Gently wash your penis every day. Carefully pull back and clean under the foreskin, as well as the tip of your penis (the glans) using only water or a very gentle soap. There is no need to scrub this sensitive area.
The penis is the external sexual organ of the male body. The main parts are the body, the glans (sometimes covered by foreskin), and the root (which is internal – half the length of the penis is tucked up inside the pelvis and attached to the pubic bone). The tip of the glans is a passage for both urine and the ejaculation of semen. Penises vary in size and width. They can be smooth or bumpy and differ in color. Everyone’s genitals are unique.
The penis has a sexual function. This external organ is rich in nerve endings and can provide pleasure when properly stimulated. An erection is the stiffening and rising of the penis. It generally happens when someone gets sexually excited, but can also happen in non-sexual situations.
A common genital alteration is the practice of circumcision. This is the removal of part or all of the foreskin. It is done for cultural, religious and, sometimes, medical reasons. For those who are not circumcised, the separation of the foreskin from the glans happens around puberty and should not be retracted prior to that.
Most males have two testicles that hang in the scrotum, a pouch made of skin found under the penis. It is common for one testicle to hang lower than the other and their size varies. They are part of the male reproductive system because they produce sperm. They also produce important hormones like testosterone.
Everyday habits can make a big difference in our level of genital health and comfort. This section offers general tips for maintaining a healthy penis and testicles.
After cleaning, gently pat dry the tip of your penis, under the foreskin and the rest of your penis. Replace the foreskin over the glans before putting on underwear.
You can take good care of the delicate skin on the penis by using lubricants during masturbation and penetrative sex and by wearing underwear made with natural fibers that are not too tight.
Use gentle laundry detergent. Change underwear regularly, and change out of a wet bathing suit or workout clothes promptly.
It is important to wash your hands before touching your penis. Especially if you have been handling anything that might irritate your penis like chemicals, hot peppers (seriously!) or heat rub for muscle pain.
At the age of 15, it’s recommended to start doing a monthly self-exam of the testicles. It’s a good way to become familiar with their shape and feel to be able to detect any unusual lumps. Testicular cancer is more easily treatable when caught early.
See a health care provider if there is any discharge coming out of the penis, painful urination, a bump, a sore or an itch. It is important to make STI testing a regular part of your health care routine.
If there is any swelling or pain in your scrotum, see a health care provider.
If you are in pain after trauma to the penis it is important to follow-up with a health care provider. A firm bump into a hard surface, like a partner’s pelvic bones, can cause an injury to the penis.
Erections are an important part of what keeps penises healthy. Most people have erections during their sleep for that purpose. Some people who have suffered trauma to the nerves or blood vessel damage caused by diabetes are physically unable to get erections. A device like a vacuum pump (which makes the penis swell with blood) can help maintain a healthy penis if you have a physical erection problem. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction due to depression or anxiety, seeking support about these issues is important.
The most important ways to reduce the risk of penile cancer is to practice good genital hygiene (cleaning under the foreskin if not circumcised), getting the HPV vaccine (which works best if given before the person starts having sex), having protected sex to avoid HPV infection, and not smoking.
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