Brave Men Let Researchers Prod Their Junk to Answer the Great Question of Our Time

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Photo: Peter Dazeley

In the debate over circumcision, people have long wondered: Is a cut man any less sensitive than a hooded dude? Canadian researchers have published a new paper on the little-studied topic and, amazingly, they recruited 62 men willing to have their dicks prodded for a mere $60 honorarium.

For the paper, published in The Journal of Urology, researchers from Queen’s University gathered 62 men from Ontario between the ages of 18 and 37. Thirty of them were circumcised and 32 were intact. (Since the men were paid volunteers they likely aren’t a nationally representative sample.)

The researchers used various tools to test the men’s sensitivity to touch, pain, and warmth at three or four spots on their penises (the glans or head, the middle of the shaft, the side of the shaft, and the foreskin if present) and a spot on their forearms as a control site. They started on lower settings and slowly upped the intensity until participants said they felt something. Average thresholds were calculated for both groups and then compared.

The result? Circumcised men don’t have any less sensitivity, seemingly disproving the myth that uncovered heads become calloused. The foreskin of intact men was very sensitive to light touch but not so when it came to warmth or pain, which the researchers argued are more relevant to sex. All of the men reported similar levels of sexual satisfaction.

Of course, this study doesn’t replicate what a man might feel during sex, but it’s a preliminary finding on a topic that hasn’t been well-researched. The majority of studies on circumcision investigate things like rates STD transmission — they’re in the context of overall health, not sexual pleasure. Health groups in the United States support routine newborn circumcision, but in Canada they do not.

As lead author Jennifer Bossio said in a release: “This study … provides preliminary evidence to suggest that the foreskin is not the most sensitive part of the penis.” However, she still wants to study men’s perceptions of pleasure and sensation.

So, foreskin tuggers, please remember these 62 brave men as you go about your day.