘penis’ on their website returns over 900 results. Some of the penis related articles published in 2014 involved fast bowler scratchings, funny signs (with a later follow-up piece), penis shaped termite mounds and trees, which all at least had an Australian context, to frivolous overseas stories associating penises to milk cartons, clouds, tourist maps, grafitti, birds and even the innocent milky bar treat. At least story on a botched circumcision had a slightly more serious health/risks of cosmetic surgery angle.

The story on the penis shaped running route map prompted a facebook follower of the page going by the name of ‘Woodie’ to call them out on their penis fetish with the following comment:

Does NT news have penis envy? Always stories with penises. Thought it was a newspaper, not a nudespaper!

Of course, the NT News could not help themselves by responding to the comment by emphasising the user’s unfortunate name:

We cater to what our audience love Mr Woodie.

We eventually discovered that the reason for their prolific penis pennings in 2014 was because the NT News had hired a dick joke correspondent, we daresay being the first newspaper in the world to do so.

We wonder if, in the interests of gender equality, we can expect the hiring of a vagina joke correspondent in 2015? Or perhaps once they have gained a following with the jokes they could bring some attention to some serious men’s health issues?

New cure for baldness brings new meaning to the phrase ‘dickhead’

Using foreskins to cure baldness?Many Australian news sites today, including the Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and the Age reported that a new experiment could potentially stop baldness.

Researchers have successfully grafted skin with new hair folicles onto lab mice, by using tissue from harvested human infant foreskins.

Is this a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul? On an ethical level, it would hard to justify making a cosmetic alteration to a non-consenting infant to enable another cosmetic alteration to an adult. Especially when you consider that to the original owner, the foreskin has many functional qualities which would be sacrificed for a purely cosmetic alteration to someone else. Fine if this truly was medical waste, but it is commonly accepted that there is almost never a medical reason to circumcise an infant.

I find it odd that this ethical and moral minefield didn’t rate a mention from the traditional Australian media.

This would not be the first time that infant foreskins have been used for the vanity of adults. An Australian distributor for face cream SkinMedica has found out that many Australians are not going to accept the use of harvested human foreskins in its products, with blogs drawing attention to the issue and complaints submitted to the company’s website. Oprah Winfrey has also been met with protests over her endorsement of the face creams.

Many Australian men already think that those who are balding should just accept it, and that those who resort to medical procedures to cure their baldness should be called ‘dickheads’. (With Shane Warne receiving the lion’s share of this sentiment). Perhaps this sentiment was a little harsh, but I think that for anyone who puts infant foreskins on their heads, the label is justified.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Australian websites jump on the penis dunking and penis beaker craze

Australian online news sites have recently been abuzz with reports on the previously unknown post-coital act of what has been coined ‘penis dunking’ with a newly defined object now named the ‘penis beaker’.

I think I’ve given enough information for those with even a limited imagination to understand the concept, even though it seems none of us actually do it.

But for those who need a little help to put the picture together, here is some text from the original post on a site called mumsnet:

“We have a dedicated post-sex clean-up area on the bedside table. A box of tissues, a small bin, and a beaker of clean water for temporary cleaning/dunking while the bathroom is occupied by me. Apparently our penis beaker is strange and not the done thing. Does everyone else just lay there in a sticky post coital glow until morning? Really?”

The answer to the question posed in the last sentence, judging from the comments on the post, appears to be ‘yes’. While there were different variations on cleaning up involving showering, bides or plain old wiping, no comments confirmed the same routine.

So this latest ‘craze’ is not is not for the act of ‘penis dunking’ or the ‘penis beaker’ itself, which has now been confirmed as being performed by only one man worldwide. Rather, the craze is in the reporting of it.

Firstly there was a news.com.au article on October 11 titled “Query about ‘penis dunking’ goes viral on UK website Mumsnet”. Then today the Sydney Morning Herald picked up the story with their article “Why we can’t help wondering about other people’s sex lives“.  Curiously, this article links through to the news.com.au article rather than the Mumsnet post, perhaps revealling where they got their inspiration for the piece. We recently saw a similar pattern of copying penis related articles when news.com.au reported on foreskin restoration, not long after a similar article on a UK online news site.

And yes, we are also guilty, and probably more so by reporting on the reporting of the penis dunking/beaker phenomenon. But we are simply fascinated that the unique routine of one man, when each of us probably have a unique penis related routine, could cause such a stir.

One serious question we wanted to explore though was whether there was any benefit to washing one’s penis after sex. The results of some quick research were surprising.

