A tight foreskin isn’t the sort of thing you’re going to mention when you’re at the pub with your mates.
Lots of men find it embarrassing – so embarrassing they’d rather avoid sex or relationships for fear of their partners finding out.
But it’s not just intercourse that’s painful: masturbating can be as well.
Peeing isn’t too pleasant either.
Far better, surely, to confront the problem head on (ahem) and do something about it than put up with discomfort, pain and a lack of sex.
I’m hoping this blog will encourage you to get help for a problem that’s actually more common than you think.
WHAT IS IT?
The official name is phimosis: not being able to pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis because it’s become too tight.
This causes your penis to swell (not in a good way), feel painful and it may also hurt when you pee, meaning you don’t empty your bladder fully.
Penetrative sex is often extremely painful, so is masturbating.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
You could blame your Mum or Dad if you’re quite young.
Some men are born with a tight foreskin and it loosens up as they approach their teens.
You’re way past that?
Other causes include:
Poor hygiene: Balanitis (inflammation of the head of the penis that makes it red, itchy and feel tight) and balanoposthitis (affecting both the head and foreskin), is often caused by poor hygiene.
BUT – and it’s a big but – it’s often not your fault.
If your foreskin is very tight and impossible to retract, how are you supposed to clean underneath it?
An STI: Genital herpes, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhoea can all cause swelling or inflammation.
Eczema: Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus and the like can cause it or make the condition worse.
WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
See your doctor. If you can’t stretch your foreskin back, using lube or in the bath or shower when your penis flaccid, you need to see a doctor.
The cause – obviously – determines the treatment.
If it’s personal hygiene, washing carefully under the foreskin might be all that’s needed. Wash daily, using lukewarm water and non-soap products (look in the feminine hygiene department) and dry gently.
Topical steroids can help; sometimes antibiotics or an antifungal medication will be prescribed.
If it’s an STI, treating the STI will often cure the foreskin problem.
Use a condom and lots of lube during sex and make sure you or your partner very gently pull the foreskin back, rather than yank it back.
Minor surgery like a dorsal slit (a single cut along the upper length of the foreskin) is an option. Preputioplasty and frenuloplasty – cutting and stretching the foreskin – is also quite successful.
Circumcision – getting all or most of your foreskin removed during surgery – sounds dramatic but it’s a solution that works and most men recover quickly.
HOW TO MASTURBATE WITH A TIGHT FORESKIN
If you have a tighter than usual foreskin, the usual pumping motion – using a closed fist – hurts.
These two techniques are from a Twitter user who says they feel great if your foreskin is on the tight side.
Use them during solo sex or when your partner uses hand stimulation.
Rub the top part of the foreskin back and forth between the thumb and index finger and middle finger. (Imagine you’re crumbling something between your fingers.) You’re not pulling it up and down, more massaging it in tiny circles.
Rub your index finger slowly all along the shaft and tip in a continuous motion, stopping when you get to the head to put your fingertip into the opening of the foreskin and make a slow circle.