Stupid question... what does it mean to "retract" the foreskin? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 09-21-2012, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
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And is anyone braver than me and willing to Google for pictures?


This may sound stupid, but I really have no clue which part of my son's penis *is* is foreskin, let alone what it means to retract it. I know (I've read a zillion times) that it shouldn't be forcibly retracted, but I haven't seen a single description of what that means. I assume retracting it isn't something you could just accidentally do while washing or wiping?


dh is circ'd, as is pretty much every male baby whose genitals I've seen, so I really have no frame of reference. I know ds's penis looks different than what I've seen before, but I didn't ever have the stomach to watch a circumcision video, so I have no idea about what actually happens and what parts are what. (It was argument enough for me that babies are born with foreskins, and there's no naturally-occurring equivalent to circumcision, so they don't need to be cut off.)


Anyway, info appreciated!

Monkey (31) + Pirate (28) = a forever family (5/10) - Baby Bird (8/12), our long-awaited first, one (9/13 @ 7w 6d), and Baby Yummy (10/6/14)

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#2 of 5 Old 09-21-2012, 12:12 PM
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You have discovered what so many of us have been pointing out for years: there is no delineated structure called "the foreskin". It's all just penile skin. No dotted line for doctors to cut along, which is why no 2 circumcisions in the world are alike.


Generally speaking, the penile skin that most physicians consider to be the foreskin runs forward from just below the (covered) corona of the glans. In practice, circumcision is not this neat because a certain amount of inner foreskin has to be left after a circumcision, so it can heal to the remaining shaft skin. But generally, what we call foreskin is about 50% of the infant penile shaft skin. (51% on average is removed in a neonatal circumcision, according to the 1996 Taylor study in the British Journal of Urology).


The foreskin can be thought of as having two primary components, the posthe and the acroposthion. The posthe is the part of the foreskin that is fused to the glans at birth and for a few years afterward. The acroposthion is the loose "snout" that hangs beyond the meatus of the penis. It may be tubelike, or resemble a spigot, or be almost nonexistent; there's variation. It is this acroposthion that was removed in ancient times, while the posthe was usually left, but modern "medical" IMC (infant male circumcision) removes both.


Because the foreskin is a double-layered sleeve, it can be retracted by "unfolding" the skin along the shaft. Retraction involves putting mild pulling pressure on the shaft skin or foreskin in the direction of the pubis, gradually eliminating the acroposthion and -- the worse part of premature retraction -- starting to reveal the glans. Some doctors retract gently only to the point of being able to view the urinary meatus to check for abnormalities or inflammation, while other doctors may try to retract a boy fully to expose the entire glans and even coronal sulcus. This is not recommended and could be damaging.


There is a naturally occurring condition called "aposthia", or being born without a foreskin (full or partial). It is rare and considered a birth defect.

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#3 of 5 Old 09-25-2012, 01:08 PM
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brant31's explanation is better than any I could give, but I want to add that I never really understood it either: what is removed, what is left, what is inner vs. outer foreskin, what it looks like when it is retracted, etc...  I always assumed that forced retraction meant pushing the foreskin back until you can see the glans.  My sons were all tightly fused in infancy, so I do not think it is possible to retract it accidentally from wiping.  I think it would need a lot of force.  Anyway, I watched a video on the Whole Network that helped me understand, so I would recommend that.  Also, I don't think it is stupid at all.  How are we supposed know growing up in a culture of all circumcised men?

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#4 of 5 Old 09-26-2012, 06:34 AM
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No, you can't just accidentally retract a newborn baby's foreskin. They're attached on at that age.


Eventually, his skin might get a bit bunchier, and he'll be able to pull the skin back to expose the inner head part of his penis. That's what retracting is.


You're right that there isn't really a foreskin, per se. It's all just penis.

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#5 of 5 Old 09-27-2012, 12:25 PM
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Here are 2 links that show the foreskin in motion: show actual penises so N:
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SAHMlovin' to DD 10/00 & DS 10/04 If your son is intact, keep him safe, visit the Intact Care forum Circ, a personal choice, Your SONS 11/98 6/99 Thyroid cancer survivor. With 5 & 2 Boxers wishing for
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