The external male genitalia consists of the penis and testicles. Other structures such as the vas deferens and epididymis form part of the male genital tract.

The penis comprises of tissues, blood vessels and the urethra (tube for carrying urine and sperm). The head of the penis (glans) is usually covered by foreskin unless this has been removed.

What is phimosis?

Phimosis refers to a condition where the foreskin is too tight to pull back over the head of the penis. It is normal that the foreskin does not retract in young boys. The foreskin naturally separates anywhere between the age of 5-10 years old. At the age of 16, 95% of foreskins are retractile.

In adults, a phimosis might have other underlying causes such as infection or an underlying skin condition. The commonest cause is scarring from a skin condition called BXO (Balanitis xerotica obliterans). The cause of BXO is not known.

How is phimosis treated?

If phimosis is causing symptoms, treatments include:

  • Topical steroid cream. This makes the foreskin more supple
  • Lubricants. To aid sexual intercourse
  • Circumcision. Surgical removal of the foreskin