A biological myth that many people fall for is that our foreskin is useless. However, if we can take one lesson from human anatomy, it’s that even important parts of our body can look deceivingly simple and misleadingly useless.
Take away the function of that seemingly “useless” part of your body and you soon realize the important role it plays in your life.
While many people are becoming aware of the importance of the foreskin and its specialized function, many are still unaware of the importance of a small piece of penile tissue that has remarkable functionality.
This piece of tissue is called the frenulum.
There’s a thin piece of tissue found on the underside of your glans and it connects your foreskin to the base of the penile head. This piece of tissue is elastic and works similar to the elastic tissue found under your tongue and your upper lip.
In medical terms it’s called the frenulum preputii penis or the penile frenulum. Many even casually refer to it as the banjo string.
What does the frenulum do?
Unlike the frenulum found under your tongue and your upper lip, the penile frenulum has a highly specialized function. One of its obvious functions is to act as a flexible band that always returns our foreskin back to where it should be – covering the glans.
One end of the frenulum is attached to the foreskin while the other is anchored in between the two globes of the glans. When a male is erect, the foreskin usually rolls back, allowing for the glans to be exposed. Once the male returns to the flaccid state, the recoil action of the frenulum pulls the foreskin back over the glans, allowing the foreskin to perform its protective function.
It also plays an important mechanical role in the gliding mechanism of the foreskin and penis during sex.
Why is the frenulum so important?
Even though it makes up a very tiny fraction of your penile tissue, the frenulum is one of the most sensitive parts of the penis. The frenulum is innervated with far more nerves than any other part of the penis, including the foreskin and glans.
This highly erogenous zone plays a vital role in experiencing rich sexual sensations and determines orgasm intensity.
The frenulum is remarkable
Studies were done on quadriplegics with severe spinal cord injuries that prevented sensations from reaching the brain. With the loss of penile sensations, these patients were believed to be left permanently impotent, without the ability to have an orgasm. However, stimulation specifically performed on the frenulum triggered an orgasm and even ejaculation!
In other words, the frenulum was able to produce a reflexogenic response even in the absence of normal penile-brain nervous system communication.
If this is what the frenulum does in spinal cord injury patients, imagine the enhanced role it plays in a healthy male.
How is it related to phimosis?
Frenulums come in all shapes and sizes. Some men have thick frenulums and others have thin ones. Some have long frenulums and yet others have short ones. Because of this, many times a frenulum that is too thin or too short can come in the way of its function.
This is when its benefits can also backfire.
Its important role in transmitting rich sensations also makes even small injuries to the frenulum very painful.
Its role in facilitating the gliding action of the foreskin also means that any problem with the frenulum can cause a problem with retraction of the foreskin – just as in phimosis.An example of such a problem is the frenulum breve, which can mimic issues caused by phimosis.
It’s important to realize that the frenulum is extremely important, unique, delicate and should be treated with care. Any action taken to treat a problematic frenulum should first aim to preserve it if at all possible because it truly is irreplaceable.