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Study: Circumcision Does Not Reduce Sensitivity of the Penis


(Photo: Jason Hutchens)

Routine infant circumcision used to be the norm in the United States. In the 1960s, about 83% of newborn boys were circumcised. That's fallen to about 24% as of two years ago.

One of the arguments against infant circumcision (and the practice in general) is that removing the foreskin reduces the sexual sensitivity of the penis. It thus directly impacts the pleasure of sex for men.

But now a study of men who were circumcised as babies finds that circumcision does not lead to significantly reduced penile sensitivity. Nicholas Bakalar writes for the New York Times:

The scientists tested the men for tactile and heat sensitivity of the penis at four points: the midline shaft, the area next to the midline, the glans and, for the uncircumcised, the foreskin. As a control, they also tested a site on the inside of the forearm.

Uncircumcised and circumcised men did not differ in sensitivity to touch or temperature at any of the four sites tested, and sensitivity at the forearm was lower than any penile site for both groups. [...]

“Neonatal circumcision doesn’t make the penis less sensitive,” said a co-author of the study, Caroline F. Pukall, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario. “We can conclude that there are no significant differences in sensitivity between the circumcised and uncircumcised groups.”

-via Glenn Reynolds


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We had daughters, not sons. But I had already decided that any boys would not be circumcised. Routine infant circumcision is not useful in the modern world.
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The question I have is whether there is a qualitative difference in the sensation of having an intact foreskin over a circumcised one. I don't think it can be reducible to penis sensitivity. The skin itself may change the overall sensation and may add pleasure to the sexual act.

As a circumcised man, that is something I can never experience and enjoy. My two boys, on the other hand, are whole. I'll leave it up to them if they want to be circumcised later on.
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