Many may believe that circumcision decreases sexual pleasure stemming from a supposedly reduced penile sensitivity. However, a new study published in The Journal of Urology reveals that men who received neonatal circumcision do not have lower penile sensitivity than other uncircumcised men.

Apparently, people believe that the reduced sensitivity is mainly due to keratinisation, the deposition of keratin in cells as the result of the absence of the foreskin which is thought to be the most relevant and most sensitive part. It turns out that the foreskin is even not that sensitive. It has the same sensitivity as one’s forearm.

The researchers studied 30 circumcised and 32 uncircumcised men, between the ages of 18 through 37. The participant’s sexual function was investigated for four weeks through a 15-item test, also known as the International Index of Erectile Functioning (IIEF).


Preparing for a Jewish ritual circumcision with a Mogen shield. Photo from Wikimedia/Cheskel Dovid

The researchers looked into the men’s sexual desire, erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function and overall satisfaction. The team also assessed the pain and heat threshold as well as warmth detection of the participants’ forearms, glans penis, midline shaft, proximal to midline shaft and foreskin of uncircumcised men.

“We directly tested whether circumcision is associated with a reduction in penile sensitivity by testing tactile detection, pain, warmth detection, and heat pain thresholds at multiple sites on the penis between groups of healthy (neonatally) circumcised and intact men,” says lead author Jennifer Bossio. “This study indicates that neonatal circumcision is not associated with changes in penile sensitivity and provides preliminary evidence to suggest that the foreskin is not the most sensitive part of the penis.”

Their IIEF results did not reveal any differences in all the sexual domains assessed. Moreover, uncircumcised men do not have a more sensitive penis than circumcised men. The foreskin was just as sensitive as the forearm. On the other hand, the glans penis and midline shaft were more sensitive than the forearm.

“Methodology and results from this study build on previous research and imply that if sexual functioning is related to circumcision status,” says Bossio. “This relationship is not likely the result of decreased penile sensitivity stemming from neonatal circumcision.”