The penis is an external organ through which pee and semen leave the body. Penile diseases and disorders may include priapism, balanitis, penile fracture, penile cancer and erectile dysfunction. Treatment depends on your condition and, in some cases, how quickly you see a healthcare provider.
The skin of the penis is loose and stretchy. The stretchy skin allows for changes in penis size when you have an erection.
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Penile disorders are conditions that can affect your ability to have sexual intercourse or pee as expected. Many different disorders can affect your penis. These include:
Priapism occurs when you have an erection and blood can’t drain from your penis. It’s often painful and can last four or more hours. It can occur without sexual arousal or any sexual stimulation of your penis. Priapism can cause permanent damage to your penis without emergency treatment.
A penile fracture is when you severely bend or hit your erection so hard that you tear your tunica albuginea. Your tunica albuginea is a strong, fibrous connective tissue layer that covers your corpora cavernosa. When it tears, you’ll often hear a cracking or popping sound and pain followed by immediate loss of your erection. You may also have bruising or blood in your pee. A penile fracture is a medical emergency that usually requires surgery.
Peyronie’s disease is when scar tissue (plaque) forms in your erectile tissue and causes your penis to curve, bend or lose length. The scar tissue usually forms after an injury to your erect penis, but not always. You might not need treatment if the curve doesn’t hurt or cause you discomfort. But therapies, medications and surgery can treat more severe cases.
Balanitis is inflammation on the head of your penis. It typically affects those who still have their foreskin because the warm, damp area between your glans and foreskin creates an ideal environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. Yeast and bacteria are the most common causes, which most people can treat with antifungal creams or antibiotics. You can help prevent balanitis by regularly cleaning and thoroughly drying the area.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a chronic (long-lasting) inability to get or keep an erection that’s hard enough to have sexual intercourse. It’s more common in people over 40. It may be the symptom of an underlying condition that affects how blood vessels deliver blood to tissues throughout your body, including your penis. Other causes may include:
There are many available treatment options for ED, including medications, therapies and devices.
Ejaculation disorders are a type of sexual dysfunction that affects how semen leaves your body. The three main ejaculation disorders include:
Ejaculation disorders can have many different causes — some of them may relate to your thoughts or emotions (psychological), while others may relate to your nervous system (neurological). But treatment exists for each condition, ranging from making lifestyle changes and talking to a sex therapist to switching or starting medications.
Phimosis is when your foreskin is so tight that you can’t pull it back from the head of your penis. It’s normal in babies and younger children (physiological phimosis). But it should loosen with age. It can also develop from skin conditions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and injuries (pathological phimosis). Physiological phimosis usually doesn’t require treatment. Pathological phimosis treatment may include corticosteroid creams, gradually stretching the foreskin, surgery or circumcision.
Paraphimosis is when your foreskin pulls back toward your shaft, and you can’t bring it back to its position over the head of your penis. It’s a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment because it can cut off blood flow to your penis and cause permanent damage. A healthcare provider may make a slit in your foreskin to alleviate pressure and allow you to move your foreskin back over the tip of your penis. Or they may recommend circumcision.
Penile cancer is a rare type of cancer that most commonly starts on the head of your penis or foreskin. Healthcare providers and medical researchers aren’t sure what causes penile cancer. But risk factors include:
Common penile disease symptoms include:
Penile damage treatment depends on the cause and how severe your injury is. Mild damage to your penis might heal on its own without treatment. But more serious trauma may require surgery. A healthcare provider will review treatment options with you so you can make an informed decision.
It depends on what condition you have and its severity. Common treatment options include:
Regularly washing and properly drying your penis and the surrounding areas can help prevent:
You can’t prevent all penile disorders. But the following tips can help reduce your chances of developing some kinds of penile disorders:
Penile disorders can cause you to feel a wide range of emotions. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed about symptoms that affect such a sensitive part of their bodies. But treatment exists for many types of penile disorders. The outlook for your penile condition is better the sooner you talk to a healthcare provider.
You should go to a healthcare provider whenever you notice changes to your penis. These may include pain, discomfort or changes to your skin, erection, how you ejaculate or pee, or sexual desire (libido).
Go to the nearest emergency room if you have any symptoms of a penile emergency, including:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
It’s difficult for a lot of people to talk about problems with sensitive areas of their bodies. And the penis is no exception. But you shouldn’t feel embarrassed if you have symptoms that affect your penis. Treatments exist for most penile disorders. But for most conditions, seeing a healthcare provider as soon as possible is essential. The sooner you see a provider about your penile disorder symptoms, the sooner you can get a proper diagnosis and feel better.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/17/2023.
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