A Belgian study on male circumcision is sure to fuel the debate on the merits of this procedure.
Circumcised men reported less intense sexual pleasure and orgasm than uncircumcised men, according to the findings published in BJU International.
The researchers recruited 1,369 men over the age of 18 for the study by handing out leaflets in Belgium train stations. The men were asked to answer a series of questions and to rate the sensitive of their penis on a scale of 0 to 5. The uncircumcised men reported between 0.2 point and 0.4 points higher sensitivity.
"We're not saying less sexual activity or satisfaction, but sensitivity," senior researcher Dr. Piet Hoebeke from Ghent University Hospital told Reuters.
A survey of this type is not an ideal way to gather information on physical sensations. A better approach would be to bring the men into a lab and subject them to standardized stimuli and have them rate the experience.
Even if the survey is accurate, you have to asked if a difference of 0.2 to 0.4 on a scale of 5 really amounts to a lot. And the researcher acknowledged as much. "It's not a very big difference in sensitivity, but it's a significant difference," Hoebeke is quoted as saying.
Whatever the case, this is a polarizing issue. The procedure is an engrained part of numerous cultures and religions. Public health experts say the procedure can help reduce the spread of AIDS. But vocal opponent say that circumcision, when performed on an infant, is a form of child abuse.