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12-02-2013 | Psychology | Article

Circumcision at 3 to 6 years does not impair psychosexual function in adulthood


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medwireNews: Circumcision performed between ages 3 to 6 years does not adversely affect men's psychosexual function during adulthood, report Turkish researchers.

A study of 301 Turkish men aged 30-40 years found no significant differences in scores for erectile function, premature ejaculation, and depression among men who were circumcised during the phallic (aged 3-6 years) and nonphallic periods of life, they say.

Writing in Andrologia, Abdullah Armagan (Bezmialem Vakif Üniversitesi, Istanbul, Turkey) and colleagues explain that according to Freudian psychology, "the phallic period is described as an important time between the age of 3 and 6 years, in which the child develops sexual identity and adult sexual attitudes." Physicians have been discouraged from performing circumcision during this time, because of concerns it may have unfavorable psychosexual effects in the future.

However, evidence for this is mostly anecdotal, the team adds, and "in many countries, due to traditional or religious beliefs, circumcision is applied before puberty under local anaesthesia and many [such procedures] are performed during the phallic period."

Between January and June 2012, the researchers assessed 135 men who were circumcised during the phallic period and 177 circumcised outside this period. They found no significant between-group differences in the men's mean scores for the International Index of Erectile Dysfunction (IIEF) or the Premature Ejaculation Diagnostic Tool (PEDT). Those circumcised during the phallic period had a mean IIEF score of 25.1 compared with 25.4 in those circumcised outside of this period. Similarly, the respective scores for the PEDT were 8.2 and 8.7.

In addition, the Beck Depression Inventory score was similar between the two groups, at respective scores of 10.8 and 9.8.

Furthermore, subdomain analysis of the IIEF showed no significant differences between the two groups of men in erectile function, orgasm, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction, or overall satisfaction, reports the team.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the future psychosexual functions after phallic phase circumcision," write Armagan et al. "The large number of participants and the use of the validated questionnaires make our study a valuable contribution to the existing literature."

By Sally Robertson, medwireNews Reporter

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