Sex & Love

Keeping Things Clean: The Dirty Truth About Male Hygiene

Today we’re going to talk about personal hygiene. It’s an area of concern for many women, who marvel at the fact that their beaus have no compuction about wearing moist-smelling underwear, changing their sheets once every other lunar eclipse, and … Read More

By / October 1, 2008

Today we’re going to talk about personal hygiene. It’s an area of concern for many women, who marvel at the fact that their beaus have no compuction about wearing moist-smelling underwear, changing their sheets once every other lunar eclipse, and showering using a moldy sliver of Irish Spring soap found on the floor of their college dorm’s bathroom. (If you’re lucky enough to date a metrosexual, please discount this commentary.) But while these faux pas are largely a matter of personal taste, there are some hygiene matters that directly affect your sexual practices. Intrigued?

KARA: In your practice, Harry, surely you see many hairy men. Why? Why is it that women spend so much time shaving their pubic hair into cute little designs, waxing it off, trimming it—while some men have pubes that resemble Fangorn forest. Is there any way to get guys to trim down??

HARRY: Actually, lots of guys are trimming their pubes these days. Devices called “body trimmers” are selling like hotcakes—“body” in this case being thinly disguised euphemism for “pubic area.” As many guys are learning, “trimming the bushes around your deck makes your deck look bigger.” And if it appeals to women, so much the better!

Meanwhile, though, a lot of guys think nothing of asking a woman to shave or trim her pubic hair, but would be surprised or indignant if the woman asked him to do the same. That’s a double standard that shouldn’t be tolerated. And maybe if more guys actually tried to shave or trim their own genitals, they would so blithely ask women to do it. Because these are very sensitive areas—and shaving them is a delicate business. Also, as any woman who has tried shaving will attest, the “nubs” stage of hair re-growth can be uncomfortable at best, painful at worst.

This all applies to guys, as well. Of all the parts of the male human body, the testicles are probably the most difficult to trim or shave. The skin of the testicles is in a difficult place to see clearly, and is wrinkled—meaning it’s easy to injure if trying to shave—and it’s both thin and extremely sensitive—making that “nubs” stage of hair re-growth even more uncomfortable for a guy than a woman.

Not that it’s impossible to trim the hair on testicles—guys who get vasectomies are asked to shave their testicles prior to the procedure and few have any great difficulty doing so (though for most it’s a novel experience). I tell such guys to consider doing the shaving after a hot bath, when the testicles are relaxed and the skin is more easily manipulated. Trimming the hair with a body trimmer or beard trimmer is another option and doesn’t entail the same kind of uncomfortable re-growth period because enough hair is left to prevent the “prickles.” But, still, it’s tricky business and a guy’s gonna hurt himself if he’s not careful. So if you do request a shave or trim from your partner, tell him to shower first and use a trimmer…or just be very careful.

KARA: Let’s discuss unpleasant nether-region scents. One common one seems to be cabbage, and there’s always the always-horrid cheese aroma.

HARRY: Guys who smell this way probably aren’t circumcised. Strong cheesy or cabbage-like odors from a penis are usually related to a buildup of smegma, the whitish, wax-like substance that naturally occurs under the foreskin of an uncircumcised man. Regular cleaning of the penis by retracting the foreskin and washing with soap and water normally removes any buildup and keeps the penis smelling normal.

If a guy’s penis does smell bad you should say something about it, and not just for your own sake. A buildup of smegma can lead to an inflammation of the skin covering the head (glans) of the penis called Balanitis. Sometimes a man’s foreskin is so tight it can’t retract, a condition called phimosis. In such cases the guy shouldn’t try to force the foreskin to retract because a) it will hurt a lot, and b) it could damage the foreskin or glans. Phimosis and other types of foreskin malfunction can usually be relatively easily corrected if a guy gets prompt medical attention.

Kara Baskin, author of Size Matters, is guest blogging on Jewcy, and she’s here all week.  Stay tuned.