Does "It" Hurt?
What to do About Penis Pain
Of all the places to have pain, the penis is one of the most inconvenient. One, it’s super sensitive—depending on where the pain is. And two, it’s not a part of your body you can just “go easy on” for a day, like an arm or a leg. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to pee. And likely make other uses of it (wink, wink).
Besides the inconvenience, there’s some fear that comes with any penile dysfunction—whether it’s pain or difficulty getting an erection. For us men, the penis is important; no matter how tough and manly we might seem on the outside, we’d run screaming if there were any tangible threat to our penises. For better or worse, we’re emotionally attached to the thing.
And that makes penile pain scarier than other types of pain.
Before I list the causes of penis pain, I want to make sure you realize that this list is not an exhaustive list of all things causing “your penis pain.” It’s just a list of possible scenarios that explains why some people feel penis pain. Before you keep reading, I’d recommend you take a deep breath (or two), relax, and trust that your penis pain probably isn’t that serious or life-threatning. (It usually isn’t.)
Penis pain can come in the form of an itching, burning , dull achy sensation , painful urination, discharge, or blood in the urine. It can be caused by a number of different factors, some of which are serious and some of which will probably go away in a day or two. These are the main causes of penis pain:
- Peyronie’s Disease
OK, I know you saw the word “cancer” in there, but let’s not jump to any conclusions. Penile cancer is very rare. Let’s just go down the list.
Causes of penis pain
Balanitis is a scary term for a very common problem that affects males of all ages: infection and inflammation of the head or foreskin of the penis. It’s most common in uncircumcised males, probably because that extra flap of skin provides bacteria and molds with their dream-home: dark, warm, and moist. Treatment usually involves antibiotics or creams, sometimes circumcision (for convenience’s sake), but balanitis can usually be prevented by regular washing of the penis and foreskin.
Another type of infection is a sexually transmitted infection, and it’s very easy to schedule a screening at a clinic to see if you have one. However, monogamous men who are married with one partner are unlikely to “suddenly” get an STI. If that’s you, no need to worry.
Trauma can range from the horrific (in which case you wouldn’t even be reading this article) to the ordinary, like that one pair of underwear that chafes the tip of your penis when you run. If your penis has experienced trauma, you probably already know what the cause of your pain is.
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Priapism, a problem most men think they want to have, is an erection that lasts way longer than it’s supposed to. It’s a serious medical condition that requires medical treatment. (Now’s the time either to go to the ER or be extremely grateful you don’thave this problem.) It’s not always painful, but it is sometimes.
Priapism is essentially a cardiovascular problem. Either blood is not returning to the body from the penis (called ischemic or “low flow”), or too much blood is flowing into the penis (called non-ischemic or “high flow”). ED drugs ( Viagara, Cialis, Levitra) or penile injection can cause it too.
One sure way to reduce your risk of priapism is to keep your cardiovascular system in good working order through exercise, reducing simple carb intake, and taking time to take one deep breaths every forty-five minutes or so.
Cancer of the penis is incredibly rare. (And thank goodness for that!) One in 6,000 men will be diagnosed with penile cancer each year. Not to say it’s impossible, but it’s extremely unlikely that the cause of your penis pain is carcinoma of the penis.
Penile cancer usually starts as a blister, and it develops into a tumor that discharges blood or bad-smelling liquid. Human papilloma virus can increase the risk of penile cancer.
Peyronie’s disease not an uncommon condition (affect 1 out of every 11 men) where scar tissue forms on the inside of the penis causing the penis to curve like a banana during an erection. It is either caused by repeated trauma (e.g., abuse) or an autoimmune disorder. Clinically, I have noticed there is no direct cause of Peyronie’s disease. In other words, most patients do not recall penile trauma occurring or have no history of autoimmune disease.
The Bottom Line on Penis Pain
Penis pain is inconvenient, but the good news is you’re probably going to be fine. Although there are some causes of penis pain that are serious, they’re relatively uncommon. Just schedule a check-up with your doctor, relax, and trust that this too shall pass. Remember, while the discomfort is constant and annoying, it is often not life threatening.
Geo Espinosa, N.D., L.Ac, C.N.S., is a renowned naturopathic doctor recognized as an authority in integrative management of male and urological conditions. Dr. Geo is the founder and director of the Integrative Urology Center at New York University Langone Medical Center (NYULMC), a center of excellence in research and integrative treatments for urological conditions.
Learn more at Dr.Geo.com.