JOURNAL OF SEXUAL MEDICINE, Volume 4, Number 5: Page 1516,
September 2007.


The Forgotten Foreskin and Its Ridged Band

Circumcision does not diminish the sensitivity of the glans and penile shaft [1]. However, the prepuce is always front and center in the great circumcision debate and direct comparison of the glans with the prepuce, not shaft skin, is essential.

The glans is naturally insensitive to fine touch whether the penis is circumcised or not. [2], and study of the effect of circumcision on sexual function should therefore focus on the missing prepuce. Biologically, however, both glans and prepuce contribute to the single mucocutaneous junctional zone of the penis, and it is possible that these apparently dissimilar structures in fact share similar functions related more to sexual reflexes than to touch perception.

The ridged band of prepuce [3,4] is tucked just inside the tip of the unretracted prepuce; it is a richly vascular mucosal tissue heavily innervated by movement-sensitive Meissner corpuscles. In addition to touch sensitivity [2], the ridged band is uniquely ridged or corrugated, and not surprisingly, work in progress indicates that retraction and stretching of this accordion-like structure triggers reflex contraction of bulbocavernosus and bulbospongiosus. These “bulb muscles” compress the root or bulb of the penis and among other things, including deep erogenous sensation, are responsible for ejaculation and clearing of residual urine from the posterior urethra following micturition.

Almost certainly, removal of the prepuce arnd its ridged band distorts penile reflexogenic functions, but exactly how and to what extent remain to be seen.

John R. Taylor
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


1 Payne K, Thaler L, Kukonen T, Carrier S, Binik Y. Sensation and sexual arousal in circumcised and uncircumcised men. J Sex Med 2007;4:667–74.

2 Sorrells ML, Snyder JL, Reiss CF, Milos MF, Wilcox N, Van Howe RS. Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis. BJU Int 2007;99:864–9.

3 Taylor JR, Lockwood AP, Taylor AJ. The prepuce: Specialized mucosa and its loss to circumcision. Br J Urol 1996;77:291–5.

4 Cold CJ, Taylor JR. The prepuce. BJU Int 1999;83 (1 Suppl):34–44.

(File created 10 August 2008)