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What is phimosis?

Phimosis is the inability to pull the foreskin back over the head of the penis (glans).

The head of penis is covered by a tissue called the foreskin. The foreskin is usually loose and slides easily over the head of the penis. This movement allows the child to urinate or to become fully erect (in adolescents). Sometimes, though, the foreskin is too tight. It can close over the glans and become unable to move (Fig. 1). This condition is called phimosis.

Phimosis or agglutination?

Phimosis needs to be distinguished from agglutination, which is a rather common condition. With agglutination, some foreskin tissue stays attached to the glans (Fig. 2). This protects the infant’s penis from direct contact with faeces and urine, which can cause irritation. Agglutination usually goes away on its own over time.

Fig. 1: Phimosis.
Fig. 1: Phimosis.
Fig. 2: Agglutination.
Fig. 2: Agglutination.

This information was produced by the EAU Patient Information Working Group, March 2017.

  • Dr. M. Innocenzi, Rome (IT)
  • Dr. M. Kubát, Brno (CZ)
  • Dr. A. Prouza, Prague (CZ)
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