Erectile Dysfunction: Is Circumcision Making You Soft?

Originally Published in Men's Health Magazine, November 2011
By Madeline Haller

Could circumcision be affecting your erection? It just might, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Men’s Health.

Researchers surveyed 300 men and found that circumcised fellas had a 4.5 times greater chance of suffering from ED than noncircumcised guys.

One reason: Circumcised penises can experience up to a 75% reduction in sensitivity compared to intact members, according to a study published in the British Journal of Urology International.

A major factor that contributes to that loss of sensitivity is the severing of the perineal nerve—a nerve located on the underside of the penis that is responsible for the majority of sexual sensory input—explains Dan Bollinger, study author and director of the International Coalition for Genital Integrity.

Keep the findings in perspective, though. This was only a survey, so some of the men could be fibbing. And there are numerous other factors that contribute to ED.

“Aging, diabetes, obesity, cigarette smoking, and poor diet—these are all going to affect you and your chances of ED more than being circumcised will,” says Judd Moul, M.D., professor and Chief of the Division of Urologic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center.

Think you might have ED? Then you’re probably right. In fact, nine out of 10 men in a recent study who said they were “unsure” about their ED status actually had some level of ED. And according to a study published in BMC Urology, 70% of ED cases go undiagnosed.

Bring up your concerns at your next doctor’s visit, Dr. Moul recommends. “ED is so much more common than men realize, and it can be very easily fixed by making a few lifestyle changes or getting on a medication.”

Related Reading:

Does Circumcision Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

"Alexithymia and Circumcision Trauma: A Preliminary Investigation" in International Journal of Men's Health, Vol 10:2, 2011.

"Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark" in International Journal of Epidemiology, May 2011. [Full text pdf]

Erectile Dysfunction: Outcome of men circumcised in Kenya (Bulletin of the World Health Organization)

Erectile Function Evaluation Post Circumcision (China)

Adult Circumcision Outcomes Study (Journal of Urology, 2002) [Full text]

Circumcision to Reduce Men's Sexual Pleasure

How Male Circumcision Impacts Your Love Life

Intact or Circumcised: A Significant Difference in the Adult Penis

The Sexual Effects of Circumcision

Identifying Keratinization (NOHARMM)

The Lost List: Identifying what is lost to circumcision

Erectile Function After Anterior Urethroplasty (Journal of Urology)

"Fine Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis" (British Journal of Urology International) [Full Text pdf]

Prevalence and Risk Factors for E.D. (PubMed)

Is Circumcision Why We Need Viagra? (Canada Free Press) 

Long-Term Adverse Effects of Circumcision (DOC)

Circumcision Sexual Dysfunction (CIRP)

Functions of the Foreskin: Purposes of the Prepuce

The Prepuce (British Journal of Urology International)

Perineal Nerve Stimulation: Role in penile erection (International Journal of Impotence Research)

Neuroanatomy of the male urethra and perineum (British Journal of Urology International)

Effects of Male Circumcision on Female Arousal

Male Circumcision: A Human Rights Primer

A Change in How Intercourse Works

Improve Marital Sex: Keep the Foreskins

Realization of Circumcision

Removing Pleasure: Male Genital Mutilation

Men Ask: Why Was I Circumcised? (National Organization of Restoring Men)

PostSecret: His Foreskin Turned Me On

Male Circumcision and Women's Sexual Health (Resources)

Partners of Restoring Men (Women's Facebook Group):

Resources on infant circumcision and intact care: Are You Fully Informed?


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