Every man will encounter penis problems from time to time, and while most of these are not serious, they can be upsetting (not to mention embarrassing). While a doctor should be the ultimate source for specific questions about penis health and care, the answers to these common questions can help men understand what might be going on with their bodies and what approach might be most effective in treating the issue.

1) "When I masturbate, my foreskin and glans are swollen and sore afterwards, and sometimes I get red spots on the tip that hurt to touch. Is it an STD?" You could have balanitis, an inflammatory condition of the foreskin and glans that is often caused by inadequate hygiene. Make sure you clean the whole penis every day, including under the hood, and use a lube. Talk to your doctor if the symptoms persist.

2) "I feel like my penis is too small. What can I do to make it longer and thicker?" Unless your penis is less than 2 inches long when erect, it is probably completely normal - most guys do not have the fabled 9-incher they would like everyone to believe. Unfortunately, there is no proven method to effectively lengthen or broaden the penis, but the good news is that nearly all women are more than satisfied with what guys bring to the bedroom, as long as they work on their technique and are attentive to their partners.

3) "Every time I have sex with my wife, I come within the first minute or so - it is really frustrating for both of us! What’s up with that?" You may have an issue with premature ejaculation; this is often caused by anxiety. Talking to a therapist and maintaining open communication with your spouse can help to relieve the problem.

4) "Why can’t I feel the head of my penis anymore?" Loss of sensation can occur for many reasons, ranging from masturbation techniques to nerve compression to systemic disease like diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and make sure to tell him everything about your lifestyle, even if you think it’s not related. In most cases, there are treatments that can help.

5) "I was circumcised as a baby, and I am worried that it has affected my sensitivity. Is there any way to restore my foreskin?" Although there is no evidence that circumcised men have less sensation than those who are uncircumcised, there are cosmetic procedures available for restoring the foreskin. Whether these procedures increase sensation has not been well-established.

6) "Is it true that circumcision is necessary for health reasons?" According to some studies, removing the foreskin reduces the risks of penile cancer and of contracting the HIV virus; circumcised men are also less likely to develop infections such as balanitis. On the other hand, attention to hygiene and safe sex practices can also reduce these risks.

7) "Sometimes I masturbate three or four times a day. Is there something wrong with me?" Many, many males masturbate frequently, and in most cases, this is normal and healthy. Only when masturbation reaches the level of an obsession or eclipses a man’s interest in partner sex is it a cause for concern.

8) "My girlfriend won’t go down on me because she says she can’t stand the smell down there- I think it’s just a manly scent. What should I do?" The scent may well be manly, but if it is bothersome for her, common courtesy would dictate that something be done about it. Men often have a fishy odor down there due to an accumulation of smegma; this should be cleaned away daily for a fresher, more pleasant aroma. Certain infections can also cause an unpleasant smell, so if hygiene doesn’t solve the problem, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.

Avoiding common penile issues

Not all problems can be prevented, but there are some common-sense steps that men can take to reduce their chances of encountering discomfort, injury and disease:

- Unless in a committed, monogamous relationship, always use a condom. No excuses, no exceptions.

- Keep it clean; make sure to bathe or shower at least once a day to remove any built-up grime and body fluids that can increase the risk of rashes and infections.

- Use protection during athletic activities; whether playing softball with the work team or out for a day of cycling, choose the appropriate gear for the activity to prevent injury and long-term problems with function.

- Use a penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil). Male personal care products contain nutrients and emollients that support healthy circulatory and nerve function while smoothing and softening the surface of the skin. A quality product can boost sensation while promoting long-term health.