Circumcision: Is there a difference between cut and un-cut?

Q : Hi! I have a question. I’ve only ever been with men who are circumcised. I’ve dated a few who weren’t but we never got as far as sex because there is something about an uncircumcised penis that turns me off. I’ve recently heard from a couple of my girlfriends that they prefer their partners to be ‘intact’. What gives? Is there really a difference between cut and uncut men?

A : Yes there is a difference. The obvious difference is that a man who is intact has extra skin that covers his penis, whereas a cut man’s penis is exposed. You may find this difference unaesthetic. A lot of North American women who are not used to intact males do. But beyond aesthetics there are personal experiences and scientific data. I will go over both.

My own personal experience is that circumcized men have less sensitivity and tend to need more stimulation / time in order to achieve orgasm. There are benefits and drawbacks to this, from a woman’s perspective. A man needing longer to achieve orgasm means a woman has a better chance of getting hers, too. But the decreased sensitivity is problematic, because as the levels of desensitization increase, a man may need something other than penile stimulation to orgasm. He may need to visualize something in his mind, see something erotic to him, or have anal stimulation, or pain to push him over the edge.

With intact men, the area of the penis that is protected by the foreskin is extremely sensitive — like lips, or like a clitoris — while the foreskin itself is sensitive on the inside and less so on the outside. I find that the levels of sensitivity of the glans and the ridge of the glans makes oral sex with an uncut man a lot more fun, as they are far more responsive. Lastly, I know men who were circumcized and went through the long and painful process of regrowing their foreskins, and they report that sex is much more pleasurable now that the head of the penis is not constantly exposed and chafed by clothing. I also know men who were circumcized as teens/adults.

Most of them report that masturbation and sex are a lot less satisfying, and in many cases, frustrating, because they have difficulties achieving orgasm. I personally have concerns about the long-term effects of circumcision, particularly with regards to impotence. It makes sense to me that if my clitoris rubbed up against my panties every day for 40+ years, it would be very difficult for me to become aroused, no matter how much it is stimulated. Perhaps the huge market for impotency drugs like Cialis and Viagra here in the West is tied to the practice of circumcision. I think it bears more scrutiny, at any rate.

As for the scientific data: The intact human foreskin is richly innervated (has a lot of nerve-endings, like lips do) and contains holocrine glands (exocrine glands that produce protective lubricants). The human foreskin represents more than one third of the intact penis’s skin. Just as removing innervated skin or body parts has been found to affect the sensory pathways of the brain, scientists are researching the implication that removal of the foreskin affects sexual sensations and pathways, resulting in lowered excitability and a higher threshold for sexual arousal.

A result of circumcision is the keratinization and desensitization of the surface epithelium of the glans penis. When the moistening, protective covering of the glans penis is removed, the skin on the surface of the glans penis dries out and becomes toughened and callused. Lastly, Dr. George Denniston (Clinical Asst Professor in Family Medicine, and Board Certified in Preventive Medicine) states that there is a correlation between the high incidence of impotence and circumcision in America. He also debunks the myth that circumcision is necessary for purposes of hygiene. Infections of the foreskin are rare, and there is statistically significant evidence that circumsized contract and spread STD’s more readily than intact men do.

Circumcision is a hot-button topic in the medical community in the US. There is a lot of vehement defence of circumcision, though, probably because of the known emotional impact of circumcision and bias among researchers. Since I was once a bio-researcher, I can say that it is not uncommon to design a study or experiment that proves the result one wishes to arrive at. Pharmaceutical companies do it all the time ;)

In sum: Yes, there is a difference. Emotional impacts aside, a circumsized penis is less sensitive after years of exposure to air and clothing, and circumcision is a likely culprit in both the impotency and HIV epidemics in the US. For more information, find your nearest search engine and input your question.