Perhaps you’re sitting there, dong in hand, when you come to a realization: That thang isn’t the same color as the rest of you! Sure, it’s been this way since you can remember, but you never really stopped to think about it until now. What’s the deal? It barely even sees the light of day, so why would it be darker? Shouldn’t it actually be lighter?
No! Because puberty!
The body undergoes a lot of changes during puberty, so you’re forgiven if the darkening of your genitalia went somewhat unnoticed. Regardless of gender, both the genitals and the nipples tend to become a few shades darker during puberty. This is because your hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone (which, yes, men produce, too), are also responsible for melanin production. Weird as it may be, the darkening of your bits is one way for your body to visually signal its maturation. During puberty, some people also experience the development of hyperpigmentation or skin discoloration on other parts of their body, too. This can also occur during pregnancy.
As with skin tone overall, the precise changes in genital color will vary from person to person. For some, their genitals remain the same tone basically all the time. For others, their genitals are much darker, even purple-toned, when they’re aroused. This is just because of increased blood flow.
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It’s also common to have your genitals be more than one color. Many people have a brown line below the head of their penis, or have a sharp demarcation where the tone of their penis is light and dark. As long as this isn’t new to you, it’s perfectly normal and harmless.
However, if your genitals have more recently changed color (beyond puberty, of course), then it may be cause for concern. Diabetes can cause brown patches to develop on the skin, including in the genital region. STIs and cancer can, as well. An uncommon condition called lichen sclerosus causes white patches on the skin, and in the rarest of cases can lead to the development of an “innie penis.”
Less frighteningly, though, most instances of penile discoloration are caused by contact dermatitis, aka a rash, and even the above causes typically have some form of treatment. Still, as with anything on your penis that makes you say, “Well that’s new,” you should probably consult with a doctor to ensure it’s nothing dangerous.