A sensitive glans is a very real and common concern for phimosis sufferers. Many people with partial phimosis, who are able to touch their glans, quickly become familiar with how extremely sensitive it can be. This sensitivity can range from being slightly uncomfortable to outright painful.
A sensitive glans can pose several ongoing problems for the sufferer:
- It can come in the way of personal hygiene – For someone with extreme glans sensitivity, cleansing under the foreskin can be very difficult. Though proper penile hygiene calls for pulling back the foreskin and removing any accumulated debris, this is easier said than done during phimosis. The simple act of touching the glans can be agonizing, let alone rubbing and washing it multiple times a day. Most phimosis sufferers avoid a thorough manual cleansing of the glans, which has been linked to complications such as foreskin and urinary infections, worsening the severity of phimosis and even the increased risk of penile cancer.
- It can come in the way of physical relationships – For a phimosis sufferer, simply rolling back the foreskin can create a lot of anxiety. The physical discomfort and the psychological reluctance to expose the glans can affect a sufferer to the point where it may even be difficult to maintain an erection. At its extreme, a sensitive glans can even affect intimate relationships because the sufferer can become averse to any direct stimulation of the glans and avoid any possible embarrassment that may arise from engaging in sexual activity.
- Worst of all, it can even prevent phimosis sufferers from fixing their problem – While the prospect of normalizing their penile appearance and function is attractive to phimosis sufferers, for many, the fear of exposing their glans and experiencing its sensitivity to the fullest seems like an awfully painful idea.It is quite common for a phimosis sufferer to start seeing progress with manual stretches and increasingly expose more of their glans over time. However, this progress comes at a cost. Greater exposure also means more instances of discomfort from the glans incidentally touching things other than the inner foreskin. So uncomfortable these incidental contacts can be that many begin to entertain the idea that it is better to simply keep the glans within the comforts of the foreskin and give up on curing their phimosis.
What’s unfortunate about all these issues is that glans oversensitivity is a temporary condition that can be easily overcome. Yet the fear of experiencing further discomfort often unnecessarily prolongs these negative effects.
Glans sensitivity is a good thing?
For starters, it’s important to note that a sensitive glans is completely normal and not just unique to phimosis sufferers. Most uncircumcised males experience extreme glans sensitivity at some point in their lives.
Though it may not seem like it, glans sensitivity is actually a desirable thing. Just ask someone who has been circumcised later in life. Adult circumcision patients are in the unique position of comparing glans sensitivity both before and after surgery. The truth is, most post-circumcision patients deal with penile sensitivity issues for weeks after surgery. However, one of the top complaints these adults have isn’t that their glans is too sensitive. That goes away with time. It’s that sex isn’t as pleasurable anymore because a permanently exposed glans becomes desensitized. To them the lack of sensitivity post-surgery is far worse than the temporary increased sensitivity they experienced before and right after surgery.
In fact, some circumcised adults feel real a sense of loss because of this loss of sensitivity. This is why many circumcised men pay good money for devices that promise to help them regrow their foreskin just so they can experience increased sensations from their glans. The goal for them is to return the glans to its natural state where it can transmit rich sensations once again and improve the quality of their sexual experience.
This is a perfect example of how glans sensitivity can be a good thing. The key of course is to achieve a level of sensitivity that allows for maximum pleasure without going overboard into discomfort territory.
If you have a sensitive glans, rest assured it’s better to be on the overly sensitive side than the opposite extreme because it is easier to densensitize the glans than resensitize it.
Why is the glans more sensitive in phimosis sufferers to begin with?
If you followed the foreskin from the base of the penis down to the glans, you would find that as it folds in on itself and meets the glans, it transforms from its relatively tougher form into a more delicate tissue. Unlike the skin over the rest of our body, the inner foreskin and glans lack the tough, hardened upper layer made up of dead skin cells.
If you continue to follow the foreskin further into the glans, the change is even more drastic. Glans tissue is naturally sensitive and similar to the surface inside of our mouth.
