Last Updated: 2003-04-29 10:32:15 -0400 (Reuters
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Circumcised men appear to have
the same degree of penis sensitivity as men who are
uncircumcised, a new study suggests -- in a finding that will
probably just add fuel to the fire of a controversial subject
debated for years.
The findings are to be presented Tuesday by Dr. Arnold
Melman at a meeting of the American Urological Association in
"We demonstrated that there are no significant differences
in penile sensation between circumcised and uncircumcised men
in both patients with and without erectile dysfunction," said
Melman in a prepared statement.
"This study does not address whether or not patients should
be circumcised, however, it merely served to test
sensitivity," added Melman, who is with Montefiore Medical
Center in New York City.
The current policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics is
that the potential medical benefits of male circumcision are
not substantial enough to recommend that all boys become
Around three-quarters of American-born men in the U.S. are
circumcised, although that number appears to be declining
rapidly in some regions of the country.
Male circumcision is common in North America and elsewhere
for religious and cultural reasons and is known to help
prevent urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted
diseases and penile cancer, a rare condition. In the minor
surgical operation, the foreskin is removed, which can help
prevent bacteria from growing under the fold of skin.
On the other hand, many parents feel it inflicts
unnecessary pain, and in many countries circumcision is rarely
performed. In recent years, the issue has been highly
controversial with vocal opponents to the procedure likening
it to mutilation.
Still, few studies have aimed to investigate the
differences in penile sensitivity, if any, between the two
In the current investigation, Melman's team evaluated the
penile sensitivity among 43 uncircumcised men and 36
circumcised men through a variety of methods, including
vibration, pressure, spatial perception and warm and cold
thermal thresholds. Both groups contained men with and without
In uncircumcised men, the foreskin was pulled back during
the sensitivity testing procedures.
The investigators found no statistically significant
differences in sensitivity between the two groups of men,
regardless of whether they had erectile dysfunction.
In other findings, the researchers found that white men
were 25 times as likely and African-American men were eight
times as likely as Hispanics to be