A Survey about Masturbation and Circumcision
Conducted by James Badger
CIRCLIST SURVEY : THE EFFECTS OF CIRCUMCISION ON MASTURBATION
The following statistical report is based on surveys conducted by CIRCLIST Member James Badger during 1999 and 2000. Questionnaires were distributed to members of CIRCLIST and also via the Newsgroups alt.circumcision and alt.sex.masturbation. 147 responses were received. The principal conclusions of the study are:
- Uncircumcised men start masturbating at a younger age and throughout life masturbate more often than circumcised ones.
- Circumcised and natural men masturbate in different ways. Some of these differences are pretty much what one would expect: natural men like pumping the skin, especially moving it back and forth over the glans, circumcised men like massaging the penis with a lubricant. Other differencess are less obvious - circumcised men like humping the bed or playing with the frenulum more than natural men do, while the reverse is true of pulling down hard on the shaft skin.
- The precise anatomy of an individual’s foreskin makes a difference for natural men. Those with long or tight foreskins are more likely to leave them forward when masturbating. On the other hand, men whose glans automatically uncovers on erection are likely to stroke the glans alone, dry, whilst men who use lube on the glans alone need to pull the skin back first. A tight frenulum is pretty much a pre-requisite for the ‛pull back hard and tight’ method of masturbation, whereas a looser frenulum is required to masturbate with the frenulum itself.
- Circumcision styles make a lot of difference to masturbation techniques. The obvious one is that pumping the skin is easier with a loose circumcision whilst rubbing with a lubricant is preferable with a tight cut, but during the study a number of factors were discovered that are much less obvious.
Dry stroking of the whole penis is only popular with some loose skin present and the method is not at all popular with a ‛high’ scar (implying a lot of inner skin on the shaft).
Pulling skin over the edge of the knob requires not only a reasonably loose cut, but also a ‛high’ scar with lots of inner skin.
Whether or not the frenulum has been removed makes no difference to stimulation of this area of the penis, neither does the tightness or looseness of the circumcision. But it is essential that there is some inner skin present for this technique of masturbation to work - a scar which angles up under the glans is not compatible with this technique.
- Soreness from masturbation is almost entirely a problem of uncircumcised men. Conversely, masturbating a tightly circumcised penis with lubricant is a sure-fire way of avoiding soreness.
- The popular conception that infant circumcisions are always ‛high and tight’ is false. Infant circumcisions can be tight or loose and the scar can be close to the glans or well down the shaft.
- Medical assistance with retracting a tight foreskin is invariably a failure in the long term. Circumcision is the only solution to this problem.
Almost all men involved in the study enjoyed masturbation, however they did it and whatever sort of penis they had. Hopefully this report will give you some ideas to improve your pleasure, or to give greater pleasure to your partner.
James Badger’s Detailed Report
The survey form went out in three main versions, with some minor revisions within each. The second and third versions were the most widely circulated and therefore account for most of the replies.
Version 1 didn’t have any general questions about masturbation attitudes and frequency; the final version added a few questions about first starting masturbation. The forms were posted to the Circlist email discussion group and on the newsgroups alt.circumcision and alt.sex.masturbation.
147 men replied to the questionnaire, 105 circumcised and 42 natural. Only 30 of the circumcised men were cut as infants, while 58 were done as adults, at ages ranging from 20 to 50. Five men had been cut as boys before age 10, and another 5 before age 14; most of these were a consequence of unambiguous foreskin problems. Seven were done as older teens, aged 15 to 19; it seemed that one or two of these were carried out for religious or ritual reasons. The proportion of men cut as adults is not typical of the general population but it is probably a close reflection of members of the CIRCLIST discussion group who made up a large proportion of the respondents.
Masturbation - how is it for you?
Circumcised men masturbated less often, on average, than naturals - 23 times a month against 32. (This has been a consistent feature in all my surveys). There is a confounding factor here since so many men were circumcised as adults. Young men typically masturbate more frequently than older ones, and men circumcised as adults (at an average age of 29) will be older than the sample as a whole. A fairer comparison is between men circumcised at birth and natural men. Men circumcised at birth masturbated more often (26 times / month) than those circumcised as adults (20 times / month), suggesting that age is indeed a factor, but they still did it substantially less often than natural men. Men who were circumcised as adults or teens masturbated, in general, less often now than before their circumcision, but again this is probably mostly the age factor.
