Smegma 101

Smegma in Adults

When someone utters the word "smegma," it's likely that all of the derogatory things you've ever heard about intact men start swimming around in your mind. Let’s overcome our middle school giggles, put away our Cards Against Humanity, and get serious about the wonders of smegma.

Today's class is Smegma 101.

Let's start off by dispelling some of the stigma surrounding smegma! #StopSmegmaStigma

What is it NOT?

We know smegma usually has a negative connotation, but you can rest assured that it is NOT something dirty or unhealthy. In fact, you may find it interesting (we did!) that the term originates from the Greek word for soap!

What IS it?

Smegma is simply a combination of moisture and sloughed skin cells. While it is true that intact males do produce smegma, so do all women and men — even those who are circumcised!

In an intact male, smegma keeps the glans glossy and moist. Women likely see or feel smegma every day around their clitoris and labia, but may mistake it for vaginal discharge and pay it no thought. If not washed away, smegma may turn a creamy color and consistency and begin to accumulate underneath the foreskin or around the vulva. Both men and women can easily remove it with water during a bath or shower before it becomes noticeable.

In circumcised males, depending on the style of circumcision, smegma likely just wipes off onto the underpants as it is produced. Males with a “loose” circumcision (less foreskin removed) might find that smegma accumulates under their remaining foreskin or behind the corona of the glans.

What does it do?

Smegma provides ease of movement when you glide your foreskin back (or move your clitoral hood). During sex, the smegma from both partners helps with lubrication that enhances sexual sensation.

In Summary . . .

Copy this in your notebook:

  • Smegma is healthy and natural!

  • No matter what your genitals look like — male or female, cut or intact — you make smegma.

  • Quickly rinsing the genitals with water is all that is necessary for good hygiene; soap is unnecessary and may cause irritation or microbial imbalance. Intact pubescent or adult males can retract their foreskin to rinse underneath, just like females can rinse between their labia and around their clitoris where smegma may accumulate. (Remember that parents of intact infants and children should not retract their son’s foreskin to clean underneath, as it is fused to the glans at birth and gradually becomes retractable throughout childhood. Please go here for more on smegma in infants and children.)

  • Smegma won't become the cheesy, smelly business people like to giggle about when good hygiene is practiced.

  • Smegma does not make an intact man “dirty” or “gross” any more than it makes an intact woman “dirty” or “gross.”