Baby health

Study: Circumcision does not reduce penis sensitivity

A new study sheds light on an oft-cited argument against performing the procedure.

Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

Your baby boy’s future sexual pleasure might not be the first thing you think about when deciding whether or not to have him circumcised. But reduced sensitivity of the penis is often cited as a reason against circumcision, with little evidence to back it up.

But now, Canadian researchers based out of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. say the penises of men who were circumcised when they were born are just as sensitive as intact penises.

How, exactly, did they figure this out?

The researchers worked with a group of 62 men, ages of 18 and 37. Thirty of the men were circumcised, while 32 were intact. Researchers tested four places on the penis with different stimuli: touch, pain, warmth detection and heat pain.

The result? Penises with foreskin and without were equally sensitive to the different stimuli, suggesting the foreskin is not the most sensitive part of the penis.

Jenn Bossio, the researcher who performed the study at the Sexual Health Research Lab at the University, says there is a lot of research on the health benefits of circumcision, but little on the sexual outcomes of the procedure. “Parents of infant boys need to be fully informed before they decide to circumcise their sons or not,” says Bossio.


Next, she plans to study men with sexual dysfunction, like erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, as men with these conditions may have either lower or higher sensitivity in general.

The Canadian Paediatric Society does not recommend the routine circumcision of baby boys, although it acknowledges that in certain populations, there might be a benefit to the procedure. It urges parents to speak to health providers for more guidance in making the decision.

Read more: The latest guidelines on circumcision in Canada Bonding with baby How to prevent wrist pain while breastfeeding 

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Claire is a Toronto-based writer, editor and content creator with a focus on health, parenting, education and personal finance. She is currently the director of special projects at Maclean's magazine.