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Penis And Testicle Health - Conditions and Complications | January 31, 2022, 5:44 CST

Is My Foreskin Too Long?

The average length of the prepuce isn't easy to define, but it's also not a source of concern.
Jake Hall

Written by

Jake Hall
Two pieces of corn, one cut and one uncut.
Illustration by Tré Carden

Throughout his decades-long career as a urologist, Los Angeles–based Paul Turek, M.D., has seen thousands upon thousands of uncircumcised penises. He's a bonafide penile expert, yet when he was asked if there is such a thing as an "average" foreskin length, his reply was straightforward: "I'm not sure this has ever been researched!"

Turek is partly right. There are seemingly no in-depth, global studies of foreskin length, as whenever researchers have measured foreskin, they've done so in localized contexts. For example, in a 2017 research paper published in the Arab Journal of Urology, "excessive" foreskin was defined as exceeding the external urethral meatus (the opening of the urethra) by 1 centimeter or more in the flaccid state. This is by no means an internationally standardized measurement, but it does give an indication of what might constitute a "long" foreskin in a medical context.

Turek mirrored this definition with his own description of a long foreskin.

"In my practice, having seen thousands of uncircumcised men, I would estimate that the average length of foreskin extending beyond the covered penis to be 1 centimeter," he explained. "I would consider a 1-inch extension beyond the covered penis to be long."

Some guys may worry that their foreskin is too long. But is there any such thing? And would it be a problem?

Foreskin, like genitals, comes in all shapes and sizes

According to Turek, so-called excessive foreskin is very rarely a cause for concern.

"In the vast majority of men who are uncircumcised, the foreskin extends over the covered penis and hangs down a little," he said. "The extent to which a foreskin hangs down beyond the penis is no cause for concern."

Generally, uncircumcised penises do require a little more TLC than their cut counterparts.

"Any diseases that affect the skin can affect the foreskin," Turek explained. "This can include psoriasis and eczema, as well as common STDs like syphilis, herpes type 2 and warts."

Phimosis, or tightness of the foreskin, which can cause scarring and infection, can affect uncircumcised penises, too.

By far the most common issue with uncut penises is balanitis, a glans inflammation which is 68 percent more common in uncircumcised men, according to data collated by StatPearls.

"Balanitis is typically a fungal infection of the foreskin and glans penis," Turek said of the treatable infection. "This occurs because the covered penis is a warm, moist space for fungus to grow, and it can be prevented by keeping the penis and foreskin as clean and dry as possible with daily hygiene."

Uncircumcised penises with longer foreskin are more susceptible to "penile wetness," a buildup of subpreputial (below-the-foreskin) moisture, which can increase rates of sexually transmitted diseases, according to a 2008 study published in the International Journal of STDs and AIDS. Anyone with this observed "wetness" is simply advised, as Turek said, to observe good genital hygiene.

If you do have a 'long' foreskin…

If you're uncircumcised, good hygiene is essential. It's important to pull the foreskin back regularly to ensure you're cleaning your genitals properly. As long as you're staying on top of this, there's zero reason for disproportionate concern.

Of course, not everyone worried about the length of their foreskin is panicking for purely medical reasons. Some men undergo "cosmetic circumcision," because they may feel they have excessive foreskin or simply prefer the aesthetics of a circumcised penis. In these cases, adult circumcision is framed as a remedy for foreskin insecurities.

Although Turek said he would agree to perform circumcision for purely cosmetic reasons, he doesn't typically recommend it for long foreskin. However, he would perform the procedure if the patient either finds it difficult to maintain hygiene or is uncomfortable about the way the foreskin looks or feels.

It's important to pull the foreskin back regularly to ensure you're cleaning your genitals properly.

In these cases, homework is important, because it's comparatively difficult to find surgeons capable of performing cosmetically inclined procedures.

"To me, cosmetic circumcision is a higher form of art," Turek said.

To maintain penile pleasure, Turek tends to perform "nerve-sparing" circumcisions, which involve using smaller sutures and optical magnification to reduce scarring to a minimum. He also uses as little cautery as possible and avoids the male G-spot––on the underside of the glans penis––as much as possible to keep orgasm intact.

Aesthetics aside, from a medical or functional standpoint, there's no such thing as a foreskin that's "too long" to do what it needs to do, which is to protect your penis and help create a pleasurable, gliding sensation during sex. In other words, there's absolutely nothing wrong with a little extra skin on your penis.

Jake Hall

Written by

Jake Hall