DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THE RISK OF PREMATURE
FORCIBLE FORESKIN RETRACTION?

This is the first in a series of informational essays by Marilyn Milos, RN, founder of the National Organization of Circumcision Resource Centers and a pioneer in the movement to end the forced circumcision of boys in the United States. If you have a question you'd like Marilyn to address, send us an email!

You protected your son from circumcision at birth and now you'll need to protect him from premature forcible foreskin retraction (PFFR). Too often, uninformed healthcare professionals and caregivers do not understand the anatomy, functions, development, and care of the normal penis. Many doctors still don’t know that the foreskin and glans develop as one structure and are attached by a membrane called the balano-preputial lamina. Sometime between birth and the end of puberty (for each man, it’s different), these two structures naturally separate. The average age of foreskin retractability is 10.4 years.

When you wash your son's penis, no special care is needed. Wash it like you would a finger, from the body to the tip, with warm water only. No retracting or even checking to see if it retracts a little! The boy should be the first person to retract his own foreskin.

If your son's foreskin is red, it's probably caused by an overgrowth of yeast, which occurs when bacteria die from the use of soap, shampoo, bubble baths, or swimming in a chlorinated pool. The solution is simple: bacterial replacement therapy. Apply liquid Acidophilus culture or another probiotic to the boy's outer foreskin six times a day for three days and watch it return to normal health.

If your son's foreskin has a white lump, it's called a smegma pearl. Smegma is made up of sloughed-off cells, and smegma pearls tell you that the foreskin and glans are separating. As the separation of the foreskin and glans makes its way to the tip of the foreskin, the smegma is easily wiped away.

Let your son’s penis develop naturally as it should, and make sure no one – not a doctor or nurse, not a babysitter or another relative – tries to forcibly retract his foreskin. This is the best way to avoid injury and make sure he’s healthy and happy.

—Marilyn Milos, RN

For more information about the foreskin, please download our Foreskin Facts information sheet and share it with your friends, doctors, and anyone you know who may have a baby on the way or is thinking about becoming a parent.