Your circumcised penis is just as sensitive as an uncircumcised one: Canadian study

Circumcised? Don't fret, new research suggests you feel as much sensation as your uncircumcised friends. Jeremy Maude/ Rex Features via The Canadian Press

Fellas, Canadian scientists are getting to the bottom of your burning bedroom questions: in new research, they say that circumcised penises are just as sensitive to touch, heat, and pressure during sex as their unsnipped counterparts.

It’s a longstanding debate: are circumcised penises less sensitive? Queen’s University professor Dr. Caroline Pukall says it’s a hypothesis that hasn’t been thoroughly studied.

“The idea out there is that if you have a circumcised penis, the head of the penis, or the tip of the penis is exposed. It’s supposed to be covered by the foreskin if you have one but if you don’t, the sensitive tissue becomes hardened over time…therefore pleasure is less during sexual situations,” Pukall told Global News.

Pukall, who is a psychology professor and director of the Kingston, Ont., university’s sexual health research lab, decided she’d test the theory’s merits.

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She worked with 62 brave adult men – half were circumcised as newborns while the others weren’t. Turns out, snipped penises felt just as much as penises with a protective hood.

“We looked at men who were circumcised or not during the period of infancy … 30 years after this procedure happened, and found that with respect to sensitivity to touch, to the sensation of warmth and heat, and pressure, that there are no significant differences between men who were circumcised at birth and men who are intact,” Pukall said.

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Testing was tricky. She and her team zeroed in on the head, some areas on the shaft of the penis, and the foreskin if the men had one.

The men were between 18 and 37 years old. Pukall used what she calls “quantitative sensory testing” on their man parts to assess touch and pain thresholds, along with how sensitive they were to warmth and heat.

The scientists used a device to touch the men at various pressure points until they felt a sensation, while a spring-based tool with a cotton swab – a device Pukall developed to test on women’s vulvas – also measured response to touch. Most of the tools used are go-to objects in science, she said.

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The trouble is, her findings may not translate perfectly in the bedroom.

“How this translates to a sexual situation when there’s movement and other types of things happening, we can’t speak to that. But when we speak to sensitivity, we don’t see objective differences,” she said.

Keep in mind, there are individual preferences at play, too. Pukall says sexual partners need to consider how their men like to be touched, separate from foreskin or a lack of it.

Pukall said her findings are good news for those who may be wondering if they’re missing out on extra sensitivity.

Before, the medical community guessed that the foreskin could be one of the most sexually relevant parts of the penis. She hopes her results dispel that notion.

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She’s already received a lot of criticism – circumcision is an incredibly divisive issue with some children’s advocacy groups calling it a painful and unnecessary procedure for baby boys.

Her team’s full findings were published in the Journal of Urology.

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