Penis odor not only is embarrassing but unnerving, as it brings to mind a sexually transmitted disease or worse, cancer.
A bad smell from the penis can have multiple different causes.
Bad penis odors have been described as fishy, cheesy, like a dirty Port-O-Potty or just plain foul.
“Smells in the groin area can be for a number of different reasons, ranging from diet to sexually transmitted infections (STI),” says Dana Rice, MD, a board certified urologist and creator of the UTI Tracker mobile app, which helps patients catalogue daily urinary tract symptoms, medication and behavioral patterns, and offers personalized tips for UTI prevention.
The good news is that cancer is not one of the causes.
Causes of Different Penis Smells cancer
“Hygiene is a key component to all areas that have sweat glands and hair follicles,” continues Dr. Rice. “Bacteria tend to be more prevalent to overgrowth in moist, dark areas of the body as well.
“Making sure the skin is washed appropriately with soap and water and changing clothes regularly is a good start.”
A cheesy odor from the penis can be caused by a buildup of skin cells, moisture and secretions around the shaft, under the foreskin – especially in uncircumcised men. This situation is called smegma.
Dr. Rice explains, “Keeping the area free of moisture is also important. This can be achieved by wearing breathable undergarments, powders or even genital deodorants.
“Protected intercourse including oral, vaginal and anal penetration is also crucial in STI prevention.
“Urethral discharge or bacteria overgrowth in the area will often lead to strong smelling odor.
“Reusing undergarments without washing in-between can also accentuate the smell if there are old bacteria living in the fabric now mixing with new sweat.
“Foods can also alter the smell of urine based on pH, hydration status and how your body breaks down certain food products. Supplements are also well-known to change the odor and/or color of urine.”
Strong smelling urine can definitely affect the smell of one’s penis. A urinary tract infection, however, does not affect the odor. For more information on the UTI Tracker, go here.
Dr. Rice is with Inova Medical Group in Fairfax, VA, and her clinical interests include bladder, kidney and prostate cancer, minimally invasive surgery and robotic surgery.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.