Opinion
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How to clean your uncircumcised penis

Is an increase in foreskin smegma a cause for concern?

Smegma is completely natural and necessary. Credit: Art-of-photo/iStock/Thinkstock

Dear Dr Ren,

My question concerns the build-up of smegma under the foreskin. I’m in my 60s and, like most uncircumcised guys, have always had some smegma there, but it seems in recent weeks/months, there has been considerably more. I wash the glans with a washcloth at each shower but sometimes there seems to be a bit more than the previous day.

I’ve also occasionally noticed something which seems to be like “thrush” on the glans.

I’m not very sexually active and have only had a couple of oral partners in the last two years — both of whom are equally careful. 

Can you help me with this? Thanks!

Cheesy

Dear Cheesy, 

Smegma is the naturally occurring collection of secretions by sebaceous (oil) glands located in the foreskin, combined with seminal fluids from the Cowper’s gland and prostate, along with mucus secretions from the urethral glands, and sloughed epithelial (skin) cells. This mixture provides a necessary mucosal lubricant and moisturizer and is rich in sexual pheromones.

In other words, it is natural, necessary, and subconsciously turns on our lovers.

No need to worry that it’s there, except that the amount has changed. Any time you notice a change in something that happens to the regular functioning of your body is a good time to pay attention. It may be nothing, but then . . .

Let’s explore some possible reasons for this increase.

Young — and old — men produce more smegma than those in their middle years. You may be noting the naturally occurring changes of aging.

Smegma production can increase if you are very physically active, which causes you to sweat more, even under your foreskin. This in turn can cause an increase in smegma. Have you recently joined a gym? Taken up long distance running? Started hanging out on the beach in this beastly hot weather? Mystery solved.

Over-cleaning can also cause havoc. Avoid the use of soap under your foreskin, as it can cause irritation to the sensitive skin there. Your penis will react by increasing the amount of natural oil it needs to keep the skin soft. Rinse with plain warm water daily, pulling the hood back. That is all that is needed to keep the inner foreskin and head clean.

Any increase in oil and sweat will definitely increase the amount of cock cheese your body will produce.

A sudden increase in the amount of smegma could be a sign of a yeast infection. If it is, you and any partners need to be evaluated for symptoms and, if noted, treated. Is there any redness? Itching? Dryness? (Is this what you mean by signs of thrush?) These are all markers, too. If it’s yeast, any over the counter medication for women’s yeast should work for you as well.

High blood sugar and high urine sugar can indicate infection susceptibility, especially fungal. This is potentially serious and worth getting checked out with simple tests by your health-care provider.

And in escalating seriousness, the presence of smegma is widely believed to cause penile, cervical and prostate cancer. This tenacious myth continues to trouble people despite a lack of valid supportive evidence. In other words, bollocks. Dismiss this worry altogether.

So there you have it. Though any change is worth checking, you can likely relax. Remember that good personal hygiene is most important in managing smegma:

• When cleaning the head of the penis, retract the foreskin fully

• Clean the penis with clean water and clean hands

• Don’t use soap

• Afterwards, use a clean towel and put on clean underwear

 

 

Dr Pega Ren is Daily Xtra’s queer- and kink-friendly sex therapist, specializing in relationship and sexual issues, including concerns of the aging population. Read her monthly column here on the first Friday of every month. To learn more about her and the work she does, or to book a session, visit her website at smartsextalk.com.

 

Have a question for Dr Ren? Send an email to asktheexpert@dailyxtra.com.

 
This story is filed under Opinion, News & Ideas, Health, Penis, Medicine, Human reproduction, Canada
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