I'm 35 years old, and for as long as I can remember I have not been able to retract my foreskin. Sex is fine, I have two kids, and have never had a problem with my penis.
I've read all about stretching on this forum and would like to give it a go. I went to my doctor today and he immediately said that he would refer me for a circumcision. I mentioned Betamethasone and he said all that does is make the skin thin, and doesn't stretch it. He added that it wouldn't work for someone of my age anyway. I insisted that I didn't want to be circumcised, and he offered the alternative of a dorsal slit.
I have two questions:
1) Was he right when he said that stretching wouldn't work for someone of my age?
2) Does anyone have experience of a dorsal slit? It looks pretty nasty, and I'm not convinced it's for me.
I've done some preliminary stretching using over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1.0%, but it's slow, painful and laborious. Should I continue with this? Or should I try to get hold of Betamethasone or equivalent?
Any doctor who tells you that stretching skin and mucosa won't work because you are thirty-five years old is either very ignorant or is lying. Either way, do you wish to entrust your life with a person like that?
Have you heard of men your age lifting weights and making progress in building muscle? How about men your age putting on weight and adding girth to their midriffs? Do you know anyone your age who has had an orthodontist move his teeth with braces? All of these involve tissue expansion and modification. So does foreskin restoration, which is being accomplished by men of all ages, even men twice your age. Put "Foreskin restoration" into your search engine box and read some of the material that you find.
Your foreskin is alive and everchanging. It is composed of very small cells that are continually replacing themselves, evidenced by the periodic collection of smegma inside the cavity. In addition to the replacement cycle that continues over an entire lifetime, cells also multiply when the proper stimulus is applied. Stretching, through the application of tension, is just that stimulus. It is that simple. No doubt about it, stretching works, and it works at all ages. Thirty-five is actually quite young, so you would have absolutely no problem in getting results, because you still have good production of body hormones related to cellular growth. Oh, how I would like to be your age again!
Yes, dorsal slits look pretty nasty. Stay clear from anyone who suggests such a hideous modification of your penis. A full circumcision even looks better than one of those, and I think unnecessary scars are ugly too.
The hydrocortisone is probably useless. Paul will be able to add more on that. If you can't get the betamethasone, do the stretching without it. If you experiencing pain, you're doing something wrong. Having had regular sexual relations, which you say is fine, handling your foreskin should be pleasurable, not painful. Back off on the tension a bit. All this takes is gentle tugging, and that should give you feel good actually.
Take hold of the lips of the foreskin on each side and gently pull them open. Hold the stretch for five to ten minutes at a time and repeat it at least one more time each day; more if you can do it. In addition, try retracting every time you urinate throughout the day. When you're finished peeing, pull the foreskin out away from your body as far as it will go without pain and hold it there a few seconds. This will keep the skin supple until you are able to get to your exercises. If you have the privacy while peeing, try the regular stretch also. Just wait till the stream ends!
If that doctor really doesn't believe stretching works, give him this website address. We have far too much success in this field to believe that it won't work for everyone when the rules are followed.
2} Experience of a dorsal slit? No. Appearance? Depends on the skill of the surgeon.
The problem here is not your age, but that of your "doctor". Is he circumcised? One has to ask, why is he trying to refer you for a circumcision? Somewhere, he has a problem.
I am in no way surprised by your opening description, because my experience of men who have a non-retractile foreskin is just that - they enjoy their sex lives (masturbation and intercourse), have little reason to even desire to change it, have children with no difficulty whatsoever, no complaints from their wives, and often don't even realise that there is anything "wrong".
And is there anything "wrong"? Well, technically there is a risk of penile cancer, though I doubt this has been adequately studied. For example, you will see a quoted connection between phimosis and cancer, but one has to wonder what sort of phimosis this might be, and how it might serve as a risk factor?
