Sexual Disorders

Penile Pain: 9 Probable Causes and Practical Treatment Options

Penis pain can influence the foreskin, head, shaft, or base of the penis. It’s a typical penile problem that can also result in an uncomfortable itch and pulsating-like sensations.

The pain and swelling could be caused by an illness or an injury, which can happen in any man regardless of age. 

Depending on what’s causing the pain, the impact will vary. For example, if the patient has severely injured the penis, then a sharp pain will suddenly form. If there is a mild illness that’s infecting the foreskin, then the patient would have to treat the infection to prevent the pain from getting any worse.

To avoid that discomfort and swelling, it’s important that you know what’s causing it. This is a detailed review of all the causes and prevention methods for pain in the penis and the most useful ways of treating it. 

What’s Causing the Penis Pain?

The penis is a very gentle organ that can easily get hurt. The pain in the penis could be associated with inflammation or an infection of the prostate and bladder. It is the case with Balanitis, a typical infection that appears below the foreskin of the penis. 

But, when the pain in the penis arises gradually and is accompanied by extreme itching, discharge, and painful urination, it is often caused by a sexually transmitted disease. Since there are so many causes for the pain, it’s crucial to take a look at each of them. Here are the most well-known causes of penis pain. 

1) Prostatitis

The inflammation (urethritis) of the urethra, can cause pain. Prostatitis is one such condition that can result in inflammation and pain. The prostate is a gland that sits below the bladder and envelops the urethra. When the prostate gland becomes inflamed or swollen, that’s when men experience prostatitis. 

The typical symptoms of prostatitis include urgent need to urinate, painful ejaculation, and painful erection. Patients tend to experience pelvic pain, pain in the penis, lower back, and testes. 

Although the symptoms can disappear on their own, the inflammation could become a serious problem. 

With chronic prostatitis, the symptoms come and go in a span of a couple of months. Patients can experience chronic pelvic pain and penile pain. While with acute prostatitis, the symptoms can appear suddenly and cause severe pain. 

For affected individuals, it can be difficult to stretch the pelvic floor muscle and enjoy intercourse. With chronic bacterial prostatitis, recurring infections can be even more painful. 

This condition is not life-threatening. But, if the severe infection is left untreated, it can turn into a serious illness. It can cause uncomfortable chronic pelvic pain, which can get worse during sex. So, it is essential that you treat the pelvic pain disorder, manage any bacterial infection, and keep the penis health in check.

2) Priapism

This penile condition can result in a prolonged, uncomfortable, and very painful erection. Although rare, it can appear whenever you are not in the mood for intercourse. 

According to a larger study, the majority of priapism cases were idiopathic, meaning that the cause for the disease was unknown. However, 21% of cases were linked to the patient’s drug and alcohol abuse, 11% with sickle cell disease, and 12% trauma to the area between the penis and the anus. 

The condition can also result from spinal cord injury, penis injury, blood clots, or mental health issues. It’s not uncommon to experience priapism because of a side effect from drugs designed to treat erectile dysfunction. 

If this penile problem does happen, it’s critical to get on-time treatment. Otherwise, you risk experiencing long-term adverse effects, such as the inability to maintain an erection. 

3) Peyronie’s Disease 

Peyronie’s disease is a relatively rare connective tissue disorder, with a 0.5% prevalence rate in adult males in the U.S. 

Experts estimate that it affects just 4 out of 100 men in their 40s to 70s and rarely anyone in their 30s. However, it is possible that the numbers could be higher since most male patients are embarrassed to talk about their penile problems. 

The symptoms are easy to spot. The condition causes scar tissue to form that can result in curvature and painful erections. Peyronie’s disease will force the penis to bend when it achieves an erection. 

When a healthy penis has an erection, the organ expands in girth and length. But, in the case of scar tissue damage, the expansion becomes difficult in every direction. The healthy side of the penis will erect, while the spot with the scar tissue damage won’t. This kind of discrepancy is the reason for the curvature. 

4) Urinary Tract Infection

Because of the longer urethra and antibacterial compounds of the prostatic fluid, men are less likely to experience a urinary tract infection. So, the incidence rate is relatively low. However, it can still happen. The moment bacteria invade the system, the urinary tract gets infected. 

Patients can experience frequent urination, blood in the urine, burning sensations when urinating, etc. To prevent pain or inflammation, you need to know what is causing this infection. 

The urinary tract becomes vulnerable if you have:

  • Poor immune system

  • Regular anal sex

  • Enlarged prostate

  • Sex with an infected individual

  • Urinary tract blockage

Unless you take good care of your penile health, you may become prone to urinary tract problems. Do regular check-ups and consult with a doctor if you think you have this particular infection. 

5) Trauma or Injury

Whether you’ve been in a car accident, inserted objects into the urethra, or had rough intercourse, the penis can suffer some level of damage. The pain can be even more severe if a penile fracture causes it. 

It’s important to be gentle with the foreskin to prevent any pain or swelling. If you delay the necessary treatment, you may suffer from serious complications.

6) Penile Cancer

Penile cancer is a rare form of cancer. Less than 1 in 100,000 men annually are diagnosed with this type of cancer in the U.S. The disease accounts for less than 1% of all registered cancer cases in male patients. It can cause pain to the penis and discomfort. 

Having an HPV infection, smoking, receiving psoriasis treatment, or avoiding to clean under the foreskin can cause penile cancer. Medical experts believe that this condition often affects adults over the age of 50. 

