Circumcision Debate Cuts Deep
The latest research—on the procedure's effect on pleasure—won't answer any looming medical questions, but it has rekindled other areas of debate. In last week's study, researchers at McGill University tested 20 circumcised and 20 uncircumcised male volunteers. While the men watched either pornography or a control video, Kimberly Payne and her colleagues used a thermal imaging camera and graded filaments to monitor the penis's temperature and sensitivity to touch and pain. Using the filament to test one point on the shaft of the penis and one point on the glans, they found that there was no difference between the two groups in terms of sensitivity to touch or pain. "The present data do cast doubt on the notion that the glans penis is more sensitive in the uncircumcised man," the researchers conclude.
It's unlikely, however, that the study will be the last word on the topic. Milos of NOCIRC argues it isn't even relevant to the discussion: "They didn't test the foreskin; they tested the glans," she contends. In the study published in April, which her group supported, researchers concluded that circumcision destroys the most sensitive part of the penis, which they say lies on the foreskin.
Payne, meanwhile, says she's already receiving hate mail about her new study. Ironically, she strongly opposes circumcision, calling the practice "barbaric."