Let's consider known risk factors, principally smoking and HPV. Where do smokers get tar deposits? On the fingers of course, and what do they use to handle their penis? Handling the penis, retracting the foreskin (or not,) is going to deposit the tobacco tar on the penile skin, and if someone has a partially retractile foreskin, then this can get under the foreskin, whereas if the foreskin is completely retractile, it will not.
A similar thing may occur for HPV - if the foreskin does not retract at all, then it is going to be less exposed to the virus (during intercourse) than if it is partially retractile. But of course, the primary risk for HPV, as is now fully understood in regard to the parallel, cervical cancer in women, is promiscuity - if you only ever have one partner and they the same, then you simply cannot get HPV, and cannot get cervical cancer, most likely the same applies to penile cancer. All "exceptions" to this relationship, turn out to be "exceptions" to the "one partner, ever, either one" rule and of course, this is cold comfort if you know you have had other partners ...
In general, the concern regarding penile cancer relates to hygiene - such things as foreskin infections tend to be an indicator of a more general hygiene problem, and if you haven't had problems, don't smoke and have followed the "one partner" etc. rule, then a foreskin that doesn't retract, isn't necessarily a concern.
I won't actually comment on the other reasons why you should attend to making your foreskin retractile, because I'm sure you have made an adequate assessment and can or will tell me anyway, when you do stretch it and get it fully retracting (with ease). So let's get started.
Why is your doctor being mendacious? Well, it's partly ignorance (of medical techniques), partly laziness (hasn't thought it through) and partly plain arrogance (he's the "educated" one, you're the mug). If you can't get sense out of him, then you must needs ignore him, at least until you have completed your "project" and are in a position to go back and casually mention that your foreskin works fine, but no thanks to him. I wonder, are you in a country (or situation) such as England, where you are supposed to be allocated to a particular doctor, or is your choice somehow limited otherwise?
His statement that Betamethasone makes the skin thin, and doesn't stretch it, is disingenuous insofar that it is true - but misses the point. The ointment (and note that the ointment is the preferred form,) indeed does not stretch the skin - you must stretch the skin, but it is very reasonable to expect that Betamethasone (or Triamcinolone, or Clobetasone/ "EumovateŽ"), because of its effect in weakening (and if used long enough, thinning) the matrix of the skin, will speed up the process substantially.
Hydrocortisone 1.0% does not have that effect to anywhere near the same degree, which is why it is available over-the-counter, because it is safer. Even so, it is possibly of some help. Since either medication, to varying degree, does suppress the natural immune response of the skin where applied, you need to be alert to the possibility of developing a "Thrush" or other fungal infection from which your foreskin and glans, never exposed, were previously protected. Such infection would then require treatment with an (over-the-counter) antifungal.
Please note my previous warnings about being cautious to apply the ointment only to the actual tight part of the foreskin that you wish to cause to stretch.
What else? Oh, your age. Well, yes, it is easier to stretch the foreskin in childhood, no doubt (if, that is, you can interest the child in the process, essentially by intriguing him with the desire to visualise his glans, perhaps more so than telling him he "needs" to do it) but beyond that, age is quite irrelevant. A phimosis that develops after childhood, indicates some disease (such as fungal infection, not necessarily LSA) that will on the one hand require treatment to enable stretching and on the other make it slower, but this is as you say, not your situation.
OK, hopefully you are at this point all the more confident that your doctor is, for whatever reason, pretty useless (and incidentally, did he actually examine your foreskin anyway?), you may be in a position to try another who will hopefully also be more competent, the Internet apparently offers access to all sorts of things bypassing the "normal channels" but you have to check bona fides with the utmost care and we really would prefer you to have the actual, personal supervision of a competent doctor if at all possible.
GarethV (no login)
December 3 2004, 7:36 AM
Thanks to Jim and Paul for taking the time to answer me so thoroughly. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this.
To answer a few points in your posts:
1) I am in England, and although I've never tried, I imagine that getting a second opinion from another doctor would involve changing doctor - something I'm reluctant to do because he's been pretty good the rest of the time.
