I’ve just come to the States from the United Kingdom a few weeks ago to start a grad program at University. I’m finding my way around Milwaukee pretty well, but having a hard time navigating the dating scene. I think I finally have a date with a girl I’m really keen on, but I have a worry. All us blokes over there know that the blokes over here are circumcised. And, well, most of us aren’t. It seems like the foreskin is pretty important, and just cutting it away for no reason sounds very strange. We pity you all a little, truthfully. We like our wangs just the way they are! In comparison, yours seem kind of bald, or like they forgot to put their jumper on. But now I’ve met this girl, and I’m nervous about how she’ll react if (or when!) we get so far as taking our trousers off. Will my willy give her the willies? What do I do if it does?

Thanks for your help,

Foreskin Forever

Dear FF,

For the benefit of anyone reading along, I think we should start by talking a little bit about that little bit of tissue known as the foreskin. Pretty much everyone who is born with a penis is also born with a foreskin. The foreskin is a naturally occurring, double-layered, retractable, tube-shaped sheath of very delicate skin encircling the head and shaft of the penis. It protects and covers the head and shaft of the penis, behaving just like the clitoral hood does in people who have vulvas. And in a full-grown man, it’s not that little. If you were to lay it out flat, it would measure between 12 and 20 square inches.

When aroused, the foreskin pulls back, exposing the sensitive bits underneath. It’s connected to the penis with a very thin membrane known as a frenulum. The frenulum and the foreskin are quite dense with nerve endings, providing extra stimulation during any sex act that involves the penis. The foreskin also produces some of its own lubrication, keeping the skin of the penis soft and helping to reduce friction.

During a circumcision, the foreskin is surgically removed from the penis. Over time, the penis heals, and typically, it functions quite well. For a long time, there has been debate over whether or not a circumcised penis is less sensitive than an intact penis. Researchers differ in their opinions, but overall, penis-owners are usually pretty happy with the sensitivity of their penises, regardless of their foreskin status.

Getting back to your specific situation. You sound like you’re pretty worried about this as you head into your first stateside date. On top of figuring out the regular date stuff like how to get where you’re going and how much to tip a server, you’re also left wondering if you and your anatomy will accepted just as you are. That’s a really difficult place to be. Most of us worry about our desirability to some degree, regardless of sex, gender, or orientation. Humans are a bit insecure, and new experiences can really exaggerate those feelings.

As you’re approaching this experience, and other first dates in your future, try to hold on to your feeling that your wang is perfect the way it is! Because that’s the truth. Intact or circumcised, your genitals are perfect. Both varieties function in the same way. As a matter of fact, it can even be difficult to differentiate intact and circumcised penises when they’re erect, as the foreskin often will draw taught against the shaft of the penis.

If your date is put off at all by your intact foreskin, remember that it’s her issue, not yours. She has some things to work through, which may stem from having only seen circumcised penises, not having accurate information about the role of the foreskin, or even from her own insecurities about her own body. Assure her that you’re comfortable with your body, that you’re able to use condoms, and that your body works just the way it’s supposed to. If she’s still uncomfortable, it’s probably best to let this date go and know that you’ll have plenty of other opportunities in your future.

Want more information about foreskins and pleasure? Join us at the Tool Shed tonight (Friday, January 12 at 8:30 p.m.) for Now You’re Playing with Foreskin, a class on this very topic. Tickets are $15 per person or $25 for two!

Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Most mornings you can find her balancing her cat and her keyboard in her lap, working to make the world a smarter, safer place for people of all genders and orientations.