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  #11  
Old October 11th, 2011
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peterpink peterpink is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

I think this has come up before. I was told by the person who did the original estimation that it was calculated from foreskin sections on microscope slides that showed the Meissner's corpuscles. Because tissue sections are of known thickness and the area is known, it is possible to estimate the number in the complete foreskin. The original estimate was of the order (of magnitude) of 10,000 - not 1,000 and not 100,000. You could say that the actual number is at least 10,000, and I think this is where the number 20,000 comes from. 20,000 is easier to imagine compared to 'at least 10,000' or '10,000+'. I do not think this has ever been formally published anywhere because the sample size was too small to bother working out confidence limits etc.

The type of nerve ending is important. Free nerve endings only sense pain, temperature and mechanical sensations, are not good at locating the position of the stimulus (referred to as poorly discriminating) and are widely distributed. Encapsulated nerve endings do locate the position of the stimulus more exactly. (Try touching a pencil on the body of your glans, without looking, and you will sense it but have a vague idea of its location.) There are about four types of encapsulated nerve endings. (Nomenclature has changed over time.) One type is the Meissner's corpuscle which detects fine touch and movement (stroking and fluttering), and has a short recovery time. The important point is that Meissner's corpuscles are found in low densities in the corona of the glans, but in higher densities in ridged band of the foreskin. See Taylor, J.R., Lockwood, A.P., and Taylor, A.J. (1996).
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  #12  
Old October 12th, 2011
Ozymandias Ozymandias is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

Came across this the other day, hope it helps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD2yW7AaZFw



Regards,

Peter

http://dollyknot.com/circ.html
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  #13  
Old April 1st, 2012
asdfjklmeh1 asdfjklmeh1 is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

That number is extrapolated from:

Quote:

"A piece of skin the size of a quarter contains more than 3 million cells, 12 feet of nerves, 100 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings, and almost 3 feet of blood vessels." (The Human Connection, Ashley Montagu and Floyd Matson, McGraw-Hill, 1979)

"Circumcision removes a piece of skin (that in the adult is) almost equivalent to a 3 x 5 index card." (Say No to Circumcision!: 40 Compelling Reasons, Thomas J. Ritter, MD, and George C. Denniston, MD. Second Edition. Hourglass Book Publishing, 1996) see illustration

The mucosal tissue of the foreskin is highly innervated, more so than normal skin, and 15 quarters will fit on a 3 x 5 index card with room to spare. {The quarters cover only 78.5% of the card, the rest being the interstices between the orthogonally packed circles. So even ordinary skin the size of a foreskin would have ~954 nerve endings.}
Regards.
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  #14  
Old October 22nd, 2013
Tobias4422 Tobias4422 is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by asdfjklmeh1 View Post
That number is extrapolated from:



Regards.
So help me here...is there a source saying that mucosal tissue is 20 times as sensitive as regular skin? If not, maybe we need to make more conservative estimates about how many nerves are destroyed.
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  #15  
Old October 22nd, 2013
mark85 mark85 is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

I don't care for how much that figure is thrown around when people don't even know where it comes from (including myself,) and they probably can't make an argument for why it's an important figure either.
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  #16  
Old October 22nd, 2013
Tobias4422 Tobias4422 is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

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Originally Posted by mark85 View Post
I don't care for how much that figure is thrown around when people don't even know where it comes from (including myself,) and they probably can't make an argument for why it's an important figure either.
Well, I do think that sources exist claiming that the external clitoris has about 8,000 nerve endings and the male glans has about 4,000. If the 20,000 figure were true, you could make plausible comparisons to external clitorectomies.

Maybe it is true; the male foreskin absolutely has more surface area than either so I wouldn't be shocked if 20,000 was a close estimate. But when people say "you made that number up!" and we don't have a source citing this number, it makes intactivism seem like fabricated theory.
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  #17  
Old October 22nd, 2013
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peterpink peterpink is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tobias4422 View Post
Well, I do think that sources exist claiming that the external clitoris has about 8,000 nerve endings and the male glans has about 4,000. If the 20,000 figure were true, you could make plausible comparisons to external clitorectomies.

Maybe it is true; the male foreskin absolutely has more surface area than either so I wouldn't be shocked if 20,000 was a close estimate. But when people say "you made that number up!" and we don't have a source citing this number, it makes intactivism seem like fabricated theory.
Please read my post below.
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  #18  
Old October 23rd, 2013
mark85 mark85 is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tobias4422 View Post
Well, I do think that sources exist claiming that the external clitoris has about 8,000 nerve endings and the male glans has about 4,000. If the 20,000 figure were true, you could make plausible comparisons to external clitorectomies.

Maybe it is true; the male foreskin absolutely has more surface area than either so I wouldn't be shocked if 20,000 was a close estimate. But when people say "you made that number up!" and we don't have a source citing this number, it makes intactivism seem like fabricated theory.
Yeah, but you have to be able to make the argument for why a raw total of nerve endings is relevant, why not density of nerve endings and type of nerves? I like the idea of pointing out the complexity of the foreskin and refuting the BS notion that it's just skin and not a complex structure, but just saying 20,000 nerve endings like it's some shut down fact is dumb IMO.

I think there's a big problem with some intactivists just repeating "facts" that they've heard and can't back up. I think they're making a lot of overzealous and (IMO) unnecessary claims that make us look bad.
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  #19  
Old October 23rd, 2013
Canaanite Canaanite is offline
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Default Re: How many nerve endings are in the foreskin?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark85 View Post
Yeah, but you have to be able to make the argument for why a raw total of nerve endings is relevant, why not density of nerve endings and type of nerves? I like the idea of pointing out the complexity of the foreskin and refuting the BS notion that it's just skin and not a complex structure, but just saying 20,000 nerve endings like it's some shut down fact is dumb IMO.

I think there's a big problem with some intactivists just repeating "facts" that they've heard and can't back up. I think they're making a lot of overzealous and (IMO) unnecessary claims that make us look bad.
I totally agree with this. I don't think I have ever bothered with the "20,000" argument, just because it sounds so arbitrary, but more because I have no frame of reference for what that might feel like, so I guess others might not either.

I am sure that some kind of figure could be come up with to either support or disprove this number, but it would require a much larger sample size of removed foreskins under the microscope to do so. I am also well aware of biological variation and outliers, so there is no way to prove if I actually lost 20,000 nerve endings or only 20. There is too much variation from person to person.

When I do post a comment, or speak to someone about circumcision I always try to know my sources for my comments. I think when speaking to someone who doesn't know anything about circumcision we should stick to personal experience told honestly, and when the argument diverges from what we have objectively experienced we should be able to back up our statement with solid verifiable facts.

The "20,000" argument is too vague, and there isn't any published material to back it up. What there is are studies that have measured sensitivity, studies that show a higher rate of sexual difficulty for circumcised men over intact, studies that show changes in behavior post circumcision, and increased reaction to pain... Just to name a few.

We have a lot of verifiable literature to choose from. We don't need to get bogged down with estimates and abstract numbers, especially if it makes us look like we don't really know what we are talking about.
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