|Comparison of the glans in an intact penis (above) and a circumcised penis (below)|
Source and photo: http://intactipedia.org/index.php?title=Keratinization
From Parenting in America: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1:When the foreskin is removed, the surface of the glans becomes thickened (keratinized). This adaptation of the glans to environmental exposure provides some protection akin to that of a condom. Debate continues whether keratinization of the glans works to protect the penis against infection more effectively than does the intact foreskin. Even less clear is the effect of the absence of foreskin on sensation. Some reports by men circumcised later in life indicate a significant decrease in perceived sensation to touch over the glans after the procedure, compared with the level of sensation to touch perceived before the procedure.
Effects of KeratinizationDelayed Clinical Presentation — Although the adaptation of glans surface tissue to exposure to the external environment necessarily begins soon after the trauma of circumcision, the process of keratinization progresses for decades and is rarely, if ever, seen as a source of presenting complaints by the OB-GYN or pediatrician who performs the circumcision surgery.
Loss of Glans Sensitivity — However, there are clinical problems due to keratinization that present long after childhood. This is because in protecting the unnaturally exposed glans, keratinization decreases its sensitivity. Research has documented that many different areas of the intact penis are more sensitive than the most sensitive area of the circumcised penis – which is the circumcision scar itself (see Sorrells, M, et al, ‘Fine touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis.’ The full text of this scientific publication is available: http://www.nocirc.org/touch-test/touchtest.php ). Thus, there is no question that the glans of the circumcised penis is a less sensitive structure than that of the intact penis.
Sex Partner Complaints — Not only has decreased glans sensitivity been associated with complaints of decreased sexual pleasure in men, their partners also suffer consequences of circumcisions. Anecdotal evidence includes complaints of pounding sex, dry unpleasant sex, and vaginal abrasion or lesions that are commonly heard from older women sex partners of circumcised men. The etiology of these complaints involves loss of penis sheath mobility and loss of glans sensitivity in the circumcised penis.
Erectile Dysfunction — Decreased glans sensitivity has also been associated with erectile dysfunction (ED). Men have complained that sexual stimulation during intercourse has been insufficient for them to maintain an erection firm enough for coitus, and have sought relief through the use of prescription medications for treatment of ED.
Different solutions have been suggested, including salicylic acid, circumserum and foreskin restoration.
Early references to keratinization:
"It has been urged as an argument against the universal adoption of circumcision that the removal of the protective covering of the glans tends to dull the sensitivity of that exquisitely sensitive structure and thereby diminishes sexual appetite and the pleasurable effects of coitus. Granted that this be true, my answer is that, whatever may have been the case in days gone by, sensuality in our time needs neither whip nor spur, but would be all the better for a little more judicious use of curb and bearing-rein." E. Harding Freeland, Circumcision as a Preventative of Syphilis and Other Disorders, The Lancet, vol. 2 (29 Dec. 1900): pp.1869-1871.
"I suggest that all male children should be circumcised. This is "against nature", but that is exactly the reason why it should be done. Nature intends that the adolescent male shall copulate as often and as promiscuously as possible, and to that end covers the sensitive glans so that it shall be ever ready to receive stimuli. Civilization, on the contrary, requires chastity, and the glans of the circumcised rapidly assumes a leathery texture less sensitive than skin. Thus the adolescent has his attention drawn to his penis much less often. I am convinced that masturbation is much less common in the circumcised. With these considerations in view it does not seem apt to argue that 'God knows best how to make little boys.'" R.W. Cockshut. Circumcision. British Medical Journal, Vol.2 (1935): p.764.
Quotes listed in http://www.circumcisionquotes.com/