What you should know about penis pain

It’s a subject that most men don’t talk about or even think about until it happens: penis pain.

Penile pain is a delicate subject — pun intended — but the presence of pain in the root (the part that connects the penis to the abdominal wall), shaft (main external body of the penis), head (glans penis) or urethra (the tube that allows urine and semen to move through and out of the penis) can be serious and should not be ignored.

In fact, before I go any further to discuss the symptoms and causes of penis pain, I want to emphasize the importance of seeking immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • An erection that lasts four hours or longer (a condition known as priapism).
  • Injury or trauma to the penis or testicles that may occur in an accident or sports injury.
  • A cracking or popping sound during an erection or sexual intercourse.
  • Inability to urinate.

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Symptoms Of Penis Pain

Symptoms of penis pain may develop gradually or suddenly and last only moments, or be persistent. The pain itself may be dull, sharp, or variable and interfere with urination, sexual activity, fertility, or daily activities. It may cause only mild, temporary discomfort. Penis pain that is accompanied by other symptoms should be checked by a medical professional.

What are some of those accompanying symptoms?

  • Blood present in the ejaculate
  • Bruising of the penis
  • Discharge from the urethra
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hard growths or lumps in the groin area or on the penis
  • Inflammation of the penis
  • Itchy penis
  • Pain in the abdomen, bladder, prostate gland or testicles (scrotum)
  • Premature ejaculation
  • Presence of a thick secretion (smegma) that accumulates under the foreskin
  • Sores, lesions or rash on the penis
  • Swelling of the penis or adjacent area
  • Urination problems, such as pain or burning when urinating, bloody urine, difficulty urinating

Generally, it’s a wise choice to seek medical help when any of these symptoms accompany penis pain. To best help your doctor with a diagnosis, be sure to make a note of when the pain and the other symptoms started, what may have precipitated them, how severe the symptoms are, whether you notice any particular time or circumstance under which they occur, any history of these symptoms in the past, and what you may have done already to alleviate them.

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Causes Of Penis Pain

The causes of penis pain range from a wide variety of diseases or conditions that can affect the penis or the urethra and urinary tract and include sexual activity or physical trauma associated with an accident or surgery. Possible causes of penis pain include the following:

  • Allergic reaction to spermicides, soaps or detergents
  • Bites, either human or insect
  • Bladder stones
  • Cancer of the penis
  • Sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, gonorrhea or syphilis
  • Injury, such as being kicked or hit by a ball during sports, or while riding a bicycle or motorcycle
  • Infection, such as a urinary tract infection, balanitis (infection that develops under the foreskin of uncircumcised men) or from an infected penile implant
  • Paraphimosis (when the foreskin has been pulled back and cannot be returned to its normal position, causing swelling, pain, and disrupted blood flow to the penis
  • Penile fracture, which can occur if the penis experiences a blunt blow during an erection
  • Phimosis, in which the foreskin is extremely tight and cannot be retracted
  • Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland)
  • Peyronie’s disease (painful curvature of the penis caused by scar tissue)
  • Pimples
  • Poor hygiene
  • Reiter syndrome (type of reactive arthritis that affects the urethra)
  • Sickle cell anemia, which can cause painful erections
  • Trauma from difficult removal of a urinary catheter
  • Urethritis, inflammation of the urethra

Naturally, treatment of penis pain depends on the cause. However, delaying identification and diagnosis of penis pain may result in unintended consequences, including serious complications such as erectile dysfunction, gangrene, serious infections, urinary incontinence, and spread of cancer (if penile cancer is the diagnosis). Therefore, don’t be embarrassed by penis pain: Seek professional medical advice.

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Dr. Geo Espinosa

By Dr. Geo Espinosa

Dr. Geo Espinosa is a naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and certified functional medicine practitioner recognized as an authority in holistic urology and men’s health. He is Clinical Assistant Professor and holistic clinician in Urology at New York University Langone Medical Center. As an avid researcher and writer, Dr. Geo has authored numerous scientific papers and books including co-editing the Integrative Sexual Health book, and author of the best selling prostate cancer book: Thrive, Don't Only Survive.