The glans is highly innervated with free nerve endings and its surface also lacks the tough epidermal layer normally found elsewhere on our skin. Since our glans lacks any sweat glands or a tough outer barrier, it relies on the inner foreskin to keep it moist and maintain its healthy, sensitive state.
Male children are born with foreskins that are physically attached to their glans. By the age of 10, these adhesions between the glans and the inner foreskin break down and allow them to separate. While the foreskin may be retractable by this point, its tendency to recoil and cover the glans continues to help maintain its sensitivity.
How sensitive the glans remains past childhood depends on how often it is exposed to the outer world (air, clothing, hands, etc). Increased exposure usually means decreased sensitivity due to a process called keratinization. Keratinization hardens of the outer surface of the glans such that the nerve endings transmit a weaker signal of touch.
The greater the glans’ exposure to the outside world, the greater its keratinization and the less sensitive it will be.
The lesser your glans exposure, the lesser its keratinization and the greater its sensitivity.
In a circumcised male, the glans significantly desensitizes due to constant exposure to air and clothing. However, in a phimosis sufferer the keratinization of the glans never takes place because of its limited exposure to the outside world, causing the glans to be ultrasensitive.
Tips on overcoming glans sensitivity
For each one of the major sensitivity related issues mentioned above, here are some tips that can help you overcome them…
- Managing personal hygiene with glans sensitivity – Try retracting your foreskin all the way back and expose your glans to running water. It may feel more comfortable to use a tap instead of a shower head. Make sure the water temperature is cold but not uncomfortable and that the flow of water is steady. After the water has been flowing over your glans for a few minutes, you will begin to notice that it becomes slightly numb from the rushing cold water. You can then slowly rub your fingers over the glans and remove any visible debris from it. If you are unable to easily scrub off debris, simply roll the foreskin back onto the glans and use the foreskin to loosen the debris using your nails. For tough to remove smegma, try rubbing the affected area with a few drops of baby oil. Once clean, simply pat dry and pull your foreskin forward again. Remember, soaps and body washes can be drying and affect the natural pH of your glans. They also commonly contain fragrances that can irritate your glans. For these reasons, simply stick to water and occasionally baby oil to maintain proper glans hygiene.
- Improving physical relationships despite glans sensitivity – To overcome penile sensitivity, use condoms and lubricants. The latex in condoms provides a comfortable surface for the movement of the glans, similar to the inner foreskin and lubricants applied over the condom can further ease the gliding action by lowering friction. If this still doesn’t work, try using benzocaine based gels. Yes, the same substance used as a topical anesthetic for tooth aches can temporarily desensitize your glans. Since the tissue surface inside our mouths is similar to our glans surface, benzocaine will have the same effect on easing discomfort. Just make sure not to have any unprotected sex with the gel still on your glans. While there are over-the-counter products for just this purpose, do your own research and talk to your doctor if necessary, to ensure yours and your partner’s safety.
- Overcoming the reluctance to fixing your phimosis – This is one problem that is easiest solved by being more informed about the problem. No matter how extremely sensitive your glans, it is important to remember that it is a temporary problem and one that is fairly easy to overcome. Keep in mind that glans sensitivity is something that can be adjusted based on glans exposure. Phimosis sufferers should take comfort in knowing that fixing their tight foreskin and willfully exposing the glans to things other than the inner foreskin can solve their sensitivity problem in a matter of weeks. Yes, that’s easier said than done, however the good news is that as your glans sensitivity goes down even slightly, your comfort level improves significantly, allowing you to attempt glans exposures more often and further increase your rate of progress. So the most difficult steps are the first ones. It gets increasingly easier after that. Remember, a sensitive glans is nothing to be shy about and definitely nothing that should prevent you from treating your tight foreskin. Like most people, once your phimosis has been cured, your glans will quickly adapt and you will find yourself handling it with absolute comfort and even appreciate its new, ideal level of sensitivity.