Circumcised Men Feeling Just Fine
If you've attended or even been to a university for that matter, no doubt you've come across one of the many psychology flyers taped to doors, tacked to bulletin boards, or strewn outside your student union building asking for you to volunteer for an often ambiguous research study in return for a small monetary gain.
However, your student loans have run out, your parent's checking account has long since dried up, and the credit card companies have been scouting your dorm. But, you still need that new record, tattoo, or giant bottle of gin to drown out the misery of mid term week.
Then, one day you come across a flyer along the lines of, "Test your sexual sensation" and think "JACKPOT!" Don't be fooled friends, for what seems to good to be true often is.
According to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, sexual sensation in circumcised and uncircumcised men may not be so different after all. The research, performed in the Department of Psychology of McGill University in Montreal, consisted of genital sensory testing conducted on circumcised and uncircumcised men during states of sexual arousal and non-arousal. Results showed that no difference between the two groups was found in sensitivity to touch or pain.
I decided to read the paper for myself, and found the methods rather...amusing. Here's a few excerpts of the experimental methods from the study (Payne et al., J. Sex. Med. 2007, 4:667–674)
Touch and pain thresholds were tested on the penile shaft, the glans penis, and the volar surface of the forearm. Touch thresholds were determined using graded disposable filaments that varied in length and diameter, and were calibrated using a digital balance . The filaments were clamped at the appropriate length with hemostatic forceps and applied incrementally to the three locations at 5-second interstimulus intervals until the participant reported detecting a sensation. These same filaments were applied at 10-second interstimulus intervals in order to determine pain thresholds. Additional filaments (Touch-Test Sensory Evaluator, North Coast Medical Inc., Morgan Hill, CA, USA) exerting higher pressures were used solely on the forearm, should the disposable ones not exert enough pressure to elicit pain.
Participants viewed two 10-minute film segments: a control film consisting of a Canadian Film Board travelogue with no sexual content, and a sexually arousing film depicting consenting adults engaged in mutual oral and coital sexual activity. The order of film presentation was randomized and counterbalanced between both groups...
...Suitable participants were scheduled for two separate testing sessions. Session 1 was approximately 1 hour in duration... Once the participant was ready, the researcher returned to the room in order to assess baseline touch and pain thresholds. After this was completed, the thermal imaging camera was focused on the genital area. Participants then listened to soothing jazz music for a period of 10 minutes in order to allow for skin temperature to stabilize.
Following this, video presentation commenced. Participants were shown either the sexually arousing or the control film, during which penile temperature was continuously monitored. After 10 minutes elapsed, temperature monitoring was stopped, and the researcher re-entered the room and assessed tactile and pain thresholds while the participants continued to view the stimulus film. Participants were required to say “touch” or “pain” aloud when that threshold had been reached. Once the thresholds had been established, stimulus presentation was terminated, and participants were asked to complete a questionnaire pertaining to subjective sexual arousal. Session 2 proceeded exactly as session 1, only without the semistructured interview, administration of the IIEF, and baseline sensory testing. During this session, subjects were presented the video clip they had not yet seen. After the session was completed, participants were debriefed.