26 April 2008

My foreskin is too tight !

I have another embarrassing problem : my foreskin is tight and I can’t pull it back far enough unlike my friends. Do you have any advice about getting my foreskin back far enough? Thank you, and thanks again for answering my previous question!

JP Duc

Hi Tyler,

Thank you for your question.

Foreskin retraction problems and or tightness are quite a common problem in teenagers and the appropriate medical term for your problem is phimosis.

Phimosis is a condition where the male foreskin cannot be fully retracted from the head of the penis. As most are born with a non-retracting foreskin, the term is confusing because it denotes both a normal stage of development, and a pathological condition (i.e. a condition that causes problems for a person).

There are different degrees of phimosis and different treatments depending on the degree of phimosis you have. It is suggested that you see a doctor and even see a specialist like an urologist that could give you a check-up. If you are in pain, or have trouble urinating or you are getting (liquid or puss) from your genital area, you should consult a nurse or doctor immediately.

Different treatment options are available depending on the level of phimosis. In some cases a doctor may recommend slowly stretching your foreskin by pulling and widening the space. This is done twice daily usually after a bath or a shower when the skin is easier to stretch. Take care in being gentle so you don’t hurt yourself.

It is specifically recommended not to retract the foreskin forcefully, as this can lead to paraphimosis, an extremely painful condition, where the foreskin becomes trapped behind the glans penis, and cannot be pulled back to its normal flaccid position covering the glans. If the condition persists for several hours or there is any sign of a lack of blood flow, paraphimosis should be treated as a medical emergency, as it can result in gangrene or other serious complications.

If repeated, gentle retractions of the foreskin does not work, a prescription cream may be needed, in combination with regular stretching. If these treatments still don’t produce any results, the next step is surgery: a small operation, called a frenuloplasty, which is performed under local anesthesia.

Remember that skin is delicate, and avoid scrubbing your skin. Always use a very mild soap or if you’re allergic to soap, use a non-soap based skin cleansing gel. Personal hygiene is important!

Remember to wash your hand regularly and avoid rubbing or scratching your genital area; hands and fingernails can have thousands of germs. Items that come in direct contact with your skin such as underwear, swimwear or sporting equipment should be washed, cleaned or laundered regularly.

Even if this problem seems embarrassing, it is better for you to seek solutions early, instead of waiting, which potentially could make things worse.

Good luck, and please don’t hesitate to write again if you have other questions,

Jean-Pierre, for the team at Project 10