Common Diseases of the Penis and Their Treatment

In addition to erectile dysfunction, there are other problems and diseases that can manifest in the penis. Read on to learn about the most common ones.
Common Diseases of the Penis and Their Treatment
Leidy Mora Molina

Reviewed and approved by the nurse Leidy Mora Molina.

Last update: 11 October, 2022

When talking about common diseases of the penis, we shouldn’t only think about difficulties in maintaining an erection. In reality, there are several types of problems that can affect this body part, from skin conditions to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Treatment varies from case to case. At the same time, there are different factors that can affect the male sexual organ; some have an impact on its functioning, as well as on the person’s mood or the relationship with a partner.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common diseases of the penis, their symptoms, treatment, when to see a doctor, and what we can and should do to prevent them.

Risk factors for common diseases of the penis

The penis is the male genital organ. Although its functions are not limited only to sexual and reproductive activity, it’s also part of the excretory system as a conduit to eliminate urine.

However, there are certain risk factors that can condition the appearance of diseases in the penis. Some of these are modifiable, but others are not:

  • Diseases that affect cardiovascular function, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes.
  • Medications: Anti-ulcer drugs, prostate cancer treatments, antidepressants, and sleeping medications can cause erectile dysfunction.
  • Prostatectomy: Surgical removal of the prostate can cause erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence.
  • Smoking: In addition to other health risks, smoking also causes erectile dysfunction.
  • Alcoholism: Heavy drinking decreases libido. In addition, it may also be associated with an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Hormonal imbalances: In particular, testosterone deficiency.
  • Psychological disorders: This includes stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Neurological disorders: This includes spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and strokes.
  • Age: Aging affects testosterone levels and increases the risk of prostate diseases.
  • Risky sexual behaviors: Not using condoms increases the chances of contracting STDs.
  • Piercings: Piercing the penis can lead to infections.

We think you may also enjoy reading this article: Short Frenulum on the Glans Penis: Symptoms, Care and Treatment

The most common diseases of the penis

There are several conditions that may be related both to sexual functioning and to the health of the skin of the male sexual organ. Let’s take a look at what they are along with their symptoms and possible treatments.

1. Phimosis

The skin overlying the penis should be able to fold downward to the point of exposing the glans penis. However, in the case of phimosis, the foreskin can’t descend, which prevents proper hygiene.

In addition, there may be pain during urination or erections. In some cases, minor surgery (circumcision or preputioplasty) is required to modify the tissue.

2. Paraphimosis

Unlike the previous one, in the case of paraphimosis, what happens is that the foreskin doesn’t return to its position after being retracted. This can cause swelling, interfering with the blood flow in the penis.

In some cases, it’s mild and only requires the use of lubrication. However, when erections or urination begin to be affected, a small surgery is performed, which consists of an incision to relieve the tension.

common diseases of the penis
Penile surgeries are performed by urologists. Pediatric surgeons are also involved when the patient is a minor.

3. Common diseases of the penis: Yeast infections

There are not only yeast infections in the vagina, but also in the penis. In these cases, various symptoms may occur, such as inflammation of the glans penis, rashes, white or reddish spots, itching, burning, and discharge. Treatment is with topical or oral antifungal agents.

4. Balanitis

Balanitis is another type of infection. Symptoms include inflammation, redness, tightness of the foreskin, discharge, itching, and tenderness.

Its occurrence is associated with poor hygiene as well as diabetes. It’s treated with antibiotics and, in some cases, by circumcision.

5. Psoriasis

Certain skin diseases can also affect the penis. This is the case with psoriasis, which in this case is referred to as genital psoriasis. Symptoms include dry, flaking, and cracking skin, which increases susceptibility to infection. Treatment is symptomatic and includes creams and ointments.

6. Lichen planus

Like the previous condition, this is a condition caused by immune system problems. It usually involves an irregular rash, which manifests as discolored or purple bumps, even beyond the genital area.

It’s itchy and painful. Sometimes, pus-filled blisters appear, with lines on top. It may disappear without treatment. Although if the symptoms generate discomfort, antihistamines in cream or oral can also be applied.

7. Common diseases of the penis: Pearly papules

Pearly papules are small filiform growths around the ring of the head of the penis. They are pearly in color and measure about two millimeters.

They usually don’t cause major damage, although the area may be tender. Some people decide to remove them for aesthetic reasons with laser treatment or radiofrequency.

8. Fordyce spots

Fordyce spots are lumps or bumps. They can appear on the penis as well as on the scrotum. They’re small, 1 to 3 millimeters in size, and are usually yellow or skin-toned.

They’re caused by enlarged sebaceous glands. They don’t hurt and aren’t harmful to a person’s health; however, they can be removed by treatments such as micropuncture and CO2 laser treatment.

9. Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is defined as a decrease in the ability to sustain a firm erection for a sufficient time to maintain a satisfactory sexual relationship.

Its occurrence is conditioned by some diseases, including: diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, and high blood pressure. It may also be due to psychological factors, such as stress and anxiety. Its treatment includes both drugs and psychological therapy.

10. Premature ejaculation

Premature ejaculation isn’t always a health problem, especially if it’s occasional. When it happens frequently and affects the couple’s relationship or self-esteem, it may require a therapeutic approach.

