Many men feel there's something missing from their sex lives. And they are likely wholly unaware of some options they may have for improving their -- and perhaps their partners' -- time between the sheets.
Forget therapy. Forget sex toys or role playing. Build thee a foreskin, young -- or old -- man. Men who have been circumcised, who account for about 63 percent of the U.S. male population (the highest rate in the world), have been stripped of some significant sensory ability, say some groups that oppose circumcision.
But all is not lost. Any man with enough patience and persistence, or willingness to endure surgery on his most sensitive of body parts, can acquire a new foreskin and regain some of that sensitivity, foreskin reconstruction advocates say.
The methods of restoring foreskin are many and varied. People who concern themselves with the pursuit of foreskin seem to agree that while surgery may be the fastest option, it's not the best. The procedure requires two surgeries, and the recovery can be painful.
A better choice, they say, are the many handcrafted devices used to gradually stretch the skin of the penis shaft to take on the job of the missing foreskin. Motivated circumcised men have invented devices including the CAT II RO, Pul-Man, TLC Tugger, PUD (Penile Uncircumcising Device), Foreballs, Tug Ahoy® and many others.
The stretching process takes anywhere from one to three years, or longer for less-diligent restorers. But it's cheap, it requires no incisions and it apparently works.
"You can see there's not a magic bullet," said Dan Piehl, who maintains a comparison chart of the different methods. "There are positives and negatives on each, so I always think like Consumer Reports."
Some devices involve pulling the skin with tape to create tension and eventually stretch the skin to cover the glans, which is exposed after circumcision. Others, known as "tuggers," are tapeless devices that attach using plastic straps and rely on weights and gravity for stretching.
Piehl has invented two versions of his own foreskin restoration device, and has dabbled in various techniques for several months at a time. He said he's about midway to restoring his foreskin completely.
Men like Piehl and Wayne Griffiths, who founded the National Organization of Restoring Men, built their own devices because they couldn't find one that suited them. Griffith's device, called the Foreballs, looks like a tiny dumbbell.
At $100, the Foreballs is one of the more expensive devices. It's made of two ball bearings joined by a short steel rod, and requires some loose skin near the glans under which to place the device. It also requires tape to hold it in place. The rate of success depends on several variables, he said.
"Some men have very loose tissue and some are cut very tight," he said. "Two, (it depends on) how consistent and persistent you are in your regimen. Also, the length of your penis flaccid and the size in circumference in addition to your genetics play a role. Some men have done it in six months."
All of the men pointed out that they are not doctors and can't give medical advice, but advised that no approach should ever be so aggressive that it's painful.
The creator of the CAT II RO said his device is made of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride piping, which is a bonus because the user can get through airport security without a problem. He has liquidated the supply of the parts at his local Lowe's more than once, he said.
His business has increased recently -- he sold 30 devices in June on eBay as well as directly from his website.
Celebrity physician Dr. Dean Edell is a longtime foe of circumcision. "I find it strange to live in a world that accepts a woman having her perfectly normal breasts altered with plastic surgery," Edell said. "But a man who wants to restore what was taken from him at birth, he's weird."
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