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  • As of 2021, only sixteen of the US' fifty states have laws requiring the sex education

  • taught in schools to be medically accurate.

  • Comprehensive sex education is sadly lacking across the United States, and frankly, a lot

  • of other nations could also stand to do better when it comes to sex ed.

  • After all, it isn't all about the birds and the bees - it's also about better understanding

  • yourself and your body.

  • That's why we're here today, discussing a part of the body that rarely feels welcome

  • in average discussion: The foreskin.

  • We're going to discuss everything you've ever wanted to know about foreskin but were

  • afraid to ask - including its composition, purpose, and any other miscellaneous questions

  • that may be troubling you.

  • Let's start with what exactly a foreskin is.

  • Foreskins are present on the penises of all mammals, though for some species they're

  • referred to aspenile sheaths”, when the penis retracts all the way into the body

  • while flaccid.

  • Technically speaking, foreskins are part of a larger organ family known as the prepuce

  • - which, in layman's terms, is basically skin that covers a sensitive sexual organ.

  • The clitoral hood of the vagina also falls under the prepuce umbrella.

  • But let's get back to the foreskin.

  • This often-misunderstood organ is deceptively complex in a structural sense; while it's

  • superficially a continuation of the skin on the shaft of the penis, it's actually a

  • double-layered amalgamation of skin, neurons, smooth muscle tissue, blood vessels, and mucosal

  • membrane, developed over millions of years of evolution.

  • It's what evolutionary biologists call a “complex penile morphology.”

  • And if you ask some researchers, the importance of the foreskin in an evolutionary sense can't

  • be oversold.

  • According to a group of Dutch Sexologists from the Royal Dutch Medical Association in

  • 2010, the foreskin is a, quote, “complex, erotogenic structure that plays an important

  • role in the mechanical function of the penis during sexual acts, such as penetrative intercourse

  • and masturbation."

  • The inside of the foreskin houses the all-important mucus membranes, similar to the inside of

  • the mouth or the eyelid - this contains the glans penis, colloquially known as the head.

  • It also serves to protect the urinary meatus - which is the opening at the end of the urethra,

  • sometimes colloquially called thepeehole.”

  • The inner and outer foreskin is connected by tissue known as the mucocutaneous zone.

  • When a child is first born, the foreskin is tightly connected to the glans, but typically

  • loosens up and gains mobility over the glans when you mature, normally during puberty.

  • The piece of highly vascularized - meaning, featuring a large number of blood vessels

  • - tissue that first connects the foreskin to the glans is known as the frenulum.

  • But that's not all that the frenulum does.

  • It also connects the two layers of the foreskin together, and when the penis isn't erect,

  • the frenulum tightens to narrow the opening of the foreskin.

  • It's all a very delicate process.

  • It's important to note that, as with anything involving the human body, while it's easy

  • to speak in broad generalities about the nature and behaviour of the foreskin, you'll find

  • there's a lot of variance between individuals.

  • For example, as an adult, the foreskin will remain over the glans while the penis is flaccid.

  • However, when an adult gets an erection, it's possible that the foreskin may retract back

  • over the glans.

  • The degree to which this happens tends to vary a lot between individuals - some may

  • notice very little visible retraction at all, and some may retract entirely, leaving the

  • glans fully uncovered.

  • Finally, on the subject of the foreskin's physical composition, it contains a thin sheath

  • of muscle tissue known as the dartos fascia.

  • This muscle tissue exists within the foreskin, the penile shaft, and the scrotum.

  • Crucially for the foreskin in particular, though, the dartos fascia contains elastic

  • fibers that form what is known as a whorl at the opening of the foreskin.

  • In infants, this can be used as a kind of sphincter that prevents urine from leaking

  • out of the aforementioned urinary meatus at inappropriate times.

  • That's probably everything you needed to know about what exactly a foreskin is, but

  • the beauty of evolution is that every enduring biological feature is there for a reason - well,

  • mostly, but we'll get to that later.

  • Let's talk about why people have foreskins.

  • The exact nature of the foreskin's benefits are a surprisingly controversial subject.

  • Like everything, it's a question of weighing the advantages against the costs.

  • The World Health Organization says that possible purposes include keeping the glans moist,

  • protecting the developing penis in utero, or enhancing sexual pleasure due to the presence

  • of nerve receptors.

  • If you're at the legal age of consent, it's likely that you found the last one on that

  • list particularly appealing.

  • The science behind this is equally as intriguing.

  • Due to its highly concentrated cluster of sensory neurons, the foreskin is incredibly

  • sensitive to touch.

  • It contains as many as 20,000 sensory receptors, and some studies have even shown that the

  • least sensitive part of the foreskin is often more sensitive than the rest of the penis.

  • To be more specific, the foreskin contains a special kind of sensory receptor known as

  • Meissner's Corpuscles, involved in fine-touch sensitivity.

  • However, Meissner's Corpuscles are pretty much irrelevant in adults, as their concentration

  • decreases following adolescence.

  • And the concentration of Meissner's Corpuscles in the foreskin is actually lower than the

  • concentration in the fingertips.

  • It may actually surprise you to know that there isn't a broad consensus on the benefits

  • of foreskin in adulthood.

  • A number of studies have provided evidence contrary to the idea that keeping your foreskin

  • provides increased sexual sensitivity.

  • A 1998 study from scientists Moses and Bailey said, “it has not been demonstrated that

  • [the foreskin] is associated with increased male sexual pleasure.”

  • Even more damningly, in 2017, a study by researchers Morris and Krieger concluded, quote, “Thus,

  • speculation and outdated opinion pieces claiming special properties of the foreskin, such as

  • in penile function and masturbation, should be viewed with skepticism.”

