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Have you been having difficulty retracting your foreskin — either because doing so is painful or because it simply won't cooperate at all? This issue can be caused by more than one medical condition. While we'll tell you right away that an unretractable foreskin or pain while retracting your foreskin should ideally be discussed with your healthcare provider, here are some possible causes. 


Phimosis is a condition in which the foreskin cannot be retracted over the glans of the penis, or doing so causes significant discomfort.

Phimosis exists in a range of severity, from uncomfortable tightness when the foreskin is retracted to a complete inability to retract the foreskin. While it is usual for prepubescent uncircumcised boys not to be able to retract their foreskins, the foreskin should become retractable at some point during the pubertal process. If it does not, medical attention is required. It is also possible for men who were previously able to retract their foreskin to develop phimosis, as a result of scar tissue, diabetes, or infections.

Phimosis can lead to a number of problems in adult and adolescent males:

  • A vulnerability to infections under the foreskin, since the area cannot be cleaned properly
  • The inability for urine to flow well, leading to its build-up underneath the foreskin
  • Painful erections and sex

Treatments for phimosis include topical steroid creams to loosen the foreskin, penile stretching exercises, and circumcision. Those men who wish to preserve their foreskins will want to tell their doctors this so that they can try non-surgical methods to treat phimosis first — research indicates that doctors are quick to recommend circumcision even when other treatments could have sufficed in countries where circumcision is common. 

We should note that it might take young guys whose foreskins recently became retractable a while to get used to the process. It is quite possible that your foreskin will become "stretchier" with time and practice.

Frenulum Breve

Frenulum breve is another condition that leads to difficulties in retracting the foreskin. In frenulum breve, the frenulum — the "elastic band" of tissue located under the glans — is shorter than usual to the point where it obstructs the normal retraction of the foreskin. 

This condition can lead to painful sex. The frenulum can be surgically corrected, or a circumcision can be performed, if this happens. 

Think You Have Too Much Foreskin?

Whether you've noticed yourself that your foreskin seems to be unusually long, or your doctor has mentioned that your foreskin is longer it is in most men, there is no medical reason to do anything about this so long as your foreskin is completely retractable, and retracting it does not cause you any pain. 

If you are under 18, it is quite possible that your penile growth will still "catch up" with your foreskin, and that you will end up with a foreskin and penis that "work well together". Those guys who have completed puberty and have excessively long foreskins that interfere with their sex lives or the ability to perform personal hygiene tasks can inquire about circumcision. 

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