Understanding Your Penis Foreskin

man-looking-down-outdoorsThe foreskin, also known as the prepuce, is the fold of skin that normally covers and protects the glans of the penis. The foreskin’s inside fold is mucous membrane, like the inside of the mouth, and keeps the surface of the glans soft, moist, and sensitive. The foreskin contains a rich supply of blood vessels and a dense concentration of specialized sensory nerve endings. Specialized erogenous tissue, the ridged band, encircles the foreskin at the mucocutaneous junction (where the inside and outside of the foreskin meet). The frenulum, the fold of tissue on the underside of the penis, secures the foreskin in its forward position.

Remember the following about your foreskin

  • The foreskin is not a “flap” of skin, but a double-layered fold of skin.

  • It is an integral part of the penile skin system.

  • It is a continuation of the shaft skin which extends forward over the head (glans) of the penis, and then folds back under itself to attach to the shaft in the groove (sulcus) behind the glans.

Functions of penis foreskin

On the basis of its importance and the function it performs, the functions of foreskin can be divided into the following main categories:

Sexual Functions

  • Serves as erogenous tissue, especially via the ridged band and Meissner's corpuscles

  • Acts as a rolling bearing in intercourse and masturbation, decreasing comfort for both partners

  • Facilitates intromission (insertion of the penis)

  • Stimulates partner's genitalia, giving erotic pleasure

  • Allows for motions of intercourse to be shorter and gentler, and pro partner’s pubic mound

  • Supplies sufficient skin to comfortably cover the shaft during erection

  • Stores and releases natural lubricants

  • Helps retains natural lubricants within vagina on the outstroke

  • Makes the glans a visual signal of sexual arousal

  • Provides a seal against the vaginal wall to contain semen

Protective functions of foreskin

  • Prevents the glans becoming keratinized, keeps glans soft and moist

  • Protects the glans against injury

  • Protects the nerves of the glans, maintaining their erotic function

  • In infancy, protects the glans and urinal opening from contamination

  • Protects the glans against sunburn

  • The foreskin is highly vascular (rich in blood vessels that bring warmth to the tissues), and protects vascular glans against cold and frostbite

What is phimosis?

Phimosis is a term, from the Greek expression for “muzzling,” used to describe difficulty or inability to retract the foreskin, which can be observed because of the following reasons: too small of a foreskin opening restricting retraction or persistent adhesion between the foreskin and penis.


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