What Is the Penile Discharge Saying About Your Health?

Penile discharge typically indicates infection. In some cases, it can turn into a serious penile problem.

Without the necessary treatment, infections such as these can trigger issues later in life. That’s what makes it critical for people to learn more about their sexual health. 

Here, you can take a closer look at urethral discharge, its causes, and treatment options, including some of the latest statistics found in male patients with various penis infections. This is what your penile discharge says about your health. 

Penile Discharge – What Is It?

The urethra (the small tube inside the penis) is responsible for carrying the semen and urine from the ejaculatory ducts and out of the system. The fluid must pass through the urethra before it can leave the penis. 

Both female and male reproductive organs create discharge. Discharge in men is the substance that comes out of the urethral opening. This substance is a milky fluid that isn’t urine. The male fluid can be normal or abnormal. 

Its color depends on what the fluid contains. Male discharge can feature pus and turn cloudy, or it can be watery and clear. However, some patients might also have a bloody discharge. This is often found in males infected with urinary tract infection (UTI) or sexually transmitted disease (STD). To understand male discharge, you first have to distinguish the normal versus abnormal discharge. 

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Normal vs. Abnormal Discharge from the Penis

While it is perfectly normal for the penis to produce semen and discharge, it can also create abnormal fluid leakage. Normal discharge occurs with sexual arousal and intercourse, particularly during ejaculation and pre-ejaculation. 

Abnormal leakage is different. It indicates that something is interfering with normal urinary function, like bacteria or fungus. When the penis gets infected, the body tends to produce abnormal fluid leakage. 

Pre-ejaculation (Precum)

According to experts, the male body typically secretes a couple of drops of discharge. But, it is not uncommon for men to produce more. 

The Cowper’s glands, responsible for creating mucoid fluid, are the ones that produce this type of normal discharge. The glands can be found along the urethra and secrete the clear fluid from the tip of the penis. 

Ejaculation

During orgasm, the prostate, seminal vesicles, and Cowper’s gland will generate both fluids and sperm. In fact, just 1% of ejaculation consists of sperm. While the rest (99%) features compounds like water, enzymes, protein, and sugar. 

Other Types of Discharge

All kinds of penile conditions can result in an abnormal mucoid fluid. Some of them might be a mild issue, while others will require more rigorous treatment. When the penis creates discharge without sexual stimulation, arousal, or intercourse, that’s when people experience an abnormal penile discharge. The impact will depend on the infectious disease. Here is how every infection affects your penis health. 

Urinary Tract Infection 

UTI is an infection of the urinary system. It can affect the lower and upper urinary tract. Ureaplasma urealyticum can cause a bacterial infection that triggers a watery vaginal discharge and bad odor.

Although adult women under 50 are 30 times more likely to develop this type of bladder infection, men should still take care of their sexual health. 

Without treatment, the infection can spread from the bladder all the way to the kidneys. The longer it remains in the system, the bigger the risk of permanent kidney damage. In some cases, it can even make the body vulnerable to kidney failure. 

The bacterial infection can cause:

  • Pus filled, clear, or milky penile discharge

  • Urgent urination

  • Burning sensation when peeing 

  • Fever

  • Foul/cloudy urine

These signs have a predictive value of 75%. Which means they are relatively easy to recognize. If you do have the symptoms, contact a physician.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is another common health complication that triggers penile problems. It affects both middle-aged and young men. Prostatitis has plenty of symptoms in common with prostate cancer and Benign prostatic hyperplasia, typically referred to as prostate enlargement. 

These symptoms include:

  • Clear discharge from the penis

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain during ejaculation

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Frequent urination

  • Incontinence

  • Fever

  • Chills

This penis condition can become a chronic issue and need treatment. Or it can resolve by itself without medical intervention. 

Smegma

When you don’t wash the penis on a daily basis, smegma could accumulate. It is composed of moisture, skin oil, and cells. 

Smegma is not uncommon and can occur in uncircumcised males with an intact prepuce (foreskin). This is normal. The body creates smegma as a natural lubricant to keep the penis moist. It appears below the foreskin or on the head of the penis. 

But, without proper hygiene, smegma can generate a bad odor and create a fertile ground for bacteria. In most cases, medication treatment is unnecessary. You can reduce the smegma buildup by simply cleaning the penis daily. The clean surface will reduce the likelihood of bacteria and prevent inflammation, soreness, and irritation.  

