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Unfortunately, general hygiene is an area that often gets neglected. Having good hygiene means taking care of your entire body and extends beyond just brushing your teeth and washing your face. One of the most important areas for maintaining good hygiene is the genital region.

Men who aren’t frequently sexually active may find that they can go months without another person seeing their penis. Even so, it’s vital that men don’t disregard their genital hygiene. It’s an area that should be looked after regularly, not just when you’re planning on getting lucky.

Maintaining a good standard of genital hygiene can come with several benefits. Keeping your penis clean can help it stay healthy, and avoid nasty smells and even infections. This article explores male sexual hygiene and brings you some tips on ensuring your penile area is well looked after.

Why is it important to keep good penis hygiene?

Keeping good genital hygiene is important because it helps with penile health, prevents odor, and allows men to feel confident during spontaneous sexual encounters.

By taking regular care of the genital region, men will also have more exposure to its appearance

This can help them notice changes to the genital area more quickly, which may include potentially harmful developments such as new lumps or moles.

It keeps your penis healthy

Having bad penile hygiene can cause irritation and even infection. Balanitis is an example of a condition in which the penis can become sore, itchy, and smell foul. Other symptoms of the condition include the development of pus, penile swelling, and even difficulty urinating. In many cases, the treatment for this sort of condition is just good hygiene, although in more severe cases medication may be required.

It avoids unpleasant smells down there

Two of the penises day to day functions involve the release of semen and urine. When both of these liquids pass, it’s likely that there will be some residue left over (along with their smell). Furthermore, the male genitals are kept in a tightly enclosed space for the majority of the day. This offers little opportunity for regular airflow, encouraging this area to sweat which increases the likeliness of foul smells developing.

Risks of not maintaining good hygiene in your genital area

Poor genital hygiene may be less common if the associated risks were better known. Some of the risks of failing to maintain good hygiene in the genital region have been highlighted below.

Diagram on the Risk of Failing to Maintain Genital Hygiene

Can lead to infections

If you don’t maintain good genital hygiene, you put yourself at a higher risk of developing infections. Conditions such as Balanitis can occur as a direct result of bad genital hygiene. Infections can lead to a series of unwanted symptoms such as pain, foul smells, and the need to take medication. By keeping your genital area clean you reduce the chances of experiencing these symptoms.

Can lead to developing oils and smegma

For individuals who don’t keep their penis clean, it’s likely smegma will develop or their penis becomes oily. Smegma is a white, cheese-like presence that develops under the foreskin. Smegma isn’t a sign of poor health but it’s got the potential for bacteria to develop within it. This can cause bad smells and penile swelling which results in pain.

It may damage your sex life

For those who don’t regularly clean their genital area, it makes the chances of spontaneous sex almost impossible. Now admittedly, spur-of-the-moment sexual advances aren’t a regular occurrence for many (despite what we see in TV shows). However, if the chance does arise, poor genital hygiene could stop it from happening. Not to mention that if you go ahead with sex with an unclean genital area your partner is likely to become really grossed out.

Potential Embarrassment

Many heterosexual males don’t plan on having other guys see their penis but it can happen from time to time. Whether you’re in the locker room after a sports match or using the restroom at work it’s a possibility that someone else could see your penis. If your genitals let off a foul odor or have white smegma marks and someone else notices, you could find yourself feeling really embarrassed.

Best penile hygiene routine in 5 steps

Now that you know the importance of keeping your genitals clean, you’re probably wondering how to put the plan into action. The good news is that you don’t need to buy any special products to perform the steps in the section below. Most people will find that they already have everything they need in their homes.

Typically, a regular body wash will suffice for cleaning your genitals.

If you’re sensitive, a baby shampoo could be a better option as it’s free of some of the chemicals found in adult products. A shower sponge will also be useful for scrubbing providing it’s soft enough to be used on your sensitive areas.

Diagram on the Best penile Hygiene Routine in 5 Steps

  1. Wash the base

When you’re cleaning downstairs, it’s important to be thorough and the base of the penis is a good place to begin. This is because it’s one of the less sensitive areas of the penis and will act as a consistent starting point each time you clean your genitals. By working from the base of the penis downwards, you will be able to ensure any dirt is pushed away from your body.

  1. Wash the shaft

Make sure that you clean the full circumference of your shaft. This involves cleaning the part of the shaft you can see (the top), each side of it, and the bottom of the shaft. Some might find it easier to clean underneath the shaft by using one hand to raise the penis and the other to gently scrub it.

  1. Wash the tip

You should be cautious as this is typically the most sensitive area of the penis. With the urethra being based on the tip of the penis, any residue left over from urine or semen expulsion is likely to settle here. If you have a foreskin, retract it as it can conceal the build-up of substances such as smegma. Remembering to clean under the foreskin is key to achieving a good standard of penile hygiene.

  1. Don’t forget your scrotum and perineum

The scrotum and perineum (the skin between your anus and testicles) are two areas that need cleaning but often get forgotten. These also form part of the genital region and need to be cleaned regularly. After cleaning the penis move on to the testicles and be sure to take a cautious approach due to the sensitivity of the area. After the testicles have been cleaned, you can move on to lightly scrubbing the perineum area to finish off.

  1. Dry everything properly

When you get out of the shower, don’t put on a pair of underwear until you’re fully dry. By leaving your genital area wet and getting into clothes you’re only encouraging further smells. Dry everything carefully and thoroughly. Working with the same pattern for cleaning (working from penis base down, testicles followed by perineum) can help ensure you don’t forget to dry anywhere.

How frequently should men clean their penis?

A good rule of thumb would be to clean your genital area every time that you clean the rest of your body. For most people, washing this area once a day will be sufficient. If you feel sore after cleaning your penis you could be applying too much pressure whilst washing it or may be doing so too frequently and should adjust accordingly.

A good rule of thumb would be to clean your genital area every time that you clean the rest of your body.

The frequency in which an individual notices poor genital hygiene will differ from person to person. Some men will find that their penis will develop a foul smell or smegma quickly while others may develop very few signs of poor genital hygiene.

How does Circumcision affect genital hygiene?

Circumcision refers to the surgical removal of the foreskin. At a glance, men who have been circumcised will have a better picture of the cleanliness of their penis compared to uncircumcised men. Men who have foreskin will be required to pull their foreskin back to get a full view of the tip of their penis.

So what impact does this have on genital hygiene? According to a study, uncircumcised men may be less likely to wash their entire penis. The study also referred to an increased chance of circumcised men washing their penis more than once a day. The age-old saying ‘out of sight out of mind’ may be applicable to some non-circumcised men.

Best Hygiene Tips for Before and After Having Sex

Genital hygiene should be a priority for men regardless of how active their sex life is. In spite of this, the penis will come into contact with a partner's genitals and bodily fluids during sex. As a result, extra measures should be taken for genital hygiene where sex is concerned. The tips below will help you to keep your penis hygienic both before and after sex.

Diagram on the Best Hygiene Tips for Before and After Having Sex

Be prepared before sex

Cleaning your genital area prior to sex is vital but understandably intimacy isn’t always planned. This means that you won’t necessarily be able to jump in the shower right before sex. However, as long as you have a decent genital cleaning routine, getting to a bathroom for a quick ‘freshen up’ should be sufficient in most cases.

If you don’t have a good standard of genital hygiene try to refrain from sexual activity, no matter how excited you get. Unhygienic genitals are likely to be a huge turn-off for your partner.

Wash sex toys

It might sound dramatic but the hygiene of your sex toys can be as important as the hygiene of your genitals. This is because sex toys can carry bacteria and even STIs if they aren’t cleaned properly. Sex toys such as vibrating cock rings might feel great, but if they aren’t clean when they come into contact with you and your partner's genitals, infections could easily spread.

As a rule of thumb, you should thoroughly clean your sex toys after every use. To be safe, check the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning the product.

Clean up after sex

When the fun is over, it’s time to clean yourself up. This doesn’t mean having a shower straight after sex, but washing your genitals with warm water can go a long way. By washing your penis after sexual intercourse you will ensure that any residue left on it gets removed.

If you use a condom, you will still need to clean up after sex; it’s likely that most of the bodily fluid will be left on the condom but some may end up on the base of your penis. Once the condom has been removed, there may be small amounts of semen and condom lubrication left on the penis.

Anal sex hygiene tips

Although appropriate measures need to be taken for hygiene during vaginal sex, anal sex does require some further consideration. If you don’t approach anal sex with careful thought it has the potential to get messy for both partners. Here are some useful tips for keeping your penis hygienic during anal sex.

 Diagram on the Anal Sex Hygiene Tips

Clean the Anus

The first step in making sure that anal sex is done hygienically is to clean the anus prior to sex. This is a step that shouldn’t be neglected; remember that the primary function of the anus is passing fecal matter. This means spontaneous anal sex should probably be avoided.

Some techniques for cleaning the anus include douching (inserting water into the anus) and enemas (inserting liquid into the large intestine). Any mishaps during anal sex could be enough to put both partners off for life. Taking the time to make sure the anus is clean can improve both partners' hygiene during sex and ensure the process goes smoothly.

Prepare the penis

As with vaginal sex, the genital region should be clean prior to engaging in anal sex. Men should always consider using a condom during anal intercourse. This is because there have been links made between anal sex and an increased risk of STD transmission when compared to vaginal sex.

One study reported that heterosexual females who had unprotected anal sex were over 2.5 times more likely to report an STD diagnosis compared to women who had unprotected vaginal sex. Using a condom will also mean that if any accidents do occur, it’s likely that any fecal matter will end up on the condom, not the penis.

Cleaning after anal

Individuals should always clean their penis after partaking in anal sex. If you have used sex toys for anal play, these should also be thoroughly cleaned after each use to prevent the spread of infection. In most cases anal sex won’t be messy, providing adequate preparation has taken place.

In some cases, small traces of fecal matter may be present which may be down to bowel movement during intercourse. If there are excessive quantities of fecal matter present it may be a sign of a health issue.

When should you see a doctor about penile hygiene symptoms?

In many cases, the symptoms associated with poor genital hygiene such as smegma and a foul smell will disappear after washing. Yet some men may notice accompanying symptoms that don’t disappear even with good genital hygiene.

In many cases, the symptoms associated with poor genital hygiene such as smegma and a foul smell will disappear after washing.

Some of these can include (but aren’t limited to) irregular discharge, swelling, soreness, and pain when passing urine. If you have any unusual symptoms that don’t pass despite good genital hygiene you should see a doctor. It’s possible that you could have an infection and require medication for these symptoms to dissipate.


Genital hygiene is an area that is overlooked by many men but it’s not something that should be neglected. Failing to keep good penile hygiene can lead to symptoms such as skin irritation, pain, bad smells, and build-up of smegma and oil.

By keeping your genitals clean you can avoid these risks and make sure that you’re ready for spontaneous sex should the opportunity arise.

If you believe that poor genital hygiene has led to you needing medical treatment, or you have any concerns about your genital region be sure to consult a medical professional for guidance. Although the information in this article is intended to be informative, it cannot be considered a substitute for medical advice.

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