“Pediatrics”, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has published the following letter written by Dr. Christopher Guest, Co-Founder of the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership:
Smoke and Mirrors
In response to concerns raised by Frisch et al, the task force seems reluctant to concede any meaningful sensory function to the human prepuce whatsoever. It is astonishing that members of the task force are able to appreciate that the prepuce is richly innervated and contains Meissner’s corpuscles, but they are “unable to speculate about the effect that circumcision might have on sexual function or pleasure.” Surely the task force recognizes the obstinate relationship that exists between structure and function. Structure predicts function. Function is constrained by structure.
Histologic studies indicate that the prepuce is richly innervated and contains specialized corpuscular neuroreceptors. During erection, the prepuce retracts and everts to expose the erogenous internal mucosa to external stimulation. Does this not seem like a structure whose function is, at least in some way, related to sexual pleasure? Is it reasonable to speculate that the prepuce is more likely related to sexual pleasure than say, the Achilles tendon?
If members of the task force are unwilling to consider the effect that circumcision might have on sexual pleasure, parents should ask themselves the following question: “Do I think removing richly innervated tissue from my child’s genitals is more likely to INCREASE sexual pleasure or do I think removing richly innervated tissue from my child’s genitals is more likely to DECREASE sexual pleasure?” It seems rather disingenuous for members of the task force not to speculate about the sensory function of the prepuce but at the same time sanction its amputation. The response to concerns raised by Frisch et al is deliberately evasive – smoke and mirrors!
Christopher L. Guest,
Children’s Health and Human Rights Partnership