Circumcision May Not Reduce Sensitivity of Penis

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Circumcision, many contend, reduces the sensitivity of the penis. But a controlled experiment has found no evidence for the belief.

Canadian researchers studied 62 generally healthy men ages 18 to 37, 30 of whom had been circumcised as infants, and 32 who remained uncircumcised. The researchers controlled for age, education, occupation and religious affiliation, and concluded that sexual functioning did not differ between the groups. The study is in the Journal of Urology.

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.

While pain thresholds at the foreskin did not significantly differ from any other site, the foreskin was more sensitive to temperature detection than the glans but less sensitive than the shaft.

“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.”