Sunday, August 12, 2012

Exposing Circumcision and Sexuality

Arguments and counter-arguments have been brought forward for ages about the merits and demerits of this age-old practice.

When Michael Magezi, 24, went for a circumcision, it was against a backdrop of talk that circumcised men enjoy more sexual pleasure than their uncircumcised colleagues. Being friends with many Muslim friends, who circumcise as part of their religious obligations, Magezi was taunted by his friends and decided to ‘brave the knife’.

“I was told that the sheath that covers the penis makes it very sensitive and therefore minutes into love-making, an ejaculation occurs,” Magezi says, adding that the strangest story he heard was that uncircumcised males are more likely to experience wet dreams even in their adult years.

Uncircumcised men, he was told by his circumcised friends, have weak and short-lived erections. Circumcised men are said to enjoy a stronger sexual drive, longer erectile function and higher sexual satisfaction.

Richard Kaganzi, 25, a student of IUIU Kampala Campus admits that though health reasons were a priority as he went for circumcision, he also had his mind on the sexual advantages that he knew come with circumcision.

“Before circumcision, I would experience itches and pain on the glans (rounded head of the penis) during and after sex. Probably because it is ‘hidden’ under the sheath and only comes out during sex, the tip could redden but after [circumcision], I no longer experience the pain,” he says.

He adds that removal of the sheath creates a more “intimate and close physical contact with the female genitalia during an intercourse, making sex more enjoyable.” Dr Ian Clarke, the proprietor of International Hospital Kampala, which is running a circumcision drive, says circumcision and sex drive are not necessarily related.

 “Sex drive is all about hormones and other mechanisms in the body; circumcision is just a small piece of skin removed from the penis and cannot affect sex drive,” Dr Clarke says. He adds that from a medical perspective, it is unproven that circumcision affects erectile function.

Noting that he was not aware of circumcision increasing sex drive, Dr James Sekajugo, a Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, however says such talk should be considered as “communities that practice circumcision are experiencing a notable increase in population”. He added that circumcision becomes more effective especially in relation to communicable diseases like Aids when carried out during childhood.

Dr Vincent Karuhanga of Friends Poly Clinic notes that circumcision affects the “five levels of a sexual cycle” of desire, erection, peak, ejaculation and resolution.
“Reaching the peak depends on how sensitive one’s glans is and how much excitement it is causing. Circumcision reduces such sensitivity,” Dr Karuhanga says.

Dr Karuhanga adds that circumcised men take longer to reach the resolution stage, after ejaculation, where no erections are expected to occur. However, Dr Karuhanga warns that talk on circumcision is scientific conjecture as no conclusive research has established the relationship between circumcision and sex. Removing much of the sensitive nerves in the circumcision process can lead to loss of libido and sex drive, Dr Karuhanga warns.

Temucin Senkul, a urologist and researcher, writing in the 2004 edition of the US-based medical journal Adult Urology, a publication of the American Urological Association, argues that circumcised men take longer to reach ejaculation, a scenario blamed on circumcision reducing penis sensitivity as sensitive penis tissues are destroyed during circumcision.

However, medical experts warn that circumcision should not be interpreted as a cure for premature ejaculation. Dr Karuhanga notes that pre-mature ejaculation depends more on hormones and is more prominent in men under 40.

Dr Karuhanga says: “You cannot feel anything when you masturbate a circumcised manhood.”
He also suggests that circumcision may affect erectile function as the sensitive glans that leads to erections is removed during circumcision. Marvel Williamson, writing in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, notes that women prefer circumcised men for sexual activities like felatio, manual stimulation and visual appeal.

Williamson also established that a circumcised penis is more sexually appealing because “it tastes, smells and looks more appealing.” Proponents of circumcision also beat the hygiene drum as lacking in uncircumcised men. The coronal ring of a circumcised penis is constantly exposed to air, which prevents accumulation of bad odours and secretions.

Vindicating earlier research studies, Dr Sekajugo agrees that circumcision reduces transmission of STD’s especially HIV/Aids by 60 per cent.Balanitis, an inflammation of the glans, can also be prevented by circumcision

Dr Jonathan Wright, a researcher from the Hutchinson Center of Public Health, established that men who had been circumcised before their first sexual encounter had a 15 per cent reduced chance of developing prostate cancer compared to those who are uncircumcised.

It has also been argued that circumcision thickens the inner foreskin, which is otherwise prone to minor injuries.

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