Does Circumcision Affect Penile Erogenous Zones or How Men Experience Orgasm?
Circumcision is a surgical procedure to remove the foreskin of the penis. It has been performed for thousands of years for cultural, religious, aesthetic, and health reasons. In medicine, male circumcisions have been advocated as a way to reduce sexual transmission of HIV and for male infants who have had a history of urinary tract infections. Still, the practice of circumcision is hotly debated in some circles, and a number of people question its necessity and long-term effects on health and sexual function.
Perhaps one of the most controversial areas of the circumcision debate is the surgery’s potential impact on penile sensation. While past studies have shown mixed findings on this topic, much of the concern around diminished penile sensation due to circumcision has been supported by low-quality scientific evidence and heterogeneity across studies (i.e., a wide variety of research techniques, measures, etc. that may lead to different outcomes).
To gain clarity on the possible effects of circumcision on penile sensation, penile erogenous zones, and orgasmic function, a team of researchers collected data on the regions of the penis that are pleasurable when touched of 227 circumcised and 175 uncircumcised men.
This was accomplished by showing the participants online illustrations of the top and bottom of the penis that were divided into 12 regions and asking them to select the regions that were pleasurable when touched during partnered sex.
They also collected information on the men’s orgasmic function including the time necessary for them to reach orgasm, how long their orgasms last, descriptions of their orgasm, and their satisfaction with orgasm.
Ultimately, the researchers found no significant differences in the preferred penile erogenous zones of the circumcised and uncircumcised men. The glans corona (the flared base of the tip of the penis) was the most commonly selected area of the penis that was pleasurable when touched in both the circumcised men (74%) and the uncircumcised men (72%).
The scrotal raphe (the line on the underside of the scrotum that divides it into right and left halves) was the least commonly selected area for yielding pleasure when touched by both the circumcised (18%) and uncircumcised (17%) men.
In terms of penile erogenous zones, the researchers found one significant difference between the circumcised and uncircumcised men: the circumcised men (38%) were significantly more likely to report pleasure with stimulation of the tip of their glans penis than the uncircumcised men (17%).
With regard to orgasmic function, no significant differences were found between the two groups of men in the length of time to reach orgasm, duration of orgasm, description of orgasm, or satisfaction with orgasm.
The findings of this study suggest that both circumcised and uncircumcised men experience penile erogenous zones and orgasm similarly. Although the authors do not wish to advocate for or against circumcision, they believe that this information may be helpful for patients and their families who are weighing the risks and benefits of circumcision.
For more information on this topic, please read this publication from The Journal of Sexual Medicine:
Sensation and Sexual Arousal in Circumcised and Uncircumcised Men
Zaliznyak, M., Isaacson, D., Duralde, E., Gaither, T.W., Naser-Tavakolian, A., Bresee, C., Stelmar, J., Yuan, N., Topp, K., & Garcia, M.M. (2023). Anatomic maps of erogenous sensation and pleasure in the penis: are there difference between circumcised and uncircumcised men? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 20(3), 253-259. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdac032