ELASTIC BANDS and PHIMOTIC RINGS
Hi there everybody
Sorry I've been keeping so quiet lately, but I've been reading through
the various comments on wearing the foreskin retracted, phimosis and
adhesions with interest.
I've been giving some thought to the nature of the preputial ring,
phimotic or otherwise. During the discussions on retracting the foreskin,
someone suggested that a mild degree of phimosis may be necessary to
keep the skin back behind the glans when flaccid. I do not agree with
this view as it is merely the elastic nature of the skin, trying to
return the preputial orifice to its 'natural' size, which holds it
there. This elasticity will vary betwen individuals, and in some it
may not be enough to hold the foreskin retracted, but it must exist
otherwise eveyone's foreskin opening would be the same as the glans
diameter, and would gape wide open when the foreskin was forward.
Thinking back to my own childhood, before my phimosis developed,
my foreskin would stay back while flaccid, and I think most other boys'
foreskins would. I would think that foreskins get looser with age,
or with repeated retractions, so the adult is perhaps less likely to
be able to stay permanently retracted.
These thoughts on foreskin elasticity got me thinking about balloons
(the party type, not the hot air type). A balloon which has not been
blown up before can be very difficult to blow up, but if it is then
deflated it is much easier to blow up the second time, and becomes
easier at each successive inflation. If foreskins behaved the same
way, this could explain so-called 'childhood phimosis', where the skin
is too tight to allow it to be pulled back without pain or discomfort.
Repeated stretching, caused by erections and gentle manipulation, will
gradually allow the skin to be stretched more easily and eventually
This analogy with balloons did not explain phimosis satisfactorily,
but I then thought of something that might - an elastic band.
Any elastic band can have three physical characteristics described:
1. natural length
3. maximum length
To explain these in a bit more detail:
1. natural length - fairly obvious, the length when no force is applied.
2. elasticity - the extension produced by a given force. One particular
elastic band may double in length when a given force is applied, and
another, more elastic one, may triple its length when the same force
3. maximum length - when stretching an elastic band, there comes a
point where the resistance to further extension suddenly becomes very
much greater, and a much greater force is required. Only a small amount
of further extension is possible before the band breaks.
Now, how does this relate to foreskins, specifically the opening?
1. natural size - the size of the opening with the penis flaccid
and the skin fully forward.
2. elasticity - the increase in size of opening produced by a given
3. maximum size - the size beyond which a much larger force is required
to cause a further increase in size. Any further stretching will cause
pain and/or damage to the tissue.
The concept of a maximum size of opening lends itself to a very
neat definition of phimosis. That is, phimosis exists when the maximum
size of the preputial orifice is less than the maximum diameter of
the glans on erection.
My own phimosis was very severe, and the maximum size of the opening
was not much more than its natural size. However, when pulling back
on the skin, it felt very much as though it had reached a definite
limit of extendibility, just like an elastic band. While on the subject
of my own phimosis, Peter's description of his 'rounded triangle of
gristly skin' fitted my own foreskin perfectly. I would say that the
constriction was in the inner foreskin immediately behind the opening.
Would any other phimosis sufferers care to comment on this?
It would be interesting to debate how the three characteristics
I have mentioned develop in time from childhood through to adulthood.
My own hypothesis is that in most young boys, the natural size of the
opening is small, and the elasticity is low (i.e. the foreskin is tight),
and these two characteristics may prevent retraction. Now, as the boy
grows, do the natural orifice size and elasticity increase of their
own accord, or is some manual assistance required to do this, i.e regular
retraction (or attempts at retraction)? Thinking of the balloon analogy,
I am tempted to think that assistance is required. I am also reminded
of Øster, who found that retractibility increased with age,
but was it his own previous attempts at retraction (and the boys' own
subsequent attempts at retraction, having learnt that the skin should
pull back) which resulted in the retractibility at a later age?
Does the maximum orifice size increase with age as the boy is growing?
Does repeated retraction cause the maximum orifice size to increase?
If we speculate that retraction *is* necessary to increase the maximum
orifice size, we could have the situation where a boy's maximum orifice
is sufficient to enable retraction before puberty, but would not be
large enough to allow retraction over the enlarged glans after puberty.
If he regularly retracts before puberty, this may increase the maximum
size of the opening and prepare it for the larger expansion required
after puberty. In other words, in some boys, if they do not retract,
or attempt to retract, before puberty, they may find themselves suffering
from phimosis after puberty, which would have been avoided if they
had retracted from an earlier age.
This is all speculation of course, and the actual behaviour of the
foreskin will be determined by the cellular structure of the skin (about
which I know nothing), just as the characteristics of an elastic band
are determined by its molecular structure.
Anyway, it's food for thought.