We found that a study, presented at a HIV conference in Sydney, has shown that washing the penis immediately after sex actually increases the risk of contracting HIV, at least among uncircumcised (intact) men. The study states “there ought to be a little time left for postcoital cuddling before you go and wash”. Sounds familiar? Perhaps written by a woman with another agenda?

The only other guidance we could find suggested that washing your hands immediately after sex could reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. We could find no further recommendations on washing genitalia.

So it seems that there is no compelling reason for the ‘penis dunking’ into the ‘penis beaker’. Even if there was evidence to suggest it reduced the risk of STD infection, apparently the partaker is in a monogomous relationship with his wife. So it appears that the act is done purely for personal preference, to which we say, good on him.

 

 

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.

Bonds: not very very comfy undies

One of my pet hates is false advertising. I once considered complaining to the ACCC about Woolworth’s ‘fresh food’ claim when I realised that green bananas and rock hard pears are technically fresh off the trees. But can’t they just leave them on the trees a little longer? When I am shopping how am I supposed to know if I’ll feel like a banana next week?

One legitimate claim I may have though is Bonds’ claim of ‘comfy undies’. They have been using this tag for years but I have never heard them acutally back up why they claim that their underwear is comfortable. Is this just ‘puffery’? (See, I did remember something from Law 101). What makes them so comfortable? They can parade Patrick Rafter around in their underwear as much as they like but I think that Australian men deserve some specifics.

So here are some specifics on why I think they are uncomfortable. Firstly, they are too tight around my testicles. Now I don’t have particularly large balls, but even for me the undies pull them up into my body. This can even be painful when sitting or lying in certain positions. Even worse is the fact that it is now commonly understood that this increases the tempeture which can have a negative affect on fertility.

Secondly, while being too tight around the testicles I find them too loose around the penis. Unfortunately I was a victim of forced circumcision as an infant, and as a result my glans (head), which should naturally be mostly an internal organ, is constantly exposed to annoying friction with underwear. If this part of the underwear is loose, my glans are allowed to move around too much causing a great deal of irritation.

So in my opinion, Bonds have it back to front – their men’s underwear is too tight down low and too loose up high.

I should admit that I actually wear bonds underwear. But here is what I need to do to actually make them comfortable. I buy them, and like a good cellar wine, I put them away for at least 3 years. In this time, the cotton seems to become more relaxed, and makes them just right around the scrotum. Unfortunately they also become looser around the penis. But as I can now cover my glans with my foreskin remnant following an almost complete foreskin restoration this is now less of an issue.

So as a repeat customer, i don’t think my complaint to the ACCC would stand up. I would like to understand if Bonds actually did any market research into what Australian men actually want from their underwear. Bonds – if you do decide to actually do some research please let me know and I’ll be happy to tell you more.

Drawing dicks on The Herald Sun – juvenile doodling gets serious

Most of us wouldn’t have made it through high school without being exposed to at least one hastily scribbled depiction of a penis and testicles, more commonly known as a ‘cock-n-balls’ drawing. In fact, I may have even

cocknballs

Image courtesy of slender volume

been the artist (or perpetrator) behind one or two of these artworks. For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, see the image to the right.

This is a fairly simply one, with more detailed drawings perhaps showing some hair and the meatus, or in attempt to be more shocking, some drops to depict some sort of spurting. But that was usually where the detail ended.

The more creative amongst us would sometimes find newspaper or magazine and draw our dicks on celebrities or polititians. Now this particular form of the art has been taken to a whole new level.

Recently a friend shared an image from the facebook page Drawing Dicks on the Herald Sun. The first remarkable thing about this page is that it has over 224,000 likes. Not bad for a page started in September 2012. The second is the exquisite detail and creativity shown in the images of, well, as the page title suggests, dicks drawn on The Herald Sun newspaper.

For example, the recent Kevin Rudd leadership spill that wasn’t inspired a different kind of ‘spill’. kevin rudd leadership spill of a different kind

It’s not just Aussie polititians who get this treatment. Sports stars provide good opportunities for doodling, even from many years ago. Take this example from the Australian cricket team’s dressing room. Is this really what goes on in post match celebrations?

sharne_warne_alan_border

It’s not all just juvenile fun. There is often the opportunity to make a political or social statement, and the John Howard/Tony Abbott gay marriage picture is probably the best example of this genre. Check it out at the facebook page, before this and other potentially offensive images are taken down.