It’s difficult to know how many men in the UK and abroad are affected by phimosis. Due to the sensitive nature of the issue, patients struggling with a tight foreskin often choose not to speak to their doctors. Even when the vast majority of cases of Phimosis can be treated relatively easily.
But when does a case of phimosis warrant medical attention? When does the time come to acknowledge an issue regarding tight foreskin and organise an assessment?
This is a difficult question to answer given how different men are affected in different ways. Doctors advise booking an appointment the moment an issue is detected or suspected.
What Causes Phimosis?
Some cases of phimosis occur due to one or more relatively common factors, including but not limited to the following:
- Scar tissue – Excess scar tissue around the foreskin can affect the elasticity of the tissue and cause phimosis.
- Ageing – Phimosis can also occur as a natural part of the aging process, as the texture of the skin gradually changes.
- General trauma – Any injuries or damage caused to the penis at any time in life can lead to complications like these.
- Piercings – It has also been suggested that certain piercings can increase the likelihood of phimosis and similar health issues.
The vast majority of cases are not directly attributed to any of these causes. Phimosis is a condition that can occur at any time of life and without prior warning. It’s far more likely to occur during childhood and adolescence but can still occur at any stage during later life.
What Are the Symptoms of Phimosis?
Detecting and acknowledging the symptoms of phimosis is the first step towards addressing the problem. Irrespective of how sensitive and difficult it may be, it’s essential that any issue regarding tight foreskin be brought to your doctor’s attention as soon as possible.
It’s also worth remembering that they’ll have already seen hundreds (or even thousands) of cases like yours, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Phimosis can make it difficult or impossible to retract or replace the foreskin. You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Inflation of the foreskin when urinating, along with a weaker or more finely-channelled stream. You may also find it painful to urinate.
- Many patients with phimosis also encounter pain and discomfort when the penis is erect, as the foreskin becomes even tighter.
- It’s also common for phimosis patients to develop urinary tract infections on a regular basis, due to difficulties keeping the penis clean.
- Any type of pain around the foreskin on a regular or ongoing basis could indicate a case of phimosis.
Irrespective of the nature and severity of the issue, it will take your doctor no more than a few seconds to make a diagnosis. It’s important to remember that the earlier a case of phimosis is detected, the easier it is to address.
After the Diagnosis: What Happens Next?
If you are diagnosed with phimosis, your doctor will suggest the most appropriate treatment option accordingly. In more advanced cases, they may recommend circumcision – removal of some or all of the foreskin. But the vast majority of moderate cases of phimosis can be treated without surgery.
Simple foreskin stretching exercises, specialist devices and topical ointments can often be enough to sufficiently loosen the foreskin. Circumcision (full and partial) is seen as something of a last resort. The likelihood of having to undergo surgery may be minimal, just as long as you discuss the options with your doctor as soon as possible.