Penis Pain Causes: STDs, Injury, Arthritis and Treatments 

What causes penis pain that can be felt on the surface or along the urethra or tissues. This pain can result from various reasons ranging from infection or disease to trauma-causing injury. Discover more.

Penis pain can be felt while urinating, on passing urine, an erection and in regard to circumstances through which pain is inflicted.

Causes of pain in your penis

Read on to learn what may be causing or what leads to penis pain.

Injury to penis

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Penis pain can be serious or result in mild symptoms which depends on the ways in which the injury occurs. Below are some of the ways injury to the penis will result.

  • After undergoing surgery (prostatectomy) or medical emergency that requires an intensive operation
  • Fracture during extreme sports
  • Amputation (removal of a limb)
  • Avulsion
  • Strangulation (injury to soft tissue) caused by things like rubber bands
  • Penetrating injuries during sex, shooting during war or sharp objects such as knives and stabbing weapons
  • Burns from hot objects or fluids
  • Entrapment like pudendal nerve entrapment which is a rare painful condition

Each of these injuries can end up with a penile injury with varying severity. For instance, strangulation may lead to pain in the urethra.

Anyone can get painful penises due to injury (from small boys to grown-ups)

Genital herpes

What is genital herpes? Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) which majorly affects the genitals, however, the symptoms may be felt in other body areas.

It is often caused by HSV type 2. The infection causes herpetic sores, (painful blisters or the filled bumps). When these blisters break or rapture and open there is oozing or fluid that is let out.

Transmission of the virus can be through saliva, semen or vaginal secretions from the infected person.


The beginning of this infection is marked by an itch, or tingle, before the actual appearance of blisters.

Other general symptoms for both males and females include:

  • Bumps in the mouth and on your lips, face and anywhere on the genitals including around anus
  • The blisters may become ulcerated (open sores) and ooze fluid
  • A crust may appear over the penile sores within a week of the outbreak
  • Your lymph glands may become swollen. Lymph glands fight infection and inflammation in the body
  • You may have headaches, body aches, and fever


How can genital herpes be treated? Most treatments aim at reducing the outbreaks since there is no cure for herpes simplex viruses.

Some of the medications or drugs that would be prescribed include drugs to reduce pain or fever if it is experienced.

Treatment is good especially when the first signs of an outbreak have shown up.

Alternatively, patients may use mild cleansers when bathing or showering. When the sores have formed on the genitals, patients are advised to keep them clean and dry. Moreover, it is safer to use or wear non-synthetic like cotton clothing to reduce instances of irritation.

Bladder stones

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Bladder stones are a condition that is a result of the formation of hard pieces of mineral that form in the bladder.

“These bladder stones are created when urine is concentrated and minerals crystallize and clump together.”

They may also form due to a urinary tract infection (UTI) or enlarged prostate.

How does penis pain result from bladder stones? There could be a blockage in the urethra. Therefore, there is a pain inside the penis (urethra).

In the case of blockage then it means there is painful urination (while passing urine). Sometimes men are unable to urinate totally.

Peyronie’s disease

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Peyronie’s disease which is considered a form of erectile dysfunction means there is the development of fibrous scar tissue inside the penis. The main symptoms of this disease are the appearance of curved and painful experiences with erections.


The exact causes may not be well understood. Physicians understand that Peyronie’s disease generally results from repeated injury to the penis.

This can result from damage during sex, athletic activity or after an accident.

Other factors likely to affect the penis (risks) may include:

  • Hereditary factors such as genes
  • Age
  • Connective tissue disorders


  • Scar tissue is felt under the skin of the penis as flat lumps or a band of more hardened tissue
  • There is also bending of the penis due to the hardened tissue. Bending would occur sideways upwards or the penis head face down
  • Getting or maintaining an erection (if you get an erection maintain it is difficult)
  • Shortening of the penis
  • Painful experiences with or without an erection


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Balanitis is an inflammatory skin condition that affects mostly the glans penis.

This condition may affect young boys or adult males.


Since this is an inflammatory condition, there are many possible causes. These comprise environmental irritation of substances or physical trauma. Certain infections such as bacterial, viral, or fungal (yeast infection) are other possible culprits. Some of the infections are human STIs.

According to urologist Paul Anderson, balanitis is common among me with foreskin.

Signs and symptoms

The first signs of balanitis is usually marked by small red erosions on the penis glans.

