New research has contradicted a recent study which suggested that circumcised men feel less penile sensation than uncircumcised men.

The study, headed by Kimberley Payne (Phd), titled Sensation and Sexual Arousal in Circumcised and Uncircumcised Men, has been published by The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The authors conclude that there are no sensory differences associated with circumcision. This goes against the findings of another study published in the British Journal of Urology International in recent weeks which claimed that uncircumcised men may enjoy four times more penile sensitivity than circumcised men.

The new study compared genital sensation during sexual arousal in circumcised and uncircumcised men. It involved twenty uncircumcised men and an equal number of age-matched circumcised participants who underwent genital sensory testing in response to the watching of erotic films.

Touch and pain thresholds were assessed on the penis via thermal imaging. In response to the erotic stimulus, both groups showed a significant increase in penile temperature, which correlated highly with subjective reports of sexual arousal. “No differences in genital sensitivity were found between the uncircumcised and circumcised groups,” says the report.

The issue of circumcision has become a significant health issue in recent months as a result of growing evidence that circumcised men have a greater resistance to HIV infection.

Male circumcision became officially endorsed as an HIV preventive measure for heterosexual men by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNAIDS at the end of March. This followed “compelling evidence” from three trials – in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda – which found that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually acquired HIV infection in men by between 51% and 60%.

Last week the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) called for government to offer free circumcision in order to help reduce the HIV infection rate in South Africa.

“Medical circumcision should be offered free of charge at selected widely advertised health facilities across the country and must be coupled with the highest standard of HIV counselling and testing. The state must also make sure that traditional and religious circumcisions are carried out safely and in accordance with national and provincial laws governing circumcision,” said the organisation in its newsletter.

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