Phimosis and paraphimosis


Phimosis is the inability to pull back foreskin over the head of the penis; paraphimosis is the inability to return it

Enquiries & Appointments


Phimosis is the inability to retract foreskin over the glans penis (the head). It isn't a problem unless it leads to pain or swelling. These problems become more obvious during sex or when you get an erection.

Paraphimosis is when the retracted foreskin cannot return to its usual position. As a result, the glans can become painful and swollen.

Need to know

For most men, tight foreskins do not lead to problems. If they do, symptoms can include:

  • foreskin pain or swelling
  • acute urine retention
  • ballooning of the foreskin when passing urine (phimosis only)

Boys cannot fully retract their own foreskin before the age of 5. Some may not be able to do so until the age of 10.

Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you to make a diagnosis. They will mostly likely take a medical history. And they may carry out a physical examination of your penis and foreskin. Additional tests can also be carried out, including general blood tests, urine tests and foreskin swabs.
Your consultant will discuss your treatment options, which will depend upon the nature of your problem. These options might include steroid creams or mild analgesics. Circumcision for reuccuring paraphimosis may also be an option.

Our Phimosis and paraphimosis locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Shard Outpatients

The Shard Outpatients

The Shard, 32 St Thomas Street SE1 9BS London
The Wellington Hospital

The Wellington Hospital

8A Wellington Place NW8 9LE London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.