2) He did inspect my foreskin, and merely made the comment that it was very tight.
3) Without actually asking him, I did get the impression that he himself was circumcised, as he made comments like "what do you need a foreskin for anyway?" and "it's just an extra bit of useless flesh".
I've been stretching by inserting a finger in the end. To start with, my little finger would go in up to the first knuckle, then beyond it. I'm now able to get my middle finger in, up to the knuckle. By bending the knuckle, it stretches the tight ring, but a couple of times it has torn slightly. Am I being too harsh?
Thanks for arming me with the information to question my doctor. I will probably try to get hold of some ointment over the internet. If anyone has any good sources that can ship to the UK, I'd be grateful.
Your foreskin is laden with special nerves that impart pleasure to you while engaged in sexual relations. It also stimulates the glans as it glides back and forth while thrusting. Is that useless? Perhaps the doctor has never known such pleasure.
If you are getting small tears, that's indicative of a possible yeast infection. Otherwise, the skin should yield easily to mild tension without trauma. Go to the pharmacy and look for an over-the-counter preparation for treatment of women's yeast infections. Follow the directions for amounts, and apply the cream to the end of your foreskin.
The amount of tension to apply should not cause pain in any degree. If you start to hurt, back off a bit. The right amount should feel pleasurable.
Betamethasone ointment is a controlled substance that requires a physician's prescription. It isn't really necessary to accomplish your goal, so don't be too concerned about obtaining it. In the event that you already have a yeast infection, it's probably good to go without it anyway.
See if you can grasp the opening of your foreskin with fingers placed on each side. Then pull gently apart and hold it in the stretched position for about five minutes. I think that will do more good than just one finger inserted into the hole, although the use of a smooth device inserted into the hole for extended lengths of time can do wonders. No such device is currently being manufactured, so it takes your own imagination to design and make such a thing. There are plastics available at crafts stores which are moldable into any shape that lend themselves well to the cause. Men active in foreskin restoration often use these plastics to create devices that are used for creating the tension they need for skin expansion. I've been told the plastic is easy to use and reasonable priced. Caution in the use of a device is necessary to prevent injury to the skin and underlying glans. Any device must be made with an unbreakable substance, and all edges must be smooth. Lubricants are advisable for insertion, and they must be monitored often to inspect for undue pressure on any body part touching the device. The principle is similar to that used by orthodontists who employ plastic maintainers to hold teeth in place. Since your preputial cavity is composed of mucosa, similar to what is in your mouth, the principle is sound. However, you would not be monitored by a professional, so you would need to take extra care in ensuring your safety.
GarethV (no login)
Not useless flesh
December 3 2004, 11:51 AM
Thanks again for your time and trouble, I'll definitely pursue the possibility of a yeast infection.
Just a thought - is there anything usable from a body piercing studio? You know, the sort of thing they use to stretch earlobes and the like. Do they use progressively larger rings?
Gareth, I'm sorry, but I don't know. I am aware that they sometimes employ a series of progressively larger jewelry in order to expand the holes, but I can't conceive of anything they use that would serve your purpose.
In absence of creating a device, you could try the cap from a ball point pen. You would need one without the pocket clip. Simply lube it, put it in, and tape it in place.
Personally, I think you'll gain results fastest by using your fingers to pull the opening apart. Most guys achieve complete success within two months. Some have reported even faster gains, but I believe that's exceptional. Look, you've been this way for many years, so two months in nothing in comparions, is it?
BTW, nothing is harmed by your use of an anti-yeast preparation, so give it a go anyway. Also, avoid using any anti-bacterial soaps while using the medicine. You could also apply some yogurt with live culture to try re-establishing the proper balance of bacteria.
Just a quick memo, as I have things to do, but ...
Yes, they do use exactly this sort of thing in piercing studios to stretch earlobes and who-knows what else. Somewhere back in these pages I have considered this before.
