Claims & Clarification: Foreskin Sensitivity to Stimulation
This week, a new and poorly interpreted study about the sensitivity of circumcised vs. intact penises has been circulating and, once again, people are falling for the clickbait debate without actually reading the study.
What news headlines say: “Study Suggests Getting Circumcised Doesn’t Make Your Wiener Less Sensitive After All”
What the study’s preview actually says: 62 men (18-37 years, mean 24.1) had their penises assessed for touch, pressure pain, and heat pain thresholds at 3 or 4 penile sites (the 4th being the foreskin, if present). “The foreskin of intact men was more sensitive to tactile stimulation than the other penile sites, but not other stimuli.”
Why it’s important to inspect the methodology more closely: this study claims to refute the previous studies that suggested that uncut dicks are more sensitive… but this study and those studies are focusing on different types of sensitivity.
Let’s break down problems more specifically:
1.) The headline focused mostly on pain tolerance with pressure and heat, but when people talk about the sensitivity of foreskin, they’re usually talking about fine touch.
There is a fuckton of (~10,000) nerve endings and many types of touch receptors in the foreskin, but the most notable is the concentration of Meissner’s corpuscles, which specialize in fine touch, such as the precision your palms and fingertips are able to feel.
Of course, the foreskin has heat and pressure receptors too, but those things alone aren’t what make the foreskin special. Fine touch is. And, lo and behold, the study agrees that foreskin is more sensitive to tactile stimulation and fine touch.
2.) The study ran the tests on the foreskin, but not necessarily the most sensitive part of the foreskin specifically.
The erogenous nerve ending bundles (fine touch receptors and pressure receptors alike) are the most highly concentrated in the ridged band, and the mucosal tissue on the inside of the foreskin. The rest is mostly skin that provides a protective function. So, for all I know, they probably skipped over the most sensitive part.
3.) The glans of a circumcised penis keratinizes / thickens and dries up over time.
The average age of the men in the study was 24. Of course there’s not going to be much of a difference in the 18 or 24-year-olds here, but there might be a difference if we compared more men in their 30s and 40s.
4.) Regardless of what’s said on paper, it’s in practice not uncommon for men who get circumcised as adults to be really unhappy with the results.
I understand that the point of science is to get objective data, but we have to bear in mind that sometimes the data doesn’t neatly translate to real life. Men who have circumcisions as adults have a before-and-after comparison of how sensitivity affects sex itself, and not just how responsive they are to pain when being prodded.