Symptoms and Signs of Penis Infection Caused by an STI


Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases passed along through sexual contact. While some are harmless, others can cause problems ranging from discomfort to cancer to AIDS.


Penile Symptoms of STI

STIs often cause symptoms that affect the penis or groin area. If you’re concerned by something you’ve noticed on your body, you should consult with a healthcare provider. In the meantime, however, look at this list of six possible symptoms that affect the penis. If any of them sound familiar, it may indicate that you’ve contracted an STI:

  • Discharge from the penis: A thick white, yellow, or green discharge from the tip of the penis may be a sign of gonorrhea, especially if you also experience pain in the urethra or pain with urination. Clear discharge may represent chlamydia.
  • Single sore on the penis: In primary syphilis, a hard, painless, dime-sized sore (sometimes compared to a button) appears on the penis. This is usually accompanied by a swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin.
  • Penile pain or discomfort: Pain, itchiness, or discomfort—often associated with urination—may be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Painful blisters or scabs on the penis: A cluster of painful or itchy red spots and small blisters on the penis may be a sign of genital herpes. Typically, the pain or itching comes first, followed a day or two later by the appearance of blisters. Herpes sores may also appear on the scrotum, thighs, and buttocks.
  • Brown flecks on the hair around the penis: If you find tiny grey-brown eggs on the shafts of your pubic hair, this may be a sign of infestation by pubic lice (also called “crabs”).
  • Red bumps on the penis and scrotum: A scabies infestation will cause red, itchy bumps and nodules, which typically appear in lines. Usually, similar lesions will also pop up elsewhere on your body.

Non-Genital Symptoms of STI

You should also know that many STIs have physical symptoms that manifest elsewhere on the body. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, even if it’s not on your genitals, it could still be an indication of an STI.

If you’re sexually active, familiarize yourself with all of the possible signs of the most common STIs. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the better able you’ll be to protect yourself and your partners.

What to Do

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call your healthcare provider right away and ask for an appointment so you can be tested and, in the event of a positive diagnosis, receive the appropriate treatment.

While awaiting diagnosis, you should use barrier protection (such as a condom) for any sexual activity. If a diagnosis is confirmed, be sure to alert any sexual partners. They may also need to be tested and treated. Be sure to engage in safe sex practices going forward, if you aren’t already.

Barrier contraceptive methods such as condoms can be incredibly effective when it comes to protecting against STIs.

Non-STI Penis Infections

Sometimes penis infections happen for other reasons too. You may have a yeast infection of the tip (glans) of the penis or foreskin called balanitis. Other possibilities include a urinary tract infection, or even penile cancer. Be sure to see your healthcare provider if you have any unusual symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the symptoms of a yeast infection in men?

    While yeast infections are usually thought of as a female condition, males can get them too. Some of the symptoms of a male yeast infection are burning during urination, sores on foreskin, itchiness, white and foul-smelling discharge, discomfort during sex, inflammation, and white, patchy skin.

  • Who is at the greatest risk of catching STIs?

    The groups most at risk vary depending on the sexually transmitted infection. Syphilis is more likely to occur in newborns, women, and men who have sex with men (MSM), whereas gonorrhea is most likely to occur in women and MSM, and chlamydia is most common in women. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, using forms of protection such as condoms and other safe-sex practices are essential to help prevent STIs.

  • How common are STDs?

    STDs are very common. There were 26 million total new infections reported in 2018, and most of these cases were younger people in the 15- and 24-year-old age range.

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