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.
Male circumcision status is not linked to premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, decreased penile sensitivity, or decreased sexual pleasure.
According to research, there is no definitive evidence that being circumcised or uncircumcised has any effect on sexual function, except in certain cases.
Childhood circumcision does not affect sexual function, but sometimes adult circumcision can. The results can be either positive or negative.
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.
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 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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