Let’s say you wake up one morning and notice a smell coming from your penis.
What’s causing it? Why is it happening?
And what should you do? Do not fear, friends, for we have the answers.
Let’s start by looking at the why. Why does my penis smell?
The NHS explains that there are four common causes of a penis that’s smells: a build-up of smegma, balanitis, or an STI.
Smegma is a natural lubricant that is found around the head of the penis and under the foreskin.
When it builds up, it begins to look like a white, cheesy substance (that’s why it’s sometimes called ‘penis cheese’).
It’s made up of secretions from the sebaceous oil and dead skin cells. When this builds up, it can provide the perfect host for bacteria.
It can also start to smell and cause soreness, particularly when it comes to moving the foreskin back and forth.
Smegma is more common among those with an uncircumcised penis, but it can also build up on those without their foreskin.
It can also occur in women, building up between the folds of the labia or around the clitoral hood.
Balanitis is a type of skin irritation that affects the penis and foreskin.
It’s often caused by a build-up of smegma, but can also be caused by irritation by urine, the use of soaps and shower gels, thrush, a bacterial infection, an STI, or a skin condition such as eczema.
Alongside an odour, symptoms of balanitis include a soreness, itching, redness, swelling, and pain when urinating.
Some STIs can cause a penis to smell, including gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
We’re sure you’re getting regular sexual health checkups already (right?), but if your penis is emitting an odour is definitely a reason to get to your local clinic.
What should I do about a smelly penis?
If your penis smells, seek medical advice rather than trying to do any at-home remedies, which could end up making the issue worse.
Book an appointment with your GP or find a walk-in sexual health clinic.
They’ll find out the cause of the odour and treat the underlying issue, whether it’s by prescribing antibiotics or an antifungal cream or advising you against using a certain shower gel.
How can I prevent my penis smelling in the future?
It’s easy! Keep your penis clean, don’t have unprotected sex, and be careful with any products you’re rubbing on your member.
Not everyone knows how to clean their penis (it’s not something that’s often taught in sex ed), so here’s a quick guide:
Gently wash the penis with warm water (no need for fragranced soap or shower gel, which could cause irritation) each day when you have a shower or bath.
If you have a foreskin, gently pull it back to wash underneath.
If you feel the need to use a shower gel, choose one that’s unscented and ditch it if it causes tingling or soreness.
Make sure to clean the base of the penis and the testicles, too, as that’s where sweat can build up and leave a stink Don’t spray your penis or balls with perfume or any other harsh products.
Make sure to use protection when having sex, and go for regular sexual health check-ups – after every new partner or every six months, whichever is sooner.