In simple terms, a frenulum can be defined as a small ridge or skin fold, which helps to hold a partially mobile body part. When it comes to human body, the frenulum can be found in various parts. Examples are:
- On the penis of males
- In the female genitalia
- Inside the lips
- Under the tongue
- In the brain
- In the digestive system
Although the frenulums are found in internal parts, the external ones are spoken more often. As such, the most important frenulums of the outer body are the ones that are found in the mouth and the genitalia. Therefore, the term can be heard more often during a dentist visit or sexual advice.
More about Oral and Genital Frenulums:
As mentioned above, one of the oral frenulums can be found underneath the tongue. Here, the thick strip of skin that is found running under the tongue, thereby, holding it to the bottom of the mouth, is called as “frenulum linguae”. In the mouth, this is not the only one type of frenulum. There are other small strips of skin running between the lips and front teeth, which are called as “frenulum labii”. In some people, dentists may choose to remove one or both of these frenulums, especially, if they are thick and pulling the teeth together. In these cases, the frenulums would affect the teeth alignment and mobility. The procedure will be done under local anesthesia.
In addition to these, some people will have strips of tissue linking the jaw to the cheek at different points. These are called as “buccal frena”.
In the men, the genital frenulum is found to be anchoring the foreskin of the penis to the glans and is called as “frenulum of prepuce”. In the men with an uncircumcised frenulum, it would help their foreskin to contract over their penis. Thus, it would offer protection to the genital part. In some people, the circumcision will be done, which involves the removal of this frenulum along with the foreskin. This circumcision is found to be a controversial practice today. Although some people believe that removal of frenulum would prevent certain diseases and disorders of the penis, other people feel that it is removing the natural protection. At present, these types of circumcisions are done mainly for the religious or cosmetic reasons only.
On the other hand, the circumcision procedure in females would involve removing other genital parts like clitoris and labia. Thus, this is not as same as the male circumcision and is called as “female genital mutilation”. Medically speaking, there are no benefits relating to this type of circumcision and is strongly discouraged.
Apart from these visible types of frenulums, there are frenulums in the internal organs as well. In the brain, it is called as “frenulum veli” and in the digestive tract, it is called as “frenulum valvae ilocaecalis”.
Functions of Frenulum:
As it may sound obvious, the primary function of frenulum in the mouth is to connect the structures like lips, tongue, and cheek, thereby, helping them stay anchored and correctly aligned with the jaw. In the genitals too, the frenulum serves a similar purpose. There, it helps connect the external strips of skin/tissue to the reproductive organs.
Although the frenulums are often unnoticed in the human body, those that are thick or short are known to cause health issues. These frenulums may lead to some serious illnesses and genetic syndromes that might impact the development of both the frenulum, as well as the internal organs. In this line, the external frenulums only would be in limelight often and the internal ones will not come into the discussion until the individual suffers an internal injury.