Forced Retraction: What to Do Now?

By Danelle Day, Ph.D. © 2009

We frequently receive questions on forced retraction, similar to this one in our inbox:
Help! I just took my [insert age] month-old-baby to the doctor and s/he forcibly retracted his foreskin! I took him from them right away and we are never going back there. But what do I do now?!
First: I would grab my baby from any medical 'professional' forcibly retracting my son and leave immediately as well. How sad that this happens to anyone, ever.

At this point, no matter what happened to your son, the best thing to do now is to leave his foreskin alone. Do not try to 'clean it out' from whatever happened. Do not place any cream on it (which will only interfere with the body's natural healing process). The only exception to this is Calmoseptine (more info below). Do not place anything directly into the foreskin. Do not wash with soap (this will irritate the sensitive prepuce which likely has tears from forced retraction and will hurt your son further).

Allow the foreskin/penis to heal itself as it will quickly do in infancy (the prepuce will likely try to reattach to the glans in an effort to seal over and protect it). When you bathe your son, use only warm water (not soap). Do not ever scrub his penis. I would be the only one changing my son's diaper for a while to ensure that no one else touched or messed with his foreskin while it was healing. The best advice after forced retraction is the best advice before it ever happened: Leave it alone.

If the prepuce or penis or areas around the genitals look sore or red (even from diaper rash or heat rash or simple irritation) the best ointment to pick up is Calmoseptine. You can request a tube from your local pharmacy (for about $6), on the shelf at most Walgreens stores, or at Amazon. Calmoseptine does not interfere with the genitals' natural pH balance, and it is a wonderfully soothing, healing cream that is safe to use all around the genitals of babies. Calmoseptine can be placed around the base of the penis and scrotum - it will help to heal during diaper wearing time, and will get around the foreskin via rubbing. It is really the only 'diaper' cream you will need during babyhood, and is especially good for cases like this.

The following are the four most frequently posed questions we've been asked lately. Because this situation has come up so often, I am going to post some of my reply here.

1) What's the best way to file a complaint against this doctor?
2) What resources/information pages can be sent to this doctor so that other intact boys aren't put through this?
3) Is there anything else we can do to make this doctor become more informed about proper foreskin care (that is, to leave it alone)?
4) How would you go about finding a doctor who is educated about foreskin maintenance?

1) You may request a "Don't Retract Pack" or drop a brief email to Saving Our Sons at with this physician's name and mailing address and a brief note about what occurred. Medical based information on proper intact care and the harms of forced retraction in the clinic will be sent directly to this physician from clinicians who volunteer with SOS. Your name will not be mentioned and it will come directly from us. We have seen many previously ill-informed physicians and nursing staff change their ways as a result of being given proper information and being encouraged to research current data more closely. Often, forced retraction is merely due to the inadequate ways in which we teach (or completely forget to teach) on the anatomy of the foreskin and its care in medical and nursing schools in the United States today.

You can report the occurrence to David Llewellyn at or to the attorneys at ARCLAW - those specifically working for the rights of babies/children in the areas of genital cutting and harmful medical practices impacting the genital integrity of human beings. They may be able to send a letter on your behalf.

In addition, you may also report this event to attorney, John Geisheker, at Doctors Opposing Circumcision. Find Geisheker's information in the contact section of his site. Have your doctor's name, name/address of the practice, and the name/address/department head's name, and name of the risk manager at the hospitals where the doctor has privileges, if possible.

2) Re-familiarize yourself with the information cataloged on the Intact Care Page and print/give what you find important to your doctor for review. When there are experts in the field of pediatrics and human sexuality publishing on the perils of forced retraction all the time, there is NO REASON for a physician to remain ignorant on the proper care and protection of an intact boy.

In the end, the best pediatric word of advice for baby boys:

Only clean what is seen.
Wipe like a finger: outside only, base to tip.

One of my colleagues tells his patients the only tool they need to care for their intact son(s) is a ruler - to slap the hand of anyone who comes near. In a case like this, that would include the doctor.

3) If you are brave enough to engage in dialog on this topic with the doctor, I would ask questions - find out why s/he believes this is necessary, site other pediatric professionals who are publishing (articles such as those above) in this area, and maybe (hopefully) s/he will think twice about what s/he is doing and change the method of practice used so other boys are not harmed. The vast majority of problems with babies and  men's penises occur because someone forcibly retracted or 'messed with' their prepuce when they were infants. This really needs to stop. We need to educate parents so that they can protect their sons even in cases such as this when medical professionals have not been educated on this subject. It is likely that this doctor is not a 'bad guy' but rather, that he never sought out the information and is still acting out 'old school' ways of doing things...from before we understood what we do now about the functions of the foreskin and the important purposes of the prepuce organ in the U.S. (common knowledge that many in intact nations take for granted).

