Also known as the prepuce, in adult uncircumcised males, the penis forskin makes up about half the skin of the phallus and is a double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane covering the glans penis and protecting the opening to the urethra when the penis is flaccid.
At the tip of the foreskin is the circular ‘ridged band’ of specialised sexual tissue, full of sensitive nerve endings, which is not replicated anywhere else on the human body and only comes to the upper surface during erection.
The outside surface of the foreskin is extremely sensitive and was designed to detect and prevent damage. It is a continuation of the skin on the penile shaft and you can see this quite clearly if you retract it on an uncircumcised erect penis. The skin just seems to disappear back into itself in the most fascinating way and it is this movement which is crucial to bring about the male climax.
It is the Dartos muscle, a thin sheet of muscle fibres embedded in the skin, which is responsible. When the penis starts to become aroused, the contraction of this muscle causes the penile skin to shorten, tense and stiffen. This, in turn, enhances the connection between the shaft skin and the ridged band at the tip of the foreskin, promoting the erection and activating the ridged band’s receptors to trigger eventual ejaculation. This stiffness and the frictionality of the movement mean that the ridged band becomes aware of changes in the position of the uncircumcised erect penis within the vagina during intercourse.
The inner foreskin is a mucous membrane that is designed to withstand frictional trauma and damp conditions. If it dries out or is traumatised by premature retraction of the foreskin, cuts and fissures can develop which, if left untreated, can lead to scarring that can seriously interfere with its ability to retract.
The presence of the two layers means that the delicate ridged band remains safely protected from stimulation until an erection allows it to be deployed on the upper surface of the penile shaft and activated to trigger orgasm and ejaculation. The textured composition of this special skin also eases the frictional problems of the erect shaft skin entering the vagina.
Smooth muscle fibres keep the penis forskin close to the glans but make it highly elastic and it is attached to the shaft by a thin fold of mucosa called the frenulum. In some cases, this can be too short to allow the foreskin to retract fully, known as phimosis. This condition can be treated with gentle stretching of the foreskin, topical steroid creams, making a small cut in the foreskin called a preputioplasty or full circumcision.
In the womb, the foreskin begins to grow over the head of the penis at about eight weeks and completely covers it by 16 weeks. At birth the glans and the foreskin are still fused but, as the boy gets older, separation occurs. Most uncircumcised males are able to retract their foreskin by the age of 17 but this is a task that should be left to the individual as forcible retraction may result in scarring which, in turn, can cause phimosis.
It is extremely important that retraction is achieved as, otherwise, it is impossible to clean the smegma which forms underneath the foreskin. Poor personal hygiene can lead to inflammation and swelling of the glans and foreskin, a condition known as balanitis.
Originally posted 2010-04-14 12:38:02. Republished by Blog Post Promoter