What Causes Penile Pain for Men?

Patient Expert

Sexually transmitted diseases are the most common reason why a man may experience pain in his penis while engaging in sex or when urinating. But did you know there are other reasons for penile pain? If not addressed, these issues can affect everything from urination to your sex life.

Urinary tract infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are less common among men than women, but the pain can be just as severe. In males, a UTI occurs when bacteria finds its way into the bladder and the urethra, which is the tube in the penis that carries out urine and semen. Some symptoms include painful urination, a feeling of urgency to pee even if you can’t, and cloudy and/or smelly urine. Ten to 14 days of antibiotics usually does the trick, but it’s important to verify with your doctor that there isn’t a deeper issue like kidney stones or an enlarged prostate.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are another issue that can cause penile pain. There isn’t a definite reason why people get kidney stones, but the results are usually extremely painful. There are four different kinds of kidney stones a man can get, but calcium stones are the most common. Symptoms can include back pain, difficulty urinating, and blood in the urine. For smaller stones, a man must simply pass them (often drinking water or taking pain medication can help with this). For larger stones, you may need to undergo a procedure to break them down so that they are small enough size to pass through the urethra, or have surgery to remove the stones.

Prolonged erections

A prolonged erection — for example, from the use of Viagra or other drugs for erectile dysfunction (ED) — can cause damage to penile tissue that could lead to chronic ED. The condition is called priapism and can also be caused by other factors.

Foreskin problems

In men who are not circumcised, problems can sometimes develop with the foreskin. One example is a condition called balanitis, which can cause foul discharge, swelling at the head of the penis, pain, and rashes. It is usually caused by poor hygiene, but, according to National Institutes of Health, it can also be the result of infections, harsh soaps, and diabetes. Another issue that uncircumcised men may face is a condition called phimosis. It occurs when the foreskin on the head of the penis can’t retract properly, which causes pain when the penis is erect. This usually is seen in children, but in some rare instances, it can happen to adults. The treatment for this issue is steroid creams and, in some cases, a circumcision may be an option to relieve the individual of symptoms.


Penile cancer is very rare, but it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms. These include a lump, a bleeding ulcer, discharge, brownish growths, or a rash. According to the American Cancer Society, things that increase the risk for this cancer include human papillomavirus infection, being uncircumcised, excess exposure to UV light, smoking, and HIV infection. Penile cancer is usually treated with chemotherapy or surgery.

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