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article imageStudy: Circumcision reduces sexual pleasure in men

By JohnThomas Didymus     Feb 16, 2013 in Health
A new study claims to find that men who have had their foreskin removed as children or as adults enjoy less intense sexual pleasure and orgasm than men who have not.
The study titled, Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort, was published in BJUI International.
Reuters reports that lead study author Dr. Piet Hoebeke of Ghent University Hospital, said: "We're not saying less sexual activity or satisfaction, but sensitivity."
A Daily Mail report claims that three-quarters of US men have undergone the surgical procedure of circumcision for non-religious reasons, mostly for the sake of believed health benefits such as reduction in incidence of urinary tract infections. According to Reuters, about half of US newborn males have their foreskin surgically removed soon after birth, and about 30 percent of men worldwide are circumcised.
Circumcision is, however, relatively uncommon in the UK. WHO figures indicate only about six percent of men in the UK are circumcised.
Religions such as Judaism and Islam prescribe circumcision as a religious obligation. This explains why circumcision is universal in the Arab world and among Jewish men.
The practice is also almost universal in Black Africa. In fact, it pre-dates both Islam and Christianity among black Africans. Some authorities say it is at least 5,000 years old in Africa, a fact which has led some African scholars to note the cultural links of the practice in Africa with Ancient Egypt and suggest that the Ancient Hebrews acquired the custom from the Ancient Egyptians where it was practiced since Old Kingdom times, that is, before the biblical Exodus.
Ancient Egyptian men being circumcised
Ancient Egyptian men being circumcised
Among the Yoruba of West Africa, for instance, all babies are circumcised on the seventh day. The practice is so prevalent among the Yoruba that uncircumcised men are considered oddities and are subjected to ridicule.
Medical authorities have, in the past, recommended the practice on medical grounds, claiming that it reduces the risk of certain types of infections. But in recent times, expert opinion appears to be shifting in favor of the view that the health risks of circumcision outweigh the potential benefits.
The study by Hoebeke et al. surveyed 1,369 men over the age of 18. The men were requested to respond to leaflet questionnaires handed to them.They were first asked whether they were circumcised and then asked to rate how sensitive their penis was. They were also asked how intense their orgasms were and whether they experience pain or numbness when sexually aroused.
Of the men who took the survey, 310 were circumcised and 1,059 were not. They were asked to rate the sensitivity of their penis on a scale from zero to five. The higher the number, the more sensitive.
According to Reuters, the uncircumcised men returned an average sensitivity score of 3.72 compared to circumcised men who returned an average sensitivity score of 3.31.
The study also found that uncircumcised men reported more intense orgasms.
Hoebeke said: "It's not a very big difference in sensitivity, but it's a significant difference."
According to the study authors writing in BJUI International, a possible explanation of the difference is that the foreskin may help to keep the head of the penis from rubbing against the underwear and clothing. According to the researchers, the constant friction makes the skin of the penis head thicker, drier and finally less sensitive over time in circumcised men.
The researchers also found that circumcised men reported on the average, more pain and numbness during arousal than uncircumcised men.
Hoebeke told Reuters: "I'm amazed that people report pain during sexual pleasure... that was unexpected."
Dr. Aaron Tobian, who was not part of the new study, said previous randomized controlled trials found that there was no significant difference between sensitivity of circumcised men and sensitivity of uncircumcised men. He told Reuters: "The medical evidence and the benefits of male circumcision are abundantly clear."
A message posted in the comments section of the Your Health in response to the study, reflects the conflicting views among experts on the health benefits of circumcision:
Readers should be aware of the opinion of other medical associations and professionals.
Viewpoint of the the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG):
"The official viewpoint of KNMG and other related medical/scientific organisations is that non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors is a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity. Contrary to popular belief, circumcision can cause complications – bleeding, infection, urethral stricture and panic attacks are particularly common. KNMG is therefore urging a strong policy of deterrence. KNMG is calling upon doctors to actively and insistently inform parents who are considering the procedure of the absence of medical benefits and the danger of complications."
Statement of the Germany’s official Pediatric Association, the Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärtze (BVKJ):
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released its new technical report and policy statement on male circumcision, concluding that current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks. The technical report is based on the scrutiny of a large number of complex scientific articles. Therefore, while striving for objectivity, the conclusions drawn by the eight task force members reflect what these individual doctors perceived as trustworthy evidence. Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of non-therapeutic male circumcision in the US seems obvious, and the report’s conclusions are different from those reached by doctors in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia. In this commentary, a quite different view is presented by non-US-based doctors and representatives of general medical associations and societies for pediatrics, pediatric surgery and pediatric urology in Northern Europe. To these authors, there is but one of the arguments put forward by the AAP that has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision, namely the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can be easily treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts and penile cancer, are questionable, weak and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves."
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