James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘penis’


In Sexploration* on September 7, 2010 at 8:56 pm

About three-quarters of men in the United States are circumcised, slightly down from a peak of 80% fifty years ago. Rates are highest among white men, while only two-thirds of African-Americans and half of Latinos are circumcised. In no other country in the world are men circumcised at birth so routinely, unless for religious reasons. Circumcision was once thought to prevent boys from masturbating and becoming morons. Though that Victorian myth has been debunked, three-quarters of American mothers still consider a circumcised penis more visually and sexually appealing and more hygienic and request the procedure for their newborn boys.

The foreskin of uncircumcised men cloaks the head (or glans) of the penis in the flaccid state, often covering it completely like a drawn purse, except when it is manually retracted. The foreskin is like a cuff, with skin on the outer surface and a pinker mucous membrane on the inside. This inner surface is similar to the mucous membranes of the lips, vagina, and anus. When the penis is erect, the foreskin unrolls over the lengthening shaft, and the penis becomes virtually indistinguishable from a circumcised penis, except that the unrolled portion may be moister and pinker.

Medical journals continue to debate whether circumcision (or “male genital mutilation,” as some refer to the practice) affects sexual functioning in men. The foreskin contains specialized sensory nerve cells that detect vibration and motion, and glands which secrete lubricating fluids during sexual arousal, and these would be lost during circumcision. The head of the penis is probably more sensitive in uncircumcised men, because the mucosal surface turns into normal skin if the foreskin is removed. But it has been difficult to scientifically prove any difference in sensitivity, or whether greater sensitivity is good (easier to arouse) or bad (more tender) for uncircumcised men. Also, men with intact foreskins can accumulate a greasy white substance, called smegma, though this is rarely noticeable and easily cleaned. A number of studies have shown that men who are circumcised as adults are generally happy with the results, and circumcised men may have more oral sex, more anal sex, more frequent masturbation, and less sexual dysfunction.

There is no objective medical or aesthetic reason for prefering a cut or uncut penis. For most men, the choice was made for them by their parents. Otherwise, it comes down to personal preferences one might have in a partner, if one cares at all.

Penis Size

In Sexploration* on August 7, 2010 at 8:02 pm

The size and appearance of the penis varies considerably from man to man, and from soft to hard. You cannot always predict the size of an erect penis from its flaccid state: a penis that is thick and long may become harder but not much bigger in erection, and some tiny penises can become surprisingly large when aroused.

Men tend to be concerned about penis size, much more so than women: the largest recent internet survey found that only half of men were satisfied with their penis size, while almost all women were satisfied with the size of their partner’s penis. A smaller Croatian study found that more than half of women consider penis length and girth only somewhat important, while another quarter found both features unimportant.

Broad and reliable surveys of penis size do not exist, but a number of small studies suggest that most men have a penis that measures approximately 4.5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 cm) when erect, measured across the top surface from the juncture with the pubic skin. Since erections are not easily elicited in clinical settings, some researchers measure the stretched but flaccid penis, which provides approximately the same results.

There is probably some truth to racial stereotypes about penis size, though the scientific data is lacking and there is a wide range of individual penis sizes within any group. Pornographic films tend to depict men of African descent with large penises and East Asian men with small penises, but these actors may be selected precisely because of their desirable stereotypical attributes. Penis size also tends to correlate with body size, which may partly explain differences across racial groups.

Two studies have found evidence that men who have sex with men have larger penises than those who have sex exclusively with women, though the significance of the findings are debatable. The more recent of these studies also found that gay men with smaller penises were twice as likely to be the receptive “bottom” during sex compared to men with larger penises, which presumably reflects cultural expectations about masculinity and sexual roles. The same stereotype plays out in pornography, where large penises are featured and, in gay porn, where the larger man usually “tops.”

Anatomy of a Blowjob

In Sexploration* on July 3, 2010 at 7:43 pm

I assume that readers of this blog are not completely inexperienced in the sexual arts, but some of you may have more confidence with one gender or the other. Knowledge is power, so I’m inaugurating a series of posts that will describe the details of sexual intercourse.

Men and women have similar mouths. For the purpose of this post, the inside of the mouth is best described from the perspective of the penis. During oral sex, the penis is gripped by the lips and tongue as it slides against the slippery hard palate at the roof of the mouth. The muscles of the cheek create suction, and the penis may find itself sliding between your gums and cheek, or it may head straight to the back of the throat, in which case it pushes against the soft palate and tonsils.

The pressure against these fleshy structures typically triggers a gag reflex, which is designed to protect you from choking on food. If you want to “deep throat,” or take a penis deep into your mouth, you must learn to suppress the gag reflex by concentrating on relaxing the muscles at the back of your throat. This is not difficult, at least if you have a patient partner. (And unless you’re giving a quickie in an alley, what partner wouldn’t want you to take your time?)

A penis will also block your airway if it is thrust deep enough, so be sure to come up for air periodically.

The inside of the mouth is rich in salivary and mucous glands that secrete slippery liquids which help us digest food, and these glands are also triggered by any probing of the mouth during deep kissing and oral sex. Deeper penetration to the back of the throat causes the release of the thicker, more mucous fluids. Saliva mixes with your partner’s sexual secretions during fellatio, creating a slick and salty film that tastes nice and makes sex more comfortable (the same is true during cunnilingus).

What kind of blowjob do men prefer? It’s a matter of taste and anatomy, so you’ll have to experiment with your partner to see if he prefers the tightness at the back of your throat or the teasing licks of your tongue. The head of the penis is very sensitive, especially in uncircumcised men, so gripping the shaft in your mouth may be more pleasant than directly sucking the tip.

If a man ejaculates while his penis is deep in the back of your mouth, some of the semen may go down your throat or up into the back of your nasal passages, which lie directly above the soft palate. Most of the semen will remain in your mouth and can be spit out or swallowed, according to your preference.

There is truth in the old joke that, like dogs who lick themselves, we would all go down on ourselves if we were limber enough to do so. Surveys show that the vast majority of men would like to be given a blowjob. Many consider fellatio a form of making out rather than sex, and an otherwise straight man may feel comfortable getting a blowjob from another man and consider himself a lucky bystander whose sexual orientation is not called into question. But there is a double standard, and the “cocksucker” is often assumed to be gay. This is silly and fundamentally sexist; neither the giving nor the receiving of a blowjob is intrinsically more heterosexual or homosexual.