Penis Odor: Blame Thioalcohols

Until they become sexually active, most guys don’t pay much (if any attention) to penis odor. They tend to not be too concerned with whether their penis has a pronounced odor in the locker room, because locker rooms are known for strong odors. And most of the time, a guy can get used to his own penis odor so that he doesn’t even notice it. But when he starts presenting his penis to a partner and a rank penis odor gets in the way of desired activity, suddenly he pays attention! Searches for how better penis care can affect penis odor turn up lots of information – but few actually talk about one of the primary causes of penis odor, substances known as thioalcohols.

The odor issue

While penis odor can have several factors, one of the primary causes is what might be thought of as the “sweat factor.” Everyone is familiar with the fact that heavy sweating produces a pronounced odor, including in the penis area. But not everyone understands where that odor comes from.

For example, we blame it all on sweat – but sweat by itself is not the culprit. Many people notice that not all sweat smells. Sweat trickling down the face, for example, doesn’t offend olfactory. But sweat pouring out of the armpits is another matter altogether.

That’s because sweat by itself does not smell. What sweat does is combine with bacteria, and when it does that, bacteria release ingredients which have a strong odor. But again, it’s not all bacteria – for example, the bacteria on the face don’t create a smell from sweat. It’s bacteria produced under the arms, in the groin, and on the feet that have this special ability to burst forth in unwanted fragrance.


Scientists have discovered that ingredients known as thioalcohols are present in the bacteria that create unpleasant smells. And only a small number of bacteria in “smell regions” actually have thioalcohols.

This information is important for understanding body smells. Right now, there’s not much that can be done with it; however, scientists can use this information to try to develop deodorants that are more effective. Deodorants tend to target all bacteria under the arm. In the future, deodorants could be developed that target thioalcohols, and therefore might be more effective than what is currently available.

It’s also possible that developments might help with penis odor. Putting underarm deodorant on the groin is not a good idea. But perhaps in the near future, some penis-friendly deodorants will be developed. Or perhaps rather than a topical application, a pill will be developed that attacks thioalcohols wherever they occur on the body.

Take steps

Until that time, however, a guy needs to take what steps he can to combat unwanted penis odor. The first thing to do is bathe or shower regularly; keeping the penis and surrounding area clean is crucial. Intact men should be sure to clean well under the foreskin. And washing the pubic hair is also crucial; bacterial odors can cling to the hair unless it is tended to. In addition, airing out the penis for a couple of hours a day can help, as can wearing clothing that is lighter weight so there is less heat trapped in the penis area.

Penis Odor: Blame Thioalcohols was last modified: by
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