Penis Pain Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

If you have penis pain, it is important to pay attention to characteristics of the pain and whether location of the pain is in the top, middle, or bottom of the shaft. Pain in the penis can be caused by sexually transmitted infections, urethritis, a UTI, or trauma from a penis injury. Read below for more information causes and how to relieve penis pain.

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Contents

  1. Symptoms
  2. Causes
  3. 7 Possible Penis Pain Conditions
  4. Treatments and Relief
  5. Real-Life Stories
  6. FAQs
  7. Questions Your Doctor May Ask
  8. Statistics
  9. Related Articles
  10. References

Penis Pain Explained

The penis is a durable organ, yet it remains as vulnerable to infection and injury as any other part of your body and sometimes more so. Most men do experience some sort of pain or injury concerning the penis at some point in their lives. Your doctor has likely seen all sorts of incidents and illnesses involving penis pain and will consider your case to be a matter of routine [1].

Common characteristics and accompanying symptoms of penis pain

If you're experiencing penis pain, it can likely be described by the following [2-5].

  • Severity of pain: Pain may be sharp, dull, throbbing, or burning
  • Pain location: The pain may be felt at the root of your penis, just beneath the skin of the shaft, or main body, of your penis, inside your urethra, which runs through the shaft, or within the head of your penis.
  • With an erection: You may hear, or feel, a cracking or popping within the shaft of your penis during an erection. An erection may last three to four hours or more. Conversely, you may experience erectile dysfunction along with the pain.
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Bloody semen or blood appearing at the tip of your penis
  • Visible bruising along the shaft
  • Rash or sores anywhere on your penis
  • Irritation in uncircumcised men: There may be a buildup of a thick layer of irritating secretions under your foreskin.
  • Pain in your lower abdomen or testicles

Duration of symptoms

Pain may be acute or chronic depending on the cause.

  • Acute: The pain may be due to an acute injury, such as an automobile accident or hit while playing a sport.
  • Chronic: It may be a chronic pain that starts gradually but never goes away.

Who is most often affected by penis pain symptoms?

The following men are more prone to experiencing penis pain.

  • Sexually active men: Especially those with multiple partners [6]
  • Men using erectile dysfunction medication: Especially those taking more than the recommended dose [7]
  • Uncircumcised men

When are penis pain symptoms most likely to occur?

Penis pain is more likely to occur during sexual activity, while urination, and during exercise, even with mild activities such as walking.

Are penis pain symptoms serious?

The severity of your penis pain is ultimately dependent on the cause and how much distress it is causing you.

  • Not serious: A mild irritation, either internal or external, can most often be easily treated and is not serious [8].
  • Moderately serious: Any symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease should be treated by your medical provider as soon as possible.
  • Serious: Any severe injury to your groin, or an erection that does not subside within three to four hours, can cause long-term damage if not treated immediately.

Why Does My Penis Hurt?

Many conditions can have penis pain as a symptom. The most common are those involving sexually transmitted diseases or urinary tract infections, as well as allergies and injuries [2,9].

Most common penis pain causes

The most common causes of penis pain include the following.

  • Viruses that cause sexually transmitted diseases
  • Bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases
  • Other infections: Bacteria can cause bladder infections, urinary tract infections, or urethritis (inflammation of the urethra).

Less common penis pain causes

Less common causes of penis pain include the following.

  • Bladder stones: These may break up and cause pain as they pass through the urethra [10].
  • Scar tissue within the shaft of your penis: This is caused by repeated injury and/or infection. The scar tissue causes a curved and painful erection [11].
  • Allergic reactions: This can occur from soaps or detergents or from plants you may have touched such as poison ivy [3].
  • Skin conditions: These may have spread to your genitals and are either infectious or caused by an autoimmune condition [6,12].
  • Poor hygiene: In uncircumcised men, bacteria combined with poor hygiene can cause infection and inflammation of the head of your penis beneath the foreskin. It's also possible for your foreskin to become swollen and tight, with or without an infection.
  • Prostatitis: This is swelling and inflammation of your prostate gland [4].
  • Sickle cell anemia: This can cause priapism, which is the medical name for painfully prolonged erections [13].

Rare and unusual penis pain causes

The following, although the least common, are possible causes of penis pain.

