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Disorders of the Penis: Phimosis and Paraphimosis

By HERWriter
 
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An About.com Men’s Health article lists phimosis as any condition where the penis foreskin cannot be retracted (pulled back) to reveal the glans (head of the penis). Children's Hospital Boston says this is normal in newborns and over time. The skin on the penile tip can be retracted as the foreskin loosens.

Paraphimosis occurs when the foreskin, once retracted, cannot return to its original location according to WebMD. It’s a medical emergency that can cause serious complications if not treated. Children's Hospital Boston says it can cause entrapment of the penis and impair blood drainage.

About.com states phimosis can be caused by failure of foreskin to loosen during growth. WedMD adds it can be due to an infection, or scar tissue from an injury or chronic inflammation. Another cause of phimosis is balanitis, which leads to scarring and tightness of the foreskin.

Children's Hospital Boston warns phimosis can also occur if the foreskin is forced back before its ready. This can cause a fibrous scar to form, which may prevent future retraction of the foreskin.

WebMD says paraphimosis can occur after an erection or sexual activity or an injury to the glans.

Both Children's Hospital Boston and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital (LPCH) list phimosis symptoms as bulging of the foreskin during urination and the inability to completely retract the foreskin by age three (in some boys this may take longer).

Paraphimosis symptoms include swelling of the penile tip as the foreskin is retracted; pain; inability to pull the foreskin back over the penile tip; and either dark red or blue discoloration of the penile tip.

Children's Hospital Boston and LPCH say treatment for phimosis may involve applying steroid cream to loosen the foreskin. WedMD adds treatment may include gentle, manual stretching of the foreskin over a period of time.

Beyond this, medical opinion differs. About.com says it’s been suggested any radical or surgical treatments for phimosis should wait until after puberty. Circumcision, the surgical removal of the foreskin, often is used to treat phimosis. Many believe this treatment is overused.

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Because of misguided attempts at retraction, Doctors Opposing Circumcision call a well-baby visit the greatest danger facing an intact boy, in Psychology Today, October 23, 2011. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201110/what-is-the-greatest-danger-uncircumcised-boy

October 31, 2011 - 2:12am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

The Dr. Momma website has a great article called "The Phony Phimosis Diagnosis." Yes indeed, circumcision is overused as a "treatment" for phimosis. Having this procedure done in childhood can actually cause paraphimosis.
Ballooning of the foreskin when urinating during the foreskin separation process is normal. LPCH and CHB need to revise their statement on that. More importantly, for some men the foreskin does not finish separating and become completely retractable until the early 20s. For a few men it never becomes completely retractable; this is not necessarily a problem. Amputation of the foreskin should always be the absolute last resort treatment. All too often in the US it is the first reflex recommendation because the only thing American doctors know about foreskins is how to cut them off.

October 27, 2011 - 4:27pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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