Friday, April 29, 2016

ONTARIO: Foreskin more sensitive to touch - study: headlines wrong

Cutting destroys foreskin sensitivity

by Hugh Young
The foreskin is more sensitive to touch than other sites on the penis, a study at Queens University, Ontario, has found.

It further implicitly found that the foreskin is infinitely more sensitive than its absence.
But that is not what the headlines would have you believe. Quite the reverse.

Psychology student Jennifer Bossio, her tutor Caroline Pukall and urologist Stephen S. Steele studied the sensitivity of the penises of 62 men, 32 intact and 30 cut. The men, aged 18 to 37, were excluded if they had sexual dysfunction. (Thus it was impossible to establish whether cutting has any effect on sexual dysfunction.)

The men were asked about their sexual functioning in five areas: erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, orgasmic function, sexual desire, and overall satisfaction. Genital cutting is likely to impact on ability to withhold orgasm until ready, pleasurable sensations during intercourse and before orgasm, and the quality of those sensations . The cut men of course could only rate their own satisfaction, not compare it with anyone else's.

The researchers measured touch sensitivity, touch pain threshhold, warmth detection and heat pain threshhold on four sites, two on the shaft, one on the glans and one on the outside of the foreskin, if any. (They also made the same measurements at a point on the forearm as a control.)

It is not clear why heat pain was studied. Few couples use painful heat as part of their lovemaking. (The notion that pain is an integral part of sex may be an artifact of male genital cutting.)

They established that the outside of the foreskin is no less sensitive to  the pain of pricking, to warmth, or to heat pain than the other sites of the penis (or to the site on the forearm). Thus its removal can only negatively impact on sexual sensation, just as the removal of the rest would. But they express this finding as a lack of  greater sensitivity, thereby stacking the deck.

They confirmed the finding of Sorrells et al. that "the foreskin was the most sensitive to tactile sensation stimuli." They comment that "given the high prevalence of fine-touch pressure receptors (Meissner corpuscles) in the preputial mucosa, this finding was not unexpected" and thereafter ignore it.

None of the many reports of this study picked up on this strange omission. Instead, under headings like:

- they promoted a finding quite the reverse of what the study actually established.

These misleading headlines and more have been collected by Circwatch.

The study has been thoroughly rebutted in the Huffington Post by Brian D. Earp

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