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Penile Hygiene: Don’t Let The Cream Get Crammed!

The male and female reproductive organs, namely the penis and vagina, have different appearances. But their roles and functions are nearly alike. This article will shed light on their similarity. But most importantly it addresses the role of smegma and foreskin towards penile hygiene. As a topic, it remains widely undisclosed and undiscussed.

How are the penis and vagina similar?

Multiple posts and articles have been written about vaginal health and caring for its hygiene. It is no secret that the vagina releases a white fluid — as a self-cleansing mechanism. If the color of the discharge changes from transparent or white to yellow or green, it means there are chances of infection. According to The Guardian, the penis and the vagina are organs euphemistically exploited and called names like the winkie and tuppence.

The penis is mysteriously simple looking and often suffering in its depiction through various fruit and veggie emojis too has a similar self-cleaning mechanism. The self-cleaning fluids in both the penis and vagina are called smegma and vaginal discharge respectively. Scientific knowledge has proven that these fluids are released by the genitalia after an individual reaches the age of puberty, or a little later.

 
penis, hygiene

What is Smegma?

Smegma is a creamy-looking fluid released by the penis to assure its self-care and cleanliness. It is collected just under the foreskin of the penis, around the head. For seeing and cleaning the smegma, the retracted foreskin needs to be rolled up. If the smegma is not cleaned or washed away, it may start smelling bad and even cause fungal infections. Smegma is a buildup of dead skin, oils, and fluid released by the sebaceous glands. However, even among persons with a penis, smegma remains unknown and is confused for being pre-cum or a residue of ejaculation. Not removing the smegma is not just harmful to the one with a penis, it may also affect the reproductive health of their sexual partner(s). 

 
penis, hygiene, discharge

What do self-cleaning fluids really do?

The genitalia is designed to assure its own cleanliness. But the purpose of self-cleaning fluids is to clean only the internal, unseen biology of the genitalia. The fluids released, regularly after one’s puberty is reached, have to be externally cleaned carefully with water. Before puberty, the penis has to be washed externally without attempting any harm to the intact foreskin. After natural retraction, however, the collected smegma is removed or washed by rolling up the foreskin.

 

Why is it important to talk about genital hygiene?

Not just individuals, be it parents or the persons concerned, but also several physicians may give improper advice related to male genitalia. The extent to which incidents go has led to traumatic accidents because of improper attempts by physicians to retract a child’s intact foreskin prematurely, by the process of circumcision.

 

How does the foreskin contribute to penile health and when does it retract?

The nature of the foreskin is to provide protection against injury, disease, and infection. During their infancy or young age, individuals with a penis have an intact foreskin. The foreskin protects against external infections or bacteria. Moreover, it is a sensitive layer that can cause trauma to a child if tried to be retracted prematurely. Several parents laugh if the child cries or expresses pain when their penis is accidentally hurt. But in reality, only the individual can decide when it is time for them to retract their foreskin without inducing pain or trauma. The foreskin is primary for attaining both, better physical and emotional health.

 
penis, circumcision

Conclusively, penile hygiene is as important and complex as vaginal hygiene. The knowledge about the discharged Smegma is crucial to maintaining body cleanliness. However, the expectations of an allegedly perfect penis and taboos around shame and disgrace at the mention of genitalia have suppressed people from expressing penile health problems. Stepping forth and discussing male genitalia is the only way to eradicate this stigma and move towards better collective hygiene.

Graphic design by: Itti Mahajan

Read more about men’s health: Men’s Health Awareness Month 

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