Causes and Risks of Penile Conditions

Causes of penile conditions range from congenital abnormalities to infections to skin disorders to lifestyle choices. Sometimes, the underlying cause of a penile condition can't be found.

Causes include:

  • Congenital abnormalities, such as phimosis, epispadias and hypospadias, can affect the penis. ( Learn more about types of penile conditions .)
  • Alcohol and drug abuse can cause priapism (an erection lasting longer than four hours) and may be a contributing factor in developing penile cancer.
  • Medications, including blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can cause priapism and erectile dysfunction.
  • Spinal cord problems can cause priapism.
  • Injury to the genitals can cause priapism, Peyronie's disease, paraphimosis and penile fracture.
  • Treatment for erectile dysfunction, called penile injection therapy, can cause priapism.
  • Blood diseases like sickle cell disease and leukemia can cause priapism.
  • Vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) can cause Peyronie's disease.
  • Connective tissue disorders can cause Peyronie's disease.
  • Poor hygiene can cause balanitis and can lead to phimosis.
  • Dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) can cause balanitis.
  • Infection s, including yeast infections and sexually transmitted infections, can cause balanitis, phimosis and penile cancer.
  • Scar tissue forming on the penis can cause phimosis.
  • Having one penile condition can cause another. (For example, balanitis can cause phimosis.)

Risk factors for penile conditions

Some men are at greater risk for penile conditions than others because they have risk factors that increase the likelihood that they will develop a penile condition. Some risk factors include:

  • Being uncircumcised
  • Having sexually transmitted infections, including HPV infection
  • Abusing alcohol and drugs
  • Smoking
  • Having a buildup of smegma (a secretion under the foreskin that is made up of dead skin, oils and moisture)
  • Having a personal history of phimosis
  • Heredity
  • Age

Learn more about penile conditions

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