Balanitis 

The fungus can cause a yeast infection. Like it is the case with Candida, which is a common trigger for vaginal discharge. What most people don’t realize is that men, too, can get a yeast infection. The fungus that causes the infection can lead to balanitis. 

Inflammations like balanitis can generate abnormal discharge. This is an inflammation of the glans penis. Around 3% to 11% of males experience this inflammation during their lifetime. It affects both the foreskin and the glans. It impacts about 6% of uncircumcised patients. 

When the inflammation spreads to the foreskin, it becomes balanoposthitis. Even though it is not a sexually transmitted infection, balanitis can cause recurrent episodes in diabetic patients. To recognize the problem, you need to pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • Lumpy and thick discharge with a mix of yellow and white hue

  • Bad odor coming from the penis

  • Swelling or rash 

  • Burning, itching, or irritated skin

  • Painful urination

Experts believe that many triggers can cause this inflammation. It could be STDs, particularly the herpes simplex virus. Or, allergies, poor hygiene, and infections may also cause the problem. Some individuals, however, develop balanitis due to a skin condition. 

Those struggling with psoriasis and eczema could be prone to balanitis, skin inflammation, and redness. What’s important is that both uncircumcised and circumcised individuals can develop this penis problem. 

Urethritis

Urethritis is a health issue in which the tube carrying the urine becomes irritated and inflamed. It doesn’t affect the urinary tract. Instead, it inflames the urethra. This urinary problem makes it incredibly difficult for men to relieve themselves. Bacteria are regularly the cause of this infection. 

Urethritis is more widespread than people realize. It can affect patients of any age, both male and female. In fact, statistics show that around 4 million Americans have urethritis annually. Gonococcal urethritis accounts for 20% of cases. 

Scientists have identified two urethritis categories, nongonococcal (non-specific urethritis) and gonococcal urethritis. Gonococcal urethritis is the result of gonorrhea. While nongonococcal can be triggered by any other bacteria that isn’t gonorrhea. 

According to Harvard Health experts, gonococcal urethritis, also known as “clap,” is triggered by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Neisseria can be passed on from one sexual partner to the other. Especially during oral, anal, and vaginal intercourse.

Urethritis in men with STD is a much more common issue. Around 20% of those infected with gonorrhea also have Chlamydia. At the same time, Chlamydia is present in 30% to 50% of men with acute nongonococcal urethritis. The first symptom of this kind of urethritis is usually discharged. 

But, the amount of discharge from urethritis will vary. It can also be accompanied by mild burning of the penis when urinating.

Those who do experience symptoms can have:

  • White or cloudy discharge

  • Inflammation or pain in the testicles

  • Urethral opening soreness

  • Urinary frequency

The problem is, more than 40% of male patients with nongonococcal urethritis don’t have any symptoms. This makes the penile issues very hard to recognize without proper STI testing.

Other than STDs, people can develop urethritis from UTIs, masturbation, and rough sex. Therefore, it is crucial that men take proper care of their penis during and after intercourse to reduce their susceptibility to infection, irritation, inflammation, or injury.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

STDs like genital warts are a widespread penile problem. According to 2010 reports, over 34 million individuals are infected with HIV. At the same time, the STD infection rate in newly affected patients has increased to a staggering 448 million annually. 

Since without treatment, the diseases can lead to infertility, it’s crucial to recognize the problem. Experts explain that different bacteria can trigger discharge from the penis. 

  • Chlamydia can cause a mucus-like or watery discharge, accompanied by inflammation, swelling, and pain in the testicles.

  • Gonorrhea can create a green, yellow, or white fluid. The discharge fluid from gonorrhea also comes with painful urination and swollen testicles. 

  • Genital herpes may generate cloudy, white, or clear thick liquid discharge in men.

  • Mycoplasma genitalium is another bacterium that may cause watery discharge from the penis. Mycoplasma creates STD, and it’s often linked to painful, burning, and stinging sensations when peeing. 

You can get Mycoplasma genitalium without going all the way with vaginal intercourse. Mycoplasma can be transmitted through rubbing and sexual touching as well. At first, it was thought that Mycoplasma might not be a serious problem for sexually active individuals.

But, recent reports show that over 1 in 100 adults may have it. The issue with Mycoplasma genitalium is that the condition can be asymptomatic. 

Trichomonas vaginalis can also cause penile problems. In females, this sexually transmitted infection can result in itching and pain when urinating. But it will also lead to bad-smelling vaginal discharge. Men, however, may not develop any symptoms, just like Mycoplasma. That’s why it is good to do regular STD screening and make sure the penis isn’t infected. 