4) I would become very well versed in the purposes of the prepuce and proper care of an intact son myself, and then when interviewing potential care providers (you are, after all, hiring them for their services), simply ask them about their ideas on circumcision, the prepuce, and care of intact boys. You will quickly find out whether or not they are up to date and educated on the subject and will be able to stick with them, or move on. I have interviewed physicians in such a way (on this and other subjects) via phone and email. Of course, you can also set up a brief 10-minute introduction appointment with a physician. Most are willing to meet with potential new patients to see if it is a good 'fit.' If one is not willing to meet before joining their practice, do you really want them for your doctor anyway?

Best wishes to all parents out there navigating these waters. Don't be afraid to bring out the momma bear in you and protect your little cubs!

*1 oversized card is included with each baby band, Info Pack, and New Parent Pack*

Do NOT Circumcise / Do NOT Retract
Soft Baby Anklet or Bracelet at Etsy
(each baby band comes with pediatric organization statements of care, intact care cards and stickers)

These are soft, recycled silicone and stretchy - will fit a baby's leg throughout his first few years of life (thigh, calf, ankle depending on baby's size). They are *not* meant to be left on a baby when not being cared for/watched.

Baby bands are primarily designed for hospital and clinical visits.

Each baby band comes with an intact care card and sample of Calmoseptine (best ointment for redness or irritation of the genitals). This ointment will soothe and heal without interfering with normal pH or healthy microflora. 

You can purchase a tube of Calmoseptine upon request from your local pharmacist or on Amazon.

Physician Prevention Packs can go to a doctor you will be seeing for future child care (or they can be curtailed to meet the needs of an upcoming Day Care, babysitter, etc.). 

The above are useful tips for diaper and development days -- regardless of whether retraction has previously occurred or not. One of these stickers is included as a reminder with all intact care related materials going out from Etsy.



  1. Thank you for this. My little one just had his retracted by a nurse at the ER. I am so upset!! Something must be done!

  2. This is so much more polite than I would feel. My son has to see a urologist soon for a completely un-foreskin related issue and I'm terrified that someone will go pushing about where they shouldn't be. of course, i would hope that the specialists are somewhat more educated. nonetheless, thank you for this.

  3. My pediatrician (well, no longer), pulled down on the foreskin just a little bit and I've never jumped up so fast. Although it didn't seem to hurt my son, I told her that intact penises never need to be retracted, even a little bit, until they're much older. She said it was to see the urethra and I said he is peeing just fine.

    Needless to say, I'm finding a new pediatrician. I don't even want to take the chance.

  4. We noticed that when our toddler peed, the stream went way off to the right, and that the tip of the penis was a little bent. Our pediatrician suggested we take him to a pediatric urologist just in case something needed to be fixed it would be best to do it young and before potty training.

    At the appointment with the urologist NP I said I had read online about forcible retraction and I was afraid of this happening, so please do not retract it. She agreed. We took off his diaper she grabbed his penis and pulled the foreskin down to expose the head of his penis. He began screaming and bleeding. My husband who rarely raises his voice shouted, “Whoa, whoa!” I exclaimed, “Our pediatrician never pulls it back that far.” She said, “I pulled it back as far as it can normally go back.” No apology, no explanations of why.

    I guess I should have been more specific and requested she not pull the foreskin back to expose the head of the penis? I guess I should asked if part of the exam would include pulling back the foreskin and if so then we would not go on with the exam?

    After we put the diaper on him and pulled up his pants he was whimpering and grabbing himself. When we went to change his diaper there was blood in it. I was at a loss as what to do, but I am so relieved to find this article and know that I can report her.

    Thank you!

  5. Anon post on feb 23. I would have called the police and not left until they showed up, and file a report for sexual abuse.

  6. how do you know if it has been forcibly retracted?

