The number of men suffering erectile dysfunction has grown significantly in the past decade. Some experts believe the problem has always been around, but men are just now getting comfortable enough to talk about erectile problems. Other experts believe the increase in male circumcision is causing reduced penile sensitivity, which could lead to erectile issues and loss of sexual pleasure. 

Researchers from the Ghent University Hospital in Belgium recently published a study in the Journal of British Urological Surgeons on the impact of circumcision on penile sensitivity. According to the cohort study, men who have been circumcised report less sensitivity and more pain/irritation of the penis. 

The study pool was made up of about 1,000 uncircumcised men and about 300 circumcised men. Each was asked to fill out an online survey pertaining to penile sensitivity, pain, irritation and other issues. According to the study results, circumcised men feel more pain, irritation and unusual sensation than men who are uncircumcised. There were also reports of reduced sexual sensitivity and difficulty reaching orgasm in the circumcised group. 

Though the study pool clearly leaned on the side of leaving men uncircumcised, the results could spark additional study into the impact of circumcision on sexual performance, sensitivity and pain. According to the study authors, circumcision that is not medically-necessary should be discussed in terms of long-term side effects with new or expecting parents. However, the study authors failed to mention the potential health benefits of circumcision. 

According to a study referenced on the Centers for Disease Control website, men who are circumcised are 44% less likely to contract HIV. The foreskin is more susceptible to HIV infection than any other skin of the penis. 

Should you have your male child circumcised? The answer to the circumcision question is an especially personal one. Some families are dead set against circumcision and others are completely for the practice. There are health studies on the benefits and risks of the procedure, both short- and long-term. 

Source: Bronselaer GA, Schober JM, Meyer-Bahlburg HF, T'sjoen G, Vlietinck R, Hoebeke PB. Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort. BJU Int. 2013 Feb 4. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-410X.2012.11761.x.

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