Practicing good personal hygiene helps to keep the body healthy by removing body oils, dead skin cells, body waste products, and reduces the ability for bacteria, viruses, and fungi to grow. These parasites thrive in an environment which is less hygienic and can cause a wide variety of health problems in addition to causing bad odors.
It is advisable to shower or bathe our bodies daily using a mild soap and warm water to keep the numbers of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in check, but what about our genitalia?
Does your penis require any special treatment?
The sex organs are one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies and do require a little extra care compared to the rest of our bodies, especially if we are sexually active.
While an uncircumcised penis has a little more protection built right in against contact with substances your penis should not come into contact with, both the uncircumcised and circumcised versions require some attention.
A white substance (smegma) can build up around the various grooves in the penis throughout your day and is made up of skin oils, moisture, bacteria, and dead skin cells. This substance has a purpose as it collects all of the material you would not want entering your penis. If you allow this matter to accumulate, bacterial or fungal skin infections may occur in addition to a rather funky odor. Whether your penis is circumcised or not, it is important to be sure that this matter is washed off gently with soap and water every day.
In an uncircumcised penis, it is necessary to gently retract the foreskin to expose all the areas of the penis prior to cleansing the area. While it is often thought that an intact foreskin is dirtier than a circumcised one, this is not the case as the foreskin helps protect the sensitive penis structures from bacteria, harsh chemicals like laundry soap, and chaffing which can leave sensitive skin more prone to infection.
Circumcised penises also require equal attention to hygiene in for maximum penis health.
It is best to use unscented products for sensitive skin when cleaning delicate genitalia as harsher products can cause allergic reactions, burning, itching, or cause the skin to become inflamed.
Wash the area with a mild soap, rinse in warm water, then pat the area dry gently. It is best not to use any powders, deodorant, or body sprays on the genital area as they can cause allergic reactions and skin sensitivity and with proper daily washing they are totally unnecessary.
Your testicles, anus, and pubic hair should also be included in your daily wash as they can accumulate body oil, sweat, and other matter where bacteria can grow. As bacteria often produce a bad odor as a by-product, you’re definitely going to want to keep these areas clean as well as they can end up smelling as bad, or worse, than a stinky armpit or foot.
Pubic Hair Maintenance
It is sometimes helpful to trim public hair and the hair around the anus to assist with keeping these areas clean. While some people may prefer to shave these areas, this can result in nicks, cuts, razor burn, or skin infections, and it is not necessary.
A simple trim is often sufficient to make daily hygiene easier to perform, although this is not really necessary either. The hair surrounding the genitals serves a purpose, after all, and is there to trap sweat, bacteria, viruses, or foreign objects and keep them away from your most sensitive bits. As these areas of the body are particularly delicate, ensure anything you use to maintain your pubic hair is intended for that purpose and is thoroughly cleaned before and after use to prevent serious infections.
It is important to also practise basic hygiene before and after anal sex. Some individuals may feel it necessary to use an anal douche prior to sex if they are concerned with cleanliness. This may also help if you are prone to feeling the need to evacuate your bowels during intercourse. Enemas or anal douches may cause trauma to the rectum which can leave you at increased risk of infection from HIV and STIs, so condoms are a must.
If you choose to use one of these products, it is advisable to wait a few hours after its use before having intercourse. It is also important to use anti-bacterial soap after coming into contact with any feces. If you do not feel that anal douching is necessary, simply slip a slightly soapy finger into the anus and rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues which can cause irritation. Many people find soap to be too harsh for this region and prefer to simply use water. Gently and thoroughly wash your penis after any sexual contact whether you have worn protection or not to keep the area in optimal health.
Inspect your penis and testicles regularly for any signs of injury from chaffing, skin infection, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or fungal infection. Get to know your penis and testicles and what they look and feel like. Check regularly for any skin discolorations or lumps in the groin or testicles which may be early signs of testicular cancer.
Should you notice any changes in your penis or testicles, consult with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Your physician has seen it all before and has had extensive training in men’s health, so there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed of issues regarding genital health. Most things, when found early enough, can be successfully treated rather easily and quickly. The longer you wait with a problem, the more serious it can become.
STIs and Safety
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it is absolutely necessary to use condoms each and every time you have intercourse with a partner to prevent STIs. People in long term monogamous relationships should be tested for STIs and receive an all clear from their doctor prior to eliminating condoms from their intimate encounters.
Condoms should be stored in their original packaging to protect them from damage which may cause them to break. Your pocket, wallet, or anywhere else which is outside of their original box is not recommended. Keep condoms stored away from heat and light which can weaken their structure. Should you have an incident where a condom breaks, shower as soon as possible to clean the area and contact your doctor for testing. While the chances are that everything is okay, it is best not to leave the health of your penis, yourself, or your partner at risk.