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Phimosis: Causes, symptoms and treatments

Phimosis Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Phimosis refers to the inability to retract the foreskin of the penis, and it’s most commonly seen in young boys who are not yet old enough to be retracting their foreskins on their own or in adults who have been circumcised for medical reasons. While this might seem like an insignificant problem, some men will develop infections if their foreskins remain too tight, and that can cause further problems down the line if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about phimosis and how it’s treated when it occurs.

What is phimosis?

Phimosis refers to a condition that makes it difficult or impossible for a man to retract his foreskin over his penis. The body’s ability to naturally produce semen is dependent on the presence of phimosis.

Phimosis often develops due to infection with bacteria (usually Staphylococcus), but it can also occur without an identifiable cause. Phimosis may be a sign of scarring from repeated infections, which requires prompt treatment in order to prevent complications that affect reproduction and overall health.

Phimosis affects between 5% and 20% of men under age 40. It can occur in both uncircumcised and circumcised men.

Phimosis usually begins to develop in childhood or adolescence, but can occur at any time during adulthood. It is more common among African-American males than those of other races.

If left untreated, phimosis may cause a variety of complications that affect fertility, including pain when ejaculating sperm.


Phimosis is commonly caused by injury to or infection of a male infant’s or child’s foreskin. This can occur due to an accident during circumcision (usually performed shortly after birth). Phimosis can also be caused by repeated infections of a male infant’s or child’s foreskin; either from urinary tract infections or from poor hygiene practices when cleaning under the foreskin.

If a male infant or child has phimosis (whereby his foreskin cannot be retracted), it is important to seek medical advice. Phimosis can sometimes be treated with steroid cream, which softens up a tight foreskin over time.

However, if phimosis is caused by repeated infections of a male infant’s or child’s foreskin, then antibiotics may need to be prescribed.

Depending on how severe phimosis is, treatment options may vary. In some cases a minor surgery (known as a frenuloplasty) may be performed which involves cutting away an abnormal portion of a male infant’s or child’s foreskin.

This allows for easier retraction of their foreskin in later life. A circumcision can also be performed to remove a male infant’s or child’s foreskin completely if medical treatment is unsuccessful at relieving phimosis.


A tight foreskin often means that a man is suffering from phimosis. The foreskin may be so tight that it can’t be pulled back over the glans (the head of penis). This often leads to pain in urination or sexual intercourse.

A lack of circumcision is another cause of phimosis in some men. Even if a man has been circumcised, there may be a small amount of skin remaining under his penis – which can lead to phimosis as well.

In most cases of phimosis, sexual intercourse is painful. If a man with phimosis attempts to have sex without first treating his condition or removing his foreskin, he may suffer from other problems – including swelling and itching around his penis.

As well as being uncomfortable, a tight foreskin can lead to a variety of other problems. For example, if urine remains trapped under your foreskin for a long period of time, it may cause bacterial infections or urinary tract infections.

Any man who suspects that he may have phimosis should see a doctor. A physical examination will determine whether or not you’re suffering from phimosis. If you are, your doctor will be able to advise you on further treatment options.


If a doctor or other health care professional recommends a treatment for phimosis, ask questions about side effects and alternatives to make sure that you are aware of all your options. You may not experience any negative side-effects with your treatment, but it’s still good to know what could happen so that you can make an informed decision.

The type of treatment your doctor recommends will depend on what is causing your phimosis. For example, an infection in your foreskin can be treated with antibiotics while a tight foreskin caused by a lack of sexual arousal may only need regular retraction to stretch it out over time.

It’s important to work with your doctor or other health care professional to determine what treatment will work best for you.

Sometimes, a doctor may recommend a procedure such as preputioplasty or foreskin restoration to fix phimosis. In these cases, you can talk with your health care professional about whether it’s better to go ahead with surgery now or wait until you’re older when treatment won’t be as painful.

If you have phimosis but don’t want to undergo surgery or use any of these other treatments, you may be able to manage your symptoms by having regular retraction sessions.

You should speak with your doctor before trying any treatment at home so that you can be sure it won’t hurt or irritate your foreskin. It may take a few weeks for symptoms to improve after treatment has begun.

While surgery or other treatments can help fix phimosis that’s caused by an infection in your foreskin, there is no cure for phimosis that’s caused by a tight foreskin. Having regular retraction sessions can reduce symptoms over time.

In addition to retraction sessions, you may also be able to make your penis more comfortable by using a lubricant during sex to reduce friction on your foreskin.

If you’re experiencing discomfort or an inability to have sex due to phimosis, it’s important to talk with your doctor. Phimosis that is causing pain is a medical issue that may require treatment in order for you to manage your symptoms.

If phimosis is caused by an infection in your foreskin or another underlying condition, you will also need treatment for these issues before symptoms can be reduced.


Treating phimosis depends on its cause. In cases where it’s caused by allergies or infections, you can treat it with a corticosteroid cream. If it’s due to an underlying condition like diabetes or an autoimmune disease, your doctor may recommend treating that condition instead of focusing on phimosis itself. In some cases you may need to get a circumcision if phimosis is caused by other conditions or permanent scarring.

If you’re suffering from phimosis, it’s important to learn more about its causes. Then you can schedule an appointment with your doctor to come up with a treatment plan that works for you.


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