Penile pain can affect the base, shaft, or head of the penis.
It can also affect the foreskin. An itching, burning, or throbbing sensation
may accompany the pain. Penile pain can be a result of an accident or disease,
and it can affect males of any age.
The pain can vary depending on what underlying condition or
disease is causing it. If you have an injury, the pain may be severe and occur
suddenly. If you have a disease or condition, the pain may be mild and may
gradually get worse.
Any type of pain in the penis is a cause for concern,
particularly if it occurs during an erection, prevents urination, or occurs
along with discharge, sores, redness, or swelling.
Causes of Pain in the Penis
Peyronie’s disease starts when an inflammation causes a thin
sheet of scar tissue, called plaque, to form along the upper or lower ridges of
the shaft of the penis. Because the scar tissue forms next to the tissue that
becomes hard during an erection, you may notice that your penis bends when it’s
erect. The disease can happen if bleeding inside the penis starts after you
bend or hit it, if you have a connective tissue disorder, or if you have an
inflammation of your lymphatic system or blood vessels. The disease can run in
some families or may happen for an unknown reason.
Priapism causes a painful, prolonged erection. This erection
can happen even when you don’t want to have sex. According to the Mayo
Clinic, the problem is most common in boys between 5 and 10 years old and
men from 20 to 50 years old. If this occurs, you should get treatment as
soon as possible or permanent damage could occur. This damage might stop you
from having erections in the future.
Priapism can be due to:
- side effects of drugs used to treat erection
problems or drugs used to treat depression
- blood clotting disorders
- mental health disorders
- blood disorders, such as leukemia or sickle cell
- alcohol use
- illegal drug use
- injury to the penis or spinal cord
Balanitis is an infection of the foreskin and the head of the
penis. It usually affects men and boys who don’t wash under the foreskin
regularly or who haven’t been circumcised, although those who have been circumcised
can also get it. It also can happen if you have a yeast infection, a sexually
transmitted infection (STI), or an allergy to soaps, perfumes, or other
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Infection with an STI can cause penile pain. STIs that cause
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is more common in women, but
it can also happen in men. A UTI happens when bacteria invade and infect your
urinary tract. An infection might happen if you:
- are uncircumcised
- have a weakened immune system
- have a problem or blockage in your urinary tract
- have sex with someone who has an infection
- have anal sex
- have an enlarged prostate
Like any other part of your body, an injury can damage your
penis. Injuries can happen if you:
- are in a car accident
- get burned
- have rough sex
- put a ring around your penis to prolong an
- insert objects into your urethra, which is the
tube that carries urine out of your penis
Phimosis and Paraphimosis
Phimosis happens in uncircumcised males when the foreskin of
the penis is too tight and it can’t be pulled away from the head of the penis.
It usually happens in children, but it can also occur if balanitis or an injury
causes scarring in the foreskin.
A related condition called paraphimosis happens if your
foreskin pulls back from the head of the penis, but then can’t return to its
original position covering the penis. Paraphimosis is a medical emergency
because it can stop you from urinating and may cause the death of the tissue in
Penile cancer is another cause of pain in the penis,
although it’s uncommon. Certain factors increase your chances of getting
- not being circumcised
- having a human papillomavirus infection
- not cleaning under your foreskin if you’re uncircumcised
- being treated for psoriasis
According to the Cleveland
Clinic, most cases of penile cancer happen to men who are over 50 years old.
Options for Pain in the Penis
Treatment varies depending on the condition or disease:
- Injections soften Peyronie’s disease plaques,
and a surgeon can remove them in severe cases.
- Draining the blood from the penis with a needle
helps reduces an erection if you have priapism. Medication may also lower the
amount of blood flowing to the penis.
- Antibiotics treat UTIs and some STIs, including
chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Antibiotics and antifungal medications can
also treat balanitis.
- Antiviral medications can help reduce or shorten
- Stretching the foreskin with your fingers may
make it looser if you have phimosis. Steroid creams rubbed on your penis can also
help. In some cases, surgery is necessary.
- Icing the head of your penis reduces swelling in
paraphimosis. Your doctor also may suggest putting pressure on the head of the
penis. They can also inject drugs into the penis to help it drain, or they can
make small cuts in the foreskin to decrease swelling.
- A surgeon can remove cancerous parts of the
penis. Treatment for penile cancer also may include radiation treatment or
Pain in the Penis
You can take some steps to reduce your chances of developing
pain, such as using condoms when you have sex, avoiding sex with anyone who has
any kind of active infection, and asking sexual partners to avoid rough
movements that bend your penis.
If you’re having repeated infections or other problems with
your foreskin, having a circumcision or cleaning under your foreskin every day
If you experience pain in the penis, consult with your
doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of the underlying cause can
drastically affect your health and well-being. If an STI is the cause of your
penile pain, alert your current or potential partners to avoid spreading the