Sex is both a sensual and sensory experience, so it’s not unusual for a man to want to make sure nothing about him is offensive to a partner’s senses. Unfortunately, in all too many cases, a man is prone to carrying a certain level of penis odor around with him. When that odor level is high, it can be a significant turn-off to bedmates. In most cases, paying proper attention to basic penis health and hygiene can prevent or treat off-putting penis odor. But there are some instances in which more extensive steps may need to be taken. Such is the case when that penis odor is due to a condition known as TMAU.
TMAU is short for trimethylaminuria, a metabolic disorder often called “fish odor syndrome” or “fish malodor syndrome.” While TMAU is much more often found in women, it can occur in men.
It’s actually surprising that TMAU is more common in women, for the disorder is a genetic condition and the likelihood of a man inheriting it is as equal as it is for a woman. In both cases, if both of a person’s parents carry the gene, there is a 25% chance that a child will have TMAU. It’s theorized that the reason more women seem to have TMAU is because something exacerbates the TMAU to make it more pronounced. Many theories believe it is the higher levels of estrogen in women that “worsens” the condition. Similarly, it’s thought that perhaps men with symptomatic TMAU have both the genes and higher levels of estrogen than the general male population has.
How it works
Whatever the reason for the variation between genders, TMAU works in the same way. Trimethylamine is an organic compound used in food digestion, during which it is converted into trimethylamine oxide. When this conversion does not occur, trimethylamine hangs out in the body until it is disposed of through sweat, breath and urine. When unconverted, trimethylamine has a very strong fishy odor, which becomes pronounced when it leaves the body.
In men, this can create a strong body odor, and an especially strong penis odor, due to the heavy sweating common in the penile area as well as to deposits of urine that remain on the penis after urination.
TMAU is entirely benign, but the intense odor associated with it can cause many men to feel embarrassed or nervous. Men who suspect their penis odor (or other body odor) may be due to TMAU should ask their doctor for what is called a “choline load” test.
TMAU does not have a cure, but many men find that dietary changes can help reduce the odor. This involves avoiding foods such as eggs, beans, fish, and red meat which are associated with TMAU. (Working with a nutritionist is advised if this route is taken.)
Some men have found antibiotics somewhat helpful in fighting TMAU, and at least one study found that incorporating charcoal and copper chlorophyllin supplements produced positive results for many participants.
Penis odor caused by TMAU may also lessen if other sources of penis odor are attacked, and using an exceptional penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) may help with this. The best crème will therefore be one with vitamin A, with anti-bacterial properties which attack one of the primary sources of everyday persistent penis odor. The more resilient the penis skin, the better able it will be to resist odor as well. For that reason, the crème should also include alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that fights the free radicals that can lead to unwanted oxidative stress.