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There are plenty of sexual health mysteries and STDs that many men either aren’t super familiar with or just don’t know about. And, while we all know terms like syphilis and gonorrhea, among others, one thing that may be new to you is Fournier’s gangrene. And, assuming you want to protect your penis, it’ll be wise to keep on reading and educate yourselves, because this genital-eating bacteria is some serious shit!

We’ve (luckily) never experienced anything major going on down on our penis — *knocks on wood* —  but there are some horrifying stories about guys who have had some major league drama happen to them. From STDs to other scary things, protecting your unit is so important. But one that (hopefully) never happens to you is Fournier’s gangrene, which is a genital-eating bacteria that doctors at Grey’s Hospital in South Africa have treated 44 patients in five years for, per a new report in the South African Medical Journal. Sounds nasty, right?

So, what exactly is Fournier’s gangrene, other than every man’s worst nightmare? Essentially, it’s a bacteria that affects soft tissue in your genitals, as small crevices inside your scrotum traps this bacteria and causes an infection. And, since the summer brings increased moisture, there seems to be more cases of Fournier’s gangrene, per LiveScience, which seems to be picked up in ocean waters the most.

Although actually contracting Fournier’s gangrene is rare — less than two men per 100,000 males experience the bacteria each year — when the words “genital-eating bacteria” are together, it should be something we all know about.

For instance, once case of Fournier’s gangrene developed in a 29-year-old male after his masturbation habits led to abrasions on his penis, which then led to an infection. Another common cause of the bacteria is from manscaping, where a guy nicks himself while shaving down there and, just like that, a specific bacteria gets under the skin and starts eating away at it. Nope!

So, are you at risk of getting Fournier’s gangrene? Of course, but, again, it’s extremely rare. That said, the easiest way to stay clean is to wash any wounds or cuts around your penis — which should be common practice anyways. However, if you’re one of the (very unlucky) fellas who happens to experience this genital-eating bacteria, it’s important to see your doctor ASAP, as the condition spreads quickly.

If infected, antibiotics are given to treat things at first, followed by a surgery to remove dead skin tissue. And, if you think developing Fournier’s gangrene is something to scoff at, just know this: 20-to-30 percent of men impacted by the bacteria die from the condition, per NCBI.com, so keep yourself clean and take care of things pronto!

Now that you’re a little more educated, go forth and live your best lives, guys. Just remember to be on the lookout for anything weird going on down around your penis, because Fournier’s gangrene is real, and it’s anything but spectacular to deal with.

(H/T Men’s Health)

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