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Tight Foreskin: Phimosis

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Cucumber with skin removed at tip, Tight Foreskin

Causes & Treatment

Many men have questions about their penis surrounding the issue of tight foreskin. Becoming informed about what is expected and abnormal, what needs medical attention, and what does not can help ease concerns and provide options to remedy any problems. Certainly, we encourage men to talk to their doctor about their concerns as it is the best way to evaluate any issue individually.

What Is Phimosis?

Phimosis is when the foreskin forms a tight opening at the end of the penis and does not allow it to slide easily back and forth. This can cause problems for uncircumcised men to masturbate and have sex without discomfort and have an erection. Because the most sensitive part of a man's penis is the head (frenulum), the foreskin's ability to pull back and expose it will dull sexual stimulation. Finally, smegma (dead skin cells and oil) can collect inside the foreskin, making it smell bad and putting a man at risk for urinary tract infections when bacteria from the smegma enter the urethra.

Phimosis Diagram

What Is Meant By Tight?

Uncircumcised men typically have their foreskin slide back when it is erect. When it does not, the foreskin is considered excessively tight. It may be essential to note that it is normal for uncircumcised men to see their foreskin swell a bit when urinating.

A tight foreskin does not necessarily mean that medical intervention is needed; however, many men dislike the disadvantages and opt to explore options with their physician.

Causes Of Phimosis

Two leading causes of phimosis are that man was born that way, and long-term fungal infections often cause scar tissue. However, scar tissue can be caused by other factors as well.

Phimosis Treatment

The treatment for phimosis is either circumcision or stretching the foreskin. If a man opts to stretch his foreskin, it is something that should be done gently. Forcing an overly tight foreskin backward may cause it to become stuck and cut off blood supply and the ability to urinate. A trip to the hospital should be the next course of action if this should happen.

How To Bring Foreskin Back

Gently pressing on the penis will push blood back down the shaft of the penis, making the head smaller and allowing the foreskin to more easily to be slid back over the head. Using a lubricant such as a sexual lubricant or oil on the head of the penis may also help. There may be discomfort in pushing the foreskin back, but the pain should only last a moment.


If circumcision is something you wish to consider, you can read more about it through our Adult Circumcision Guide.

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