Protecting boys from retraction

The misinformation out there is huge.  I sat beside a woman in a workshop the other night.  Told her my mission in life is to end the genital mutilation of boys.  She said “Well, you’ll be glad to know I have 3 boys who are uncircumcised.”  I said “It’s important that you call your sons “intact”, and good for you.”  She said “I just couldn’t bear the thought of doing it to them.” 

Then, she said “However, I am worried about the oldest (6 y.o.) because he can’t retract his foreskin yet.”  Her 4 y.o. was happily retracting himself.

I explained to her that it is perfectly normal to not retract even into the late teens.  I asked if her 6 y.o. son was concerned himself.  No, he loves his penis and has no problem with it.  Then, she said “another thing that concerns me is that it’s very red inside the foreskin.  Sometimes I think the glans is inflamed.”  That’s when I knew she had a circumcised hubby.


Yes, she did.  I said “You’re used to looking at a glans that is constantly rubbing against clothing and it has developed a grayish colour and a protective thickening.”  The fully covered glans is a rich red/purplish colour and that is how a mucous membrane should be. 

After that conversation, I thought “How many women start off well. . . yes, they protected their boy from amputation. . . but then what?  They live in a culture where the only penises they see are mutilated and then they fuss over their normal sons.” Not only do we need to protect boys from the scalpel but we also need to protect them from retraction of the penis.  Only the boy should be touching his own penis and he will retract it when his body is ready which may happen late for some boys.   

There is an amazing video that can be seen free online.  It was made to educate medical students but I think it should be viewed by every birth worker, every mother of a son, and every heterosexual woman.  So many women have told me that watching this educational video has changed their life.

4 thoughts on “Protecting boys from retraction

  1. Equally important is to head off the false diagnosis of phimosis in infants. Only about half of boys will be able to retract their foreskin by age ten, although 90+ % will by age 16. Phimosis requires the existence of BXO on the penis, not just a glance at the boy’s genitals as the umblical cord is being cut.

  2. Brava, Gloria! Thank you for getting good information out there to help fend off ignorance and fear. Amazingly, we had access to this info before my son was born almost 15 years ago. It’s astonishing to learn how many parents (and doctors) are still woefully uninformed…

  3. Our son is intact. Yes, we did have to “guard” him at the ped’s office a bit. I think to the uninformed, they think they have to pull back and clean it under there. Nope, just swish with water, don’t pull back ever. Your son will notice that the foreskin is loosening some day and you will tell him to rinse under there. No biggie.

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