The great circumcision debate, continued

A recent study suggests that cutting may not decrease men's sexual pleasure.

By Catherine Price

Published July 31, 2007 7:47PM (EDT)

Oh, circumcision. Remember how a while ago we had a post about its effects on female pleasure? Just in case the guys are feeling left out, there's a new study out about how circumcision affects male enjoyment.

This article from Reuters explains that the study, which was a small, 40-men affair at McGill University in Montreal, found that uncircumcised men "received no more sexual sensation than circumcised men."

They measured sexual sensation by hooking up the men -- whom I hope were compensated for their sportsmanship -- to sensors that thermally measured their arousal on their penises and forearms while they viewed erotic films. As I understand it (I'm still waiting to get a copy of the actual study), once the men were aroused, researchers measured their responses to pain and touch. There was no difference between the two groups -- which goes against the common belief that circumcised men lose sensation along with their foreskins. (Interestingly, however, both circumcised and uncircumcised men demonstrated less sensitivity during arousal than during nonarousal, which researchers hypothesize may help lessen pain during sex.)

The caveat is that scar tissue -- which is sometimes caused by circumcision -- does affect sensitivity. So if you're getting your child circumcised and are worried about his future sexual pleasure, by all means, get yourself a careful doctor.

Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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