  7. glad my friend sent me the link to this! we went to a sick visit today so it was not my son's normal pedi. i assumed they went by the same up to date info on intact care.
    apparently they do not. she took his diaper off and i thought she was looking for a rash , like his pedi normally does. before i knew it she had pulled his skin back and i jumped up and yelled no no no we do not do that to him stop it stop it.
    she said oh just did it as much as it naturally goes back , you need to do this and clean it and put vasaline on it.
    well now of course his penis is red from her doing this. i feel like me and my son teagan were violated today and i just cant forgive myself for not watching her more closely. she did not ask me if she could do it nor did she stop when i told her to. i've emailed the recommended people , i hope something gets done. if he has any more problems from it im going to find and attorney.

  8. These stories scare me... I am so sorry for the pain caused by such ignorance. Twenty years ago when we refused to circumcise our son, we were very alone. People thought we were crazy to "endanger" his health but that said, the Doctors seemed much more knowledgeable. We were told never pull it back any farther than it would go on its own and to only wash what was showing. I am shocked that these forced retractions are done by educated medical staff. Any medical personnel that does not stop after being told stop or does what you have requested not done, needs reported. Congratulations to all who chose not to alter there perfect little boys. :)

  9. I hate that I have to watch Drs like a hawk - but I do. It has gotten to the point that I ask them not to touch my children's penises at all. It just is not necessary & frankly I do not trust them at all. I have to bookmark this for future reference sadly for myself or anyone else who might need this info. It is sad that I need to. :(

  10. Breastmilk also helps with rashes, cuts etc. It's the only thing I use on my son. I don't know what I'll do when he stops breastfeeding!

  11. My son's doctor has retracted his foreskin during exams & I didn't know it was a problem. He doesn't do it all the way, just a little to see the tip. Is that the same? And I had done it 1 night b/c he said his penis was bothering him & since the doctor does it I thought it was ok. I know not to do it during diaper changes or baths, but I didn't know that soap was bad near there either. Now I'm wondering if all this damaged him. Is what the doctor did so bad? I now wonder if that is part of the reason he hates the doctor. I thought he was just being a 2 yo or younger when it has happened. I feel so horrible. I didn't research this well before b/c I just didn't know it was a big deal. I just knew what I stated above. I wish more info was shared before we left the hospital.

    1. Don't retract it at all. Not even a little bit.

    2. Don't let anyone or yourself retract it at all, not even a little bit. They do not need to see anything inside!

  12. My 5 year old intact son hadn't retracted at all. I hadn't ever looked into it but told the doctor at a visit about it. He forcibly retracted his foreskin and my son was screaming out in pain. I wish I had looked into in first and learned about it. I am kicking myself silly about it now. I just started researching because after following the doctor's advice to keep retracting it daily and put oil on it to stop it adhering, he's getting a bump of skin on one side. Obviously I'm never pulling on it again but now I don't know if I should have the bump checked out or just let it heal in peace. Who would I even take him to, in order to get accurate care?

  13. My son was forcibly retracted recently during a catheterization to check for a kidney infection (though we told the nurse not to retract). He's 2 years old, and the nurse pulled the foreskin all the way to the end of the glans. I'm curious how long we should expect it to take to heal completely. He's complaining about painful urination again, and I'm not sure if it has to do with the retraction or an infection. Anyone have any ideas?

    (I was going to post this on the FB page to get more responses from people with experience with forced retraction, but would rather be anonymous and didn't see a way to message the moderator. Thanks.)

  14. My eight year old son has had issues with his urine flow squirting in all directions due to a narrow opening of his fore skin. Our GP sent us to a specialst who straight away forced his fore skin back. It was so very tight my Son was in a lot of pain. He told me it should start to pull back after the age of three or four and to go home and forcibly do the same thing every night until his skin had stretched.My Son's fore skin was red and close to bleeding all day and night. He couldnt walk properly because of the pain.He couldnt even touch it never mind pull it back.I feel sick now after reading information about this.I am now worried about lots more than squirting urine!!

  15. Please let me know if you have ever heard of this..I really need some help! A couple of months ago I started noticing two white lumps under my son's foreskin. They look like bits of fat, almost like the cellulite you can get on the back of your arms. So my questions are:

    1. Could this mean that he was forcibly retracted by someone without my knowledge? He has been going to the daycare at my gym, and I just realized that I forgot to mention this to the workers there.

    2. Is it anything to worry about?

    3. I called his ped. and he said that it wasn't normal and to bring him in. I am so nervous that he is going to be retracted, or that my pediatrician will say he needs to be circumcised.

    If you know anything about this, please please email me at Thank you so much.

