Straight from the mouths of people who know penises best.
If you have a penis, then chances are you've had some ~questions~ about it from time to time.
I mean, where TF are all these random boners coming from? Why won't it go up when I actually need it to? Did I just catch herpes?
To gain a better understanding of what the penis is all about, BuzzFeed Health spoke to a few of the people who know penises best: urologists Dr. Seth Cohen of NYU Langone Medical Center, Dr. David Shusterman of NY Urology, and Dr. Landon Trost, head of andrology and male infertility at Mayo Clinic. Here are some things they wanted you to know.
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If you're uncircumcised, then you're going to have to put a little more effort into creating a ~hygienic environment~.
A lot of people don't actually clean underneath the foreskin, but they really should be, Cohen and Shusterman tell BuzzFeed Health. "Men who are uncircumcised need to make sure to pull back the foreskin every day, wash it with soap and water, and then pull the skin back over the penis," Cohen says.
The foreskin fits on pretty snugly, making it the perfect place for dirt and bacteria to build up, Cohen says. And while it's unclear whether uncircumcised people face a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because of their foreskin, the underside of it can definitely provide the perfect breeding grounds for infections to thrive — like genital warts from human papilloma virus (HPV), the most common STI. Over time, that buildup can lead to inflammation in the foreskin (balanitis) or being unable to pull the foreskin back over the penis (phimosis), Cohen says.
These issues might also contribute to the slightly higher risk of of penile cancer in people who are uncircumcised, Cohen says. That said, it's really just something to be aware of because it's so rare (it makes up less than 1% of cancers in men in the US). "It’s not terribly high, but it does happen," Trost tells BuzzFeed Health.
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Some STIs might show up with symptoms, but many of them do not — so protect yourself and get tested
You might have a feeling you have gonorrhea because it burns when you pee, or maybe you think that cluster of red bumps that just showed up is herpes. Maybe you see some warts looking like broccoli or cauliflower florets every time you pull back your foreskin. While these are all obvious signs of a potential STI, sometimes there won't be any symptoms whatsoever. So it's important to remember that not all STIs are only spread through bodily fluids. Some, like herpes and HPV, can be passed through skin-to-skin contact, Cohen says. "Even if they wear condoms, and vaginal juices or other juices go below the condom to the base of the shaft or the pubic region — they can still get warts or herpes there," he says.
You can read more about STIs and getting tested here.
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Masturbating is good for you, so go for it, you wanker.
If you've ever heard the phrase, "Use it or lose it," then you're not alone. Basically, it means getting off through masturbation or sex helps ensure that you don't lose the ability to maintain an erection. And while Shusterman says this is something to keep in mind in general, Trost says that chances are you only really have to worry about it more at a later age, if and when you go through other issues that directly affect erectile dysfunction (ED) — like radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
That said, "masturbation is 100% normal and 100% encouraged. When you use it, all the blood flows into the penis and by using it, you’re actually clearing up the blood vessels inside," Shusterman says. "When someone comes in and tells me they don’t masturbate, they get wet dreams — basically your natural masturbation technique. Nature takes over."
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