Penis pain is not very common, but when it does occur, it is generally not a significant symptom. Pain is most frequently felt following direct trauma to the area or after vigorous, sex with a long-lasting erection. Pain will usually subside overtime without any specific treatment.
However, if there is no obvious cause for pain, it may be a sign of an abnormality that warrants treatment, like prostatitis or a sexually transmitted infection.
If your penis pain lasts for over 3 days, you should see a doctor to identify the cause and initiate appropriate treatment. In addition, if the pain is caused by an erection that lasts for over 3 days, you should proceed to the emergency room to rule out a condition called priapism.
The main causes of penis pain are:
1. Skin irritation
Irritation is common in men that are sensitive to specific types of fabrics of hygiene products. Therefore, if you are using underwear made with synthetic fabric or if you are using a new hygiene product, and you feel pain, it may be related to skin sensitivity.
Most times, irritation causes a mild discomfort and an itching sensation. In some men, pain can be felt with movement. See what else can cause penis irritation and how to treat it.
What to do: You should ideally use underwear made with natural fabrics, like cotton, and avoid fabrics like Lycra or polyester. You should also avoid applying any hygiene products directly to the genital area, especially if it is contraindicated (e.g. perfume). If are very uncomfortable, you should see a urologist, as there are ointments available to relieve irritation.
2. Yeast infection
A yeast infection can cause intense penile inflammation, especially around the gland. In these cases, the most common symptom is constant itching, but you may also notice pain, swelling and redness.
Although yeast infections are more common in women, they can also occur in men, especially if they are diabetic, have inadequate hygiene habits or have a weakened immune system. Read more about how yeast infections present in men.
What to do: Normally, treatment involves the use of an antifungal ointment, like clotrimazole or nystatin for 1 week. Some doctors will opt to prescribe topical antifungals as well as oral antifungal pills. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor to determine the best course of treatment. Check out these home remedies for a yeast infection that you can use to complement your medical treatment.
The most common symptom of a urinary tract infection is burning or pain with urination, however some men may notice a slight discomfort in the genital area throughout the day. In these cases, pain can radiate to the groin and even emerge in the lower back.
Other symptoms include urinary urgency, foul-smelling odor, and a low-grade fever. Learn more about UTIs in men and what can cause them.
What to do: You should see a doctor if you suspect you may have a UTI, as leaving it untreated can put you at risk for developing a kidney infection. The doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria that is causing infection. See the natural home remedies for UTIs that you can use as an adjunct to your prescribed treatment.
4. Prostate inflammation
Prostate inflammation can occur when there is a prostate infection. Normally, the most common symptoms include pain that is localized to the genitals or radiates to other areas, like the anus. The most characteristic symptom is pain that emerges after urinating or ejaculating.
What to do: If you suspect that your prostate may be inflamed, it is very important to see a urologist to identify the cause and start treatment as needed.
Sexually transmitted infections, like herpes, gonorrhea or chlamydia can cause penis pain due to inflammation that occurs within penile tissues. Other signs to watch for are discharge, redness, wounds, swelling of the gland, and discomfort throughout the day.
STIs are transmitted through unprotected sex. Therefore the best way to reduce exposure, and thus prevent penis pain, is to use a condom, especially if you have different sexual partners.
What to do: Each case should be assessed independently to identify the underlying infection and start the most appropriate treatment. Learn more about the different types of STIs and how they are treated.
When to see a doctor
The best option is to see a urologist when you feel penis pain, especially if the pain has occurred for no obvious reason. You should be urgently assessed if you notice symptoms like:
- Intense itching
- Pain from a long-lasting erection
- Penis swelling
In addition, if the pain lasts for more than 3 days, or if it worsens overtime, you should see the doctor to start treatment and relieve pain with analgesics.