    1. It sounds like a keratin pearl. They are a perfectly natural part of the intact male. It happens when the glans is separating from the foreskin. The fatty substance will work it's way out on it's own.

  16. i didn't realize this was an issue & now i have questions!
    my son is 5 years old & had his foreskin pulled back when he was a baby, i can't remember what the reason was for. since then he has had 1 or 2 infections where we had to take him to the doctor & they gave us some cream, we put the cream on for a couple days inside the foreskin & he got better. we were told to pull back as far as the foreskin would naturally go to gently wash it when he takes a bath/shower, so we do this at least every other day making sure it is clean so he doesn't get smegma build up or an infection again.
    it pulls back easy & painlessly to a point now (slight trouble at first when he was younger, wish i knew about this article then & let it adhere/heal) & my son being 5 now washes it him self.

    everything seems totally MY QUESTION is now that the foreskin is not adhered & has been pulled back easily as far as it will go for years now, should we just keep doing what we're doing since it seems fine or should we now leave it alone after reading this??

    i feel like if we leave it alone now he will have smegma build up & could get infected since it smoothly pulls back/no adhering.

    when boys reach this age of 10 that keep being mentioned & the foreskin pulls back to a point (like my sons does not at a young age) they are supposed to pull back & clean right?

  17. I have tried to get an answer out of the hospital where my son was born, about whether or not they force retract newborn boys, but they always just say that they don't know or they give me some weird answer and they won't let me speak to a doctor or nurse. I want to know if there are any signs that could tell me if they retracted him or not and if he has adhesions from it? He is almost 7 months old now, he doesn't seem to have pain peeing, but sometimes the tip of his foreskin, the outer ring if you will, is a pinkish red color and I have no idea why!! Unless that is normal sometimes? I am so worried that he may have been retracted as a newborn and now its all fused together :( Somebody give me some advise?

    1. It is normal for the end of the foreskin to be pink/reddish. Just as the end of the clitoris is also pink/reddish. This does not mean forced retraction ever took place. If you feel it looks especially irritated (if the red color deepens) you can use some Calmoseptine on the end (don't put it into the penis/foreskin - only smear on the exterior of the penis/foreskin/scrotum). This will reduce inflammation and irritation and soothe and heal the developing tissues of the genitals. You can buy a tube upon request at your local pharmacy. This is what you are asking for:

  18. Ugh. I feel sick. My MIL was babysitting my 17 month old yesterday and gave him a bath (which she usually doesn't do, but I guess he had a real dirty diaper). He's had a not so nice rash and I guess she decided she should clean him up real well and so she started to retract his foreskin to make sure it was clean under there. AHHHH! I almost flipped when she told me on the phone! Thankfully he put up a fuss, so she "didn't get too far" whatever that means. It looks different now :( I'm so ticked off at myself that I never instructed her not to. When he was first born I feared that she would do something like that, but she never bathed him, so I didn't worry. Now I am kicking myself. Praying now that it will heal up well and his rash won't spread to where it used to be perfectly protected. Grrr.

    1. This just happened to my son. I am feeling so guilty. I meant to say something to make sure they knew not to but it just totally escaped me. I was so worried about so many other things, having to leave my son with my parents for a little while, that I totally forgot to make sure they knew not to retract his foreskin. He has a preputial cyst and they pulled back his foreskin to get a look. I won't see him again for over two weeks so I have no way of knowing if they caused damage.

  19. My son is intact and i had to take him to see his Dr. because the tip was red and swelled and the Dr. retracted it and said he needs it to be retracted and cleaned with soap and water every day my son is 4and a half should i do it plz help

    1. The suggestions above for "What to do now" are useful. I'd follow those, and also see additional citations at the Intact Care Resource page:

      Best thing to do is leave it alone and let it heal, and drop an email to with this doctor's name and address so some materials can be sent directly to him.

  20. My son had his penis retracted by a nurse this past week at an unplanned ER visit. I had no idea this would be done- he had to have a cath, not his first and the first time they did not retract his foreskin so I stupidly assumed they would not this time. I was trying to console him and when I looked down I saw what she had done, she said, " oh you haven't ever retracted his foreskin before. It won't bother him, this is worse for you then him. He won't remember this."
    I am so angry and sad that I couldn't protect him. I feel like this has caused him more harm and pain than what we were even being seen for!

