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Encyclopedia > Smegma

Smegma, a transliteration of the Greek word σμήγμα for sebum, is a combination of exfoliated (shed) epithelial cells, transudated skin oils, and moisture, and can accumulate under the foreskin of males and within the vulva of females. It has a characteristic strong odor. Smegma is common to all mammals, male and female. Mycobacterium smegmatis is the characteristic bacterium involved in smegma production, and is generally thought to form smegma from epidermal secretions. Transliteration is the practice of transcribing a word or text written in one writing system into another writing system. ... The sebaceous glands are glands found in the skin of mammals. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... This article is about the epithelium as it relates to animal anatomy. ... The foreskin or prepuce (a technically broader term that also includes the clitoral hood, the homologous structure in women) is a retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus when the penis. ... The external genital organs of the female are collectively known as the vulva (plural vulvae or vulvas)[1]. In common speech, the term vagina is often used improperly to refer to the vulva or female genitals generally, even though, strictly speaking, the vagina is a specific internal structure, whereas the... Aroma redirects here. ... Subclasses & Infraclasses Subclass †Allotheria* Subclass Prototheria Subclass Theria Infraclass †Trituberculata Infraclass Metatheria Infraclass Eutheria For the folk-rock band see The Mammals. ... Mycobacterium smegatis is a bacterium species in the genus Mycobacterium. ...

In healthy animals, smegma helps clean and lubricate the genitals. In veterinary medicine, analysis of this smegma is sometimes used for detection of urinary infections, such as trichomoniasis. Some have recommended periodic cleaning of male genitals to improve the health of the animal.[1] Trichomoniasis, sometimes referred to as trich, is a common sexually transmitted disease that affects 7. ...


Human smegma

Smegma allowed to accumulate long enough to become visible

Both males and females produce smegma. In males smegma is produced and accumulates under the foreskin of uncircumcised individuals; in females it collects around the clitoris and in the folds of the labia minora. Image File history File linksMetadata Smegma_Penis_Cropped. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Smegma_Penis_Cropped. ... The foreskin or prepuce (a technically broader term that also includes the clitoral hood, the homologous structure in women) is a retractable double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers the glans penis and protects the urinary meatus when the penis. ... This article is about male circumcision. ... The clitoris is a sexual organ that is present only in female mammals. ... The labia minora (singular: labium minus) or nymphae[1] are two longitudinal cutaneous folds, that normally vary widely in size from woman to woman. ...

Smegma is noticeable as a smooth or moist texture until it is allowed to accumulate, when it takes on its characteristic texture and appearance described in many texts as "cheesy". Because smegma tends to accumulate under the foreskin in males, its presence is less common and less noticeable in circumcised males.[2]

The subpreputial moisture keeps the glans moist and may lubricate the movement of the foreskin. However, if allowed to accumulate and decay in the foreskin cavity it can provide an ideal medium for potentially pathogenic bacteria to colonize;[3] current medical opinion is that allowing smegma to accumulate freely is unhealthy. Accumulation of smegma can cause or aggravate a variety of irritations known as balanitis. Early medical studies such as those by Plaut (1947) and Heins et al (1958)[4] claimed that smegma accumulation led to the development of penile cancer, but the American Cancer Society states that more recent studies have failed to support this.[5] Per the SEER database, the incidence of developing a primary penile cancer is less than 1 per 100,000 in the general population, but for uncircumcised males the rate is estimated to be as high as 1 per 600. [6] Circumcision at a young age appears to be more protective against cancer of the penis than at the time of puberty or later. Penile cancer is extremely uncommon in Jewish and Muslim populations that practice circumcision at infancy and between the ages of 3-13, respectively. [7] [8] Balanitis is inflammation of the glans penis. ... Penile cancer is a malignant growth found on the skin or in the tissues of the penis, usually originating in the glans and/or foreskin. ... The American Cancer Society (ACS) is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service. ...

Preventing accumulation is best done by rinsing the area with warm water. In females, the hood of the clitoris can be gently pulled back to wash away accumulated smegma. Some argue that soap is best avoided because it depletes natural skin oils and may cause non-specific dermatitis.[9] Noticeably unpleasant cheese-like odors can be an indicator of a potentially serious medical problem, or a need to gently wash away excess with water. Deodorant sprays or washes may cause thrush or thrush-like conditions — washing using warm water only is recommended by health professionals if you have sensitive skin, or suffer from dermatitis reactions to using soap like products.[citation needed] The clitoris is a sexual organ that is present only in female mammals. ... Dermatitis is a blanket term literally meaning inflammation of the skin. It is usually used to refer to eczema, which is also known as Dermatitis eczema. ...

The term is one of the few English words referring to aspects of human genitalia that is of Greek and not Latin origin.


  • O'Neill HJ, Gershbein LL. Lipids of human and equine smegma. Oncology 1976;33(4):161-6.
  • Effects of hygiene among the uncircumcised Krueger H, Osborn L. J Fam Pract. 1986 Apr;22(4):353-5.
  • The bacterial flora of preputial space Neubert U, Lentze I. Hautarzt. 1979 Mar;30(3):149-53.
  1. ^ http://www.horsecity.com/stories/090101/hea_beans_ML.shtml
  2. ^ Ask Alice: Scent of an uncircumcised penis
  3. ^ http://www.cirp.org/library/normal/wright1/
  4. ^ http://www.circs.org/library/heins/
  5. ^ http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_2X_What_are_the_risk_factors_for_penile_cancer_35.asp
  6. ^ [SEER Data URL: http://seer.cancer.gov/]
  7. ^ [Krieg R, Hoffman R.Current management of unusual genitourinary cancers. Part 1: Penile cancer. Oncology (Williston Park). 1999 Oct;13(10):1347-52. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15825185?ordinalpos=7&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum]
  8. ^ [Daling JR, Madeleine MM, Johnson LG, Schwartz SM, Shera KA, Wurscher MA, Carter JJ, Porter PL, Galloway DA, McDougall JK, Krieger JN. Penile cancer: importance of circumcision, human papillomavirus and smoking in in situ and invasive disease. Int J Cancer. 2005 Sep 10;116(4):606-16. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10549563?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum]
  9. ^ http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/balanitis/birley/

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  • Wright J. How smegma serves the penis: Nature's assurance that the uncircumcised glans penis will function smoothly is provided by smegma. Sexology (New York) 1970;37(2):50-53. URL: http://www.cirp.org/library/normal/wright1/

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ...

Images of Smegma

  • Images of smegma on female genitals: [5][6][7]

  Results from FactBites:
How Smegma Serves the Penis (1606 words)
Smegma production, they find, is concentrated in the cells of innumerable small prominences, minute microscopic protrusions of various shapes and sizes found on the inner surface of the foreskin cavity.
Smegma is needed for the smooth operation of erection particularly during adolescence when sexual thoughts and dreams, nocturnal erections, and masturbation are common.
Smegma is a substance of considerable chemical complexity, but little is known of its exact composition beyond the fact that it contains neutral fats, fatty acids, sterols; other lipids and cell debris.
Smegma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1111 words)
Smegma is common to all mammals, male and female.
In males, smegma is produced and accumulates under the foreskin; in females it collects around the clitoris and in the folds of the labia minora.
Smegma has become part of the pro- and anti-circumcision movements, with those in favor of routine infant circumcisions citing improved hygeine by avoiding odorous or harmful buildup, and those opposed citing the usefulness of smegma, which is generally lost to circumcisions.
  More results at FactBites »



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