This site discusses phimosis in its specific forms of phimotic ring, frenulum breve, adhesions or skinbridges. During erection these conditions inhibit the relationship between foreskin and glans. This functionally restricts the erection, and thus has an effect on the sexuality. With our culture's attitudes on health care, it would be appropriate to monitor boys before puberty and encourage early prevention.

2012 : note from author: My previous idea of monitoring boys before puberty is impractical, unecessary and now only of historical interest. please see Postscript.

updates and supporting education on new site :

(Latin Frenulum: a small bridle. Breve: short)

The frenulum is similar to the joining ridge under the tongue. A small sheet of skin underneath the glans joins the glans to the foreskin. On the erect penis if the frenulum is too short, when one retracts the foreskin and then lets go, the foreskin slides or springs forward again. The condition is well described as a "tether" (80), (81),

This condition is one of potential antagonistic pulls. During erection the short frenulum tethers the foreskin forward, on the other hand intercourse, and masturbation exert forces which pull the foreskin backward. This causes a variety of pleasure/pain sensations. The various degrees of brevity and thickness, and infinite variations in the positioning, make it difficult to give a simple description of the effects.

When masturbating the erection is manually controlled, so the foreskin can be kept in a forward position and painful movements can be avoided. Conscious problems start during intercourse when the foreskin is involuntarily and repeatedly pulled backwards .

The strain often causes pain, soreness, and bruising for some days afterwards, or the frenulum can rip.

Ripping occurs typically during first love making often resulting in profuse bleeding. Subsequently the bleeding surfaces can congeal and the frenulum rejoins even shorter than previously, sometimes developing an ulcer like scar.

NEW pictures of frenulum
pictures of frenulum breve (unsuitable for under 18s)

Some men are born without a frenulum, sometimes the frenulum spreads out like the roots of a tree; often the frenulum forms one prominent ridge. This prominent frenular ridge runs from the foremost point of the shaft in the "V" shaped cleft between the two cloves underneath the glans, and runs back along the shaft and inner foreskin. A healthy frenulum allows the foreskin to retract freely when erect. (This sheet or ridge of tissue can be of any thickness. The thickness of the frenulum appears to be independent of the length.)

The frenulum itself is not very sensitive, however it is attached underneath and behind the glans and this area has a particularly abundant network of nerves.

This is a most confusing condition, far more enigmatic than the phimotic ring. The condition is so well hidden behind the foreskin and underneath the glans, that the men themselves usually don't recognise it until well after sexual activity has started. - they frequently identify their difficulty as redundant prepuce or phimosis.

Public information and medical studies rarely acknowledge the condition or describe the effects inaccurately or insufficiently. In the literature there appears to be only rare indications as to what exactly the problem is which is considered as necessary to surgically correct.

And there are no reliable statistics - (except on beef cattle and pigs where early checks are performed for breeding soundness). This incredible situation is shown fully in "The Frenulum Studies"

Clarification of the effects
A simple description of the effect of frenulum breve during erection, is that when one retracts the foreskin and then lets go, the foreskin slides (or springs) forward again. If one holds the foreskin back it bends the glans downwards. The condition is well described as a "tether" (80), (81), The tethering effect of this short "bridle" holds the foreskin forward.

When masturbating, the erection is manually controlled, so the foreskin can be kept in a forward position and painful movements can be avoided. Though afterwards some men express a feeling of soreness and being bruised; pain or ripping are only occasionally reported during masturbation.

Generally problems occurs during intercourse. Lubrication is necessary (e.g. the natural lubrication) or during penetration, ejaculation, or if the vagina tightens, it will be painful as the foreskin is pulled backwards on the frenulum. Often at these times the frenulum will rip.

Among men who are circumcised there is sometimes no foreskin for the tension of the short frenulum to displace, and during erection the glans bends downwards, or under this unavoidable direct strain it may rip. It has been suggested that in the circumcised state, if the frenulum does not rip this can lead to a permanent deviation of the phallus (82).

Various Degrees of Brevity
There are various degrees of brevity. Anatomical and sexual effects are related to the thickness and shortness of the frenulum breve, and where it is positioned.

