Dear Asking For a Friend,
My boyfriend keeps adjusting himself and it’s driving me crazy. He does it throughout the day, randomly and I am finding it distracting and annoying, to say the least. Despite being really put off, I also worry about when he goes back to the office — what if he gets so used to it that he has his hands in his pants at work? Why, oh why, can’t guys stop touching their stuff?
There is no research to support the idea that there is a biological reason for this, but it seems that most men put their hands in their pants because they are either itchy, sweaty or bored. And sometimes, the fondling is a bid to hide an erection.
First, let’s talk about the itch that needs to be scratched. One of the biggest culprits of frequent adjusting is jock itch, an incessant rash that usually occurs on the upper inner thighs or in the skin between the thighs and the scrotum.
“Jock itch is typically red, a little scaly, and itchy,” explains Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto dermatologist, medical director and founder at the Toronto Dermatology Centre. “It can be on both sides or just one side,” A person may also have athlete’s foot or toenail fungus at the same time which is often the source.”
Jock itch requires a proper diagnosis by a dermatologist because other skin conditions, such as psoriasis, may cause similar symptoms. If jock itch is what’s causing your boyfriend to compulsively adjust himself, an over-the-counter topical treatment recommended by a dermatologist or prescription oral medication can help treat the irritation. Simple tweaks in daily routine, such as keeping the area dry, not sharing towels and avoiding tight-fitting underwear are effective ways to preventing a recurrence of the annoying skin condition.
If there is a recurrence, Dr. Renée Beach, dermatologist and founder of DermAtelier on Avenue advises that “self-diagnosis is reasonable.” She suggests that using an over-the-counter fungal cream for two to four weeks may be sufficient, “but only if jock itch is eliminated or significantly modified.”
Another reason for your boyfriend’s habit may be directly related to what’s on his mind. According to science, the average man thinks about sex 19 times in any given day, compared to women who tally roughly 10 sexy thoughts a day. If your boyfriend is easily aroused, he might be adjusting himself to keep the party in his pants from getting out of hand — a move sometimes called the “boner tuck.”
Boredom might be another reason why your boyfriend might be reaching for his balls. It’s totally possible that at home, he’s fully relaxed and adjusting himself not because he needs to scratch an itch, but because he might be bored and doing it to soothe himself.
While it sounds like your boyfriend clearly has the daytime touch, but some men cup their penis while sleeping at night. In fact, there is a condition known as sexsomnia, which causes people to engage in sexual behaviours, like masturbation and fondling, as they sleep.
There is also a theory that men touch their genitals a lot because it makes them feel physically safe. “Lodging your hands between your precious jewels and the potential hazards of the outside world makes you feel comfortable and safe,” Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Human Lie Detection and Body Language 101: Your Guide to Reading People’s Nonverbal Behavior told Men’s Health.
From time to time, it’s okay to draw attention to your boyfriend’s habit — self-awareness can lead to reflection and change — but try not to react every time you catch him reaching south. Some situations do require subtle and discreet adjusting to avoid the bigger embarrassment of an erection at inappropriate times.
If your boyfriend is not an exhibitionist and he’s discreet about adjusting himself when at work or out in public, it’s nothing you need to worry about.
Maja Begovic is a writer with Healthing.ca.
Is there something about health that you (or a friend, wink, wink) have always wondered about, but are too embarrassed to ask? Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise your ‘friend’s’ secret – and identity – is safe with us.
Don’t miss the latest on COVID-19, reopening and life. Subscribe to Healthing’s daily newsletter COVID Life.