Causes of Penis Pain and How to Treat It

Causes of Penis Pain and How to Treat It

Health forecast Overview

Penile pain can affect the base, shaft, or head of the penis. It can also affect the foreskin. An itching, burning, or throbbing sensation may accompany the pain. Penile pain can be a result of an accident or disease. It can affect males of any age.

The pain can vary depending on what underlying condition or disease is causing it. If you have an injury, the pain may be severe and occur suddenly. If you have a disease or condition, the pain may be mild and may gradually get worse.

Any type of pain in the penis is a cause for concern, particularly if it occurs during an erection, prevents urination, or occurs along with discharge, sores, redness, or swelling.

Peyronie’s disease

Peyronie’s disease starts when inflammation causes a thin sheet of scar tissue, called plaque, to form along the upper or lower ridges of the shaft of the penis. Because the scar tissue forms next to the tissue that becomes hard during an erection, you may notice that your penis bends when it’s erect.

The disease can happen if bleeding inside the penis starts after you bend or hit it, if you have a connective tissue disorder, or if you have an inflammation of your lymphatic system or blood vessels. The disease can run in some families or the cause of the disease may be unknown.


Priapism causes a painful, prolonged erection. This erection can happen even when you don’t want to have sex. According to the Mayo Clinic, the condition is most common in men in their 30s.

If priapism occurs, you should get treatment immediately to prevent the long-term effects of the disease that may affect your ability to have an erection.

Priapism may result from:

  • side effects of drugs used to treat erection problems or drugs used to treat depression
  • blood clotting disorders
  • mental health disorders
  • blood disorders, such as leukemia or sickle cell anemia
  • alcohol use
  • illegal drug use
  • injury to the penis or spinal cord


Balanitis is an infection of the foreskin and the head of the penis. It usually affects men and boys who don’t wash under the foreskin regularly or who haven’t been circumcised. Men and boys who have been circumcised can also get it.

Other causes of balanitis can include:

  • a yeast infection
  • a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • an allergy to soap, perfumes, or other products

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

An STI can cause penile pain. STIs that cause pain include:

  • chlamydia
  • gonorrhea
  • genital herpes
  • syphilis

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is more common in women, but it can also happen in men. A UTI occurs when bacteria invade and infect your urinary tract. An infection might happen if you:

  • are uncircumcised
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have a problem or blockage in your urinary tract
  • have sex with someone who has an infection
  • have anal sex
  • have an enlarged prostate


Like any other part of your body, an injury can damage your penis. Injuries can happen if you:

  • are in a car accident
  • get burned
  • have rough sex
  • put a ring around your penis to prolong an erection
  • insert objects into your urethra

Phimosis and paraphimosis

The phimosis occurs in uncircumcised males when the foreskin of the penis is too tight. It can’t be pulled away from the head of the penis. It usually happens in children, but it can also occur in older males if balanitis or an injury causes scarring in the foreskin.

A related condition called paraphimosis happens if your foreskin pulls back from the head of the penis, but then can’t return to its original position covering the penis.

Paraphimosis is a medical emergency because it can stop you from urinating and may cause the tissue in your penis to die.


Penile cancer is another cause of penile pain, although it’s uncommon. Certain factors increase your chances of getting cancer, including:

  • smoking
  • not being circumcised
  • having a human papillomavirus infection (HPV)
  • not cleaning under your foreskin if you’re uncircumcised
  • being treated for psoriasis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, most cases of penile cancer occur in men ages 50 or older.

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