Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

anonymous on September 2, 2011

I’m uncircumcised. What can I do to keep my penis clean?

I am uncircumcised and have an adhesion so that my foreskin doesn't pull back all the way. Sometimes I get a yellowish lumpy gunk discharge that smells pretty bad under my foreskin. What is this, and what can I do to keep my penis clean?

answered by
David Sobel, MD, JD on September 2, 2011

Thank you for coming to us with your question. I’ll do my best to offer you some ideas on the condition and symptoms you describe, but I encourage you to visit your doctor to find out for sure.

First, your symptoms could be related to your stubborn foreskin. For example, dead skin cells can become trapped underneath the foreskin creating something doctors callsmega...this pasty substance can form white bumps under the foreskin, and perhaps cause an abnormal odor. It could be that the “lumpy “gunk” you observe is smega dislodging from beneath the foreskin.

Or, you might have condition calledbalanitis that can occur for several reasons...from poor hygiene to a yeast infection, sexually transmitted infection or certain bacteria. Balanitis often results in redness at the tip of the penis and an unusual discharge that smells bad. If you have balanitis and it isn’t treated, it can actually cause adhesions that may hinder retraction of your foreskin.

Based on these and other possibilities, I would encourage you to see your regular doctor or a urologist to examine and diagnose you, and to prescribe the right treatment. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, there are different treatment options...from improved hygiene practices to topical creams and possibly even surgery.

One more...you don’t mention if you’ve been recently tested for common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). I mention this because some STDs ⎼ like chlamydia and gonorrhea ⎼ may result in abnormal discharge for men. As well, HIV and herpes may be linked to balanitis.

So, when you speak with your doctor, also mention your sexual history...it could be that you’re due to get tested. In the meantime, you can find out more about STD risks, prevention, symptoms and testing in our Expert Guide to STD Basics.

Thanks again for writing, and I wish you good luck in resolving your discomfort.

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Topic: Men's Sexual Health
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David Sobel, MD, JD

Dr. Sobel is a Colorado-based urologist and Director of the Denver Center for Men’s Health. His areas of expertise include men's sexual health and all areas of urology, including urologic oncology, treatment of benign prostatic hypertrophy, stone disease and incontinence. Dr. Sobel was educated at the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, and completed his residency at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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