Normal Foreskin Retraction

Question

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
About the Author
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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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