Common Penile Conditions and Diseases and How to Manage Them
Date: January 5th, 2022
Nothing affects a man's physical and psychological health and well-being like seeing something going wrong with their penis. Even from the minor bumps and infections on the head, hard lumps and Fordyce spots, sores, and inflamed penis to sexually transmitted diseases. Anything that is not normal to them would cause a lot of anxiety and stress.
Of course, some penile conditions may be due to allergies or reactions to certain conditions, which may go off on their own without causing problems. However, others can be severe and would require immediate medical emergencies. Men may also have some conditions from birth, while others develop over time. But whichever the cause or reason, any penile situation would worry most men.
The good news is, this article discusses some penile complications, their signs and symptoms, and well you can manage them. Let’s find more about these conditions.
Understanding penile complications
The penis is one of the external parts of the male reproductive system. Cylindrical in shape, the penis comprises sponge-like erectile tissues filled with blood. This structure is responsible for transporting urine and semen out of the male body. Like any other body part, penis health can be in danger of different infections or complications.
Penile complications can be signs of ongoing health conditions or underlying health problems in your life. Some of the states would affect your public life, relationship, cause imposter syndrome, and lower your self-esteem and confidence.
What are some of the conditions affecting penis health and function?
Among the causes of penile complications can result from sexual infections, inflammation of the glands and penis, cancer, and some would be a result of;
- Sexual problems and disorders
These are problems affecting the layer covering the skin of the penis. Any infection on the foreskin of the penis may cause different complications.
Here are some complications as result of foreskin infections:
This is a common penile condition that mainly occurs in uncircumcised males. It’s the inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the glans head of the penis, which may also extend to the foreskin.
What are causes balanities?
This condition is caused by yeast infections, and sometimes it would be a result of bacterial and viral infection. Another common cause of balanitis is poor hygiene in uncircumcised males. Other causes may include:
- Sensitivity to allergies, chemical irritants, and lubricants.
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Scabies infections- tiny burrowing parasites
- Candidiasis and other genital yeast infections
Who is at risk of getting balanitis?
For instance, failure to properly clean the penis from both the skin and the underneath the skin, sweat, dead cells, and debris would accumulate, leading to inflammation of the glans. The infection is most common in uncircumcised men who get moisture and warmth under their foreskin. In other words, the foreskin provides an ideal place for bacterial and fungal growth.
Also, people with a higher risk of balanitis include individuals who;
- Are exposed to chemical substance
- Practices poor penal hygiene
- Have diabetes as the increase of sugar in the body would stimulate more fungal and bacterial growth.
Signs and symptoms of balanities
To know you have balanitis, watch out of the following symptoms:
- Inflammation or swelling on the head of the penis
- Pain and irritation of the glans
- Patches and redness on the head of the penis
- Itching and soreness are under the foreskin
- White penile discharge, also known as smegma under the skin
- Pain while urinating/painful urination
- Foul smell or intense smelling penile discharge
- You may also experience lesions and sores, though it's rare signs.
- Urinary tract infection.
Diagnosis and treatment of balanities
This complication is usually diagnosed through a physical examination of the symptoms. Your healthcare providers would ask or want to see the visible signs. In case of a discharge, collect a urine sample or conduct a swab of your urethra with cotton and take the sample for testing.
Another way to help determine if you have balanitis is through biopsy. Here, doctors would remove some tissues from your penis and examine them for infections. For a successful process, your doctor would give anesthesia before taking the sample. This helps thumb your skin and reduce or eliminate pain during the surgery.
The good thing is the condition isn't contagious, and it's treatable. But, the treatment method would be determined by the course of the situation.
Here are some of the available treatment options:
Use of antifungal creams; if the cause of the infection is fungal related, your doctor will prescribe you some antifungal creams like clotrimazole. Ensure you apply the cream on the head of your penis and as per the doctor’s prescriptions.
Antibiotics. The antibiotic given would depend on the type and cause of the infection. If the doctor finds STDs to be the cause of your condition, antibiotics would be the best call.
Consider circumcision. Since most bacteria and germs would easily hide under your foreskin, your providers may advise you to consider doing circumcision to remove the foreskin covering your penis.
This is recommended especially for those with tight foreskin or phimosis.
Improve your penal hygiene. Since some infections result from poor hygiene, your health provider would recommend you properly wash and ensure that your foreskin is dried to reduce the risk of bacteria and balanitis.
Diabetes management. If you have diabetes, your health provider will show you the best ways to manage diabetes to reduce your boy's sugar level.
What are some of the complications associated with balanitis?
