What medical options are there for treating phimosis?
Steroid creams – these may help to soften the skin and make it easier to stretch the foreskin. Usually, they are applied twice a day to the tip of the foreskin, for a period of four to eight weeks.
What to expect with steroid creams – after two weeks, you should be able to start gradually stretching the foreskin once a day. You should only do this after being shown how by a doctor. You should do this gently to avoid damaging the foreskin. Research has shown that this form of treatment is often successful at first. For example, one study showed that the use of a steroid cream in children was 62% successful. However, the use of a steroid cream often needs to be repeated and is not always a permanent solution.
Full circumcision – this a procedure where the whole or part of the foreskin is surgically removed, has become popular for the treatment of phimosis, particularly if the condition is caused by scarring. However, it can cause bleeding or lead to infections. It is usually considered as a last resort but may often be the most effective treatment option.
How does circumcision work? – circumcision is carried out under general anaesthetic, but in some cases may be able to be performed under local anaesthetic instead. Men are often worried that the procedure will mean they won’t be able to feel much during sexual intercourse. However, many studies have shown that circumcision doesn’t affect sexual satisfaction. Possible complications of circumcision, include:
- Tightening of the urethra (urine tube)
Partial circumcision – this is not usually recommended due to the risk that scarring of phimosis may return after surgery.
Preputioplasty – this is a less radical procedure compared to circumcision and may be more beneficial in children. The procedure involves making incisions at the tip of the foreskin, exposing the head of the penis. However, the procedure has little success in adults.