What is the frenulum of the penis?
The frenulum of your penis is a band of tissue found where your foreskin (prepuce) intersects with the head (glans) of the underside of your penis. Even if you have a circumcised penis, a small piece of the frenulum may remain. It’s often shaped like the letter “V.”
The frenulum of the penis has other names, including frenum and “banjo string.”
How does the frenulum help with reproduction and sexuality?
The frenulum is very sensitive, especially to a light touch. It’s believed to help pull back the foreskin over the glans of your penis. The frenulum is part of the sexual arousal process, but it can also cause pain with erection if it’s too short.
Where is the penile frenulum located?
Typically, the frenulum is on the underside of your penis (the side closest to the scrotum). The frenulum looks a bit like a bridge of tissue connecting your foreskin to the head of your penis.
“Frenum” in Latin means “bridle,” so “frenulum” means “little bridle.” The band of tissue does connect and restrict organs. You also have a frenulum under your tongue, as well as other places in your body.
Conditions and Disorders
What are the common conditions and disorders that affect the penile frenulum?
Conditions that can affect the frenulum of the penis include:
- Frenulum breve: This common condition happens when the frenulum is short. If it’s short, the frenulum can tear and bleed during vigorous sexual activity. If you tear your frenulum often, your healthcare provider may suggest surgery to either make the frenulum longer or to remove it. You may also have problems keeping the area under your foreskin clean.
- Scarring: If your penis frenulum tears often, it can form white scar tissue.
- Frenular chordee: This condition is another one related to a short frenulum. The short length of the frenulum can cause the head of your penis to bend downward, which is what "chordee" means.
- Dyspareunia: This condition refers to painful intercourse.
- Hypospadias: With this condition, your urethral meatus (the hole from which you pee) isn’t in its usual place. Hypospadias is often associated with a missing frenulum.
- Premature ejaculation: Researchers are trying to determine whether a short frenulum can cause premature ejaculation and if a surgical procedure could help.
What are some common signs or symptoms of penile frenulum conditions?
The most common signs and symptoms of frenulum problems include:
- Having pain during sex or while getting erect.
- Having a penis that points downward because the frenum is restricting your penis.
- Bleeding and tearing of the frenulum during vigorous activity.
- Finding it difficult to pull back (retract) your foreskin. This symptom is similar to a symptom of a foreskin condition called phimosis.
What common tests will your healthcare provider do to check the health of the penis frenulum?
Your healthcare provider will rely on questions regarding your medical history and a focused physical examination.
What are some common treatments involving the frenulum?
You can usually treat a torn frenulum at home by rest, over-the-counter pain relievers and waiting to have sex or masturbate until you heal. If the frenulum isn't healing well, if it's painful or if it tears too often, you should contact your healthcare provider. At that point, your provider may talk to you about these common treatments:
- Stretching exercises: Your provider may suggest gentle stretching exercises, but the frenulum may not respond as well as other tissues.
- Steroid creams or lotions: In some cases, your provider may recommend applying steroid-containing products to help stretch the skin over time.
- Frenuloplasty or frenular reconstruction: This type of surgery lengthens the frenulum and adds a bit of length to your penis. If this procedure doesn’t resolve your issue, your healthcare provider may recommend circumcision.
- Frenulectomy: This surgery removes the frenulum of your penis.
- Circumcision: This surgery removes the foreskin of your penis. Many parents choose to circumcise their baby shortly after they’re born, but the procedure is available for people of any age.
The surgeons will take care not to nick the urethra when doing these procedures. The urethra lies below the frenulum.
Frenuloplasty and frenulectomy are quick surgeries, usually performed in a urologist’s office or an outpatient surgery center. Your provider will discuss what type of anesthesia would be best for you.
How should I care for the frenulum?
Keeping your penis clean and dry is good for you and your frenulum. Make sure you wear clean underwear and clean clothing.
It’s also important to know what your penis looks like and feels like normally. If you have any signs or symptoms that anything has changed, contact your healthcare provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should the frenulum be removed?
If you’re having no issues with your frenulum (such as pain, bleeding, problems with sex or hygiene), there’s no reason to have it removed.
Is it normal to have a frenulum of the penis?
Yes, it’s normal to have a frenulum of the penis. It’s also normal not to have one in some medical conditions.
Can the frenulum of the penis be removed?
Yes, a surgeon can remove the frenulum of the penis. Your healthcare provider may suggest this if you’ve had repeated tears and have developed scar tissue. You may want a frenulectomy (frenulum removal) if the frenulum is causing physical pain or causing your penis to curve downward.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If you have a penis, you may or may not have a frenulum, which is a piece of tissue that connects your foreskin to the head of your penis, also called the glans. A circumcised penis may have a partial frenulum or no frenulum at all. Sometimes a frenulum of the penis can tear during vigorous sexual activity. If that happens, the frenular artery can bleed, and that can be scary. These kinds of tears usually heal on their own, but there may be cases when your healthcare provider suggests lengthening or removing the frenulum. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider to make the best decision for you.
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