But, other types of cancer can also affect the scrotum, for example, prostate cancer. This condition usually appears in the legs, but it can spread to the penis as well. That’s when people experience discomfort, pain, swelling, and heaviness in the affected area. 

7) Balanitis

Balanitis is a typical cause of penile shaft swelling. It is a fairly common problem that appears in 3% to 11% of men during their lifetime. This infection can appear on the head and foreskin of the penis. It is an inflammation of the glans that can cause pain and discomfort. 

The condition appears in around 6% of uncircumcised men. The reason for glans penis infection is relatively simple. Balanitis often affects individuals who don’t wash the penis properly, especially below the foreskin. The infection can be caused by a sexually transmitted infection, yeast infection, or an allergy to perfumes, soaps, and similar products. 

8) Paraphimosis & Phimosis

When the foreskin gets too tight, patients can experience Phimosis. Patients who’ve injured the foreskin or had Balanitis are usually prone to developing this particular penile problem. Paraphimosis is another related condition to Phimosis. The symptoms are easy to recognize. 

If you pull back the foreskin from the head of the penis, but the skin cannot return to its natural position and cover the penis, that’s when you suffer from paraphimosis. This penis problem needs urgent medical care. Otherwise, you won’t be able to urinate, and the tissue inside the penis may die.  

9) Mondor’s Disease

The primary nerve of the perineum is called the pudendal nerve. When it’s working properly, the nerve will carry the skin’s sensations and external genitalia to the perineum and anus. But, when this nerve gets damaged, men tend to experience burning, sharp pain. The penis becomes increasingly more sensitive, and it gives off a swollen feeling. 

Mondor’s disease can affect the entire penis health. This is a rare disease that can involve penile thrombophlebitis. Although it tends to appear in the anterior chest wall of breast veins, it can also affect the penis. Superficial thrombophlebitis can affect the dorsal vein of the penis. 

The symptoms are superficial pain, possible redness, and swelling. Patients may also experience a lump in the affected area that will feel tender to touch. 

How to Prevent Penile Pain?

Certain steps can help prevent penis pain and reduce your possibility of experiencing any discomfort. These options include:

  • Avoiding positions or rough movements that bend the penis during intercourse

  • Using condoms when having sex

  • Avoiding having sex with someone who has an active infection (for example, genital herpes)

In case of repeated infections or penile pain, try to clean the penis thoroughly on a daily basis. Regular hygiene can help keep your penile health in check. 

Treatment Possibilities 

The treatment you will receive will depend on the type of illness or injury, causing the penis pain. You can receive:

  • Ice therapy – Applying ice or a cold pack to the head of the penis can decrease the swelling. While applying gentle pressure can help calm the discomfort and pain. If there are small cuts to the penis skin, then the ice can help with the inflammation and speed up the rejuvenation process. 

  • Antibiotics – This is the go-to choice for treating symptoms of STIs or UTIs. Doctors can prescribe this antifungal medication to also manage Balanitis. The drugs have a strong potency and can reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Antiviral meds – These drugs are designed to manage the herpes symptoms and reduce the outbreak. 

  • Injections – With an injection, the doctor will try to soften the plaques from Peyronie’s disease. But, if the penis pain is too severe, then a surgeon will have to remove these plaques. 

  • Drainage – In the case of poor blood flow, a doctor may use a needle to drain the blood. This will help with the erection problems for patients with priapism. Another option for draining is a urinary catheter. This is a tube that’s inserted inside the body to collect all the urine from the bladder. It can treat urinary incontinence, retention, and empty out the bladder. 

  • Steroid creams – Patients can apply steroid creams to help with the stretching. This can help loosen up the skin. 

  • Surgery – If there is cancerous tissue inside the penis, the patient may need surgery. For penile cancer, they can also receive chemo and radiation treatment. 

Outlook

Regardless of the type of penile pain you are experiencing, it’s important that you consult with a doctor as soon as possible. When the pain condition is also connected with an STI, the symptoms can cause serious discomfort and sometimes severe pain.

Without one-time treatment, you risk spreading the infection, which will leave a drastic impact on the health of your penis. So, the sooner you diagnose the problem, the easier it will be to treat the pain. 

Conclusion

The penis is a vulnerable organ and prone to injury, infections, or any type of trauma. When the penis experiences some sort of damage, people feel pain. Although the penile problem tends to disappear on its own, sometimes the pain can be caused by an illness or a more serious incident.

If left untreated, it could even cause chronic pelvic pain. That’s why it is better to consult with a doctor. They will evaluate all the possible causes and recommend the ideal form of treatment. 

Sources

  1. Davis, K., & Kumar, D. (2003). Pelvic floor dysfunction: a conceptual framework for collaborative patient-centred care. Journal of advanced nursing, 43(6), 555–568. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2648.2003.02754.x
  2. Pelvic floor dysfunction. (2020) StatPearls https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559246/
  3. Hong, M. K., & Ding, D. C. (2019). Current Treatments for Female Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions. Gynecology and minimally invasive therapy, 8(4), 143–148. https://doi.org/10.4103/GMIT.GMIT_7_19
  4. Treatments for pelvic floor disorders. Johns Hopkins Medicine https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/gynecology_obstetrics/specialty_areas/pelvic_health/treatments_we_offer.html
  5. Pelvic floor dysfunction. UC Davis Health Department of Surgery https://health.ucdavis.edu/surgery/specialties/colorectal/conditions-we-treat/pelvic-floor-dysfunction.html

 

 

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