What is Smegma?

 What is Smegma?
Smegma refers to a thick, cheesy white substance that accumulates beneath the foreskin of the penis and folds of vagina. It is a liquid produce by oil glands to lubricate and keep moist the genital organs. But some times it creates bad odor and bacterial problems. It is more prevalent in uncircumcised males who don’t wash the area properly. Women may also experience this in their vaginas due to poor hygiene.

It’s normal to experience smegma. Moreover, smegma cause no health issues; however, bacteria can develop in it and cause a bad smell. Further, these bacteria may also cause the penis head to swell and cause pain.

Prevention of Smegma

Preventing a buildup of smegma is a matter of good personal hygiene—cleaning the genitals regularly with warm water and mild soap during baths or showers. If smegma is problematic, wearing underwear made of breathable materials like cotton may help.

For someone with a circumcised penis, gently clean all the areas around the head, especially along the ridge that separates the head from the shaft. An uncircumcised penis requires slightly more attention. Clean beneath the foreskin once or twice a day with warm soapy water. Do not scrape the foreskin. A doctor should be consulted if the penis appears infected or red.

For someone with a vagina, pull back the outer lips of the vulva to clean the area under the clitoral hood. Avoid using heavily scented soaps to prevent irritation. If there are bumps, itching, or changes in vaginal discharge, see a doctor.

Getting into the habit of checking the genitals regularly for excess smegma and signs of a potential infection or other problems can prevent smegma from becoming a problem. This is especially important for people who tend to sweat a lot, which can contribute to more smegma and make it easier for smegma to accumulate.


Smegma is not dangerous, yet it can cause complications. However, bacteria may build up within the smegma, making the penis’s head red and swollen. So, this is what doctors refer to as balanitis. Balanitis can inflate and tighten the foreskin and make it difficult to pull back or retract. Further, it can also lead to phimosis, that makes difficult to urinate and sexual activities on day to day basis.

For female smegma, this buildup could cause the clitoral hood to adhere to the clitoral shaft, which may be uncomfortable or even painful.

Further, if there’s any swelling, redness, or a foul odour, consult your physician immediately. Contact your physician if it’s difficult or impossible to remove the penis foreskin.


Smegma is a natural substance produced by the body. It is generally not a cause for concern unless it builds up and causes issues in the genital area. The easiest way to prevent any problems from smegma is by regularly bathing and keeping the genital area clean. If smegma continues to accumulate even with good personal hygiene, a doctor should be consulted about whether it is a symptom of an infection or something else.
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