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Penile Conditions and Diseases

Penile conditions have varying signs and symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms of penile conditions include:

  • Changes on the skin of the penis and genital area, including warts, bumps, sores and rash
  • Swelling of the penis
  • Itching of the penis
  • Bleeding on or from the penis
  • Painful erections
  • A bend or curve in the penis that can be painful
  • Severe pain after penis trauma or groin injury
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Burning during urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Abnormal discharge from the penis or underneath the foreskin
  • Changes in ejaculation or difficulty ejaculating
  • Inability to retract foreskin or put it back over the glans (when uncircumcised)
  • An erection that lasts more than four hours

Two penile conditions, priapism and paraphimosis, often require emergency medical treatment. If you have any symptoms of these conditions, seek emergency medical care right away. Those symptoms include:

  • Symptoms of priapism - The main symptom of priapism is an erection that lasts more than four hours. It may be painful, and it won't be relieved by orgasm.
  • Symptoms of paraphimosis - Paraphimosis can cause painful swelling of the foreskin and the glans of the penis when the foreskin does not return to its normal position. This can result in loss of blood flow to the glans. If your foreskin gets stuck in a retracted position and the head of your penis swells or changes color, seek emergency medical treatment.

Penile cancer is not usually a medical emergency, but you should have it diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to improve your chances of a complete recovery.

  • Symptoms of penile cancer - Penile cancer can cause growths or sores on your penis, bleeding on or from your penis and an abnormal discharge from your penis, among other symptoms.

If you experience any symptoms of penile conditions, contact your doctor. If you have symptoms of penile cancer, call your doctor right away and let them know what your symptoms are. The earlier penile cancer is treated, the better your chances are of a full recovery. If you treat cancer of the penis before it spreads into the deep tissue, you'll reduce your risk of needing a penectomy (surgery to remove part of or the entire penis).

Learn more about 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