What causes penis pain?

Penis pain may be felt on the surface of the penis or within the cone-shaped glans penis (head), the body (shaft), or the root, which connects the penis to the abdominal wall. You can also feel pain within your urethra, which is the tube that transports semen and urine through and out of the penis.

Penis pain can be caused by a variety of diseases and conditions, such as an allergic reaction, irritation, or an infection, such as a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Penis pain can also be caused by injury or trauma due to surgery, an accident, or sexual activity.

Traumatic causes of penis pain

Penis pain may be caused by injury or trauma to the penis due to a variety of conditions including:

  • Bite during sexual activity

  • Forceful removal of a urinary catheter

  • Foreign body in the urethra

  • Genital injuries

  • Penis fracture, which can occur from blunt trauma to the penis during erection

  • Sexual activity

  • Surgical procedures

Infectious and inflammatory causes of penis pain

Penis pain can be caused by infections or inflammatory reactions including:

  • Allergic reaction to spermicides, detergents or soaps

  • Balanitis (inflammation under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis)

  • Infected penile implants

  • Irritation, such as can occur from harsh soaps

  • Pimples

  • Poor hygiene, such as not regularly washing under the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis

  • Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland)

  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, and genital herpes

  • Urethritis (swelling and inflammation of the urethra)

Other causes of penis pain

Other causes of penis pain include:

  • Bladder stones

  • Penile cancer

  • Paraphimosis (condition in which the foreskin is pulled back and unable to return to its original location, which can lead to pain, swelling, impaired blood flow to the penis, and eventually tissue death)

  • Peyronie’s disease (scarring of the penis that leads to painful curvature of the penis during erection)

  • Phimosis (very tight foreskin that cannot be retracted to reveal the penile head, which may interfere with urination)

  • Priapism (long-lasting, painful erections)

  • Sickle cell anemia (a hereditary disease of the red blood cells that can cause painful erections)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of penis pain

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your penis pain. Providing complete answers to these questions will help your provider in diagnosing the cause of pain:

  • In what part of the penis do you feel pain?

  • When did the pain start?

  • How long does the pain last?

  • Are there any activities that cause the pain?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms, such as problems with urination?

What are the potential complications of penis pain? 

Complications associated with penis pain depend on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Complications of penis pain and its underlying causes can be serious and even life threatening. Once the underlying cause is determined, following the treatment plan outlined by your health care provider can help reduce any potential complications including:

  • Depression

  • Erectile dysfunction, problems with intimacy, and other sexual difficulties

  • Gangrene of penile tissues

  • Infertility

  • Penis deformity

  • Spread of penile cancer (metastasis)

  • Urinary incontinence or inability to urinate


  1. Current Treatment Options for Penile Fractures. Reviews in Urology. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472832/.
  2. What is Peyronie’s disease? Association of Peyronie’s Disease Advocates. http://www.peyroniesassociation.org/what-is-peyronies/.
  3. Paraphimosis: Current Treatment Options. American Academy of Family Physicians. http://www.aafp.org/afp/20001215/2623.html.
  4. Penis Pain. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003166.htm.
  5. Penile Trauma. American Urological Association Foundation. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urology/index.cfm?article=12
  6. What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Sca/SCA_SignsAndSymptoms.html.

What is penis pain?

Penis pain, or penile pain, involves any pain or discomfort, internal or external, of the penis. The penis is an external structure of the male reproductive system that is comprised of multiple parts. These include the root, which connects the penis to the abdominal wall, the body (shaft), the glans penis (head), and the urethra (the tube that transports semen and urine out of the body).
<... Read more about penis painintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with penis pain?

Penis pain may accompany other symptoms, which can vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Pain may originate in the penis itself or may occur due to conditions in nearby areas, such as the abdomen, bladder, testicles or prostate gland.

Additional symptoms that may occur along with penis pain include:

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 7, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Male Reproductive System