Does circumcision increase the risks of Erectile Dysfunction in our sons later in life?

A look at 300 men in an erectile dysfunction study  from Dan Bollinger and Robert S. Van Howe published in the International Journal of Men’s Health, points to the possibility that circumcision significantly increases a male’s chance of having erectile dysfunction later in life.

I’m already fully aware and remorseful that my son’s circumcision led to multiple painful adhesions as his wound healed. Before anyone comes down on me too hard for my choice, I explain why I chose to circumcise my son in this previous post. Now, I have to consider the very real possibility that because of my choice, my son may one day suffer from erectile dysfunction.

I realize his future sex life is none of my business. I realize it may be odd that as a mother, I am worried about it.  But, I am his mother. I loved and worried about him as a baby. I love and worry about him now that he is a child. I will love and worry about him until the day that I die- perhaps even after.

Apparently, to punish myself, I went trolling through ED online forums. Many of these men were young adults. One 26 year old man with no clue what was wrong with him wrote that he often goes limp for no reason and that mostly it feels a little numb.

If I were looking at it from any other perspective but that of  a remorseful mother, I could probably care less about this young man’s issues. Yet, I am a remorseful mother, and when I read that, my heart sunk.

This study warrants a much larger study of course to come to any conclusions, but the explanation of the mechanism of the male sexual organ might some light on what those conclusions may eventually be:

 The most sensitive part of the body on a man, an extremely sensitive organelle called the frenulum (sometimes described as “the clitoris of the penis”), is typically and unwittingly either partially or fully amputated during the circumcision process (even though it in itself is not a target — think of it as “collatoral damage”). There is also the drying/toughening process the glans skin must subsequently undergo to protect itself in the absense of its natural protection. This is called keritanization. All men who have endured modern medicine’s (radical) circumcision, or the procedure it was modeled after, the Jewish bris periah, a radical departure from the original circumcision, experience keritanization. To quickly review from Fleiss’s article, the glans skin has no sebaceous (oil) glands of its own, relying on the foreskin, as well as the foreskin’s mucosal tissue for moisture, and relies on the outer side of this 2-sided skin for protection. Most circumcised men are unaware that the normal skin of the glans should resemble inner vaginal skin, and for good reason. The remaining shaft skin is tightened, especially during erection. Hair and scrotal migration usually results. The severity depends on the tightness of the “circ”. The sulcus (the mucosal valley between glans and shaft) and the glans which remain get completely and permanently dried out, worn down, and keritanized. The effects increase over time, usually leading to impotence by the senior years.

My doctor’s most imperative worries of infection (which were unfounded if the intact infant foreskin is not forcibly retracted as modern medicine previously advised it be which would also be easily treatable with an antibiotic or even natural remedies) can not even begin to compare to the lifelong worries I will carry nor do they seem significant when weighed against a future of possible impaired sexual interaction.


***Disclaimer: Opinions in this post are that of the post’s author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the owner of Everything Birth and in no way act as an official statement on the matter by the company.

Further opinions on the study.

Circumcision and HIV discussion.

Circumcision and UTIs.



  1. Frank

    “I realize his future sex life is none of my business. I realize it may be odd that as a mother, I am worried about it. But, I am his mother. I loved and worried about him as a baby. I love and worry about him now that he is a child. I will love and worry about him until the day that I die- perhaps even after.”

    I don’t find it that odd. What I find more odd and more perverse, is how many mothers I hear who circumcised their sons because they “preferred the look of a circumcised penis or found it more appealing sexually.” That is the truly sick part. It’s a massive double standard. Could you imagine a man basing his sexual preferences on his daughter? I hope my daughter grows up to have large breasts like my wife? We’ll buy her implants for her 16th if she’s flat chested. Thank you for your bravery.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      It’s nice when men come out of the woodwork to comment. There’s no reason for Everything Birth to have so few men involved. BIRTHING itself is done by the female, but it’s nice when men take an active interest in children and their infancy.

  2. K

    Hi Dawn, I read with interest all your articles and I feel compelled to comment on this one. I have two sons ( 6.9 YO and 4 MO ) and being a Hindu we have not put our sons to any of these troubles since it’s not practiced in this part of the world. I hope that you understand that what’s happened is already beyond our control and to worry about possible implications is just not going to be helpful in any way. Everything will be taken care of by god. Thanks

  3. The circumcised man’s frenulum is just a remnant of a highly innervated ridged band that ran around the inside of his foreskin near the tip. If the frenulum is a circumcised man’s “G-spot” the ridged band is an intact man’s “G-area” conferring not just “more sensitivity” but a “symphony of sensation”, changing not just his ability to reach orgasm, but the pleasure he enjoys – and confers – on the way.

    A new study out of Denmark, done with scientific rigor by Frisch et al., confirms Bollinger et al.’s findings. It has been attacked by circumcision advocates and Frisch has vigorously defended it. (See http:/

    Don’t berate yourself ahead of time. Most circumcised men seem to have adequate sex lives. Bring your son up to be a considerate man and he will be a considerate lover, which is of more value long-term than any particular configuration of his equipment.

  4. Amy

    Don’t beat yourself up too much over your decision to circumcise your boy, especially not over anything Bollinger publishes (his “scientific” methods and conclusions in past studies have been suspect, to be generous, although I didn’t delve too much into the study you cited).
    Compared to this Bollinger study of 300 men, there was a recent Australian study of over 10,000 men showing the opposite — that circumcised men were less likely to report erectile dysfunction. You can read the whole study here:
    There’s naught that you can do about your son’s circumcision status now, but it’s good to know that, the chances are, you did him no harm, and actually some good.

    • Dawn Babcock Papple

      I do appreciate your kindness. The study you provided didn’t mention how it was funded. The study seemed to focus more on varied demographics more than circumcision. As you know, once you start adding variables the study is less clear. Also, the journal that it was published in uses these guys: to get their ads/funding for the journal. Look at the clients they work with. :/ Bollinger from my perspective uses very direct science. I’m curious as to what you’re referring to, because I’m very open to all facts. Thanks again for your kindness.

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