Other symptoms include the following:

  • Foreskin redness
  • Redness of the penis glans
  • Painful foreskin and penis
  • Painful rashes on the head of the penis
  • Foul-smelling discharge is sometimes observed

Medical treatment of the condition often involves prescription of drugs, ointments to reduce or deal with inflammation. If after diagnosis, the cause is clearly identified with bacterial or viral infections, antibiotics or antivirals are given for a specific duration.

To promote treatment, men and boys are encouraged to get circumcised to step up hygiene. Sometimes you may be forced to pull back the foreskin in order to clean. And this potentially may cause more pain.

Infected hair follicles (folliculitis)

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Folliculitis can also cause penile pain. Folliculitis and penis pain is thought to be related to the inflammation of the hair follicles.

The infection of the hair follicles around the base of the penis shaft can also cause penis pain.

Common areas for this condition include the armpits, scalp and genitals but any part of the skin can be affected.

What causes folliculitis?

Anyone is likely to get folliculitis if:

  • They are used to a hot tub or public swimming pool that is not properly treated with chlorine.
  • Wear tight clothes.
  • They work in environments where they are exposed to substances cause blockage of the follicles
  • They practice poor body or oily makeup
  • They have open or infected skin cut or scrape, or surgical wound
  • Have a disease such as diabetes or HIV that lowers your ability to fight infection

What are the symptoms of folliculitis on the penis? This condition is marked by like red pimples each with hair inside. The hair may be visible or not.

These pimples may be filled with pus. When they have the pus they cause burning and cause itching. Sometimes these may drain pus or blood when the pimples break open.


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Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by a type of bacteria known as Treponema pallidum.

How is syphilis transmitted? The primary transmission is when someone comes in direct contact with (chancre) infectious.

Sharing toilet without adequate hygiene, wearing another person’s clothing and sharing needles.

Syphilis Stages

The major four stages of syphilis are as follows.

Primary syphilis

This is the first stage of syphilis infection which begins with a small, round sore (chancre). Though the chance is painless it is highly infectious.

If the syphilis-causing bacteria enters the body via the genitals, a sore or sores may appear there and will cause pain.

Secondary syphilis

People who syphilis that has entered this stage have skin rashes and a sore throat. The eruptions occur on the palms and soles of feet. Some people don’t notice the rash before it goes away.

Other signs symptomatic of secondary syphilis may include:

  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Hair loss
  • Aching joints

Latent syphilis

The third stage of syphilis is the latent or hidden stage. The primary and secondary symptoms disappear, and you won’t have any noticeable symptoms at this stage. However, you will still be infected with syphilis.

Tertiary syphilis

If you are infected or have syphilis and are not treated, the infection may enter this stage after a few years.

This stage may produce life-threatening symptoms including:

  • Neurological disorders, such as stroke or meningitis
  • Destruction of soft tissue and bone
  • Heart disease
  • Neurosyphilis, which is an infection of the brain or spinal cord
  • Mental illness
  • Memory loss
  • Blindness
  • Deafness

IMPORTANT: Syphilis that remains untreated for a long time can cause major damage to important organs, like the heart and brain.

Reactive arthritis

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Reactive arthritis is the inflammation of the urethra. This condition may be caused by both infection and irritation of the urinary tract.

Penile pain due to reactive arthritis is felt in the urethra.

Common symptoms are felt in the joints but the urethra, bladder, eyes and skin areas around the joints are affected.

Insect bites

Although insect or animal bites on the penis are rare, swelling, itching, inflammation or irritation can occur.

Other causes of penile pain

In addition to the above causes, other reasons that may account for penile pain include sickle cell anemia priapism (an erection that does not go away).

Prevention of penis pain

A few cases of penile pain may be prevented especially in the event of another of future occurrences. These include infections, insect bites and certain accidents that include burns.

How to prevent STDs like syphilis

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The best way to prevent most STIs is to abstain from any sexual relations (whether you have been treated initially or not. However, preventing them from practice protected safe sex may not always be the safest (though it is useful and helpful).

Other preventive measures include:

  • Vaccination against viral STDs
  • Avoid sharing sex toys, clothes and other utensils with infected ones
  • Going for screening for STIs together with your partner
  • Have a single partner and trust your only one sexual partner
  • Sharing experiences with your partner about their status and test  results

When to see a doctor

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See your health care provider when you have these symptoms.

  • Painful or burning urination
  • Foul discharges from urethra or sores on penis
  • Painful reactions
  • Pain in the penis that is persistent
  • Headaches and high fever

If you suspect you have an STI or UTI you must seek medical care from a trusted clinician.