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June 16, 2007

Circumcision Leads to Better Sex!

Over here, Ron Bailey points out that (male) circumcision does indeed reduce the possibility of catching AIDS (and other STDs as well) but this comes at a cost. The glans of those men circumcised is less sensitive.

Actually, the words they use sound even more painful:

It  appears that circumcision ablates the most sensitive parts of the penis.

Ablates? Ablation?

Ablation is defined as the removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes.

Eeek! Moels working with sandpaper?

The supposition is then that decreased sensitivity in the male leads to decreased sexual pleasure.

Hmm. Perhaps not. David Friedman points out the possible fallacy here:

The limiting factor to duration of sexual intercourse, under most circumstances, is male endurance; one can plausibly model the process as a rising intensity of pleasure up to the point of orgasm, with total utility equal to the area under the curve. If so, greater sensitivity simply means that you reach the same maximum sooner, reducing the area under the pleasure curve.

Clearly, if that were not the case (to a certain limit of course) then no one would ever complain of excessive sensitivity, or, to give it the more normal name, premature ejaculation. Similarly, excessive insensitivity is also possible (I'm told that certain drugs like ecstasy can have this effect, leading to marathons without the sprint finish) but chop or no chop seems unlikely to lead to either extreme.

As the Professor goes on to point out, all of this is incomplete as analysis, for we also should consider (for a change perhaps?) the externalities of the decrease in sensitivity in the other participant in the activity. Reading around the subject leads me to the conclusion that the rise in utility here will swamp any other effects when aggregated.

June 16, 2007 in Sex | Permalink

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I am busy reading Survival of the Prettiest : The Science of Beauty (http://www.sciencesbookreview.com/Survival_of_the_Prettiest__The_Science_of_Beauty_0385479425.html)
and she makes an extraordinary claim I had never come across before; circumcision is a meme or cultural practice to discourage masturbation, thereby encouraging more babies.

Now obviously I have only limited knowledge on the subject from a personal point of view but then it struck me that the world politics might tell us something.

I was doing a Google Search: for " damn hard pounding" - the Wellington phrase I believe he used about some battle. The page I accidentally opened indicated that most Americans have been cut. Now I bow to no one in my admiration of the Americans but even they would admit they are a bellicose country (in the best of causes). Our Semitic friends on both sides of the Middle East conflict have the old todger topped. And the wonderful fighting Sikhs have a slice missing.

The Hindus, the Buddhists, the French and all the peace lovers don't - see this table Religious & Belief Populations of the World (1994) http://www.noharmm.org/religiouspop.htm

So it looks like the old roundheads can get no satisfaction from spanking the monkey and in their frustration go off killing each other.

World Peace is in our grasp - it is simple. Leave the kids alone!

http://www.anenglishmanscastle.com/archives/000434.html

Posted by: The Englishman | Jun 16, 2007 4:04:10 PM

The job of "mohel" is highly repsected and fairly well remunerated. Plus, you get to keep all the tips.

Posted by: gene berman | Jun 16, 2007 5:01:22 PM

This isn't one of your PayPerPost wheezes I trust, Tim.

Come clean. I mean are you touting here on behalf of some commercial circumcision service or even a circumcision reversal service?

Any customer testimonials to show or star ratings like they have on Amazon? Come to think of it, why isn't Amazon listing cosmetic surgery yet?

Tim adds: No, this really is me reading Reason, reading David F's post and going "Hey, that's a good use of the Economist's Toolbox" (yes, I know, snigger, snigger) and then posting on it.

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 16, 2007 6:30:46 PM

Btw I trust this is not ominous but I was sure worried to see this news item on the BBC website, originally posted there mid afternoon last Thursday, is now as rated top of the league for emailed news items on Saturday evening:

"A woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands has been sent to prison. Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4253849.stm

I'm not exactly given to conspiracy theories but a connection with this news item of 24 May looks beyond a coincidence to me:

"A hammerhead shark born in a Nebraska zoo in 2001 was the result of a so-called virgin birth, new DNA evidence shows. The finding marks the first confirmed case of a female shark fertilizing her own eggs and giving birth without sperm from a male, a process known as parthenogenesis. . . "
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/05/070524-shark-virgin.html

Is there something they know that we don't?

Posted by: Bob B | Jun 16, 2007 8:48:29 PM

In carefully controlled research in Korea, most of the men cut as adults who said anything changed responded that sex got worse after being cut.

In my case, the area under the pleasure curve has increased immensely since I restored my foreskin. It used to be a race to the big finish, but now every second of intimacy is so splendid I'm in no hurry to get it over with.

The main way I've adjusted to having more pleasure during intimacy is that I focus more on what I'm doing with my hands for my partner.

I think the main point is that it's HIS body and HE owns the decision.

Posted by: Ron Low | Jun 18, 2007 6:13:19 AM

So glad you got the spelling of fallacy right...

Posted by: James Graham | Jun 18, 2007 10:21:20 AM

Carefully controlled research in Korea???? Here is a rebuttal published in the BJU:

THE EFFECT OF MALE CIRCUMCISION
ON SEXUALITY

Sir,
The results from the survey by Kim and Pang [1] is misleading in so many respects I wonder to what threshold the editors are exceeding to publish anything that elevates the foreskin to almost magical status. First, the use of ‘sexuality’ in the title is incorrect, as circumcision has not yet been invoked as a cause of sexual orientation or sexual expression. More correctly, the title should have said ‘male sexual response’. The design flaws are: no details on the recruitment of participants; a very limited and unrepresentative fraction of the whole group for evaluation, in that only 138 of 373 men were recruited for the survey; using masturbatory indices only and not researching responses about sexual intercourse so narrowing the focus to an area of sexual expression that might well be considered secondary to a male’s typical sexual expression, i.e. vaginal intercourse, that no sensible conclusions on circumcision and its sensory effects on intercourse can be inferred.

In that regard we do not know the sexual inclination nor sexual expression of the participants, which could severely bias the results if masturbation were the participants’ main or sole means of sexual relief, vs vaginal or anal intercourse, or any other means for that matter. The respondents should have shown severe loss of penile sensation during intercourse if the adverse sensory and mechanical effects that were described in masturbation were equally distributed among those who masturbate and have intercourse. As the latter group was not questioned, the results are distorted and do not reflect a typical male population. Furthermore, we do not know what sort of techniques for circumcision were used, and it might be that removal of the frenulum, all of the mucosal layer, a ‘tight’ vs a ‘loose’ result, as examples, might lad to significant differences in sensations among the circumcised men. None of this was addressed. The definition of severe scarring was not given, although all the men would have a scar, and it is certain that some would have more visible scarring than others, but that does not make it ‘severe’ or disfiguring. The authors state that all Korean men are circumcised, although the numbers in the study add to >100%. From what pool did the uncircumcised participants come; presumably not from Korea. There are too many questions raised by this poorly designed and biased study. Increasingly it seems that many journal reviewers are showing biases that subvert the facts about the healthy and improved sexual effects of circumcision, favouring ‘there is no foreskin that I have ever met that I have not liked’ survey, to those that show that circumcision improves the quality of life for those fortunate enough to have had their penises improved by routine circumcision.

Robin Willcourt,
North Adelaide,
South Australia, Australia
1
Kim D, Pang M.
The effect of male
circumcision on sexuality.
BJU Int
2006;
99
: 619–22

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