Circumcision removes smegma

Smegma, the lubricant produced in the lining of the foreskin, can be a nuisance, and even a health threat. This is especially true when a male fails to practice good hygiene, either because he hasn’t been taught or because he lacks access to clean water and soap. Good hygiene means removing the foreskin to wash its lining, where the lubricant is produced, and to wash the glans, where the lubricant mixes with other substances to produce “smegma,” the offensive after-product of old or dirty lubricant. Males, especially young ones, often fail to get in this habit, even when taught its importance. For others, hygiene poses difficulties when their foreskins are still stuck on their glans and cannot be folded back. Still others, as we have mentioned early, know the value of good genital hygiene but lack the access, either permanently or temporarily (such as camping or serving in the armed services in a particularly undeveloped or arid place).

What exactly is smegma?

It’s easy to confuse smegma with the lubricant produced near the frenulum connecting the foreskin to the penis. However, the lubricant alone is not smegma but smegma does contain the lubricant – plus other substances, such as bacteria, germs, dirt, old cells and the like. According to one description of smegma, newly produced smegma has a smooth, moist texture. Old smegma, on the other hand, can be greasy, or worse, it can be hardened on the penis (one solution for removing hardened smegma, is to use olive oil then gently rub it away). Clean soap and water, once or twice a day, however, is sufficient for removing most lubricant and smegma. And note that once lubricant or smegma is removed, the foreskin easily makes new lubricant.

The problem with smegma

Old smegma that contains dead skin cells, bacteria and germs, sometimes sand and dirt, too, easily takes on a foul odor. Worse, it can irritate the skin, causing an inflammation or even an infection on either the foreskin or the glans. With either poor hygiene or a problem getting the foreskin off the glans to clean underneath, the problem can recur and produce serious and long-lasting health issues.

When an inflammation or infection occur on the skin of the glans, the condition is known as balanitis. When it happens to both the glans and the foreskin, it is called balanoposthitis. Both can be painful, and as stated earlier, left untreated or recurring, they can lead more serious conditions, including urinary tract infections that can lead to kidney disease or failure.

Can smegma be a turnoff to a guy’s sexual partners?

Some women/men don’t mind when a guy smells, either from under his armpits or his genitals. But some women/men do mind, and for them the smell of stale smegma can be a big turnoff.

An irony.

The word “smegma” has Latin and Greek roots that, ironically, are based on words for “to clean” or “soap.” Clearly, even in ancient days, people knew that the best way to prevent or remove smegma was through the use of soap and water.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

Smegma gets a bad rap, a rap used, in part, to justify routine infant circumcision. But here’s the catch: if a fellow has had a “loose” circumcision, the kind that leaves a tiny portion of foreskin on his penile shaft, he can still produce a tiny amount of smegma. (In some cultures, loose circumcisions are the most common, but in other cultures, tight ones are. To learn more about the “style” of a circumcision, go to:

At the end of the day
Circumcision doesn’t always eliminate smegma. Nor does it eliminate the need for good genital hygiene. And it’s relatively simple to use good genital hygiene to keep the smegma away.