Hard scienceHard science

‘Foreskin doesn’t increase pleasure’

New meta-study aims to dispel long-held notion that having an uncut penis makes for better sex

Cigar image via Shutterstock
Cigar image via Shutterstock

The conventional wisdom has long been that, to paraphrase Rod Stewart, uncircumcised men have more fun — at least in the bedroom, that is. But a new study examining previous literature on the subject has turned that perception on its head.

A group of Australian scientists combed through almost 40 past studies and came to the conclusion that having a foreskin doesn’t enhance the penis’s sensitivity.

The scientists say studies that reported impaired sexual pleasure in men simply weren’t rigorous enough, while the research that found little difference between the experiences of circumcised and uncircumcised men stood up to stiff scrutiny.

“The health benefits of male circumcision have been well documented, including substantially lower risks of HIV and other viral and some bacterial sexually transmitted infections,” Brian Morris, the lead author of the study, told the Daily Mail, about the study, whose conclusions were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

“It also lowers rates of penile cancer and possibly prostate cancer — and women whose partners are circumcised have lower rates of cervical cancer and infections such as HPV and Chlamydia,” he was quoted as saying. “However, there is continued concern that circumcision may reduce male sexual function and pleasure. Yet the highest-quality studies suggest that medical male circumcision has no adverse effect on sexual function, sensitivity, sexual sensation, or satisfaction.”

The researchers said that, by and large, the more rigorous studies of circumcision found “no overall adverse effect on penile sensitivity, sexual arousal, sexual sensation, erectile function, premature ejaculation, duration of intercourse, orgasm difficulties, sexual satisfaction, pleasure, or pain during penetration.”

Two of the trials cited by the scientists involved groups of several thousand men in Uganda and Kenya who were circumcised after they were already sexually active. The men reported no significant changes in their sexual pleasure and desire and an overwhelming majority were pleased at having undergone the procedure.

The rub: The authors of the study say that men who underwent circumcision for medical reasons were at a higher risk of sexual dysfunction. But hey, it’s a small price to pay for a personality, right?

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