Why is penis health so important?

All men should think about penis health. A man must have a healthy penis to function as a healthy person. He needs a healthy penis to remove urine and maintain the right fluid balance in his body. A healthy penis is needed for sex and to get a woman pregnant.

A problem with the penis can sometimes be a helpful clue for the doctor. It may be a hint about a problem somewhere else in the body, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. A problem called erectile dysfunction (ED) can be due to poor blood flow to the penis. If you have ED, your doctor will know to check for these other problems.

What can go wrong with my penis?

There are many conditions that can affect the penis. Some are:

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) — Men with ED can’t get or keep their penis erect (hard) enough to have sex. There are many causes for ED. Some treatments for ED are drugs, shots and implants.
  • Priapism — This is when a man’s penis stays erect for more than four hours. If this happens, you need to see a doctor right away. Long-term ED and lasting damage to the penis can occur if this is not treated quickly.
  • Phimosis — This is when the extra skin that covers the head of the penis (foreskin) is too tight. It can’t be moved out of the way so you can see the penis head. Surgery may be used to treat this.
  • Paraphimosis — This problem also affects the foreskin. With this, the foreskin moves out of the way, but it can’t move back. It gets stuck. You need to see a doctor right away. If this happens, it can cut off blood flow to the penis.
  • Peyronie’s disease — With this condition, hard lumps of scar tissue form on the inner lining of the side of the penis. This causes the penis to bend to one side when erect. Doctors are not sure what causes this disease. It often gets better on its own without treatment. Surgery is used in severe cases.
  • Chronic penis skin conditions (rashes, itching and scaly skin) — A chronic skin problem called lichen sclerosis or balanitis can affect the end of the penis. Causes include infection, allergy and poor cleaning habits. Treatment is based on the cause. Be sure you always clean your penis thoroughly to help prevent this.
  • Penis trauma (fracture) — The penis has no bones. It is part of the lining of the penis that gets torn when a fracture occurs. When this happens, you may hear a popping noise. Your penis will become flat and turn black and blue. A penis fracture is a medical emergency.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — STIs are passed from person to person through sex. There are more than 20 known STIs. They are caused by germs that grow well in warm, moist places. Some STIs can be cured. Some you have for the rest of your life. Some can be deadly if not treated.

Common STIs include:

Each STI has its own set of symptoms and method of treatment. Some broad symptoms of STIs include bumps, sores or warts near your penis. You might have swelling or redness. Discharge from your penis and severe itching are also symptoms. Sometimes, a person with an STI will lose weight, have watery stools or sweat a lot at night. You might have flu-like symptoms. These include aches, pains, fever and chills. It might hurt to have sex. Your skin might turn a little yellowish.

How do I know if there is something wrong with my penis?

There are some symptoms of penis problems to look for that might tell you there’s a problem with your penis. Some are:

  • Black and blue marks on your penis (bruises)
  • Problems getting or keeping your penis erect
  • Yellow or green discharge from the tip of your penis
  • Burning when you go to the bathroom
  • Bleeding when you go to the bathroom or when you orgasm (come)
  • Painful, itchy rash on your penis
  • Blisters, warts or small, red bumps on your penis
  • Painless sore on the shaft of your penis
  • Changes in the way you orgasm
  • Pain when your penis is erect
  • Swelling of the tip of your penis
  • Pain when you have sex
  • Pain after trauma to your penis
  • A bend in your penis

Visually inspecting your penis regularly to stay aware of any new symptoms or conditions that may occur is healthy and beneficial. 

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/23/2014.


  • Cleveland Clinic. Penile Disorders Accessed 12/9/2014.
  • American Academy of Family Physicians via familydoctor.org. Health Tools: Genital Problems in Men Accessed 12/9/2014.
  • American Urological Association. Urology A to Z Accessed 12/9/2014.

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