  • Insect bites: Such as from mosquitoes, ticks, or spiders
  • Human bites during sexual activity
  • Injury from difficult insertion or removal of a urinary catheter
  • Various impact injuries: Such as injury from a car crash or work accident; from being struck by an object, such as a baseball; or from riding a horse, bicycle, or motorcycle
  • Priapism: This is the term for an erection that continues for hours and actually becomes painful and damaging. It can lead to gangrene because the blood is trapped within your penis, loses oxygen, and can no longer nourish your tissues.
  • Penile fracture: This can occur during aggressive or mis-coordinated sexual activity and is usually caused by a partner accidentally falling or dropping onto the erect penis. The erectile tissue beneath the skin can rupture, causing damage, pain, and severe bruising.

7 Possible Penis Pain Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced penis pain. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Urethritis

Urethritis is an infection of the urethra, which drains urine out of the body from the bladder. The urethra may be involved alone or with other structures in an overall urinary tract infection.

Urethritis is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in itself, but the same bacteria and viruses that cause STDs can also infect the urethra. Another common cause is the E.coli bacteria, found in feces.

Most susceptible are sexually active women, but anything that allows bacteria (especially E. coli) to travel into the urinary tract can cause an infection.

The most common symptoms are burning on urination and a cloudy discharge.

Diagnosis is made through urine test and a swab taken from the urethra. A urethritis patient should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases as well.

Treatment involves antibiotics, if the urethritis is caused by bacteria. Taking cranberry supplements can also be helpful, as long as the patient is not also taking the blood thinner called warfarin.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: painful urination, penis pain, fluid leaking, pink/blood-tinged urine, cloudy urine

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is chronic skin condition in which a person forms patches of white, wrinkly, thin skin, often described as being like "cigarette paper." Most people with this condition will experience it on their anus and genital regions, and some will experience it on other parts of the...

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Chronic prostatitis

Chronic prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland, located between the bladder and penis, which produces fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. Chronic prostatitis is distinguished from acute prostatitis in that chronic prostatitis has caused symptoms for at least three...

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Penis Pain Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your penis pain

Acute prostatitis

Acute prostatitis is a sudden-onset bacterial infection of the prostate gland in men.

Bacteria can spread to the prostate through a urinary tract infection, or through a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Infection can also start after a medical procedure such as a urinary catheter insertion.

Most susceptible are younger or middle-aged men with a urinary tract infection or STD (sexually transmitted disease;) a pelvic injury from trauma or from bicycling or other sport; an enlarged prostate; or a recent prostate biopsy.

Symptoms include pain and difficulty when trying to urinate; pain on ejaculation; pelvic and abdominal pain; fever; chills; and nausea and vomiting.

These symptoms should be evaluated by a medical provider, because untreated prostatitis can lead to bacteremia of the blood ("blood poisoning,") prostatic abscess, and infertility.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, urinalysis, blood tests, and a physical examination which usually involves a digital rectal examination. Prostatitis does not cause prostate cancer.

Treatment is done with antibiotics, usually as an outpatient.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: penis pain, fever, urinary changes, painful urination, chills

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Penis fracture

A penile fracture, also known as broken penis, occurs when there is traumatic injury to the penis.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: penis pain, penis injury, swollen penis, penis bruise

Symptoms that always occur with penis fracture: penis pain, penis injury

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection is an infection of the urinary tract, which includes the kidneys, bladder, and urethra. Urinary tract infections are usually caused by infections by fecal bacteria.

Symptoms of urinary tract infections include pain with urination (dysuria), ...

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Penile irritation

Irritation of the penis is common, and can come from a number of benign causes. Common causes include cleaning with a new kind of soap, cleaning too much, or chaffing.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: penis itch, penile redness

Symptoms that never occur with penile irritation: fever, painful urination, testicle pain

Urgency: Self-treatment

How to Relive a Sore Penis

When penis pain is an emergency

Seek immediate penis pain treatment in the emergency room if you have:

  • A painful erection that lasts for 3 to 4 hours
  • Extreme difficulty urinating
  • Received a hard hit to your groin: Either from an accident or sports injury
  • A fracture of your penis

When to see a doctor for penis pain

You should schedule an appointment for any sort of penile pain or irritation that last for more than a few hours, especially if there are other symptoms of illness with it.