11. Retrograde ejaculation

This occurs when the muscles that direct the semen outward don’t work properly. Certain drugs, such as antidepressants, which have antispasmodic effects, are used in its treatment.

12. Other ejaculation problems

There are other common diseases of the penis that have to do with ejaculation, such as the inability to ejaculate, reduced ejaculation, and delayed ejaculation. They may be due to a combination of various physical and psychological problems:

  • Reactions to medications
  • Chronic diseases
  • Consequences of surgery
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Depression, anxiety, or stress

13. Priapism

Priapism is the opposite of dysfunction. In this case, there’s a prolonged and often painful erection. In addition, there may be a throbbing sensation in the sexual organ.

It can be caused by the use of drugs, mainly vasoactive drugs, as well as recreational drugs. For treatment, the Winter procedure is applied, which consists of draining through holes made with a scalpel.

14. Anorgasmia

The inability to reach orgasm is called anorgasmia or orgasmic dysfunction. It can be of various types:

  • Primary: Orgasm has never been reached in the person’s life
  • Secondary: An orgasm has occurred in the past but not now
  • Situational: An orgasm is only reached in certain situations (for example, when masturbating)

Treatment is based on psychological therapy. It may be individual or as a couple, or a combination of both.

15. Chlamydiosis

Among the most common diseases of the penis, there are also sexually transmitted diseases. In particular, chlamydiosis is a bacterial infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis.

This is more common in young people (average age 25) and in people who have just become sexually active. At first, there may be no symptoms, but then some symptoms may appear:

  • Fever
  • Burning during urination
  • Yellow or green discharge from the opening of the penis
  • Abdominal pain
  • Discomfort during ejaculation

Treatment is with antibiotics. The most commonly used are azithromycin and doxycycline.

16. Common diseases of the penis: Genital herpes

A herpes simplex virus infection can be contracted by having unprotected sex, including oral sex. The virus is transmitted through saliva or genital fluids.

Symptoms include burning, oozing blisters, then crusting, swollen glands, fever, and headaches. Antiviral treatment and topical creams are applied to the sores.

common diseases of the penis can be prevented with condoms
Condoms are an essential barrier against sexually transmitted infections.

17. Human papillomavirus

HPV, or human papillomavirus, causes genital warts that are small and soft. It’s one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world, with an estimated incidence of 10%.

HPV types 16 and 18 are associated with cervical, vulvar, penile, and anal cancer. There’s no known cure, although warts may spontaneously remit.

18. Common diseases of the penis: Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is another common penile disease. Although it’s not exclusive to the penis since it’s sexually transmitted, it can also appear in the anus or vagina. It’s an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

It’s spread through unprotected sex. Symptoms include frequent urination, burning during urination, redness of the glans penis, and testicular pain. Treatment is with antibiotics, although resistant strains have been identified.

19. Syphilis

Syphilis is another STD caused by infection, in this case, by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. Treatment consists of penicillin.

It develops in several stages, each with its own particular symptoms:

  • Primary: A small, often painless sore appears
  • Secondary: A rash appears, as well as fever and headaches, a sore throat, and joint pain
  • Latent: There are no symptoms
  • Tertiary: Loss of vision or hearing, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord (neurosyphilis) can ocur

20. Peyronie’s disease

This is a chronic condition. Abnormal scar tissue appears inside the penis, which can lead to bent or painful erections. Peyronie’s disease may be due to microtrauma during sexual intercourse. It’s treated with surgery.

21. Penile fracture

This is a painful injury in which fibrous tissue ruptures during erection (there’s no bone fracture, of course, despite the name!). It’s caused by a strong blow to an erect penis. Immediate treatment with surgery is required.

22. Lymphangiosclerosis

This consists of the hardening of a lymphatic vessel, forming a lump under the skin that resembles a thick cord. It’s located around the base of the head of the penis or along it.

Other symptoms include redness, irritation, painful urination, pain during sex, swelling of the testicles, discharge, and fever. Rest is recommended, so the person should refrain from sexual activity, including masturbation.

23. Penile cancer

Penile cancer isn’t very common. It’s associated with HPV. It can spread to other areas of the body.

It appears as a blister or lump. It then progresses to a wart with pus.

Other symptoms include redness, swelling, discharge, burning, irritation, thickening of the skin, and blood in urine or semen. The most common treatment is surgery, as well as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Maintaining a healthy penis

There are several common penile diseases associated with both hygiene and sexual behavior. This suggests that it’s possible to take measures to prevent further problems.

In this regard, the following recommendations can be taken into account:

  • To clean oneself, the foreskin should be pulled down, but carefully, without hurting oneself. Wash with soap and water without using strong products.
  • Wear a condom during sex.
  • Keep your blood pressure and glucose levels under control.
  • Go to therapy when you have problems such as depression or stress.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

It’s recommended to go to your routine checkups with your doctor and also to keep an eye on your penis, paying attention to the appearance of certain symptoms. It’s also important to point out that, although it may be difficult to talk about the subject, it’s very important to put aside your embarrassment to give your health priority.

An accurate and timely diagnosis will allow treatment to begin as soon as possible. If necessary, it will prevent any disease from progressing.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.