The ridged band is believed to be an anatomically distinct part of the foreskin. John R. Taylor, a Canadian pathologist and medical researcher, first described the ridged band at the Second International Symposium on Circumcision, organized by NOCIRC in San Francisco, 1991, after examining the foreskins of 12 dead infants. The term "ridged band" was subsequently used by Taylor in an anatomical and histological study of the foreskin published in the British Journal of Urology in 1996.
Most or all of the ridged band is removed by circumcision.
Taylor described a transversely-ridged band of mucosal tissue located just inside the tip of the foreskin near the mucocutaneous boundary. He characterized this ridged band as "intensely vascular". He described the band as "richly innervated", stated that it "contains more Meissner's corpuscles than does the smooth mucosa", and noted that these corpuscles were found only in the crests of ridges.
Taylor postulates that "the ridged band with its unique structure, tactile corpuscles and other nerves, is primarily sensory tissue". He hypothesizes that Meissner's corpuscles in the ridged band are adapted to detect stretch:
- Work in progress indicates that retraction and stretching of this accordion-like structure triggers reflex contraction of bulbocavernosus and bulbospongiosus.
Taylor theorizes that the main function of the ridged band is to trigger sexual reflexes. In a letter to the editor of BJU International, 2007, Taylor writes:
- Initial study (J.R.T. unpublished) indicates that the real importance of the ridged band to sexual intercourse lies in an ability to trigger a reflex contraction of muscles responsible for ejaculation.
In the Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2007, Taylor states:
- 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.
A.M. Viens, a member of the Department of Philosophy, St Anne's College, Oxford University, comments:
- Not only is a pathological study not ideal for conclusions concerning the physical sensation and enjoyment of sex in the living, we have no findings that show that sensation transmission pathways of the penis differ substantially between circumcised and uncircumcised men. As it presently stands, there is no convincing evidence that shows that sexual function of circumcised individuals is worsened or damaged as a result of a properly performed circumcision.
Viens also criticized Taylor's methodology, on the grounds that the sample size of cadavers was "extremely small".
The effect of circumcision on sexual function is the subject of intense debate. Taylor's view is that "almost certainly, removal of the prepuce and its ridged band distorts penile reflexogenic functions but exactly how and to what extent still remains to be seen".
For an overview of the issues surrounding male circumcision and sexual function, see Sexual effects of circumcision.
- The Ridged Band: Specialized Sexual Tissue URL: http://research.cirp.org/ (Dr John R. Taylor responsible for site content)
- Dr John Taylor's illustrations
- Your Anatomy Site illustrating the ridged band
- Ridged band and frenulum SexDictionary.info
- Kristen O'Hara with Jeffrey O'Hara. Sex as Nature Intended It. Hudson, Massachusetts: Turning Point Publications, 2001: pp. 139, 148-49. (ISBN 0-9700442-0-8)
- Paul Fleiss, M.D. and Frederick Hodges, D. Phil. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision. New York: Warner Books, 2002: pp. 7-8, 13, 14. (ISBN 0-446-67880-5)