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Old 07-18-2012, 06:57 AM   #1
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Foreskin & retraction question

Before my son was born I checked to make sure I was on the same page as our Ped regarding not retracting his foreskin. He agreed, not retracting was the way to go. Buuut....

At each visit he pushes down a bit on the foreskin. I got a bit nervous and jerky at his one year this time and said, "whoa, whoa, you're not retracting are you?" And he said something to the effect of no, not retracting but checking to see if it DOES retract. And then it was over and I moved on, no harm done to my son but I feel scratchy about this.

So my specific question: WHY do we need to know if it does retract? Does something important happen when it can retract? Is it actually something the Ped or I need to know about, and if so, what do I need to be doing once it happens? Is there any harm in checking to see if the foreskin will or can retract?

Thanks for answering my newb questions.

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Old 07-18-2012, 07:25 AM   #2
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

I've read that when it starts to retract you need to retract as far as it will comfortable go and then rinse w/ water. Maybe that's why?
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:34 AM   #3
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

I think they are just checking for any signs of infection/something wrong. I've heard that the foreskin can hide problems with the ureter(<--is that the right word?for the pee tube?) and they can't really tell if there IS a problem until it has retracted....

My doc does the same thing, just a little pressure with his finger, no actually forceful retraction.

FWIW- my almost 3 yo IS circ'ed but his skin was fused up aroudn the top part of his penis (past the scar) and the doctor's wouldn't even retract that, they said it would come down on its own & it has within the last 6 months. (he also discovered himself in that last 6 motnhs.....so, he may have done it himself)
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Old 07-18-2012, 07:46 AM   #4
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

My cousin didn't circ her boy & when she couldn't retract to clean he got lots of infections then she did circ because all the infections & that it was hard top pull back. If u know about foreskin as he grows he will need to pull back to clean himself too & for sex when he is old enough 4 condoms.
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:06 AM   #5
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I didnt read all the response but NO nothing changes! Even if it retracts a little bit you still dont need to clean any of it. Hes 1...geez! We had our sons old ped try to pull this crap on us. She was trying to retract him and said "if he doesnt retract soon the foreskin can get stuck. So you should start working it back no."

I was in awe! Our new ped (a naturopath) said most docs dont know what do to with intact peni so they feel the need to check it at even chance they get because they dont know what else to do....

Amanda . Blaming my phone for typos and crap.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:21 AM   #6
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

No, nothing special happens. I usually tug gently to see if it will retract just to be able to rinse with water. My 5 yo can fully retract and he will sometimes get that gunky white stuff on it and will get infected if he doesn't rinse out. My 2.5 still cannot retract his so we just leave it be and we haven't had any issues. My almost 1 yo has his stuck like glue lol but we know that is normal.
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Old 07-18-2012, 09:28 AM   #7
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

didn't retract ANY of my kids' foreskins (4 are intact) and never had an issue and the ped never tried to do it either.
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:04 PM   #8
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

My ped and peds urologist like to gently retract just make sure they can see the urethra and that it looks normal.
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beautifulboyz
No, nothing special happens. I usually tug gently to see if it will retract just to be able to rinse with water. My 5 yo can fully retract and he will sometimes get that gunky white stuff on it and will get infected if he doesn't rinse out. My 2.5 still cannot retract his so we just leave it be and we haven't had any issues. My almost 1 yo has his stuck like glue lol but we know that is normal.
That white stuff is smegma and it is normal and doesn't need to be cleaned off. It is the male equivalent of discharge and it lubricates the penis.

There is no reason to retract a penis at all just to see if it does. Plenty of boys don't retract until past puberty. My son is 8.5 and doesn't retract at all.

After 2 there is no real reason for doctors to be checking genitals anyways, unless there is a concern.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:01 PM   #10
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Re: Foreskin & retraction question

Our pedi does like to visualize the urethral opening during newborn checks, but it's a one-time thing. (Which I'm not convinced is entirely necessary, but whatever.) I don't think she's done anything more than glance briefly at his penis since. He's three now and barely one-third retractable, and the only reason I know this is because he showed me himself recently. We don't do anything differently when we bathe him and we never manipulate his foreskin that way. He more than takes care of that himself. He's had no infections or hygiene issues whatsoever.

Can you ask what your doc is looking for? If you know, then you can address the specifics and reasonably decline that portion of the exam. Whatever the reasoning, it's probably bogus or uninformed, and there's a good chance that the doctor's only motivation is that he or she thinks you have to do SOMETHING different to an intact penis but can't figure out precisely what that must be. There may even be a subconscious assumption that every foreskin is a ticking time bomb, no matter how healthy it appears at a glance. Regardless, neither attitude is helpful to you or your child.

For instance, if your doc says it's about retraction, you can just rest assured it's way too early to worry about retraction in a baby who's barely a year old. There's plenty of literature, including AAP guidelines, to back you up on that. Besides, if your son starts retracting at an age where you're still responsible in any way for his daily hygiene, you'll almost certainly know one way or another without you or his doc ever having to "check". If his foreskin is still tight as he gets older, you can just tell him that it should retract at some point before he's grown, and then explain the three simple steps he'll take when it does (retract, rinse, replace). No problem there either.

But if your doc says instead that there's a need to visualize the urethral opening, don't be afraid to ask for more detail. I've heard docs justify doing this to check for anything from meatal stenosis to hypospadias to some sort of irritant or infection, but none of that makes sense either. Hypospadias would have already been found by earlier exams and isn't going to just show up spontaneously, and a healthy boy would only be at risk of developing meatal stenosis if he'd been circumcised. If there were truly significant irritant or infection present beneath the foreskin, you would be the one approaching your doc about it because of your son's symptoms, not the other way around.

All that isn't to say that your son's penis has been irreparably harmed by this. But in my mind it would be no different than spreading a baby girl's labia and visually scrutinizing her vagina and urethral opening as part of every single well check. Once you know that a baby is normally formed down there, doing this to an ostensibly healthy baby is unnecessary at best, and at worst becomes a bit of a personal violation. It can also make someone more inclined to view any little change (or lack thereof) as evidence of something "wrong", even if it's 100% normal developmentally.
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