Phimosis is narrowing of the foreskin. It can occur commonly in adults and is caused by recurrent balanitis, inflammation and trauma.
The presenting symptoms are variable and include poor stream, spraying, ballooning, recurrent attacks of balanitis and pain, although sometimes patients may present because of cosmesis concerns. A phimosis itself can lead to recurrent infections and also predisposes to penis cancer, which is rare. Additionally it can cause problems with sexual function, especially intercourse.
The foreskin itself, but not phimosis, predisposes to HIV infection. Randomised controlled trials have shown circumcision to reduce the risk of contracting HIV but only in heterosexual males; this has led to widespread circumcision programmes in Africa, led by the WHO. In the UK this is currently NOT recommended because of the lower incidence. In cases of symptomatic phimosis a circumcision is commonly undertaken.
If you have problems with the foreskin we can advise you on what treatment is best. This may include topical treatments, frenuloplasty, preputioplasty and circumcision.
Learn more about our Andrology & Men’s Health services.
Professor Vijay Sangar, Consultant Urological Surgeon