SOUTH KOREA: Circumcision causes reduction in sexual satisfaction in 20% of men

A recent study to be published in an as yet undisclosed British journal sometime in February of 2007 reportedly shows that 20% of men experienced reduced sexual satisfaction while 6% reported greater satisfaction and 74% reported no difference.

One area the study apparently did not touch upon was the type or degree of circumcision the men underwent. All the men were Korean. Korea began circumcising pubescent boys in the 1950s in apparent imitation of the American armed forces living there during that time. However, the type of circumcision is dramatically different from the American version.

The United States typically circumcises infants and utilizes a severe form leaving little mucosal tissue and removing  most if not all of the frenulum. Korea on the other hand leaves most of the frenulum intact and takes much less mucosal tissue.

It is unknown whether the study would produce similar results in the United States or other countries where circumcision is less or more severe than Korea.

The implication for informed consent could be dramatic. If the final result impacts negatively on sexual satisfaction fewer men may choose to undergo the procedure for a vanishingly small incremental protective effect against HIV infection when condoms are also available.

Circumcision reduces sexual satisfaction: study

A research study by a team of South Korean professors has found that
circumcision could reduce the level of satisfaction in sex.

A survey of 373 men 30 years or older in South Korea was taken by Seoul
National University professor Kim Dae-sik and JoongAng University
professor Bang Myeong-geol. They found that men who underwent
circumcision felt less sensation during orgasm while engaged in
masturbation or sex than when they had been uncircumcised.

The research, which is scheduled to be posted to an academic journal in
Britain in February, was conducted with 255 men who underwent
circumcision after the age of 20 and 118 who did not.

According to the research, 20 percent answered that their level of
satisfaction in sex fell after circumcision, compared with 6 percent
who said the level rose. The remaining 74 percent said no change was
seen after circumcision. For circumcised men, their average time to
reach orgasm was 11 minutes. For those who have not undergone
circumcision, the average time was 13 minutes.

In addition, 9 percent said they felt pain, bleeding, and/or discomfort during erection.

“Statistically, there was no meaningful difference seen in terms of
sexual desire, erectile function, and the ejaculation of sperm before
and after circumcision,” Bang said. “However, we can make the
conclusion that circumcision poses a negative impact on [enjoyment of]
sex by damaging peripheral nerves.”

In the meantime, research does not agree regarding the impact of
circumcision on health and disease prevention. In 1999, the American
Cancer Society publicly sent a letter to the American Academy of
Pediatrics, saying that circumcision was not a way of preventing penile
cancer, or vaginal cancer in the female partner of a heterosexual pair.
In 2001, the Korean Urological Association also published a report that
said there is no need to promote universal circumcision, because it
poses little impact in preventing penile cancer and other diseases.
However, a report published last week by the U.S. National Institutes
of Health found that circumcision may reduce a man’s risk of
contracting HIV through heterosexual sex by half.

In addition, Korean men are often circumcised during the onset of
puberty, whereas in countries such as the U.S., Canada and those in
Europe, the procedure is almost always done during infancy; no
information is available on what effect this practice might have had on
the results of the survey.


Staff writers. Circumcision reduces sexual satisfaction: study
[subtitle] 20 percent of men report reduced sensation after procedure. The Hankyoreh [English Edition], December 29, 2006.

About David Wilton

fronterizo, public defender, intactivist, gay
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