Normal Foreskin Retraction


My son was not circumcised. He's now 2 1/2 years old, and the foreskin is still very tight and will not go back. I was told not to pull it back when he was a baby as it would loosen on its own by the time he's 2 - 3 years old. But it isn't loosening at all. Is this normal? Should I be concerned about it?

Dr. Greene's Answer

Many moms share your concern. In uncircumcised boys, the foreskin begins firmly attached to the glans, but over time, the attachments are broken (mostly by the stretching resulting from repeated normal erections). In most boys, the foreskin is loose and mobile by age 2, but this normal process can sometimes take five or more years. Even if you know other boys your son’s age whose foreskin is already loose, you can be reassured that your son’s timetable is completely normal. It is not a reason for concern. When the foreskin has separated from the glans, the foreskin should retract quite easily. Trying to pull back the foreskin before it is really ready is unnecessary. Beyond that, it can lead to pain, scarring and adhesions.

Last medical review on: April 24, 2008
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

Great advice from Sylvia.

There’s no reason for an adult to TRY and see if it retracts. Most 2-and-a-half-year-olds will not be able to. I know that my intact sons have discovered this ‘feature’, and *none* of them were able to fully retract by age 4 or 5 or even beyond that.
I would say being able to retract by 2 is the exception, not the norm.

I would definitely update this article so that it includes the average age of retraction, and that no adult should be fussing around trying to figure out if a boy can retract…not necessary, can cause harm.

Actually the average age of retraction is 10 years old. My intact son is 3.5 and still not close to being able to retract himself. Again, ONLY the child should be the one to retract. Otherwise you risk micro-tears, scarring, and infection!