A Major Part of the Circumcision Debate Might Be Settled

April 15th 2016

For people on the fence about circumcision, there's new evidence to suggest the procedure doesn't affect sensitivity like some anti-circumcision activists insist. In fact, circumcised and uncircumcised men alike enjoy the same level of sensitivity, a study published in The Journal of Urology found.

If you haven't been looped into the circumcision debate, here's what you need to know.

One-third of the world's male population is circumcised. Certain religions, such as Judaism, require men to be circumcised, but many parents opt in to the procedure for the reported health benefits, including a deceased risk of urinary tract infections. However, people who oppose the practice often argue that the foreskin is key to sexual pleasure.

Not so, says a team of scientists at Queen's University. After analyzing the pain, touch, and heat sensitivity of 62 men — 30 who've been circumcised and 32 who haven't — the team seems to have called into question assertions that uncircumcised penises are more sensitive.

What earlier studies have found about circumcision.

Two previous studies that looked at how circumcision affects sensitivity relied exclusively on "fine-touch pressure thresholds," which means very light touching. So, it makes sense that they produced results in support of the idea that circumcised penises have less fun. This latest study, however, measured sensitivity with three different touch thresholds, allowing the scientists to reach a more comprehensive conclusion.

"One researcher who only used fine touch to measure penile sensitivity claimed the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis, so removing it via circumcision is detrimental to men's sex lives," Jenn Bossio, a clinical psychology PhD candidate at Queen's University, said in a press release. "Many anti-circumcision activists believe this is true, but we didn't find sufficient evidence to support this. We found that while the foreskin was more sensitive to fine touch, it was not more sensitive to the other stimuli we used, and those stimuli are likely more important in sexual pleasure."

The researchers said they hope their study will contribute to the ongoing conversations about the public health benefits of circumcision.

RELATED: Why This 'Intactivist' Is for Foreskin

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