E. Winter Tashlin

Foreskin Restoration: Becoming Whole Again

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | July 07, 2013 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: DTR, dysphoria, foreskin, foreskin restoration, intactivism, men's bodies, penis, personal stories

Blogger's Note: I want to be completely clear that this post is only speaking from my own lived experience. I am in no way saying that anyone else should feel the same ways I do about the topics below. While I do know many men whose experiences mirror my own, I certainly know that there are also many men who feel quite the opposite. - EWT

Years of experience as a kink & sexuality educator has taught me that there's no easy or elegant way to start talking about one's own genitals, so I'm just going to leap right into it:

I have a complicated and often unhappy relationship with my penis. When I was a baby, my parents had around sixty percent of the skin of my penis amputated. As an American in his early 30s, I am hardly alone in this experience of course. What many people don't know is that I'm also far from alone both in being unhappy about this fact, and in doing something about it.

It isn't difficult to remember the moment when I realized my lifelong feelings of discontent around my genitals was connected to being circumcised: I was sixteen and taking my first experiential guided meditation workshop. The facilitator had us do a common mindfulness exercise in which we focused on our bodies, doing a sort of scan from the soles of our feet to the top of our heads. Then we were instructed to simply be still, and listen to whatever messages our bodies might have been trying to tell us.

I know it sounds incredibly touchy-feely, but it's the truth. In that still moment, I realized that something was off about my penis. These were the days before easy availability of internet porn, and at sixteen I did not even really know what an intact penis looked like, but I somehow knew that my lack of foreskin was the source of the message my body was sending.

As I became a sexually active young adult, my unhappiness and anger over the non-consensual changes made to my body grew. First and foremost, to my eyes, my penis just looked wrong. My internal sense of my genitals was at odds with the exposed, dry, and scarred member that I saw when I looked down. There were times in bed when I'd see my own penis next to that of my (now-ex) husband, whose parents left him intact, and I'd want to cry. In fact, there were times when I did exactly that.

Which brings us to the topic of foreskin restoration.

I won't say that restoring my foreskin has saved my life. While I do actually have an official diagnosis of body dysphoria, which is rare even among people who are restoring, it never impacted my mental health to that degree. But the process of restoring has certainly made an incredible difference in how I relate to my body and sexuality.

The fundamental principle behind foreskin restoration is remarkably simple: when skin is put under tension, it grows through the process of mitosis. This is why you can gain weight without bursting like a character in a Monty Python sketch, as well as how people can stretch their ear lobes by gradually introducing larger gauge jewelry.

DTRkit.jpgThe are a great many ways that "tuggers" - men who are restoring their foreskins, can achieve this tension. I had an exceptionally tight circumcision, and am what is colloquially known as a "grower." This has necessitated the use of several different methods over the restoration process, including a manual stretching regiment, the use of T-tapes, and experimentation with a number of different devices. These days I use a DTR, which is quite possibly the most popular tapeless restoration device out there today. You can see it pictured at right, as well as an obviously NSFW picture of me wearing it here. I try to keep it on for most of my waking hours five to six days a week, although honesty compels me to mention that I have always been pretty shoddy at sticking to a routine, which is why restoration has taken me much longer than most men.

Of course, a restored foreskin lacks the tens of thousands of specialized nerves found in the original equipment. Moreover, many men have had their frenums, the band of tissue that connects the underside of the glans to the foreskin, and is the most sensitive part of the male anatomy, removed or destroyed during surgery. However, beyond the aesthetic changes, the vast majority of men who are restoring or have completed restoration do describe significant changes in sensation and the experience of orgasm.

Once the glans penis, which like the inner foreskin is mucosa tissue rather than skin, is protected from friction and constant stimulation, many men find their the arousal threshold to be lowered, and their experience of orgasm to be more intense. This is not unlike the way that taking a prolonged break from masturbation and/or changing up one's masturbation method can improve one's enjoyment of sex with a partner. Anyone who has regularly used an intense vibrator, such as a Hitachi Magic Wand, can likely relate to the way that constant or intense stimulation can negatively impact sensitivity.

Personally, as someone who's remnant inner foreskin had been fully exposed prior to restoring, the vast increase in sensation in my inner skin was one of the biggest and most gratifying surprises along the restoration journey. As was the first time I had a true body-shaking orgasm. Before restoring, I felt most of the pleasure from orgasming in my groin, as much a feeling of release as of sexual arousal or pleasure. While some of my orgasms are still like that, now I can also have the sort of full-body orgasm that I once thought was only experienced by women.

Lastly, the gliding action of the skin over the glans can be quite remarkable. Of course, that's a familiar sensation even to many men who have been circumcised, if the operation left them with a "loose" amount of skin.

My own restoration process is not entirely done yet. I have quite a good bit of coverage when flaccid, and if you really want to see what I mean you can view a recent picture of my progress here (NSFW of course). However, my skin doesn't always cover the glans so completely, which is a goal of mine, as well as eventually having some coverage when erect.

I don't know that the feelings of dissatisfaction with my body will ever entirely go away, but I feel better now than I ever could have imagined. What I, and other people see when looking at my penis is finally coming into line with my internal sense of self, and that's a wonderful thing.


For more information on foreskin restoration:

Debunking the Circumcision/HIV Connection:

Intactivist (against non-consensual genital cutting) resources:


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