All these figures should be interpreted in a loose fashion since there was a huge range of variation. Masturbation frequencies varied from zero to 80 times per month among circumcised men, and from 5 times to 90 per month among naturals. Most of those who didn’t masturbate much got regular hand jobs from their partners. If we include masturbation by a partner, no uncircumcised men had fewer than 9 jack-offs per month, whereas one in 8 circumcised men were below this total.
Some of the high figures are a little surprising - they are much higher than my previous surveys have found. Over half the uncircumcised respondents masturbated at least once a day, and 10% masturbated twice a day or more. Corresponding figures for circumcised men were 30% and 8%. I didn’t ask for ages but the twelve men who were circumcised after age 35, and who therefore must have been older than that, all masturbated less than once a day, so it is probably the youngsters setting the records.
Anyhow, there is no doubt that men in this survey enjoy playing with themselves! A huge majority (85%) agreed with the statement “Masturbation (solo) is great - a fun and enjoyable activity”. Only a handful took the contrary view - 5% felt it was “A nice change once in a while” while 7% only rated it “OK if the real thing isn’t available”. Almost all the men in these latter two groups were circumcised. My previous surveys led me to the conclusion that circumcised men enjoy intercourse more, and therefore don’t rate masturbation so highly; these figures seem to offer some support. “Tiresome but I need the relief” and “More trouble than it’s worth” each got one response - both men were circumcised. Both also indicated that it took them too long to climax. They both had moderately loose circumcisions and masturbated using the skin - maybe they would have enjoyed it more with a lubricant! Perhaps this favours the alternate view that circumcision makes masturbation more difficult - but it was only two men. The men who one might expect to be most affected - those with really tight circumcisions - masturbated just as often as other circumcised men. (Not with their skin, of course - lube was most popular but dry rubbing also played a part.)
Masturbation to orgasm by a partner got a good rating, though for some men this response had an element of wishful thinking. 65% checked “An enjoyable and safe form of sex”, although as many as 40% of these didn’t actually get masturbated by a partner often enough to rate. On the other hand, a similar number were given a hand job once a week or more, and those who had this sort of sex most often - twice a week or more - were equally enthusiastic.
27% checked “A nice alternative sometimes”, and three quarters of those actually enjoyed that nice alternative at least once a month. Ten people checked both these boxes; one of these also selected “Only for the start of a relationship”, which otherwise (surprisingly) got no responses. Neither did “A last resort”, but two men, both circumcised, checked “I’d like it but my partner won’t do it”. Both masturbated exclusively with a lubricant - could that have had something to do with it? Five, also circumcised, checked “Something I’d never do” - both of these seem surprisingly old-fashioned attitudes for the late 1990s. Four men said “Hopeless - I just don’t reach orgasm” - they, too, were circumcised which may give some credence to the common idea that it is harder to masturbate a circumcised penis. One of them also had difficulty getting off by himself, which helps to explain his situation, but not the other three. All were quite versatile in their masturbation techniques so it’s hard to see why a partner should have had trouble. (In my previous surveys this problem has tended to be associated with men who use one specialised masturbation style exclusively). The fact remains that 13% of circumcised men, for one reason or another, were unable to enjoy being jacked off by a partner, while this didn’t apply to any uncircumcised men. Is this because circumcision makes masturbation more difficult or because it makes intercourse more enjoyable for both partners?
In spite of the above differences, overall both circumcised and natural men were masturbated just as often by their partners - a little less than once a week on average.
Given the amount some men masturbated, one might expect a range of responses to the question “Has your penis got tender or sore from too much masturbating?”. My experience at school was that it was mostly roundheads who suffered from that problem - and specifically those who masturbated a lot before reaching puberty. Once a teenage boy has ‛grown up’ it takes very little effort to bring him off, but before that stage it takes quite a concentrated effort to reach orgasm, and for a tightly-circumcised boy this could be a bit much.
