Bleeding from the penis can be alarming, especially if there is no visible injury or there is a lot of blood.
In many cases, losing a small amount of blood from the penis is harmless, and the bleeding may stop on its own. However, severe or chronic bleeding from the penis may signal a more serious problem that requires prompt medical treatment.
This article outlines the potential causes of bleeding from the penis. It also lists some potential treatment options and provides advice on when to see a doctor.
When a male is bleeding from the penis, there are some factors that can help them identify the cause. These factors include the location of the bleed and the situation in which the bleeding occurs.
The sections below may help someone narrow down the symptoms.
Bleeding on the penis
Blood on the skin of the penis shaft or head may indicate a skin injury. Such injuries may be minor or severe.
Minor injuries may result from accidentally scraping the penis against a clothing seam or zip. Severe injuries may involve deep cuts to the penis.
Rarely, bleeding on the penis may be a symptom of penile cancer. A male should see their doctor as soon as possible if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- a crusty rash on the penis
- an unusual, bloody growth on the penis
- a sore that continually bleeds and does not heal
Bleeding during ejaculation
The medical term for blood in the semen is hematospermia.
- long periods of sexual inactivity
- a prostate infection
- an infection in the urethra
- taking anticoagulant medications
Bleeding when urinating
Hematuria is the medical term for blood in the urine. It may signal a urinary tract infection (UTI), but there are many other benign and malignant causes. For this reason, hematuria always warrants a medical evaluation.
Hematuria can also occur as a result of a prostate infection.
Bleeding from the urethra when not ejaculating or urinating
The urethra is the tube that drains urine from the bladder. In males, the urethra ends at the urethral opening in the tip of the penis.
Bleeding from the urethra when not urinating or ejaculating could indicate either an injury to the urethra or an injury to one of the veins in the penis.
Several conditions can cause bleeding from the penis. The sections below outline some of these in more detail.
Various infections can cause a male to bleed from the penis or blood to appear in the urine. The most common is a UTI.
Some symptoms of a UTI include:
- urine leakage
- an urgent and intense need to urinate
- a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
- passing only a few drops at a time
- painful urination
- pain in the bladder or pelvic region
A male should see a doctor if they develop symptoms of a UTI. Without treatment, a UTI may spread to the kidneys.
An untreated kidney infection can cause permanent kidney damage. The infection may also spread to the bloodstream. This can have serious consequences.
Blood in the semen can sometimes signal prostatitis, which is the medical term for inflammation and swelling of the prostate. The prostate is a small, walnut shaped gland that makes up part of the male reproductive system.
Sometimes, prostatitis is a chronic condition that comes and goes. Symptoms of chronic prostatitis include:
- pain when urinating
- bladder pain
- sexual difficulties, such as difficulty getting or maintaining an erection or difficulty ejaculating
A male may also develop acute prostatitis as a result of an infection. The symptoms typically appear suddenly and may include:
- bladder pain
- painful ejaculation
Ruptured blood vessels
A ruptured blood vessel in the penis is not life threatening. However, immediate treatment will be necessary to stop the pain and prevent further damage to the penis.
According to the American Urological Association, the penis is one of the least injured organs of the human body. Nonetheless, accidents can happen, and a male may sustain the following injuries to their penis:
- scratches or cuts
- a fracture
- friction burns
Minor injuries to the skin of the penis are no more dangerous than those on other parts of the body. However, if the urethra becomes injured, this may increase the risk of certain infections.
Any injury that is very painful or causes significant bleeding warrants a visit to the doctor. Penile fractures require immediate medical attention and usually surgical repair.
Although rare, cancerous growths or lesions can develop on the penis. Unlike benign growths, they may not heal.
Cancerous growths or lesions may grow, change shape, or crack open and bleed. If there is bleeding, a male may notice the blood in their urine or semen.
In its early stages, penile cancer is highly treatable. Because of this, males with unusual growths or other symptoms should seek prompt medical attention.
Another source of bleeding from the urethra is a primary urethral tumor, though these are very rare.
Doctors use the term idiopathic to describe conditions that have no identifiable cause. According to one 2013 review, around
In most cases, idiopathic bleeding resolves on its own and does not come back. However, a male should return to their doctor if they experience any new symptoms or their existing symptoms worsen.
Not all cases of bleeding from the penis require treatment. Sometimes, there may be only minor bleeding from a small injury or only a few drops of blood in the ejaculate on a single occasion. In either case, the symptoms usually resolve on their own.
In other cases, however, treatment may be necessary. The type of treatment a male receives will depend on the cause of the bleeding.
Treatment options may include:
- Antibiotics: If a male has sustained a serious injury to their penis, a doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics to prevent infection. They may also prescribe antibiotics to help treat UTIs and prostatitis.
- Wound care: Injuries to the skin of the penis may require regular cleaning to prevent infection. Deep cuts may require stitches.
- Surgery: Severe penile injuries will likely require surgical repair. Ruptured veins in the penis
may also require surgery, especially if the rupture is severe.
- Cancer treatment: The type of cancer treatment a male receives will depend on the type of cancer they have and its location in the body. Some potential treatment options include:
- medicated skin creams
- radiation therapy
- drainage or removal of the lymph nodes in the groin
It is not always possible to prevent certain causes of bleeding from the penis. However, the following self-care measures can help reduce the risk of experiencing penile injury or bleeding:
- wearing protective gear when playing sports
- urinating as soon as the urge arises
- drinking plenty of water, which will reduce the risk of UTIs
- using barrier methods such as condoms when having sex, which can prevent some infectious causes of prostatitis
- talking to a doctor about chronic pain in the penis or rectum
Bleeding from the penis is not usually an emergency. However, a male should go to the emergency room immediately if they experience any of the following:
- an inability to stop the blood loss
- intense and unbearable pain
- nausea and a high fever
They should call their doctor within 24 hours if they experience any of the following:
- blood in the urine
- a cut that begins to look infected
- symptoms of prostatitis or a UTI
A male who experiences a one-off episode of a small amount of blood in the semen may choose to wait a few days to see if the symptom reoccurs. If it does, they should schedule an appointment with their doctor.
Bleeding from the penis can be worrying, but it is not usually an emergency.
Even when the cause of the bleeding is serious, seeking prompt and appropriate treatment can often cure the underlying problem.
Anyone concerned about the health of their penis should see a doctor, who will work to diagnose the problem and provide appropriate treatments.