Does Circumcision Status Affect Sexual Function?

Male circumcision is a common practice in many cultures and religions around the world. The risks and benefits of circumcision are a subject of debate, including whether circumcision status — being circumcised or uncircumcised — affects sexual function.

Key takeaways:

Based on numerous research studies, there is no clear evidence that circumcision status has any significant effect on sexual pleasure, penile sensitivity, premature ejaculation (PE), or erectile dysfunction (ED). However, some individuals do experience a change in sexual function — either positive or negative — after adult circumcision.

What is male circumcision?

Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, usually performed on infants. Circumcision can be performed for religious, social, or medical reasons. Some religions, namely Judaism and Islam, practice circumcision on newborns, while in some cultures circumcision is part of a rite of passage into adulthood. Most circumcisions are performed shortly after birth but are also performed on children, teens, and adults.

Adult circumcision is not very common but it is sometimes performed for religious or medical reasons. Some men require circumcision due to problems with their foreskin, including infection, cancer, phimosis (inability to retract the foreskin), paraphimosis (the foreskin gets stuck in the retracted position), and balanitis (infection of the glans — the tip or head — of the penis).

Circumcision and sexual function

For decades, researchers have studied whether circumcision affects sexual function. While this research has produced some conflicting results, the overall picture is more clear. Based on the combined results of numerous studies, there is no definitive link between sexual function and being either circumcised or uncircumcised.

That is not to say that circumcision cannot affect sexual function; it can. Circumcisions do not always go as planned and can sometimes result in injury or infection of the penis, leading to long-term problems. However, aside from complications with the procedure, negative side effects of circumcision are uncommon.

One important study found that attitudes about circumcision play a large role in male sexual function. Researchers found that men with a positive opinion about their circumcision status had a more positive body image and better sexual function than those with negative attitudes about whether they are circumcised. So, while circumcision status may not affect sexual function, how you feel about being circumcised or uncircumcised can have an impact on your sex life.

Childhood circumcision

Research has found that circumcision performed on infants and children has no significant effect on sexual function. There is no difference in rates of PE or ED in men circumcised as children compared to uncircumcised men. Furthermore, recent studies have found that circumcision at any age has no significant effect on sexual satisfaction or pleasure.

Adult circumcision

Adult men who are circumcised mainly do so for medical reasons, but may also do so for religious or personal reasons. Research shows that men who are circumcised as adults can have some change in sexual function after the procedure, but it can be either positive or negative.

One study found that men circumcised as adults had increased erection problems and decreased sensitivity in their penis after the procedure, but overall most men were satisfied with the results of circumcision. However, medical conditions that result in the need for circumcision can also harm sexual function, so the results may not be as clear as they appear.

In some men, adult circumcision can have certain positive sexual effects. Research has found that, in some men, premature ejaculation improved after adult circumcision. The same research concluded that circumcision at a younger age may result in less sexual dysfunction later in life.

Circumcision status and sexual function

While there has been much research into the effects of circumcision on male sexual function, some of the results are inconsistent across studies. There is a large quantity of research, but, in some ways, the quality of the research is lacking. However, despite its shortcomings, research has found no significant link between circumcision status and sexual function. There is no evidence that circumcision increases the risk of sexual dysfunction, and, in cases of adult circumcision, it may actually improve existing premature ejaculation. While it is not necessarily the case for all individuals, whether you are circumcised or uncircumcised has little effect on sexual function. The decision whether or not to circumcise a child or get circumcised as an adult can be an important decision, but ultimately it is unlikely to have any effect on sexual function.

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prefix 4 months ago
Isn't it a pretty well known fact that circumcised men are more likely to need lube to have sex and masturbate? Is that not an aspect of sexual function?
prefix 11 months ago
Thank you for your great work and perfect research into circumcision. It's a really political thing to talk about right now and many people are now against circumsized men and the medical procedure itself. There are a lot of rumors being spread that circumcision negativity affects the size, function, pleasure and even the mental state of circumcised men . That being said you guys still powered through and gave a scientific and evidence based answer without getting to involved in personal opinion.
prefix 1 year ago
This “has no effect” nonsense is rubbish. Of course it has an effect (negative). Alter the form, alter the function, remember?
Barry Borella
prefix 1 year ago
Sex with a foreskin, both solo and with partner, is more enjoyable with a foreskin. There is more to play with. Who wants less penis? Please!
Omar faruk
prefix 11 months ago
I think sex with circumcision is more pleasourable. Because with forskin you feel irritation at the time of sex but circumcision prevent the irritation and make a beautiful six time.
Chris Nichols
prefix 1 year ago
In addition to ignoring the anatomical composition of human foreskin tissue (Meissner's corpuscles etc.) and various physiological functions of the foreskin that serve to enhance the pleasure of both the man and his sexual partners, this article underestimates the high prevalence of adverse outcomes attendant upon "routine" foreskin amputation, such as excess penile tissue removal -- particularly in Anglophone medical contexts. There is an alarming degree of "botched" circumcisions that go (publicly) unreported and (privately) unacknowledged, largely on account of psychosocial obfuscations such as this.