Untreated balanitis can cause chronic complications like long-term inflammation and health problems like:
Balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO). Also known as lichen sclerosis, it's a condition that hardens and causes the skin of the head of the penis to harden, making it hard for semen and urine to flow through. It affects the urethra- the tube allowing fluids and substances to exit the penis.
Phimosis: This is a long-term inflammation that can lead to a scar on the penis. Sometimes, it may cause a constricted foreskin or become so tight not to pull to retract.
Balanoposthitis. An infection that affects the prepuce and the penis irritates with traumatic origin.
This is a common penile complication primarily experienced in uncircumcised males where the foreskin fails to return to its normal position over the head of the penis.
In other words, the foreskin is trapped behind the corona forming a band of constricting tissues. This condition is more severe as it can restrict the blood flow to other penis parts resulting in swollen tissue (edema) and tissue death.
Signs and symptoms of paraphimosis
- Bulging of the foreskin during urination
- The tip of the penis becomes dark red or blue
- Itchiness and pain when urinating
- Decreased and reduced urinary flow or stream
- Swelling of the tip of the penis, especially if the foreskin is pulled back
- The inability of the foreskin to return to its normal position over the head of the penis
Diagnosis and treatment of paraphimosis
Health providers would quickly diagnose paraphimosis by physical examination. They would ask and check over the signs and symptoms one portrays. The doctors would check the status of the penis and foreskin.
So, how is the treatment done? The treatment of paraphimosis would significantly depend on the patient's age, symptoms, and general health. Most importantly, your doctors' would consider the severity of your complications.
Treatment methods include:
- Applying steroid cream on the foreskin of the penis and doctors would prescribe three times a day for one month. This is done to loosen the skin so that the foreskin returns.
- Depending on how to sever the condition, health providers may advise surgical treatment like circumcision.
Another option may be:
Lubricating the tip of the penis and the foreskin while gently squeezing the tip and pushing the foreskin forward.
Are there any possible complications of paraphimosis? Yes, it’s possible to experience intense pain, trouble urinating, and infection. The worst would be the death of tissue at the tip of the penis, which may also negatively impact one's sex life.
Let’s now have a look at the sexual problems.
Various penile complications would affect the sexual functions of the penis, including orgasm, ejaculation, and the ability of the penis to receive an erection. Also, the penis may suffer the dangers of sexually transmitted infections. Here are the sexually related complications.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Most people assume that because the penis is external, they may quickly notice all infections. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Some sexual disorders would not show any symptoms but would, in one way or the other, affect the penis.
Here are STIs and how they affect the penis:
This is a common STD caused by bacteria. It affects both men and women displaying different symptoms, and if left untreated, it may cause severe health complications.
In men, among the problems, it causes erectile dysfunction (ED), which results after the disease has affected the prostrate, thus causing prostatitis.
The following are the penile complications and infections as a result of chlamydia:
- Pain in the testes or swelling and tenderness of the testes
- Watery or cloudy discharge from the penis
- Itchiness and pain during urination
- Painful sex and inability to stay sexually aroused
For men to know they have chlamydia and help prevent the spread of these infections or worsening of their condition, ensure you go for regular chlamydia testing. Besides, it's a silent infection; you may never know when you can get infected or infect your partner.
If you're found to be infected, your health providers will prescribe you some over-the-counter drugs to help manage your pain and condition.
Caused by Neisseria bacteria, gonorrhea is a sexual disease that primarily affects men's rectum, urethra, and penis. In females, it affects the cervix.
This disease may not show signs at the time of infection, however; men may notice the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation during urination
- Redness and bumps at the opening of the penis
- Painful and inflamed testicles
- White and yellow-green discharge (pus discharge)
- Sometimes men would have a more incredible urge and frequency of urination
If left untreated, gonorrhea would cause inflammation of the rare sperm duct, which may later cause infertility in men. Therefore, visit your doctor for STD testing to notice any symptoms mentioned above.
About the treatment of gonorrhea, it’s simple as most symptoms can be managed with antibiotics. Due to the emerging trends of resistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the treatment be done by administering an injection of oral Zithromax or ceftriaxone.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
This contagious viral infection commonly affects the genitals, rectum, and mouth. It is of two types: HSV-1, which is responsible for cold sores due to mouth-mouth kissing, and HSV-2, which mainly affects the genitals. Once the virus causing herpes gets into the body, it penetrates through and dwells at pelvic cells.
The disease affects the penis in the following ways:
- Increases the urge of peeing or urination
- Swollen or red blister at the genitals, especially of the tips of the penis
- Fluid-filled bumps on the penis that oozes when the bumps burst
- Sores on the penis and other affected areas
Treating herpes may prove challenging. One good thing is that some symptoms like sores and blisters may go away independently. Why's that? The virus quickly multiple and gets incorporated into the pelvic cells. However, as they clear out, the virus remains in your body, which means there's a high chance that you will experience blisters and sores sometime later.
