In uncircumcised males, the foreskin protects the head of the penis or glans penis, medically. An adult male’s foreskin is typically stretchable and retracts over the glans during erections. However, during fetal development, the foreskin attaches to the glans and does not become retractable until well into the child’s life. Some males develop a condition called phimosis that renders the foreskin unable to retract over the glans at all. Phimosis can occur naturally, or it can result from trauma to the penis. It may be asymptomatic, or the condition may lead to complications.
Infants and toddlers typically have tight foreskins that do not retract because the inner layer of the foreskin seals to the glans penis before birth. Phimosis in infants and toddlers is not a sign of a larger issue. Typically, by the age of three, the foreskin begins to loosen, becoming fully retractable by the age of seven in 90 percent of cases, and by 16 in 99 percent of cases. Medical experts advise parents not to attempt to retract the foreskin in young males, as it can result in scarring or other trauma.
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