The "grommets" I have seen used for this might be a little rough if and where they would rest against the glans, but apart from that, they are exactly what we are describing. As in piercing practice, it would be important to use only pure precious metal ("sterling" silver with a copper content is generally OK, and most forms of "carat" gold, but anything with nickel in it, including some forms of stainless steel, are dangerous) or plastic.
It seems possible that such a studio might be prepared to rent you the devices.
Regarding your description of "torn slightly", it is hard to know by "remote control". You could be too harsh, and since you have reported no prior problems, it seems improbable that you suddenly have candidal infection of the skin. If you perceive that the skin is more "fragile" than you would normally expect, then perhaps you may need the anti-fungal (see previous threads here), otherwise, just be a little less enthusiastic.
I trust by now you have discovered that stretching does work, and this understanding hopefully permits you to be more patient if it proves to be - at any particular stage - slow and difficult. The use of stretching grommets would no doubt accelerate the process enormously.
As to the doctor, even in England, if he is over 40 he probably is circumcised, and the psychology of that - as you see in other circumcision "boards" (as well) - is powerful!
Oh dear - this memo "stretched", didn't it?
GarethV (no login)
Re: Certainly not useless.
December 4 2004, 11:01 AM
Are you sure a piercing studio would rent the grommets if they knew what they were being used for??!!
By "torn slightly", I mean that the outer layer of skin had split, and it started to bleed a bit. It also stings when passing urine. It repairs in a couple of days if I leave it alone, but if I continue stretching before it's healed properly, it invariably splits again.
Just a short question about the method described by Jim ("Hold the stretch for five to ten minutes at a time"). I'm lucky if I can hold it for five to ten seconds before it slips out of my fingers. Any tips? Just re-grip I guess?
I know you're serious, but just trying to picture this, it's sounds funny. I suppose regripping is your only choice. Perhaps if you were to powder the area with cornstarch (perhaps you call it corn flour), it would make things easier. I'd avoid talcum.
GarethV (no login)
December 12 2004, 12:54 PM
I have been gripping as described, but instead of cornflour, I've been using tissue between my fingers and foreskin to keep the area dry and gain more grip. I'll let you know how it goes.
Use a face-washer/ facecloth. It has all sorts of uses, not the least of which is to wash yourself without using excessive soap, but also is most useful in bed.
Not sure whether I had adequately replied to all previous points, but in regard to the piercing clinic, I'm sure they regard stretching one part just the same as stretching another. Not that it's your reasoning, but from their end, once you start doing queer things to your body, then nothing is too queer. I suppose you feel that they would be more "comfortable" if you wanted to put holes in either side of your foreskin and stick a padlock through? Perhaps.
In any case, my reasoning was that they would be used to people using these things temporarily in progressive sizes, and those people would therefore be wanting to return/ resell the smaller ones, which if metal, they can re-sterilise for someone else.
GarethV (no login)
Re: Certainly not useless.
February 22 2005, 3:53 PM
Well, after losing heart for a while due to getting nowhere and constantly splitting the skin, I layed off for a while.
I got hold of some thrush cream, and lo and behold, it seems to have made the skin smoother and more supple, and the stretching seems at this stage to be going well.
Thanks to you too, Gareth, for confirming that point (I hadn't noticed your last post before). There's another fellow who posted here, and it happens he's just had a circumcision today because he chose not to believe this advice.
So, you choose your own destiny by what you decide to believe.
Joe Bloggs (no login)
I'm 37 and stretching does work
December 21 2004, 7:02 AM
GarethV your wrote:
"I have two questions:
1) Was he right when he said that stretching wouldn't work for someone of my age?"
That's just not true. I'm 37 and stretching is working for me. I hope that gives you encouragement to continue.
Please note - use "Preview" to check what you have written and how it will appear before you "Respond", and because this forum is moderated, you will not then see your submission until the moderator has a chance to confirm it.