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What is Phimosis? When does it occur and what options do you have?



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.


The foreskin itself, but not phimosis, pre-disposes 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. It is not unusual to find red patches on the glans in such cases. These usually resolve after circumcision. If they do not, topical antifungal therapy may help and if no resolution occurs a biopsy may be needed.


At Urology Clinics we commonly see patients who require circumcision. On some occasions circumcisions can go wrong or be unsatisfactory; Urology Clinics has the expertise to help in such circumstances.


This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.

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