This survey showed that while my observations had some basis - men circumcised in infancy were more likely to check ‛When I was a schoolboy maybe but not now’ - what applies to pre-pubertal schoolboys cannot be generalised to adults. Only 6% of men got sore frequently, but uncircumcised men were four times as likely to be in this group. 22% of the respondents said “Sometimes”, and natural men answered this way twice as often as circumcised ones. In other words uncircumcised men were very much more likely to get sore - 48% of them checked ‛Sometimes’ or ‛Frequently’ as against 21% of circumcised. Men who had been circumcised in later life told the same story - a quarter of them had got sore before they were circumcised, but not since. Only two answered that they only got sore after circumcision, and one was not a serious response - the man explained that he had just been circumcised and was not yet fully healed! Looking at the other end of the spectrum, men who never got sore from masturbating were almost all circumcised. Around 40% of the respondents, 39% of cuts and 45% of naturals, checked the ‛Rarely’ box.
It is clear, therefore, that soreness from masturbating is predominantly a problem for natural men. Does it relate to the fact that natural men masturbate more often? Not at all. Natural men who rarely got sore masturbated on average twice as often as those who did get sore. Three factors distinguish those who got sore from other uncircumcised men: tight frenulums, long foreskins which bunch up in front of the knob even when erect, and a preference for masturbating with their foreskin forward. No one of these criteria was exclusive, but taken together they strongly define this group. Men who had foreskins which were difficult to retract were also more likely to fall into this group. What is cause and what is effect is less clear - does this masturbation style need a lot of effort, causing soreness, or are both the masturbation technique and the soreness the consequences of a long skin and tight frenulum? Other uncut men rarely used this method of masturbation.
Anatomy and masturbation style are evidently key factors. All bar one of those who never got sore were circumcised - most quite tightly - and none had an intact frenulum. Almost all usually masturbated with lubricant. The one uncut man who never got sore also used a lubricant, holding his skin back. So we have a clean-cut recipe for avoiding the problem. What about circumcised men who did sometimes get sore? They were a diverse group, with circumcisions ranging from very tight to very loose; some had frenulums, some did not. The only constant factor was that almost all normally masturbated without lubrication. They either moved the shaft skin if they had enough skin to do that or rubbed dry if they didn’t. We can deduce that lubrication is always gentler, which is not surprising.
So how long does it take to get off? By far the most popular response was ‛I can climax fast or slowly - whichever I feel like’. Over half of the men responded this way, and circumcision status made no difference. Next commonest was ‛not too quickly, not too slowly - just right’ - 21% of respondents, again showing no correlation with circumcision. ‛It takes me a long time but that’s how I like it’ came third, accounting for 11% of replies - circumcised men were rather more likely to answer this way. ‛I climax quickly & easily - exactly what I need’ came from 6%, predominantly uncircumcised. 8% came quickly but would like to have lasted longer - this showed no connection with circumcision. Men who took a long time but would have liked to be quicker, or who took so long that they got frustrated, were all circumcised, but they were only of 7% of the survey. So a large majority were pretty much in control - but there was an clear tendency for cavaliers to get off quickly and roundheads to take longer.
The natural penis and what you can do with it.
Uncircumcised respondents were a much smaller group, but if we include those circumcised members who gave details about their former state we have a similar sample to the circumcised members. Looking first just at men who are still natural, they have rather longer foreskins than those in my previous surveys. More than half of them have foreskins which extend beyond the tip of their knob and almost all of these checked “Foreskin covers my knob with a lot to spare” rather than “Foreskin covers my knob with a little bit over”. About a quarter had a knob which was just covered, and the remainder (around 20%) had a partly covered knob, split fairly evenly between “Foreskin covers most of my knob but not all of it” and “Knob is mostly bare - skin covers half of it or less”. None had a fully exposed knob when flaccid. Erect many of them - around a third - did have a fully exposed knob, usually with excess skin bunched up behind it. However a quarter still had surplus skin in front of the glans, and a similar number had the knob just fully covered. Only a few had a partly covered knob when hard. Half had foreskins which retracted at a touch, and most of the rest could retract with a pull, but a three men had problem foreskins - two could only be retracted with difficulty and the third had serious problems. In spite of medical intervention he could not expose even part of his glans when erect and could only partly uncover it when soft. It is hard to conceive that a man could go through life unable to enjoy any normal sex-life when a simple operation could cure the problem, and I hope that he has managed to obtain more competent medical help since completing the form.