  • None of this is good news for people with foreskins.

  • While some will swear by the sexually advantageous properties of foreskin, others argue that

  • its function is actually vestigial.

  • What does vestigial mean, exactly?

  • To keep it simple, it basically means that it's a physical quality that was once evolutionary

  • advantageous, but no longer has any real function.

  • It just hasn't been bred out by natural selection just yet.

  • In the words of the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, “An organ, when rendered useless,

  • may well be variable, for its variations cannot be checked by natural selection.”

  • As we discussed earlier, variation is extensive in foreskins.

  • Our friends Morris and Krieger return for what could be the death blow, stating, “The

  • variability in foreskin size is consistent with the foreskin being a vestigial structure.”

  • But it's one thing to be useless, quite another to be potentially harmful.

  • Before we proceed, it's worth discussing some of the potential downsides of having

  • a foreskin into adulthood.

  • Foreskins increase the risk of urinary tract infections across the board, which can result

  • in painful inflammation and extreme discomfort for the sufferer.

  • But that's actually the more mild end of the spectrum.

  • A lot of people suffer from foreskin that's too tight to retract, a condition known as

  • phimosis.

  • This can make the penis more difficult to clean, and lead to the accumulation of smegma,

  • an unpleasant, cheese-like substance that is secreted by the penis.

  • If unchecked, this can lead to a further condition known as balanitis, an uncomfortable and persistent

  • inflammation of the glans.

  • In extreme cases, this can even increase the risk of penile cancer.

  • Keeping your foreskin can also put you at risk of frenulum breve.

  • This condition results from the frenulum being too short to allow the foreskin to fully retract,

  • leading to discomfort and pain during sexual intercourse.

  • But it's not just that.

  • While many have - possibly erroneously - claimed that keeping your foreskin can offer sexual

  • benefits, it also offers a huge drawback: Increased transmission of sexually-transmitted

  • diseases, or STDs.

  • It puts people at particular risk of contracting HIV, due to the larger surface area of inner

  • foreskin and the high concentration of Langerhans cells giving the virus numerous opportunities

  • to infect its victims.

  • Of course, not everybody watching this video will have a foreskin.

  • Some of you won't even have penises, but having a penis doesn't necessarily mean

  • you have a foreskin.

  • Some people have their foreskin removed for medical reasons, like the factors we just

  • discussed, but a decent portion of the population were circumcised during their infancy.

  • This is likely because they're part of a group which practices religious or cultural

  • circumcision.

  • The faiths that most commonly practice this are Judaism, Islam, and even some denominations

  • of Christianity - including the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Ethiopon Orthodox Church, and

  • the Coptic Orthodox Church.

  • If we can shift briefly from a biology lesson to a history lesson, this tradition is truly

  • ancient.

  • A 4400-year-old Egyptian bas-relief from 2400 B.C. depicts someone receiving a flint-knife

  • circumcision, which is believed to be the oldest historical depiction of a circumcision.

  • Though to be fair, the love of foreskin is also an ancient tradition.

  • The Romans were great admirers of foreskin, with a roman consul even having been put to

  • death for getting a circumcision - though antisemitism may have been at play there,

  • too.

  • Some ancient Greeks also tied up their foreskins during the olympics, believing it was uncouth

  • to show their glans.

  • Circumcision is a topic that's so loaded it's difficult to discuss in its totality

  • in this video.

  • While circumcision can avert some of the disadvantages of foreskin we mentioned earlier, it can come

  • with its own risks.

  • Circumcised people have been known to experience higher degrees of erectile dysfunction than

  • those who still have foreskins, according to some studies, and losing your foreskin

  • is even said to increase your chance of developing a psychological disorder known as alexithymia

  • by sixty percent.

  • Alexithymia stunts a person's ability to recognise and express emotions, often lowering

  • their quality of life as a result.

  • But there are also considerably heavier risks on rarer occasions.

  • It's estimated that a hundred infants die due to circumcision-related complications

  • every single year, largely thanks to issues involving blood loss and infection from botched

  • surgeries.

  • There's even a movement of people circumcised shortly after birth that resent being given

  • the surgery without their consent - this cause calls itself the Intactivist Movement, and

  • they decry penile circumcision as barbaric, on par with female genital mutilation.

  • We don't personally intend to take a side on this particular topic.

  • And finally, we'd be doing you a disservice if we didn't share some strange, miscellaneous

  • facts about foreskin and circumcision with you.

  • You're probably wondering what actually happens to all the foreskins removed during

  • circumcisions, and you may be surprised to know that some of it gets repurposed for use

  • in medical procedures or commercial products.

  • Scientists can use baby foreskins to produce acres of skin for use in transplants and skin

  • grafts for people like severe burn patients.

  • Baby foreskin also produces fibroblast cells, which in turn produce collagen, elastin, and

  • hyaluronic acid, all skin-affirming proteins.

  • As such, baby foreskins are a common ingredient in anti-aging cosmetic skin creams, even some

  • endorsed by the queen of television herself, Oprah.

  • One study in the US also found that, despite the sexual benefits offered by foreskin being

  • called into scientific question, 85% of the women reviewed preferred uncircumcised men

  • in the bedroom.

  • For clarity, everyone questioned said that they had sexual experiences with both circumcised

  • and uncircumcised men.

  • Of course, with any individual study like this, it's always worth taking the results

  • with a pinch of salt.

  • Now check outDoes Size Matter - Why Size Differs By Species?” andWhat Happens

  • To Your Body While You Are Having Sex?” for more sex education from the Infographics

  • Show!

As of 2021, only sixteen of the US' fifty states have laws requiring the sex education

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Freaky Facts About Foreskin

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    Summer posted on 2021/05/21
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