Any Potential Complications I Should Know About?

Men often underestimate penile complications. In fact, only 25% get treated for ED in over 6 million patients diagnosed with the condition. The same thing can be said for bacterial infections. 

People tend to leave the bacteria without getting any treatment. They think the problem is going to pass on its own, or they feel uncomfortable admitting they have a health issue. 

Since abnormal penis fluid leakage could result from a severe infection or illness, it’s critical that you seek treatment. That way, you get to prevent any penile complications or possibly even permanent damage. 

Take urinary infections, for example. If you don’t manage the condition, you may experience complications with urinary strictures, kidney damage, and more. The bacteria can multiply and make it extremely difficult for the bladder or urethra to function properly.

With conditions like Chlamydia or gonorrhea, the infections can cause drastic complications for the urinary tract. Without medication to manage them, they could spread through the blood and cause heart valve damage, joint pain, skin sores, and more. 

Serious Chlamydia cases are known for causing painful and recurrent pelvic infections, sterility, bladder complications, and arthritis. 

After the doctor has diagnosed the issue, you can proceed with adequate treatment to ease the symptoms. With on-time treatment, you can prevent spreading the infection, irritability, discomfort, and possibility for scarring the penis. 

When to Contact a Specialist

In most cases, there is no need for treatment. Especially when you have normal discharge. Normal discharge is a result of sexual arousal. But, if the penis produces discharge without sexual stimulation, then you should consider getting a medical evaluation.

Look out for any symptoms of penile cancer. Sometimes foul-smelling discharge, with growth on the penis and bleeding below the foreskin, can be a clear sign of cancer. Also, other urinary problems like pain when urinating or a bloody discharge can be a serious penile problem. If you recognize the symptoms, contact a specialist. 

The doctor will ask for your sexual or medical history, examine the penis for infection, analyze your penile health, and provide you with the necessary treatment. The treatment you get will depend on the type of problem that’s causing the discharge. For example:

  • Fungal infections require antifungal treatment

  • Bacterial infections rely on antibiotic treatment

  • Allergic reactions are managed with steroid treatment

Getting proper care

If you are having problems with your penile health, it’s crucial to get proper health care. Doctors who specialize in the treatment and diagnosis of male sex organs are known as a urologist. They can help get your reproductive organs back on track. 

If you have pain, fever, or swelling, the doctor may recommend NSAIDs or pain medication. But, when the body is allergic to any of the ingredients in these medications, the doctor will change it. Their goal will be to ease the symptoms of the infection, reduce the pain, and restore normal fluid excretion. 

When the bladder or prostate needs treatment to lessen the burning when urinating, you may have to take Alpha-blockers. They can treat urinary problems and ease the discomfort. Sometimes, the medicine can be paired with vitamins, minerals, and other supplements. 

This is often used when the patient has a poor immune system or is in need of an additional health boost. Although herbs and alternative medicine, like Panax ginseng or acupuncture, can also soothe the discomfort, you still need to consult a doctor before implementing them. 

It is vital that you use medications and various treatment options as directed. That way, you avoid using any products that may interact with other medicine you might be currently taking. 

What Happens Post Treatment?

After taking medicine, the penis can leak white or clear discharge. This means that the organ is normally secreting the fluid, and the infection, bacteria, or fungus has been successfully eliminated. Infections like Chlamydia can be cured completely with proper medication.

Patients who’ve struggled with urethritis for a long time can treat the condition, but it is not uncommon for it to reappear and take a different form later on. It greatly depends on your immune system and health state. 

What matters is that you take the necessary precautions to prevent problems like these from reappearing. Maintaining proper hygiene should be your top priority. Also, wearing protection during intercourse can help lessen the risk of transmission and maintain optimal health. 

If you suspect having a penile infection or a condition, it is a good idea to get a health check and test the urine, rectum, and urethra for any complications. The sooner you get evaluated, the easier it is to stop the condition. 

Conclusion 

It is normal for the penis to produce discharge. Especially when aroused or after intercourse. This type of substance is clean and does not link to any pain, soreness, irritation, or discomfort. But, when the discharge results from a penile infection and is bad-smelling or discolored, that’s when the body releases abnormal mucoid fluid.

It could mean that the urinary tract is affected, and you may need proper treatment. You should get checked out if the discharge oozes without sexual arousal or activity. To manage the complication, only your doctor can decide the best form of medical treatment. 

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Sources

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