How did the members who were later circumcised compare? In general they had even longer foreskins - fully three quarters had a bunch of excess skin at the end, and though a couple had fully uncovered knobs the rest had knobs which were either fully or mostly covered. Erect, over a third still had excess skin and only 17% had a bare glans. A quarter had a partly covered knob. Over half had to positively pull to retract their foreskin, fully 10% had difficulty in retracting, and three had skins which were not retractable. Two of these were circumcised in boyhood, at ages 11 and 14, so their problem did get appropriate treatment. Even so, the latter boy needed a revision at age 19 so his first circumcision was obviously not satisfactory. The third had been able to retract his foreskin after cutting his own frenulum as a teenager, but then in adult life found that his tight skin kept tearing, resulting in secondary phimosis, and he was eventually circumcised at 33. The take-home message from this is that problem foreskins should always be dealt with before puberty. Letting a teenage boy suffer the physical and emotional trauma of a tight foreskin is cruelty, there is no other word for it.
Almost half of all uncircumcised men had been able to retract their foreskin as long as they could remember, and there was no difference between those subsequently circumcised and those who remained natural. Around a third of both groups had managed to retract before puberty, which avoids major problems. Those who pulled back for the first time after puberty mostly remained uncircumcised, but almost all had foreskins which remained rather tight.
Most of the nine men who had received medical assistance to retract their foreskins later ended up getting circumcised anyway. This includes at least two who had had medical help before turning 10. Of the two who didn’t, one still has a foreskin which is difficult to retract. This shows clearly enough that medical intervention other than circumcision is not really very successful, and problem foreskins are much better dealt with circumcision in the first place.
The vast majority of men with foreskins also had intact frenulums. Of those who didn’t - whose frenulums has either torn or been cut - almost all were later circumcised. Two men indicated that they never had a frenulum, while one didn’t know - but then he was circumcised before he turned 10. Men whose frenulum was uncomfortably tight, soft or erect, had mostly been subsequently circumcised, but three men still suffered from this problem. Over half of the men who remained natural had a frenulum which was stretched tight when they retracted their foreskins while erect, and for half of these the frenulum was tight even if they pulled back when soft.
So how did these men like to jack off? There were no significant differences between those who remained natural and those who were subsequently circumcised, so all men who gave details about uncircumcised masturbation - 92 of them - are included in the results.
Two thirds of uncircumcised men manipulated their foreskin, one way or another, as their favourite method or masturbation. Almost all - 93% - masturbated this way some of the time. No one technique dominated the statistics for circumcised men the way the foreskin does for natural men. Their most popular way of doing it was to move the foreskin back and forth over the knob. Some - almost all with foreskins that were a bit (or more than a bit) tight kept their foreskin forward while pumping on it. Keeping it retracted was the least popular option but then the group as a whole had long foreskins.
Rubbing with a lubricant was not popular; only 17% listed it as their method of choice, and only a third used it at all. Even these figures are misleading since only one man actually masturbated with lube more often than using his foreskin. The others who liked this method kept it for special occasions, and masturbated at least as often - usually more often - with their skin. Two men who gave lube methods as their favourites only actually used them once a month, while jacking off daily with their skin! It is interesting to ask why this is so. Obviously using a lubricant is more messy, and requires both more preparation and more cleaning up. To some extent we see the consequences of this in the reports of circumcised men, but it is much more obvious with naturals. Presumably the foreskin presents natural men with such a quick and easy way of getting off that they are always tempted to take it, even when they find lubricated rubbing more satisfying. Circumcised men don’t have quite such an easy way out, so they are more likely to take the route of maximum enjoyment.
So most natural men masturbated most often with their foreskins. If they didn’t use their foreskin, natural men were most likely to masturbate by dry stroking - a third did this from time to time. They usually stroked the entire organ; over half pulled surplus skin back as they did this but many did not. (Presumably they did nevertheless retract the foreskin, though some had a long excess of skin so maybe we cannot assume this). Men who just stroked the knob without lubricant, not the whole penis, almost all had knobs which were fully exposed when erect. This is a marked contrast to those who stroked the knob alone with lubricant - they mostly had knobs which didn’t uncover automatically on erection. Presumably a bare knob can be dry enough to stroke, whereas a covered one will be sticky and must be lubricated.
