It is common to hear from men (or their significant others) who have concerns about penis odor. We are not talking about that manly, sweaty smell that develops after a vigorous workout or a long day at work on the construction site; we are talking about an unmistakable, fishy, dank aroma that can only come from one place. A smelly penis is embarrassing for the owner of the tool, and it can be a big turnoff for a romantic partner - and sometimes, no matter how much care a guy takes with his hygiene routine, he can’t seem to get rid of it. Dealing with the odor is more than just a matter of general penis care. To banish the fishy smell, it is important to understand what causes it, as well as the specialized maintenance that is needed to keep it under control.

What causes a smelly penis?

- Poor hygiene - as might be expected, the most common cause of rank penis odors is poor personal care habits. It may seem like no big deal to skip a shower in favor of an evening in front of the wide-screen, but leaving the build-up of sweat, urine and other unmentionables in place for more than a day is asking for trouble. Certain types of bacteria love to feast on bodily extrusions, and they tend to give off a foul-smelling aroma as part of their metabolic process, leading to that signature scent.

- Smegma - even in men who do make a shower or bath a part of their daily ritual, dead skin cells and body oils can accumulate underneath the foreskin, forming the cheesy or waxy paste known as smegma. Bacteria love this substance as well, and unless the smegma is removed daily and the foreskin and underlying tissue cleaned carefully, a man’s shorts are more than likely to develop that tuna-like smell.

- Yeast - The human body is covered with yeast spores, and under the right conditions (warm, damp and dark), these spores tend to spring up into thriving colonies. Just like the yeast in beer or bread, yeast on the body has a distinctive smell, and it can create quite a funk when it attacks the groin area.

- Bacterial vaginosis. Like the other sources of penis smell, this is also caused by bacteria, but in this case, it is a gift from a man’s partner. Women can also experience bacteria overgrowth, with the accompanying fishy odor, and the bacteria can be transferred on sexual contact, right along with their smell.

Knocking out penis odor

Since unpleasant body odors are generally caused by bacteria or yeast, the key to getting rid of them means getting rid of these pesky microorganisms. The following self-care do’s and don’ts can help:

1) DO shower daily, using warm (not hot) water and a gentle cleanser. Uncircumcised men should very gently retract the foreskin - never force it - and use the fingertips to wipe away any smegma that has built up. Pay attention to the entire groin area, and make sure to wash away any accumulated sweat and other body fluids.

2) DO keep the groin area dry. Putting on clothing before the skin is dry after a shower, or sitting around in wet swim trunks or sweaty clothing, can encourage the overgrowth of yeast, which can cause an uncomfortable skin infection as well as a funky smell.

3) DO trim the hair. Hair is notorious for trapping body fluids, sweat, grime and anything else that passes by, and it can contribute to unpleasant odors in a big way. Keeping the hair trimmed short, or even removing it completely, can cut down on foul aromas. A side benefit - manscaping actually makes the penis look bigger!

4) DON’T use deodorants, body sprays, after-shave or any other fragrance in the groin area. These products contain chemicals that can be irritating to the delicate skin, leading to sores, redness, itching and rashes; they are not usually effective for reducing penile odor in any event.

5) DO use a high-quality penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil) that contains vitamin A. This ingredient has antibacterial properties and can help cut down on the bacteria that are the underlying source of odors related to sweating, smegma and general uncleanliness. A product like this may be effective in reducing unpleasant smells, and it can also improve the general health and appearance of the penis.