MEN'S CONFIDENTIAL, Vol 12 No 11 (November 1996): pages 8-9. HEADS UP You may not have a foreskin, but that doesn't mean you can't preserve sensitivity. Here's a complete guide to protecting the circumcised penis. Years of exposure to the elements can toughen the skin on any part of your body, but for the head of the penis, the stakes are considerably higher and the "elements" include things as seemingly innocuous as jean seams. While there's no cause for worry on the part of the 20 percent of American men who aren't circumcised - they have 12 square inches of protective skin, a veritable penis parker - the rest of us need to take protection into our own hands. "Nature clearly intended the head of the penis, or glans to be an internal organ," says Jim Bigelow, Ph.D., author of The Joy of Uncircumcising (Hourglass, 1995). "If the foreskin is stripped away, the skin on the glans will eventually toughen and become callused, just as on an elbow or hand or foot." This toughening is cumulative: After 20 years of exposure, the glans may feel fine; but after 50, there may be a definite lessening of sensation that can weaken erections and tone down orgasms. But you can take steps today that will dramatically improve your sensitivity tomorrow. Here's what to do: Use lotion. The foreskin's first duty is to keep the glans soft and supple. You can replicate its effects with a simple lotion. "Try applying some moisturizing hand lotion to your penis twice a day," recommends Paul Gleich, M.D., chief of urology at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. Look for a brand without perfumes or additive, as these could be irritating. Wear cotton underwear. Without the protection of a foreskin, the glans rubs against the nearest layer of clothing - all day, every day. So it's a good idea to make that clothing as penis-friendly as possible. This means clean, loose-fitting breathable cotton underwear, says Dr. Gleich. Boxers and looser Jockey-type shorts are both good choices. You may also want to wash them with a non-irritating laundry detergent (such as Dreft) that's been developed for infant clothing. "Treat your penis the same way you would a baby's skin says Dr. Gleich. Use lubricant. As we get older, our bodies naturally produce less lubricant. And a dry glans is not only less sensitive, but it's also more prone to injury. So be sure to use plenty of lubricant during sex and masturbation. (For a complete evaluation of lubricants, see our product tests in "Slide Effects," September 1995.) Try a faux foreskin. Some men swear by a silky man-made foreskin replacement called the Man Hood. This sleeve fastens around your penis with Velcro and, when worn regularly, promises to make your glans softer and more sensitive. We found it comfortable, if a little awkward. Write to R&C Associates, Box 203 RPO Corydon, Winnipeg, Canada R3M 3S7 for more information. Consider restoration. Of course, to have all the benefits of a foreskin you would need to create one. And that is what thousands of men have done just that by slowly stretching skin from their penile shaft so that it covers the glans. While its not the real thing, those who have tried this technique claim the skin looks and functions well, and even provides a pleasurable "gliding" mechanism during intercourse. There are a variety of devices and do it yourself plans available for those with patience and determination. "They're all basically safe and work by using tape and/or weights to slowly stretch the skin of the shaft says Gary Rhineschild," a urologist practicing in Anaheim, California. Bigelow's book (available from UNCIRC, P. O. Box 52138, Pacific Grove, CA 93950) outlines a three-part do-it-yourself method of tape straps, rings and small weights that achieves results in two to six years. A company called American Bodycrafters, Inc., 1-800-628-1852, manufactures a device called the P. U. D. (Penile Uncircumcising Device) Tugger, a weighting system that promises results in one to two years. It sells for $115 to $125 depending on the weight desired. For more information, point your Web browser to <http://www.tde.com/~derrickt/restore.html>. This site includes a detailed well-illustrated overview of non-surgical foreskin restoration. MC ============================================================ BOX INSET Foreskin Restoration Surgery: Is it safe? While surgery to create an artificial foreskin is unusual, two methods are occasionally performed. In one procedure, surgeons transplant skin from the scrotum onto the shaft of the penis and bunch the extra skin toward the top to fashion the a foreskin. There's usually some scarring and a discolored, hairy spot on the shaft of the penis where the scrotal skin is sewn on. The other procedure uses a small balloon inserted under the skin of the penis. It is slowly inflated over 10 weeks, and once the skin has grown to cover it the balloon is removed and the extra skin fashioned into a foreskin. "I have profound reservations about both surgical approaches," says Dr. Rhineschild, who has helped to unrestore several botched surgeries. "The surgery tends to result in a lot of scarring and a marked instability of the penis, resulting in flexible erections that tend to fall out of the vagina." Enough said. ============================================================== Men's Confidential (ISSN 10665706) 33 E. Minor Street Emmaus, PA 18098 Copyright 1996 by Rodale Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved.