Scent of an uncircumcised penis

Dear Alice,

I'm a foreign gay man with an uncircumcised penis. In my country, being uncut is the norm, so it was not strange for me to have contact with other penises like mine. Yes, all of them had a characteristic smell, but it was part of the natural odor that comes with your own skin and, in fact, it was very arousing. When I started having sex with Americans, I felt the opposite of what they complain about: I missed the "dick smell." Most of them smell like either soap or plain normal skin.

I'm not saying that's a problem, I'm just raising the question: Is the uncut penis really stinky (urine, smegma, or any infection) or is it just a perfectly normal "dick smell" that feels bad to someone's senses because they are not used to it?



Dear FGM,

The "dick smell" of an uncut, or uncircumcised, penis is produced by sweat or smegma. Smegma is a cheesy secretion from under the foreskin that acts as a natural lube. Some people do not like the distinctive smell smegma produces, whereas others find it agreeable and even arousing. Besides personal preferences, one's like or dislike of smells, scents, and aromas can also be culturally related. Read Bathing — how often? for more information on this topic.

Regardless of your penis's particular perfume, pulling back the foreskin and washing away excess smegma is important for hygiene. In addition, if smegma gathers without being washed away, it can prevent the foreskin from easily moving back and forth along the head of the penis. To prevent infection, uncircumcised men should retract their foreskin and wash with soap and water every day. Be sure to rinse away all of the soap underneath the foreskin when you wash your penis — any soap left there may lead to inflammation. If your foreskin can't be pulled back, or if pulling it back is uncomfortable or painful, you may want to see a health care provider or urologist.

Last updated Jul 21, 2015
Originally published Aug 27, 1999

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