Sexual Dysfunction

Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark.

Frisch M, Lindholm M, Grønbæk M.

Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark and National Institute of Public Health, DK-1353 Copenhagen K, Denmark.


One-third of the world’s men are circumcised, but little is known about possible sexual consequences of male circumcision. In Denmark (∼5% circumcised), we examined associations of male circumcision with a range of sexual measures in both sexes.


Participants in a national health survey (n = 5552) provided information about their own (men) or their spouse’s (women) circumcision status and details about their sex lives. Logistic regression-derived odds ratios (ORs) measured associations of circumcision status with sexual experiences and current difficulties with sexual desire, sexual needs fulfilment and sexual functioning.


Age at first intercourse, perceived importance of a good sex life and current sexual activity differed little between circumcised and uncircumcised men or between women with circumcised and uncircumcised spouses. However, circumcised men reported more partners and were more likely to report frequent orgasm difficulties after adjustment for potential confounding factors [11 vs 4%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.42-7.47], and women with circumcised spouses more often reported incomplete sexual needs fulfilment (38 vs 28%, OR(adj) = 2.09; 95% CI 1.05-4.16) and frequent sexual function difficulties overall (31 vs 22%, OR(adj) = 3.26; 95% CI 1.15-9.27), notably orgasm difficulties (19 vs 14%, OR(adj) = 2.66; 95% CI 1.07-6.66) and dyspareunia (12 vs 3%, OR(adj) = 8.45; 95% CI 3.01-23.74). Findings were stable in several robustness analyses, including one restricted to non-Jews and non-Moslems.


Circumcision was associated with frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men and with a range of frequent sexual difficulties in women, notably orgasm difficulties, dyspareunia and a sense of incomplete sexual needs fulfilment. Thorough examination of these matters in areas where male circumcision is more common is warranted.

[PubMed – as supplied by publisher] 2011 Jun 14.

Poll of Circumcised Men Reveals Harm

A poll of circumcised men published in the British Journal of Urology describes adverse outcomes on men’s health and well-being. Findings showed wide-ranging physical, sexual, and psychological consequences. Some respondents reported prominent scarring and excessive skin loss. Sexual consequences included progressive loss of sensitivity and sexual dysfunction. Emotional distress followed the realization that they were missing a functioning part of their penis. Low-self esteem, resentment, avoidance of intimacy, and depression were also noted.

Hammond, T., “A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood,” BJU 83 (1999): suppl. 1: 85–92


Surveys Reveal Adverse Sexual and Psychological Effects of Circumcision

A survey of the 35 female and 42 gay sexual partners of circumcised and genitally intact men, and a separate survey of 53 circumcised and genitally intact men, and a separate survey of 30 genitally intact men themselves indicated that circumcised men experienced significantly reduced sexual sensation along with associated long-lasting negative emotional consequences.

Boyle, G. and Bensley, G., “Adverse Sexual and Psychological Effects of Male Infant Circumcision,”. Psychological Reports 88 (2001): 1105-1106.

Foreskin Reduces the Force Required for Penetration and Increases Comfort

Masters and Johnson observed that the foreskin unrolled with intercourse. However, they overlooked a prior observation that intromission (i.e., penetration) was thereby made easier. To evaluate this observation an artificial introitus was mounted on scales. Repeated measurements showed a 10-fold reduction of force on entry with an initially unretracted foreskin as compared to entry with a retracted foreskin. For the foreskin to reduce the force required it must cover most of the glans when the penis is erect.

Taves, D., “The Intromission Function of the Foreskin,” Med Hypotheses 59 (2002): 180.

Survey of Men Circumcised as Adults Shows Mixed Results

Men circumcised as adults were surveyed to assess erectile function, penile sensitivity, sexual activity and overall satisfaction. Over 80% of these men were circumcised to treat a medical problem. The response rate was 44% among potential responders. Mean age of responders was 42 years at circumcision and 46 years at survey. Adult circumcision appears to result in worsened erectile function, decreased penile sensitivity, no change in sexual activity, and improved satisfaction. Of the men 50% reported benefits and 38% reported harm. Overall, 62% of men were satisfied with having been circumcised. Note: Results may be affected by the fact that there was no sample of normal, healthy, genitally intact men for comparison.

Fink, K., Carson, C., DeVellis, R., “Adult Circumcision Outcomes Study: Effect on Erectile Function, Penile Sensitivity, Sexual Activity and Satisfaction,” J Urol 167 (2002): 2113-2116.


Survey Finds Circumcision Contributes to Vaginal Dryness

The impact of male circumcision on vaginal dryness during coitus was investigated. We conducted a survey of 35 female sexual partners aged 18 to 69 years who had experienced sexual intercourse with both circumcised and genitally intact men. Women reported they were significantly more likely to have experienced vaginal dryness during intercourse with circumcised than with genitally intact men.

Bensley, G. and Boyle, G., “Effects of Male Circumcision on Female Arousal and Orgasm,” N Z Med J 116 (2003): 595-596.