I believe we can define 6 different sorts of frenulum. Some men have no frenulum. When a frenulum is present, we can define 5 different lengths of frenulum

  • extra long: some men have a frenulum which is so long and pleasurable that they can pull on it to acheive orgasm.
  • adequately long: among some men it is long enough to allow easy retraction with no feeling of tension.
  • border line: some feel it pulling during intercourse among these some complain of premature ejaculation whereas others feel without this stimulation they would not ejaculate - this could be as much due to the length of frenulum as individual psychology
  • too short: when it is too short it will either rip or cause pain either during or after intercourse - whether it rips or not probably depends more on the thickness of the frenulum than its shortness.
  • Sometimes the frenulum is so short that there is actually no frenulum and the foreskin is attached directly to the glans, even directly underneath the meatus (the urinary opening of the glans).

These very short degrees will presumably either totally hinder penetration or cause pain and rip when attempting this.

It appears that with less tight degrees, if the foreskin can be retracted and penetration can be accomplished, this is more likely to cause pain or rip during ejaculation, or to cause soreness and a feeling of being bruised afterwards for a period of several days. Reports suggest that some, (presumably milder degrees or thicker frenulum), may rip eventually after several years of active sex.

Some men feel the frenulum pulling during intercourse; among these some complain of premature ejaculation, whereas others feel that without this stimulation they would not ejaculate. These attitudes could well be due to different lengths and positioning of frenulum rather than individual psychology.

Frenulo-phimotic combinations are frequent. When frenulum breve is combined with other conditions this has more complex effects. When combined with a relative phimosis it is reported latching behind the corona, creating a true spring mechanism for the foreskin.

Without any warning to the young men who have the misfortune of this membrane being too short, our cultures curious tradition is, several years after puberty, to let it rip of its own accord. When the frenulum rips it is usually accompanied by pain and bleeding - this is the most commonly reported symptom of the condition.

Dr. Porst describes the experience : "Among a percentage of men... on erection it tightens to its limit, and then can even rip Furthermore, this mostly happens unsolicited, during the first sexual encounter. A moment of great alarm follows for both participants at the resultant bleeding." (9). The Kinsey New Report say that such incidents are "not unusual" (10).

Sometimes it rips on the first sexual encounter often later. When the frenulum rips, this may save years of adult problems.

Subsequently the bleeding will often congeal and the frenulum will rejoin which may make it even tighter and then it will subsequently rip again, so that the process continues ad infinitum. To add to the general frustration, occasionally an ulcer like scab can develop on the rip scar, and this may even break off when engaging in sex.

Whether it rips or not and if it rejoins certainly depends more on the thickness of the frenulum than its shortness. Some men have a thin frenulum breve which is typically topped with a string of skin like a hem while others have a thick sturdy frenulum. It appears that when a thick frenulum breve rips, it can rejoin, whereas a thin frenulum breve leaves such tiny flaps of skin that they can recede into the shaft skin beneath the glans. With a thin frenulum breve, once the string which forms the hem on the frenulum rips, the remaining frenulum will rip easily and naturally.

In addition, it is recognised that in old age as the skin tightens, often a frenulum which had previously caused no apparent problem can start to cause tension, and sometimes it may rip, or require an operation.

The ripping of the frenulum is a far more common fate of the frenulum breve than an operation. - My personal interviews among 300 people showed from around eight cases of ripping, that only two had informed their doctors - (largely because it healed almost straight away) There is therefore good reason to believe that frenular rips are occurring at a far greater frequency than the medical profession realises.

General Comments
One woman described a man who was always soft inside her until ejaculation when it hurt him, he was aware that the frenulum caused this pain, he was apparently not aware of the weakness of his erection. One man who was aware of the frenulum being too tight, advised his girlfriends not to touch him there, a simple practical idea, except that it made him to some extent untouchable. Neither of these men had realised that there was a cure.

Because of the overall impression that the foreskin remains forward, there is a tendency similar to phimosis for the adolescent to forget to wash the area.

Incidentally because of the antagonistic pulls involved this condition is especially problematic when trying to use a condom