It appears that Dr. Mehmet Oz would truly benefit from a nice, sit-down, man-to-man, physician-to-physican chat with Dr. Martin Winckler on all things foreskin. The two men appear worlds apart when it comes to their view of the foreskin -- Oz pointing out how "nasty" he sees the foreskin becoming, how much "cleaning" it needs, and if that's not enough to make you run to the nearest surgeon to have yours removed -- you may just have to anyway, because, according to Oz, it could strangle your penis! "And that's an emergency," he adds.
Winckler takes a much more foreskin-friendly approach to the human genitals. He recognizes the normalcy of the foreskin - after all, all mammals on earth are born with a foreskin (the 'clitoral hood' on female mammals). Winckler reminds us the foreskin is an effective, self-sustaining organ that serves to protect and preserve the penis (or clitoris). The majority of men and women in the world keep their foreskin for a lifetime, and never have a single issue with it. The foreskin needs no 'cleaning' - no special care. Rinse on occasion with warm water when in the shower or bath after puberty. That's it. In fact, when Oz's recommendations are taken to heart, and parents view their son's foreskin as dirty and in need of cleaning, THAT, Winckler says, is when problems arise.
What about phimosis? This fictitious, scary thing that Oz warns men of -- when the foreskin actually tries to strangle the life right out of your penis? Winckler calmly reminds us that (1) phimosis is usually a faulty diagnosis by an unknowledgable person, especially when it is proposed before a young man goes through puberty and (2) if the foreskin does become tightly trapped above the ridge of the glans (usually due to improper care), the best thing to do is (again) calmly cool down the penis (with cool water or cooler air) so that blood leaves the penis (it 'deflates'), and the foreskin can be gently pulled back over the glans. Problem solved. No ER visit to Oz necessary.
To avoid these issues altogether? Oz tells parents time and again they can cut that foreskin right off - get rid of it - it's "a parent's choice" after all... Yes, it's the most sensitive part of the body, bar none. Yes, it houses half of the erogenous tissue on the penis and plays an important role in sexual function. Yes, it is the only organ that protects the important glans... but what you don't ever know you are missing, you won't ever miss. Right? And besides "babies don't feel pain the same way adults do," says Oz in his book, YOU! Having a Baby. Anyone who has witnessed infant circumcision knows just how true, or rather untrue, that statement is.
Winckler suggests we instead learn proper intact care: i.e. keep your hands OFF the foreskin if it belongs to anyone other than you. Do not touch it. Leave it alone. Stop all the "cleaning" that Oz tells parents they must do, and you simply will not have the issues that arise only in a forcibly retracting, foreskin-meddling, North American culture.
For more from Dr. Winckler, see his excellent interview: "Hands Off My Foreskin! On the Care of Baby Boys."
Respond with research-based commentary on Oprah's hosted article: "Dr. Oz on Men's Health: Benefits and Risks of Circumcision."