Will I lose sensitivity when I get circumcised?

Penis sensitivity and circumcision is a controversial topic, and unfortunately there have been fewer studies into the subject than many of us would like.

What is sensitivity, anyway?

One of the problems is that it is extremely difficult to define what we mean by ‘sensitivity’.

A lot of studies rely on men rating their own levels of sensitivity, which is obviously difficult to quantify. Some studies have also tried to measure sensitivity more empirically by stimulating penises with warmth or very weak electric currents to see at what point men can detect the sensation.

And whilst there have been studies comparing sensitivity between circumcised and uncircumcised men, the conclusions they reach has varied. Some say there is no difference between cut and uncut guys whilst others say there is. We have listed recent studies at the bottom of this article.

Sensitivity vs pleasure

Discussions about penis sensitivity in cut vs uncut men is made more complicated by the fact that the penis is a sexual organ that experiences sexual pleasure.

Think of it this way. Both your penis and your fingertips can be sensitive to the touch, but unlike your fingers your penis can experience sexual pleasure and orgasm. The sensations you experience in your fingertips versus in your penis can be very different.

It gets even more complicated, because sexual pleasure is not solely related to the actual nerve endings and physical makeup of your body: it also involves a psychological component, which we often call sexual arousal.

It is the combination of penis sensitivity and sexual arousal that produces sexual pleasure. Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to scientifically measure levels of pleasure, which can be extremely subjective. How can we rate one man’s orgasm versus someone else’s?

Bottom line

Unfortunately, there is no scientific consensus on whether circumcision affects penis sensitivity or not. There are simply too few studies and many of the studies report contradicting results.

Despite this, the vast majority of men, whether circumcised or uncircumcised seem to report satisfying, healthy sex-lives.

Studies that have compared penis sensitivity for circumcised and uncircumcised men

The following studies have been organised by date order, with the latest at the top. You can find out more about the studies by clicking through the links supplied.

“Male circumcision does not result in inferior perceived male sexual function – a systematic review.”

This 2016 paper was a meta study, which meant that the study authors didn’t collect any data of their own but instead combined data from 38 relevant previous studies, two of which were randomised trials, with an unknown sample size. The study found that “no inferior sexual function was reported” between circumcised and uncircumcised men, although it did find some differences in men who were circumcised for medical reasons. It called for further studies.

Shabanzadeh DM, Düring S, Frimodt-Møller C. Dan Med J. 2016 July. Link.

“Examining Penile Sensitivity in Neonatally Circumcised and Intact Men Using Quantitative Sensory Testing.”

This 2016 study assessed 30 circumcised and 32 uncircumcised men for touch and pain thresholds as well as warmth detection and heat pain. The measurements were taken at a control site (the forearm) as well as three to four places on the penis, including the glans, two on the shaft, and on the foreskin (if present). The study concluded that “Penile sensitivity did not differ across circumcision status for any stimulus type or penile site.” In other words, they found no difference between cut and uncut men.

Bossio JA, Pukall CF, Steele SS. J Urol. 2016 June. Link.

“Does male circumcision affect sexual function, sensitivity, or satisfaction?–a systematic review.”

This 2013 paper was a meta study, which meant that the study authors didn’t collect any data of their own but instead combined data from relevant previous studies covering a total of 19,542 uncircumcised and 20,931 circumcised men. They concluded that circumcision had “no overall adverse effect on penile sensitivity, sexual arousal, sexual sensation, erectile function, premature ejaculation, ejaculatory latency, orgasm difficulties, sexual satisfaction, pleasure, or pain during penetration.”

Morris BJ, Krieger JN. J Sex Med. 2013 November. Link.

“Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort.”

This 2013 study was based on 1,059 uncircumcised and 310 circumcised men who took part in an online survey. The study’s authors found that circumcised men reported reduced sensitivity and decreased sexual pleasure.

Bronselaer GA, Schober JM, Meyer-Bahlburg HF, T’Sjoen G, Vlietinck R, Hoebeke PB. BJU Int. 2013 May. Link.

“Adult male circumcision: effects on sexual function and sexual satisfaction in Kisumu, Kenya.”

This 2008 study is one of the few papers to compare sexual satisfaction before and after circumcision. 2,784 men were randomised with half circumcised within thirty days. The two groups were then compared after 1, 3, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. The study’s authors found that adult male circumcision did not affect sexual satisfaction and that men who were circumcised reported “increased penile sensitivity and enhanced ease of reaching orgasm.”

Krieger JN, Mehta SD, Bailey RC, Agot K, Ndinya-Achola JO, Parker C, Moses S. J Sex Med. 2008 November. Link.

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