What causes pain in penis? 12 possible conditions
Penis pain can affect the base of your penis, the shaft of the penis, the head of the penis or the foreskin. Penis pain can be a result of an accident or disease, and can affect males of any age.
Penis pain may occur due to the following reasons:
Peyronie’s disease starts when an inflammation causes a thin sheet of scar tissue, called plaque, to form along the upper or lower sides 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 is 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 erection, which can happen even when you don’t want to have sex. According to the Mayo Clinic, the problem is most common in boys between five and ten years old and men from 20 to 50 years old. (MayoClinic.com). The condition requires treatment as soon as possible or permanent damage could occur to your penis, which might stop you from having erections in the future. It can be caused by side effects of drugs used to treat erection problems; drugs used to treat depression, blood clotting, or mental health disorders; blood disorders, including leukemia or sickle cell anemia; alcohol or illegal drug use; and injury to the penis or spinal cord.
Balanitis is an infection of the foreskin and the head of your penis. It usually affects men and boys who haven’t been circumcised or who don’t wash under the foreskin regularly. It also can happen if you have a yeast infection, a sexually transmitted infection (STI), or an allergy to soaps, perfumes, or other products.
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Infection with an STI can cause penis pain. STIs that cause pain include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, or syphilis.
Urinary Tract Infection
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is more common in women, but can also happen in men. A UTI happens when bacteria gets into 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, or have an enlarged prostate gland.
Like any other part of your body, your penis can be damaged due to an injury. Injuries can happen if you are in a car accident, suffer burns, have rough sex, put a ring around your penis to prolong an erection, or insert objects into your urethra, 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 you can’t pull it away from the head of your penis. It usually happens to children, but 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 death of the tissue in the penis.
Penile cancer is another cause of pain in the penis, although it is uncommon. Certain risk factors increase your chances of getting cancer, including smoking, not being circumcised, having a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, not cleaning under your foreskin if uncircumcised, or being treated for psoriasis. According to the Cleveland Clinic, most cases of penile cancer happen to men who are over age 50. (ClevelandClinic).
Symptoms vary depending on what condition or disease caused your problem. If you have an injury, pain may be severe and occur suddenly. If you have a disease or condition, 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 is accompanied by a discharge, sores, redness, or swelling.
Treatment varies depending on the condition or disease.
- Injections soften Peyronie’s disease plaques, and surgery 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.
- Antiviral medications can help reduce herpes outbreaks.
- Antibiotics or antifungals treat balanitis.
- Stretching the foreskin with your fingers may make it looser if you have phimosis, or steroid creams rubbed on your penis can help. In some cases, surgery is needed.
- Icing the head of your penis reduces swelling in paraphimosis. Your doctor also may suggest putting pressure on the head of the penis, injecting drugs into the penis to help it drain, or making small cuts in the foreskin to decrease swelling.
- Surgery removes cancerous parts of the penis. Treatment also may include radiation treatment or chemotherapy.
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
- asking sexual partners to avoid rough movements that bend your penis
- having a circumcision if you have repeated infections or other problems with your foreskin
- cleaning under your foreskin every day
- Balanitis. (2011, September 16). National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000862.htm
- Disorders of the penis. (2007, January 10). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/penile_disorders/hic_disorders_of_the_penis.aspx
- Gonorrhea – CDC fact sheet. (2012, June 4). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/STDFact-gonorrhea.htm
- Priapism. (2010, December 3). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved July 12, 2012, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/priapism/DS00873
See a list of possible causes in order from the most common to the least.
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