Many conditions can cause penis pain. Examples include Peyronie’s disease, penile fracture, balanitis, and urethritis. Penile pain may occur at rest, during sexual activity or an erection, or when urinating.

A person may encounter different types of pain, such as sharp, dull, throbbing, or shooting. Pain can be mild or severe.

While a person can sometimes get relief from penis pain at home, some underlying causes may require medical treatment. If an individual has any concerns, they should consult a doctor.

This article discusses some of the potential causes of penis pain and the additional symptoms and treatment options for each.

Peyronie’s disease is a condition that occurs when scar tissue creates plaque that builds up on the top or bottom of the penis. The cause of Peyronie’s disease is still unclear, but doctors believe it results from scarring to the penis. This scarring may be due to an autoimmune disease or a severe or repeated injury to the penis.

Symptoms of Peyronie’s disease can include:

  • erectile dysfunction or pain during an erection
  • pain during sex
  • a curve in the penis
  • lumps on the side of the penis
  • the penis becoming narrower or shorter than usual

A person should speak with a doctor if they notice any of these symptoms. Peyronie’s disease can sometimes go away without treatment, and if the curvature is not severe, treatment might not be necessary. However, other people with the condition may require:

If symptoms are severe and do not improve, a person may require surgery.

Priapism describes a prolonged and often painful erection that may not relate to sexual activity. It occurs when blood in the penis becomes trapped and is unable to drain, which can damage or destroy tissue in the penis. In some cases, the cause is unknown. However, in other cases, priapism can be due to other conditions or drugs. For example, possible triggers can include:

  • blood conditions, such as sickle cell anemia
  • trauma to the genitals or spinal cord
  • prescription medication, such as blood thinners or erectile dysfunction treatments
  • recreational drugs or alcohol use

Priapism can be a serious medical condition, and people should seek medical help if they have a prolonged, painful erection without stimulation that lasts for more than 4 hours. A person can try urinating, having a warm bath, drinking water, or performing gentle exercise to relieve the erection at first. Medical treatments may include:

  • pain medications
  • injecting medication into the penis to allow for sufficient blood circulation
  • aspiration, which involves using a surgical needle to drain excess blood
  • creating a small hole or passage, called a shunt, to allow for adequate blood flow between the penis and the rest of the body

A penile fracture occurs when an erect penis becomes bent, usually due to force, which causes a part of it to tear. It is not technically a fracture, as there are no bones in the penis. Some evidence suggests penile fractures are most likely to occur during sex.

Symptoms of a penile fracture include:

  • a popping sound
  • sudden loss of erection
  • bruising and swelling of the penis
  • bleeding from the penis
  • blood in the urine
  • pain
  • difficulty urinating

Anyone with a penile fracture needs emergency medical attention. They may also need surgery to drain any buildup of blood and repair any damage to the penis.

Balanitis refers to when the head of the penis becomes inflamed. This part of the penis is also known as the glans penis and may affect roughly 3–11% of males. This inflammation can occur in people who have not had circumcision, especially if they do not wash or dry the area underneath the foreskin properly.

Other causes of balanitis can include:

  • using strong soap or chemicals on the penis
  • diabetes
  • sexually transmitted infections

Symptoms of balanitis may include:

  • a rash
  • discharge
  • swelling
  • itching
  • tenderness or pain
  • phimosis, or tight foreskin

Treatment options for balanitis can include:

  • topical antibiotic, antifungal, or antiseptic ointment
  • topical steroids
  • a topical astringent solution

Phimosis occurs when the foreskin tightens so much that it is too tight to pull back. It is common in young children before the foreskin loosens, but it can also cause painful symptoms in teenagers and adults.

Treatment for phimosis usually includes applying a steroid cream to the foreskin daily. Taking pain relievers may also help, and in some cases, a doctor may suggest circumcision.

Paraphimosis is similar to phimosis, but is instead a condition where people are unable to pull the foreskin forward over the tip of the penis. It is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.

Additional symptoms can include:

  • pain in the penis
  • swelling in the tip of the penis
  • the head of the penis turning a different color, such as blue or red

Treatment for paraphimosis involves reducing the swelling at the tip of the penis to allow the foreskin to return to the correct position. If doctors cannot achieve this, they may make a small incision to reduce the swelling. In some cases, people may need circumcision.

People may experience pain in the penis due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This term describes infections that people may acquire following sexual activity or intimate physical contact.

Often, a person may experience no symptoms from an STI. However, some symptoms that individuals with a penis may notice can include:

  • painful ejaculation
  • discharge from the penis
  • sores, lumps, or blisters around the genitals
  • burning or itching sensation, such as when urinating
  • pain around the pelvis
  • frequent urination

Treatments for STIs can vary depending on the underlying cause. For example, they may involve antibiotics for bacterial STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, or antivirals to treat symptoms of viral STIs, such as herpes.

If bacteria enter the urinary tract, it can cause a urinary tract infection (UTI). They are more common in females, but they can also affect males. Generally, these infections are quite common, with some evidence suggesting they are the second most common type of infection in the body.

In addition to penis pain, symptoms of a UTI in males may include:

  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • feeling the need to urinate when the bladder is empty
  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • blood in the urine

A doctor will usually prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat a UTI.

Urethritis is a lower UTI that may occur when an STI leads to inflammation of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis. Causes of urethritis include:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • injury
  • reaction to spermicides or contraceptive lotions

Symptoms may include:

  • an itchy, tender, or swollen penis
  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • burning sensation when urinating
  • discharge
  • pain during sex or ejaculation

A doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat urethritis.

Prostatitis is a common prostate problem that describes inflammation of the prostate. This can cause pain in the penis and pelvic area. Bacterial infections, nerve inflammation, and injuries can all cause prostatitis.

Symptoms of the condition can include:

  • pain or burning when urinating
  • blood in the urine
  • pain in the penis, testicles, or bladder
  • painful ejaculation

Treatment will vary depending on a person’s symptoms and the cause of inflammation, but it will typically involve a course of antibiotics. Pain relief medication, prostate massage, and hot compresses can also help ease symptoms.

Pain in the penis can sometimes be a symptom of penile cancer, although it is more likely to result from another condition. People should speak with their doctor if they notice any of the following symptoms:

  • changes to the color or thickness of the skin of the penis
  • a lump or crusty bumps on the penis
  • bleeding ulcers
  • bleeding or discharge under the foreskin
  • swelling at the head of the penis
  • lumps under the skin in the groin area
  • a rash on the penis

Treatment for penile cancer may include:

  • surgery to remove tumors in the penis
  • circumcision to remove the foreskin
  • radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells
  • chemotherapy
  • immunotherapy

Many different conditions can cause penis pain. A doctor can help identify the cause of the pain by discussing a person’s other symptoms.

People could also lower their risk of developing a penile health condition by:

  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • keeping good personal hygiene
  • using a condom during sex

If a person experiences persistent or severe penis pain, they should speak with a doctor.