At-home treatments for penis pain

For minor injury or irritation, ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers can be helpful to reduce penis pain symptoms.

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FAQs About Penis Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about penis pain.

Why does my penis hurt while passing urine?

The most common cause of pain during urination is inflammation of the urinary tract (UTI). Men can also get inflammation of the urethra through sexually transmitted diseases (STD or sexually transmitted infection, STI) or an inflamed prostate, which occurs more frequently in older men. Other causes of painful urination influence bladder stones, certain cancer drugs, and kidney procedures.

Why does my penis hurt when I have an erection?

There are multiple potential causes of painful erections. One such cause is called Peyronie's disease, in which a scar forms along the inside of the penis that is painful to stretch and hurts when the penis is erect. Additionally, priapism, or a long-standing erection (greater than 4 hours), can also cause pain and can be caused by medications especially penile injections. It can also be caused by sickle cell disease.

Which STDs cause penis pain?

Most STDs (sexually transmitted diseases or STIs, sexually transmitted infections) can cause painful genitals. Most commonly gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes can cause painful genitals, but if you suspect that you have a sexually transmitted disease, it is very important that you seek treatment as soon as possible. These infections do not commonly resolve on their own and place your sexual partners at risk.

Why is the tip of my penis itchy?

The tip of your penis may be itchy if you have a foreskin and there is a mild non-sexually transmitted infection causing inflammation in that area. It can be common if there is a lapse of hygiene or an increase of secretions to cause growth of bacteria or fungi, which may cause itching. If you are experiencing profuse genital itching, please contact your physician and seek evaluation.

Why does it burn when I pee?

Pain on urination can be the product of inflammation of the urethra, which itself most commonly comes from sexually transmitted infections (STI)or urinary tract infections (UTI). Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are some of the most common sexually transmitted infections, along with herpes, and can cause genital pain. You should seek immediate evaluation and medical care if you suspect that you have a sexually transmitted infection.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Penis Pain

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

  • Are you sexually active?
  • Do you feel pain when you urinate?
  • Do you notice anything going on with your penis?
  • Any fever today or during the last week?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Please take a quiz to find out what might be causing your penis pain. These questions are also covered.

Penis Pain Quiz

Penis Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced penis pain have also experienced:

  • 8% Painful Urination
  • 5% Penis Pain
  • 5% Penile Skin Changes

People who have experienced penis pain were most often matched with:

  • 40% Urethritis
  • 30% Lichen Sclerosus
  • 30% Chronic Prostatitis

People who have experienced penis pain had symptoms persist for:

  • 54% Less than a day
  • 20% Less than a week
  • 12% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from Buoy Assistant (a.k.a. the quiz).

Penis Pain Symptom Checker

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your penis pain

References

  1. Renninson T, Smith L, Burkes M. Tips for GP trainees working in urology. The British Journal of General Practice. 2013;63(609):221-222. Published April 2013. Br J Gen Pract Link
  2. What is Penile Trauma? Urology Care Foundation. Urology Care Link
  3. Balanitis "faqs". Men's Health Forum. Reviewed July 4, 2014. Men's Health Forum Link
  4. Prostatitis. Prostate Cancer UK. Updated April 2016. Prostate Cancer UK Link
  5. Sobol J, Zieve D, Conaway B. Penis pain. University of Florida Health. Published Jan. 30, 2017. UF Health Link
  6. Common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Family Doctor. Updated Feb. 8, 2018. Family Doctor Link
  7. Sustained Erection. NHS Lanarkshire Sexual Health. NHS Link
  8. Dry skin on penis. STD.gov. Published April 6, 2017. STD.gov Link
  9. Dysuria (Painful Urination). Cleveland Clinic. Reviewed Oct. 27, 2016. Cleveland Clinic Link
  10. Overview: Bladder stones. NHS. Reviewed Aug. 3, 2018. NHS Link
  11. Scar Tissue Can Lead to Painful Erections. UNC Health Talk. Published May 14, 2018. UNC Health Talk Link
  12. Peyronie's Disease. UW Health. UW Health Link
  13. Crane GM, Bennett NE. Priapism in Sickle Cell Anemia: Emerging Mechanistic Understanding and Better Preventative Strategies. Anemia. 2011;2011:297364. Published Nov. 30, 2010. Anemia Link

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