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Did Circumcision Ruin My Sex Life?

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Did Circumcision Ruin My Sex Life?
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Question:  I'm a 37-year-old man who is recently divorced and just getting back into the swing of things with the dating scene. I'm also starting to have sex again for the first time in a long time, since my wife and I stopped having sex more than two years before we separated, and I never cheated. Recently on a date a woman asked me if I was circumcised (I am). She went on about how circumcised men are missing out, because they lack sensation. Is this true? Is there research on this subject?

Answer:
Circumcision is one of those topics everyone has an opinion on and most people are perfectly happy to give you theirs, whether you asked for it or not. It seems like kind of an intense topic for a first date, but I suppose that depends on the date, and the people. So maybe it made perfect sense. At any rate, she's not all wrong, but she's not all right either.

It might sound like good news when I tell you that yes, there is research. If you look, you'll find research on circumcision and sensitivity, circumcision and sexual pleasure, and how circumcision changes sexual behavior.

But the less than good news is that taken as a whole, the research that exists is contradictory and hardly conclusive.  The only thing I would stake a claim on based one the research is that being circumcised does have an impact on how sexual stimulation is experienced.  But the nature of that impact is really the point people usually are making, and in  there are plenty of problems with that research which require a longer answer if the question isn't just does it change things, but how does it change things.

That answer has to include thinking about the difference between sexual feelings, sexual sensation, and sexual pleasure. We tend to use those terms interchangeably, but they aren't.  Sexual feelings might include the experience of desire, the feeling of intimacy, warmth, connection, the experience of not being able to stop thinking about someone sexually, or more.  Sexual sensation refers to response to stimulation that happens in a sexual context.  And sexual pleasure is by far the biggest of the three, including as it does physical, emotional, intellectual, and for some spiritual components.

Coming up with an answer to your question requires that you and your date take into account the many factors that go into how much we enjoy sex. Everyone will have their own experience, but if I were to make a generalization based on speaking with thousands of people about their sex lives, I'd have to say that the presence of absence of a foreskin is rarely going to be the most significant factor in terms of sexual desire or the ability to give or receive sexual pleasure.

If you're feeling out of the loop and want to read up, you can find information and references to the research here. But I would also take some time to think about why someone would feel it necessary to tell you that you aren't able to feel as much pleasure as the next guy? It sounds like an argument with a motive that has nothing to do with you or your penis.

 

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