  21. My 3 month old son had his forcibly retracted at his 2 month well baby check up. He didn't scream but once we got home and I changed him, I started to take her advice to retract him and he started whimpering and I noticed his penis was red, so I left it alone. He's healed now. I just still feel sick to my stomach that I almost hurt him. My first son was intact also. His doctor kept pushing that he needed an operation because his urethra was not centered. It was a little towards the bottom. I refused and dhs tried to charge me with medical neglect. I ended up letting the operation happen. He was circumcised and had his urethra moved. It never caused him issues before, so I don't understand why he had to be put through all that pain.

    1. DHS is horrible. I'm so sorry you and your son had to go through this.

  22. We have a wonderful relationship with our pediatrician who has been amazingly supportive and informative about intact care (as well as several of her colleagues we've met with). She wasn't available for our last appointment, so I requested to see another doctor who was supportive of parents who keep their sons intact and was informed all doctors in the practice were. My 2yr old son was retracted by this new doctor before I knew what was happening, I was shocked and so angry. He did not seem to be in pain and has not had any bleeding, etc., thankfully. I will never see this doctor again, but don't want to leave our trusted pediatrician either. I spoke with a patient care advisor at the clinic, who then also spoke to the doctor as well as several others in the practice. She also flagged our file with a big notice that our son was never to be retracted during any appointments. I strongly advised them as a practice to get all their doctors on the same page regarding this so parents can make an informed choice, not only of their primary pediatrician, but also of their pediatric practice as a whole. I also suggested they provide a handout to new patients on their care and exam policy for uncircumcised boys so parents and doctors have clear guidelines to follow. I've been so careful for two years, I can't believe this happened and I feel so guilty, as I know so many parents in this situation do. Ultimately, the doctors are responsible to do no harm to our children, and we need to keep the pressure on them to change this practice of forced retraction. Thank you for this information.

  23. Ok people doctors probably trying to do what they think its good for the kid . No matter how angry you maybe on this issues i dont think the doctor did that to harm the child he came from a place of good intention also a lot of doctors around the wolrd talk about the benifit of it . For exemple studies show for men who has done it its less likely for them to get many infections than the one who did. I have a cousin she is a nurce and she told me the worst part about cleaning patients is cleaning men who did not do the procedure on her experince they have worst smell than her other patients again just an exemple . Its ok to have questions about it agree he should ask the mother if she want to do it and more parents also should be open to ask the doctors about it million of men have done it and million not . All the medical opinions show its benifit on the hygien infection even sex life . Its ok to choose not to do it what its not ok is to make that choice without asking the right people about it like i dont knew doctors seem to be the right peopel to ask about stuff like that thanks to them we are more healthy and we live longer then people in last centries . Lets try to open a dialoge about it and not judge and attack the other party doctors or other people who agree with it. Asking for a choice is good . Also explaining to benifit of it to our sons when they are grown enough to make it for themself is good too. I dont think there is a right or a wrong answer here im for it for all medical benifit but i dont see nothing wrong with parents who dont wanna do it . I just want them to be open to hear the other party and decide or later let there sons decides . Many grown men have choose to do it later on there life . Just talked out science has some answers on the hygiene and other benifit of it but its not a bad things to keep it either its just better than not situation. Dont feel guilty if it was done without you knodelge its not that bad millions have done it as for the pain there is worst pain a kid can experince for medical's procedures - i have been sick as a child so i knew and those painful times dont hunt me as an adult - Just open a healthy diloge about it . Try to talked out ask doctors about it . Ask parents who has choose it for there kids what was there experince with it . Let's talked out what i hate is when it become an issue that people use to attack each others or put labels on the other parties for there opinions about itlike we are better than that . When i see how people act on issues like this or antivaccination i believe what post apocalypse movies and series show on how humans start to treat each other on those times . like lets have a healthy dialoge or we wont survive the zombies .
    PS : im sorry for any errors anglish is my 3rd langages still learning

  24. An ambulance took our 5mo son to the ER yesterday for a high fever and when we got there they extracted urine and we told the nurse not to retract his foreskin. She glared at us and said "who told you that!?!?" We said our Kaiser pediatrician! She proceeded to fully retract our sons for skin despite our protest and request not to. He has pneumonia and is recovering well today but the tip of his penis is extremely red and looks bloody. We will be contacting the lawyers above.

  25. My son is 2weeks old and I just had no idea, so giving him the bath earlier today I retracted his foreskin by barely a millimeter to wash, now I am reading this and am very worried and feel absolutely awful. What should I do now?!????!



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