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Male circumcision tied to less sexual pleasure

Posted by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:47 PM
  • 38 Replies

updated 2/14/2013 2:49:56 PM ET

Men circumcised either as children or adults report less intense sexual pleasure and orgasm than their uncircumcised counterparts, according to a new study from Belgium.

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"We're not saying less sexual activity or satisfaction, but sensitivity," said the study's senior researcher Dr. Piet Hoebeke, from Ghent University Hospital.

The new study surveyed 1,369 men over the age of 18, who responded to leaflets handed out in train stations across Belgium.

The men were asked whether they were circumcised, and were then asked to rate how sensitive their penis was, how intense their orgasms were and whether they experience any pain or numbness when they are aroused.

Overall, 310 men who took the survey were circumcised, and 1,059 were not. Each rated how sensitive their penis was on a scale from 0 to 5, with higher numbers being the most sensitive.

Overall, uncircumcised men reported between 0.2 points and 0.4 points higher sensitivity and sexual pleasure when their penis's head - known as the glans - was stroked during arousal, compared to circumcised men.

For example, uncircumcised men reported an average sensitivity score of 3.72 when they or their partner stroked the top part of their penis's glans, compared to 3.31 amongst circumcised men.

Uncircumcised men also reported more intense orgasms.

"It's not a very big difference in sensitivity, but it's a significant difference," Hoebeke said.

Currently, about half of U.S. baby boys have their foreskin surgically removed at birth, and about 30 percent of men around the world are circumcised.

Some religions, such as Judaism and Islam, consider circumcision part of religious practice, while other people choose circumcision for possible health benefits - including a reduced risk of urinary tract infections.

Hoebeke and his colleagues write in BJU International that there are few studies researching whether foreskin plays a role in sexual pleasure. But Dr. Aaron Tobian, who studies circumcision but was not part of the new study, said that previous randomized controlled trials - considered the gold standard of medical research - looked at sexual performance and satisfaction. Those studies, he said, did not find a difference.

One possible explanation for any potential difference in sensitivity is that a man's foreskin may protect his penis's head from rubbing against underwear and clothing. It's possible, the researchers write, that friction makes the head of the penis thicker, drier and ultimately less sensitive.

The researchers also found circumcised men were more likely to report more pain and numbness during arousal than uncircumcised men, which Hoebeke said is likely due to scar tissue.

"I'm amazed that people report pain during sexual pleasure… That's very amazing and that was unexpected," he said.

Tobian, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said the findings are missing important context.

"The medical evidence and the benefits of male circumcision are abundantly clear," Tobian told Reuters Health.

"If there was a vaccine out there that reduces the risk of HIV by 60 percent, herpes by 30 percent and the penile cancer causing HPV by 35 percent, the medical community would rally behind it," said Tobian.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks, but stops short of recommending universal circumcision

by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:47 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM
2 moms liked this

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 12:01 AM

reminds me of your avai

Quoting disgustipated:

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 12:38 PM
1 mom liked this

im not reading all this no offense.. i dont circumcise my babies but it's because of SO.. he isnt either and he has great hygene and likes it better that way and it looks fine everything seems fine.. I think majorty of people are either for or against and sticking to what they believe regardless of how many studies are made

by Anonymous 1 on Feb. 15, 2013 at 3:54 PM
1 mom liked this

Didn't even have to read past the first line in this.  Males circumcised when they are young have nothing to truly compare sensation to.   

by Ruby Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 3:55 PM

I know quite a few men that didn't get the memo.

by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 3:59 PM
I saw this study before and I think its flawed. Why so many uncirc and so few circ? And why a leaflet survey? It doesnt seem very scientific.
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by Anonymous 2 on Feb. 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM
Who gives a shit. How can someone miss something you never had.
by on Feb. 15, 2013 at 4:02 PM
Since millions of nerves are removed it makes perfect sense. Remove nerves, less feelings.
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by Silver Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 4:04 PM
I don't trust studies like this because all the key words have different meanings to different people.

I circumcised ds for religious reasons.
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by Silver Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 4:07 PM
Quoting maciymommieof3:

The title of the article is an inaccurate summary of the finding of the research being reported upon.

The research itself seems to have been carried out reasonably, and the result is unsurprising (but was worth quantifying).

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