Anatomy of the Penis: Penile and Foreskin Neurology

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Ken McGrath, Senior Lecturer in Pathology at the Faculty of Health, Auckland University of Technology and Member of the New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Scientists discusses his research into the neural anatomy of the human penis and the physical damages caused by circumcision.

McGrath is author of The Frenular Delta: A New Preputial Structure published in Understanding Circumcision: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to a Multi-Dimensional Problem, Proceedings of the Sixth International Symposium on Genital Integrity: Safeguarding Fundamental Human Rights in the 21st Century, held December 7-9, 2000, in Sydney Australia.


Textbooks and papers referring to penile function state that the source of penile sensation is solely the glans and often justify the existence of the prepuce by stating it protects the 'sensitive' glans. These statements are contrary to the neuro-anatomical and physiological facts accumulated over more than a century. This study reviews the findings of Taylor, et al. (1996), that the prepuce is the primary sensory platform of the penis, and describes a new preputial structure.

This interview was taped in Berkeley, California 2010.

...and from the Global Survey of Circumcision Harm:

Removal of the male foreskin and the female clitoral hood (female foreskin) are anatomically equivalent.

However, neurologically speaking, removal of the male foreskin is as destructive to male sexual sensory experience as removal of the clitoral glans is for females. This video discussion of penile skin and foreskin neurology explains why.

Contrary to popular Western myth, many circumcised women do report the ability to feel sexual pleasure and to have orgasm, albeit in a compensatory manner that differs from intact women (suggested reading: Prisoners of Ritual by Hanny Lightfoot-Klein). Similar compensatory behaviours for achieving orgasm are at work among circumcised men, who must rely on the remaining 50% or less of their penile nerve endings.

Just as clitoridectomized girls grow up not knowing the levels of pleasure they could have experienced had they been left intact, so too are men circumcised in infancy unaware of the pleasure they could have experienced had they not had 50% of their penile skin removed. The above video also explains what's really behind the erroneous comment made by some circumcised men that they 'couldn't stand being any more sensitive'.

See also