People with vaginas are always the ones subject to jokes about their nether regions smelling like fish. I wouldn’t care, if it weren’t dictated almost entirely by misogyny. Because guess what losers? Dicks can smell like fish, too! More than that, they can smell like fish for the exact same reasons a vagina might.
“The penis and scrotum contain ‘apocrine’ or sweat glands that can secrete fluid and cause odor,” explains Michael Ingber, a urologist at Garden State Urology and medical director for COR Medspa in New Jersey. “Often this natural odor is normal, and we just recommend proper hygiene.”
Basically, dicks can smell like fish because they’re attached to a human body, and human bodies sweat. Notably, sweat is one of the common reasons for similar vaginal odors. However, among penises, it’s more typical for those who are uncircumcised. Regardless of your genitalia (or foreskin status), if sweating is the cause, a shower with mild soap ought to do the trick.
That said, if the smell persists after a shower, it may be a different problem. For instance: Balanitis, primarily classified as inflammation or irritation of the head of the penis. Another possibility is a sexually transmitted infection. “If anything is present with urethral discharge in sexually active men, they should seek medical care,” Ingber tells me. Chlamydia and gonorrhea are two of the main STIs that feature smell as a symptom. Yeast infections and urinary tract infections can also exhibit a foul stench as a side effect. Again, these are all things that happen with vaginas, too.
As with most situations in which your penis is doing something it doesn’t ordinarily do, you should see a doctor if your dick smells like fish all the time. (An STI, for example, will require some kind of antibiotic or other treatment.) But if it’s a rare occasion, beyond showering and practicing safe sex, Ingber recommends keeping the region dry to avoid fungal buildup. “Wearing cotton underwear instead of silk can also help,” he adds, in case, of course, you’ve been maintaining a daily silk undie routine.
Most of all, though: For the love of God, quit it with the fishy vagina jokes already.