Pulling the skin back tightly and just holding it there until orgasm was the only other technique to have a noticeable following - three men used it as the favourite method and another eight used it sometimes. These men tended to have tight frenulums, so maybe that makes it easier to reach orgasm that way. The numbers are small, but enough to show that this is a more popular technique among natural men than circumcised ones. In fact few men who had used it before circumcision continued to do so afterwards.
Manipulating the frenulum was no-ones favoured technique, but 15% of natural men used it sometimes. These were all men with intact frenulums, and almost all were either loose or at least not tight. Seven of them were subsequently circumcised and all but one continued to use this technique even though in all cases their frenulum had been totally or partially removed. One man elevated it to ‛favourite’ status after circumcision. Three men who had never used it before circumcision did so afterwards. That said, it is a more popular technique among circumcised men.
Humping the bed was also nobody’s favourite, but eleven men used it as an alternative. Unlike the case with circumcised men, the length of foreskin seemed to make no difference. Two of the three men in this group who were subsequently circumcised continued to use this technique, even though they went from long foreskins to tight circumcisions. Three men who hadn’t used it with a foreskin did so after circumcision.
‛Other’ techniques were only mentioned by three men. Only one of these was really something different - this man’s favourite technique was using a stream of water from the shower-head on his penis, with the foreskin forward. (Yes, I find it surprising, too, that someone can get off that way!)
For many men, getting circumcised meant a change in masturbation style. 51 men gave details about masturbation before and after circumcision. Twelve of them kept essentially the same favourite masturbation technique - three who had always used lube, four who had always used dry rubbing, one who had always used his skin retracted, and four who still had enough skin after circumcision to bring it over the rim of the knob. Six others continued to use the skin, but just moving it on the shaft rather than over the glans. For 21 men circumcision meant giving up pumping the skin - at least as their favourite technique. 14 adopted lubrication - a technique most hadn’t even used as an alternative before - while 7 took up dry stroking, again with little previous experience. In fact rather few of those who changed strokes changed to one they had used at all before. Some changes were rather unexpected - for instance two men who had used dry stroking gave it up in favour of pumping the skin when circumcised. Overall, though, for two thirds of men circumcision led to a total change in their favourite way of jacking off.
Just starting off
When does a boy first start to masturbate? The three questions on this topic were only in the last version of the form, and were answered by 43 men, most of whom were circumcised in later life. Only 8 (19%) were circumcised as infants or young children, and the same number were uncircumcised. Masturbating before age 10 was something that only uncircumcised boys did. Just over quarter of the sample had started young, and not one was circumcised at the time, though one was circumcised at age 7 or 8 and continued as soon as it had healed! Between age 10 and the onset of puberty another quarter of the sample had started masturbation - the few who gave an exact age specified either 10 or 11. Circumcised boys were much better represented in this group, and were beginning to catch up on their uncut contemporaries. Almost all the remaining men, and much the largest group, started masturbation around the start of puberty. By this time almost all circumcised and uncircumcised boys were masturbating. Only two men started masturbating after puberty - one of these had been circumcised at age 12 and was therefore circumcised before he started; the other was cut at age 20 and presumably had been masturbating some time before that.
Half of the boys who started masturbating young didn’t reach orgasm until much later, sometimes not until they reached puberty and could ejaculate. A third, though, could masturbate to orgasm even at this young age. One claimed to reach orgasm and ejaculate before age 10, which is not impossible but certainly uncommon. Boys who started masturbating after 10 were much more likely to be able to orgasm almost immediately, though some still had to wait awhile. Circumcised boys in particular seemed to be able to reach orgasm long before they were old enough to ejaculate. Boys who started masturbating at puberty all had their first ejaculation either with or shortly after their first orgasm, but a quarter of them were still masturbating for some time before they achieved this. This included one boy, circumcised at 12, who didn’t start masturbating until he was 17 and who still was trying for some time before experiencing his first ejaculation and orgasm. This was an unusually late puberty if he was in a Western country, though it would have been commonplace a hundred years ago. Such late maturity is still not uncommon in many parts of the world. Most men who put in an exact age here specified 13 or 14. Two men started masturbating after puberty - one had ejaculated in wet dreams before his first climax produced by hand.
Copyright © 2000 James Badger
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