Penis Pain – 10 Common Causes

Penis pain usually causes a lot of concern. Sometimes the cause can be very obvious like an injury or penis fracture. However, sometimes the cause is not so obvious.

It’s not often that men get penile pain. However, when they do it causes severe amount of discomfort and anxiety to men. In some cases the cause may be obvious such as bruising or penile fracture but sometimes the cause may not be so obvious. In cases like this the clinician will usually run a few tests to narrow down the differential diagnosis.

Listed below are some of the 10 common causes of penile pain:


1.) Herpes

Herpes is one of the most common Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs. This infection is transmitted through skin to skin contact and are usually caused by 2 different viruses called HSV 1 and HSV 2, which are usually known to cause lesions in the mouth and genital areas respectively. However, during oral sex, the virus can be passed on from the mouth to the penis causing genital herpes.

They usually present with painful blisters or ulcers over the skin and can be painful or at least very sensitive to touch. It can be treated with anti-viral tablets although it will keep recurring throughout a person’s life.

2.) Chancroid

Chancroid is caused by a bacteria called Haemophilus Ducreyi and is transmitted through sexual intercourse. It commonly presents with a single large painful ulcer on the penis along with enlarged and tender lymph nodes in the groin region.

Chancroid is an infection that is usually caught via sexual contact. This can be treated with antibiotics once the diagnosis is established by your doctor.

3.) Urethritis

This is an infection of the urinary tract along the penis, through which the urine is passed out from the bladder. When an infection occurs along this tract it results in pain when urinating or discharge from the tip of the penis.

Urethritis can be caused by Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, NSU or Herpes which are very common infections that can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. A simple urine test and sometimes a urethral swab can be performed to found out the exact cause and in most cases it is easily cured with antibiotics.

4.) Urine Tract Infection

These are infections that are not usually caused by sexually transmitted infections and usually involves the urinary bladder. Despite it being able to cause burning sensation when passing urine, it can also cause the feeling of wanting to pass urine more frequently than usual which may sometimes wake you up in the middle of the night.

This should not happen to men frequently and when it does, a series of investigations may be performed including a referral to a urologist to exclude any predisposing factors.

5.) Prostate Infections

When the prostate is involved during a urinary tract infection it can cause severe pain during urination and sometimes fever and shivering. This sometimes be difficult to diagnose and may involve the doctor placing a finger up the anus to feel for any tenderness in the prostate gland. Moreover, it usually requires a longer course of antibiotics.


6.) Penis Fracture

The penis is made out of erectile tissues and blood vessels. Although there is no bone in the penis, during an erection it can be as hard as bone. The term penis fracture is used when there is injury to the erectile tissue inside the penis. It usually happens during sexual intercourse when the penis accidentally fully or partially slips out of the partner and the partner sits back down on the penis which injures it.

This will result in a sudden onset of pain and in certain cause you may even hear a snapping sound. When this occurs you should go to the emergency department immediately because it is a medical emergency.

7.) Torn Frenulum

The frenulum is a thin strip of skin connecting the head of the penis to the foreskin. This can break during intercourse, especially when it’s rough, and result in pain and a lot of bleeding. The pain can last up to a few days as the frenulum heals. The healing time varies and it may get repeatedly injured during subsequent intercourse. When it started to occur more frequently, a simple surgical procedure may be done to fix the frenulum.

Frenulum breve, or short frenulum, is a condition in which the frenulum of the penis is too short and thus restricts the movement of the foreskin.  Frenulum Breve Treatment or Penile Frenulectomy?


8.) Peyronie’s Disease

Is your penis bent during an erection? At the point where it is bent, can you feel a painful lump?

If it is yes to both questions, you may have Peyronie’s Disease. This happens when a spot along the penis shaft becomes inflamed and as it heals, it leads to contraction of one side of the penis causing it to bend. The pain may arise from the area of inflammation or in certain cases when the curvature is so severe, it causes pain during sexual intercourse.

Please see a doctor if you think you have Peyronie’s disease, and once the diagnosis is established the doctor may suggest several treatment options ranging from shock wave therapy to surgery.

9.) Balanitis

Balanitis refers to inflammation of the foreskin which can be caused by fungal or bacterial infections, and irritants such as soaps, powders or creams that are applied over the foreskin. People that have diseases which compromise the immune system, such as Diabetes and HIV, may be more prone to this condition.

The pain caused by the inflammation is usually not severe but it can be throbbing, itchy and rather uncomfortable. This can be easily treated by treating the cause or avoiding the irritant.

10.) Paraphimosis

This is a condition where the foreskin is completely retracted to expose the head of the penis and cannot be pulled forward to cover the head of the penis again. When the foreskin get inflamed and forms a band around the penis, it may affect the blood flow to the tip of the penis and usually causes severe pain.

This is a medical emergency and patients with this issue should see a doctor immediately. Most of the time, the doctor can use special techniques to pull the foreskin back into place.

Learn more about Paraphimosis.

Take care.

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