Phimosis: Causes and solutions to having a tight foreskin

What is phimosis and what to do if you suffer from this condition affecting your penis?

Up to 10% of males will have phimosis by the age of three and a relatively large percentage of adult males will also be afflicted by this condition by the age of 16.

What is phimosis?

Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin cannot be fully retracted, or pulled back, from around the tip of the penis. This condition is very common amongst new borns, but usually goes away after the first few years of infancy.

However, in other cases, if it doesn't naturally go away it can cause problems later in adulthood. Medical experts say that by late adolescence, one should be able to easily retract their foreskin as tight foreskins tend to loosen with time.

Adult men who have phimosis can live their lives with the condition but it may cause problems such as: trouble urinating, swelling, infections and discomfort during sexual intercourse.

What causes phimosis and does one fix it?

It is unclear why some men get the condition while others don't—whether it's a genetic predisposition or a product of one or several environmental factors. What scientists do know is that it can occur naturally in just about any man of any age group.

If the foreskin is forcibly retracted during infancy, before it is naturally ready to be pulled back, it can cause scarring that can eventually lead to phimosis. Infections due to lack of hygiene can also factor in the development of this condition.

Typically, the best solution to treat phimosis is circumcision—a practice in which the foreskin is completely removed from the penis, exposing the glans permanently. Other options, if the patient wishes to conserve their foreskin include both manual retraction therapy or topical steroid therapy.

The former involves daily gentle sessions in which the person afflicted manually retracts their foreskin to help promote loosening of the tight skin. The latter, on the other hand, requires one to massage an ointment regularly until the skin loosens.

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