Doctors would give you some antiviral medications to reduce and stop the symptoms from making you comfortable and easing your pains.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
This is the common viral STD that may go unnoticed during its early stages of infections. Worst is, HPV exists in more than 40 different samples. Depending on the type, they may affect your mouth, genitals, penis, and vagina or throat. In most cases, this infection would show no signs. It, however, would affect the penis in the following ways:
It may cause:
- Solo growth around the scrotum ad groins
- Small or large flat and sometimes raised cauliflower-shaped bumps on the penis
- May occasionally cause pain and itchy and tenderness on the penis
- At its worst state, HPV would cause cancer of the penis
You're first advised to go for regular STD screening for the treatment processes. The good news is that most of these growths would go away with time and on their own. But if they persist, visit your health provider who would recommend some wart topical treatments methods.
This bacterial infection causes ulcerative sores on the penis during the early stages of the disease. Besides, it may go unnoticed during earlier times, but it would show different symptoms at different stages of infection. It is most likely to result in severe complications during the last phase, also known as the tertiary.
Men would experience the following effects:
- Small and firm sores on the penis
- Swollen glands
- Inflamed or swollen lymph nodes near the sores around the penis
Preventing penile complications would significantly depend on your sexual life. For instance, if you want to reduce the risk of these infections, you must limit the number of your sexual partners and ensure you upgrade your condom game. Also, ensure you make it a habit of visiting the hospital for STD screening. This would go a long way to identifying asymptomatic STDs.
Other conditions/diseases that affect the penile health include;
Peyronie's disease is a condition where a scar occurs on the penis. This scar can be in the plague form. In most cases, the plague forms at the lower part of the penis. Once the spot grows, it blocks the elastic layers surrounding the erectile tissues causing the penis to lose girth/length or curve.
How does the condition affect males: It;
- Swelling and irritation on the penis
- Causes scars that reduce the elasticity of the penis
- It causes pain on the penis to prevent men from having sex
It can also result in:
- Painful erections
- Reduce penis flexibility
- Arcing and bending of the penis
- Short penis
One significant psychological impact of this condition is that it leads to emotional distress. Nothing harms a man like not being up to erect yet they desire sex. And since a man with Peyronie's disease would have a soft erection with a bent penis, it would make it hard for them to have sex.
Your doctor would recommend either a surgical or non-surgical treatment method to manage this condition. This would depend on the severity of your condition.
Though it's a rare condition, the penile fracture can cause several discomforts and long-lasting damages to a man’s sex life. This may happen when an erect penis is forcefully struck into the female pelvic during sex. It's one of the emergencies that would demand immediate medical attention.
A fracture may be painful and may result in the following:
- Bleeding penis
- Pain or trouble while urinating
- Brown or dark colored bruises on the top of the penis
- Cracking and popping sound coming from the penis
- Sudden loss of erection with varying pain
On the fracture treatment, the doctor may recommend various methods that depend on the cause of the fracture, including home treatment that involves tying cloth-covered ice packs and or the use of anti-inflammatory medications.
Here is a list of conditions that would affect the functioning of the penis:
Ejaculation issues include:
- Late or delayed ejaculation
- Premature ejaculation
- Inability to ejaculate
- Reduce or retrograde ejaculation where sperm is forced back to the bladder instead of being taken out of the penis.
Either of the ejaculation problems may cause severe stress, anxiety, and depression and affects a man's self-confidence, among other effects.
What factors increase the risk of penile complications?
Various factors can increase your chances of having the complications mentioned above:
Here are some of the risk factors:
Conditions like erectile dysfunction could as a side effect of the medications used to treat a disease like sleep, high blood pressure, and antidepressants.
Most studies indicate that stress affects one urge or sex concentration, causing erectile dysfunction and ejaculation concerns.
Still, the penis also plays a significant role in a man's sex life. It's not just responsible for removing urine from the body. The penis needs to be in good condition and health to perform its roles perfectly with all the functions.
Unfortunately, some complications would affect the penis’ normal function. Amongst them include sexual diseases like chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea. It would help if you watched out for foreskin conditions like balanitis and paraphimosis.
Therefore, if you notice any worrying signs and symptoms on your penis, please attempt to visit your doctor for examination. This would help save you from spreading the condition if it’s contagious. Most importantly, having your situation checked gives you the power to know what's your going through and learn how best you can manage the conditions