December 27, 2020

Why You May Be Having Pain in Your Penis

See your urologist if pain is persistent or severe

man in pain at doctor's office penis

Penis pain involves any pain or discomfort, internal or external, of the penis. If you’re experiencing aches and pains in the penis, whether during sexual intercourse or at other times, you should schedule a trip to your doctor or a urologist if symptoms persist or are severe.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Peyronie’s disease

Chief among the causes of penis pain is Peyronie’s disease, an abnormal curvature of the penis usually caused by scar tissue in the tunica albuginea — the strength layer of the penis — says urologist Ryan Berglund, MD.

Peyronie’s can interfere with intercourse either by making it painful or by leading to erectile dysfunction, Dr. Berglund says. Some men report hearing a pop or snap in the penis shortly before an erection, he says.

About one in 20 men develop Peyronie’s at some point in their lives. The exact cause of Peyronie’s disease is unknown.

The disease becomes severe enough to inhibit intercourse in only 1% to 2% of men. Physicians typically intervene only in those cases.

Surgery is a possible treatment in some cases. Doctors also sometimes use a penile prosthetic to treat the condition. Incision of plaque from the penis is another type of treatment, he says.

While Peyronie’s gets somewhat more likely to occur with age, men in any stage of life may develop the condition, Dr. Berglund says.

Advertisement

“I’ve seen plenty of young men who have it,” he says.

Penile fractures

A somewhat rarer source of pain in the penis are penile fractures. A penis fracture can occur when there is trauma to the erect penis. The trauma may rupture the lining of one of the two cylinders in the penis responsible for erections.

Men who experience this report hearing a popping sound, then experiencing severe pain, swelling and dark bruising of the penis, Dr. Berglund says.

Penile fractures are medical emergencies. The concern is that they can lead to permanent erectile dysfunction if not treated immediately.

“You need to go in and quickly have those sewn up,” he says. “But fractures are fairly rare.”

Other issues may cause penis pain

Skin disorders such as lichen sclerosus sometimes cause penis pain. This condition looks like small white bumps that are shiny and smooth. Later, the spots grow into bigger patches. The skin on the patches becomes thin and crinkled. Then the skin tears easily, and bright red or purple bruises are common. Sometimes, the skin becomes scarred. If the disease is a mild case, there may be no symptoms.

Advertisement

Lichen sclerosus is an “inflammatory scarring response that can lead to difficulty in urination and anatomic problems with the penis,” Dr. Berglund says. The likelihood of developing lichen sclerosus grows significantly higher with age.

Uncircumcised men sometimes develop a painful condition called phimosis. This means the foreskin cannot be fully retracted. This condition sometimes requires corrective surgery, he says. Older men are considerably more likely to develop phimosis, as well.

Uncircumcised men are more likely to develop hard lesions on the penis. This condition is rare in the United States, but more common worldwide. Improved hygiene usually clears up this problem. However, a doctor should evaluate the condition to rule out penile cancer, Dr. Berglund says.

Related Articles

Physician discussing health issues with patient during appointment.
July 17, 2023
What Your Penis Says About Your Health

Changes in penis performance or appearance may signal heart issues, diabetes and more

Physician's hand holding a blue pill in the palm of his hand, offering it to a patient.
November 7, 2023
Debunking 5 Myths About Viagra

Don’t believe everything you’ve heard about ‘the little blue pill’

male getting an annual check up
September 17, 2023
Most Common Health Issues for Men

It’s important to watch for and guard against conditions like heart disease and cancer

doctor standing in front of a calendar holding clipboard
September 12, 2023
Physical Exams for Men: What To Expect

Screenings and tests done during a wellness check can uncover hidden health issues

Man and woman embracing
August 31, 2023
16 Common Questions About Erectile Dysfunction Answered

If you’re having trouble getting or maintaining an erection, you’re not alone — and there’s help 

Man looking at smartphone while sitting on bed scheduling an appointment online.
August 27, 2023
When (and Why) You Should Start Seeing a Urologist

Manage your sexual health and urinary function with annual appointments starting at age 40

man standing up straight in room
May 30, 2023
How Kegels Can Help After Prostate Surgery

Working your pelvic floor muscles can help you prevent and recover from urinary incontinence

Neon sign in red that reads tattoo piercing.
May 7, 2023
How To Take Care of a Penis Piercing

Understand the risks and take precautions against infection

Trending Topics

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Exercise and diet over three months is hard to accomplish.
Everything You Need To Know About the 75 Hard Challenge

Following five critical rules daily for 75 days may not be sustainable

Person in foreground standing in front of many presents with person in background holding gift bags.
What Is Love Bombing?

This form of psychological and emotional abuse is often disguised as excessive flattery

Ad