“Over a period of twenty years or so, I noticed that orgasm took longer and longer,” the anonymous Love Matters reader goes on, “until 2006 when I could not orgasm even after an hour of thrusting (if she could tolerate it).”
Another older reader has just the same story. “By the age of 40, I noticed that sex was less enjoyable,” he says, “and now at the age of 60+ I can no longer orgasm when I have intercourse, even after an hour of thrusting. So we don't have it any more.”
It’s a hidden price men pay for being circumcised, says Gert van Dijk, ethics specialist at the Royal Dutch Medical Society (KNMG).
“There are lots of medical problems with circumcision,” he says. “And they are at different stages of life. It’s often said that circumcision has very few complications. But it’s only if you look at the very short term.”
When boys and men are circumcised properly, short-term complications like bleeding and infections are very rare, and usually minor, Mr Van Dijk says.
But because there’s no more foreskin to protect the head of the penis, over the years it starts to toughen up. The penis gets less and less sensitive.
At first this can be a bonus. After all, the problem for many young men is that they climax sooner than they’d like. But eventually, the pleasure of extra-long sex can start to wane. And it affects women too.
The cliché might be that for women, sex is all over too quickly. A few quick thrusts, then the guy grunts, rolls over and starts snoring.
But that doesn’t mean that endless intercourse is the secret to pleasure. Good sex is about quality, not quantity, one woman comments on Love Matters.
“I'm done with being pounded with a broomstick,” she says.
The problem is that circumcised men need to thrust hard and fast for a long time to reach orgasm, our readers say. And that can be downright painful for a woman.
Millions of people are circumcised every year for religious or hygiene reasons. But given all the hidden sex problems, isn’t it time for a rethink?
Not according to the World Health Organisation. Circumcision cuts the chances of a man catching the HIV virus by 60 percent, the organisation claims. The WHO officially backs circumcision as a way to fight AIDS.
But Gert van Dijk says he doesn’t trust the scientific evidence behind this policy. Other research couldn’t find any link between circumcision and HIV prevention, he points out. A 2009 study by USAID is just one example.
What’s more, all that rough thrusting by circumcised men can make the vagina sore, Mr Van Dijk adds, and this can actually increase the woman’s chances of infection.
The Dutch medical association has come out against circumcision, angering Jewish and Muslim groups. You shouldn’t cut a healthy child unless there’s a good medical reason, the association says. People should be old enough to make their own choices before they get circumcised.
Scientists who raise the downside of circumcision risk making themselves unpopular, according to Morten Frisch, the Danish researcher who told Love Matters that circumcised men have more orgasm trouble.
The HIV prevention and religious arguments in favour of circumcision dominate the debate. The sex problems are kept in the dark.
“There’s very little awareness of it,” says Gert van Dijk. “In fact there’s no awareness of it. I think it’s very important that more people know about it. I think this is a very relevant thing for people to realise before they get circumcised.”