Symptoms and causes

What is it?

Phimosis, or constriction of the foreskin, makes it impossible for boys to retract the foreskin over the glans of the penis. After the first year of life, 50% of the boys cannot do this. Around the age of 6, 8% of the boys are not yet able to do so. In older men, a similar constriction of the foreskin can reoccur and cause problems.

Phimosis can give rise to paraphimosis. When the foreskin that is too narrow is retracted, the narrow ring of this foreskin is in front of the glans of the penis. The blood supply to all tissues behind this narrow ring is cut off. This is painful and it becomes increasingly difficult to slide the foreskin back to the front.

Diagnosis and treatment

In most boys, the problem of phimosis resolves by itself: as they grow older, the foreskin naturally becomes less narrow. Sometimes, a course of cortisone ointment is prescribed to speed up this process of dilation. However, phimosis certainly does not disappear in all boys on its own. Problems that persist, for example when sexual activity begins at puberty, can be caused by phimosis. Therefore, if the problem persists in older boys, the constriction of the foreskin is corrected through circumcision.

Treatment centres and specialisations

Urology Centre
Paediatrics

Latest publication date: 25/01/2021
Supervising author: Dr Ameye Filip, Dr Degraeuwe Jelle