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Health & Fitness

My foreskin is too tight, should I get circumcised?

Circumcision in adult men
Circumcision in adult men is now common. PHOTO | FILE 

Q: I am a 25-year-old male and I feel that my foreskin is very tight. I am unable to pull down the skin when I am bathing and I have also noticed that the tip of my penis is often painful with a smelly whitish discharge. This discharge and pain clear with use of antibiotics.

Erections are often uncomfortable and intercourse is painful. I have taken to avoiding sex completely. I have tried stretching it but nothing seems to change.

Should I be circumcised? I am worried that I might get complications from the procedure. Kindly advice.

A: You sound like you might be having a condition known as ‘phimosis’—very tight foreskin. In addition, you might also be suffering from a condition known as ‘recurrent balanitis’, which is infection of the tip of the penis.

Both these conditions require circumcision as the definitive treatment. Your quality of life is clearly affected by your situation and you will need intervention.

Circumcision in adult men is now common due to its ability to reduce the risk of getting infected with HIV. Other advantages include better penile hygiene, reduced risk of penile cancer and reduced risk of penile and urinary tract infections.

When properly performed, circumcision is one of the safest surgical procedures. It does, however, come with some risks such as bleeding, post-operative infection and cosmetic issues regarding the foreskin remnant (could be too long).

In addition, most men report some change in the penile sensitivity during sexual intercourse after circumcision.

Go visit a urologist and get a full review. In your case, it seems that you are a likely candidate for circumcision.

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Q: I have a problem with genital odour. Even when I wash my penis thoroughly, I still smell. I have taken to showering twice a day but this has not improved the situation. Instead, my penile skin has become dry and sensitive.

Should I consider getting circumcised?

A: Most circumcised men tend to have better penile hygiene than uncircumcised ones. This is because the foreskin can harbor a whitish substance known as smegma. Smegma is a substance containing oil and dead skin cells. It is produced by the glands in the penis. Once smegma gets into contact with moisture and bacteria, it produces a foul smell. Ideally, you do not have to get circumcised to get rid of penile odour.

You just need to learn how to get rid of the smegma that accumulates under your foreskin.

To do this, gently pull back your foreskin and clean it with warm water and mild soap. Dry the area, and then return the foreskin to its normal position.

In most cases, this should clear up any smegma. Do not put in cotton buds or use antiseptic wipes to help clean this area, as it can be harmful to your penile health. I would also recommend that you go to a urologist for a review to make sure that you do not have any penile infections.

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Q: I am a 42-year-old man who was recently circumcised. I then developed a small growth that looks like the skin is re-growing. The tip is also very dry, unlike before, and sometimes painful and scaly. I am worried and this has even affected my sex life especially because of the tightness. What should I do?

A: You need to go for a review with the doctor who performed the circumcision. The doctor needs to assess and see if you are healing properly and that you do not have any infections.

The foreskin remnant can sometimes be a cause for cosmetic concern. It can sometimes be too long or it might fail to heal properly and reattach itself to the tip of the penis. In some cases, it needs some minor surgical repair.

However, unless, the remnant skin is causing you significant distress or health complications, you need not have it removed. Most men who underwent traditional circumcision have some small remnant foreskin and it is usually not associated with health problems.

It is also, not unusual to find that your penile tip feels dry after circumcision. This is because you no longer have the lubrication that smegma provided when you had a foreskin. If your doctor is sure that you do not have an infection, you can apply a small amount of non-scented petroleum jelly to ease the discomfort.

In addition, avoid using harsh soaps to clean if newly circumcised. Soaps can dry and irritate the skin. Sexual intercourse should ideally be resumed six weeks after circumcision.
If you are having pain upon penetration during your first few sessions, ask your partner to insert some water-based lubricant prior to penetration. This should make for a much more comfortable session.

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