The Contrasting Evidence Concerning the Effect of Male Circumcision on Sexual Function, Sensation, and Pleasure: A Systematic Review

Sex Med. 2020 Dec;8(4):577-598. doi: 10.1016/j.esxm.2020.08.011. Epub 2020 Sep 30.

Abstract

Introduction: Active debate concerns whether male circumcision (MC) affects sexual function, penile sensation, or sexual pleasure.

Aim: To perform a systematic review examining the effect of MC on these parameters.

Methods: PRISMA-compliant searches of PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar were performed, with "circumcision" used together with appropriate search terms. Articles meeting the inclusion criteria were rated for quality by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network system.

Main outcome measure: Evidence rated by quality.

Results: Searches identified 46 publications containing original data, as well as 4 systematic reviews (2 with meta-analyses), plus 29 critiques of various studies and 15 author replies, which together comprised a total of 94 publications. There was overall consistency in conclusions arising from high- and moderate-quality survey data in randomized clinical trials, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, physiological studies, large longitudinal studies, and cohort studies in diverse populations. Those studies found MC has no or minimal adverse effect on sexual function, sensation, or pleasure, with some finding improvements. A consensus from physiological and histological studies was that the glans and underside of the shaft, not the foreskin, are involved in neurological pathways mediating erogenous sensation. In contrast to the higher quality evidence, data supporting adverse effects of MC on function, sensation, or pleasure were found to be of low quality, as explained in critiques of those studies.

Conclusion: The consensus of the highest quality literature is that MC has minimal or no adverse effect, and in some studies, it has benefits on sexual functions, sensation, satisfaction, and pleasure for males circumcised neonatally or in adulthood. Morris BJ, Krieger JN. The Contrasting Evidence Concerning the Effect of Male Circumcision on Sexual Function, Sensation, and Pleasure: A Systematic Review. Sex Med 2020;8:577-598.

Keywords: Male Circumcision; Sexual Function; Sexual Pleasure; Sexual Sensation.

Publication types

  • Review