Penis Problems and Treatment
Men don’t tend to think about the workings of their penis or worry about taking particularly good care of it, which is surprising considering how detrimental to your health and mental health it can be when things go wrong.
In males of any age problems with the penis can occur. Good penis health goes beyond the ability to get and maintain an erection, ejaculate and reproduce.
An ongoing penile problem can also be a sign of an underlying health issue. So not only can problems with your penis affect your relationships and self esteem, they may also be a warning of something more serious.
The most important thing to do if you are experiencing any difficulties with the function of your penis is to seek medical advice as soon as possible. Often what starts as a small issue can quickly become a problem if not treated straight away.
We will discuss some of the more common problems associated with the penis, the symptoms and treatments available.
Caring for Your Penis
One of the most important things you can do to ensure the general health of your penis is to have good hygiene. Caring for your genitals and having a good routine will help to prevent skin irritations and some common infections.
You need to gently wash your penis daily, carefully pulling the foreskin back to clean beneath it. Even if you are circumcised, you still need to ensure the tip is cleaned. We recommend that you use just water or a very mild soap and do not scrub the tip.
Always gently pat dry the tip of your penis, the area under the foreskin and the rest of the penis. Make sure your foreskin is pulled back into place before you put on your clean and dry underwear.
It is advisable to wash your hands both prior to and after passing urine. Especially important if you have been handling substances that could cause irritation to your penis.
Always use protection when having sexual intercourse and get regular health checks, especially when you have a new partner.
As men age, their testosterone levels decrease. This along with lifestyle choices, such as a diet high in processed foods and fats and lack of exercise, factor in to causing problems with getting and keeping an erection.
Stress levels, alcohol abuse and certain drugs (prescription and non-prescription) also will affect your ability to maintain an erection.
The underlying causes of erectile dysfunction can be something more serious such as type 2 diabetes, or heart conditions, so it is always worth talking to your doctor if you are struggling. However, with a few simple lifestyle changes, like aerobic exercises and a healthy diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and good fats, you can usually help to turn the problem around.
There are also a variety of medications available such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, which all work in a similar way to help you achieve and maintain an erection. Cialis has the advantage of lasting for 36 hours, so it can be taken at any point and doesn’t require a planned time for intercourse. Whereas Viagra and Levitra are faster acting, but will need to be taken up to an hour before planned sexual activity.
The advantage of all these tablets is that they only work when you are sexually aroused and stimulated, but they will help to give you an erection and maintain it when required. All these medications should be prescribed by your doctor and should be checked against any current medication you are on before you take one.
An abnormal blood flow can cause priapism, which is where an erection lasts for more than four hours and is usually painful. The erection can happen without sexual arousal and to males of any age.
There are two main types of priapism:
Low-Flow or ischemic priapism is where the blood gets trapped in the erection chambers. There is not always a clear cause, but some men who suffer from sickle cell disease, leukaemia or malaria may be affected by low-flow. You should seek treatment right away as this can lead to scarring and permanent erectile dysfunction.
High-Flow or non-ischemic priapism is the more rare type and usually less painful. It is usually caused by an injury to either the penis or the perineum ruptures an artery preventing blood in the penis flowing normally.
You should seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible and after a thorough physical examination, he may do some follow up tests such as a blood test, an imaging test called a colour Doppler ultrasound or an X-ray called an arteriogram.
The treatment will be based around making the erection go down while preventing ED. Some of the options are:
Ice packs will help bring down swelling from high-flow priapism. You may need your doctor to drain some of the blood from your penis, this is done with a needle, to ease the swelling and pressure. Or you could be given medication, usually the doctor will inject a drug called alpha-agonists into your penis, but you may be able to take a tablet instead.
Peyronie’s disease is where the penis has hard, fibrous scar tissue, called plaques, in the shaft causing it to have an extreme curve when erect. It can make erections painful and make having sexual intercourse difficult.
Peyronie’s disease can take several months to develop or occur very quickly. It can also lead to ED. Doctors are not entirely sure what causes Peyronie’s disease, but it could be a genetic condition or be caused by an injury that has maybe gone unnoticed.
Treatment for the condition depends on the severity. It may just need observation, or medication and in some instances surgery. Mild cases may very well go away on their own and your doctor will often advise waiting 1-2 years.
You may be prescribed a pill such as pentoxifylline or potassium para-aminobenzoate (Potaba). If these are unsuccessful you could get a shot of verapamil or collagenase (Xiaflex) directly into the scar tissue of the penis.
There are a lot of different sexually transmitted diseases that range from irritating to very serious. The best thing is prevention, wear a condom, get regular health checks, and make sure your partner has health checks too. Some conditions are not necessarily caused by STI’s but they can be, such as Balanitis.
Balanitis presents itself as an irritating, burning red/orange rash. It affects the head of the penis and/or the foreskin causing inflammation and can be sexually transmitted. You may find that your penis is sore, itchy and smelly with a build-up of thick fluid and pain when passing urine. You may also have a tight foreskin that won’t pull back, phimosis.
Balanitis is easily treated by maintaining good hygiene and applying creams and ointments that your GP will recommend.
Syphilis is an STI that is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The initial symptom will usually be a round and painless ulcer on the penis or scrotum, but can spread if untreated to other parts of the body causing damage to many organs.
You will need a course of antibiotics to treat syphilis, so you should go to your doctor to get tested and treated.
Genital Warts present as pinkish-white, pinkish-brown or skin coloured cauliflower shaped lumps that have a moist surface. They can appear anywhere on the penis, scrotum, anus, in the mouth and throat too. This particular STI is caused by the human papilloma virus.
Treatment includes a cream or liquid that you or a doctor/nurse will apply every week for several weeks. It can cause soreness, irritation or a burning sensation. Surgery involves a doctor or nurse cutting, laser or burning the warts off which can cause irritation and scarring. Or freezing, the wart is frozen every week for 4 weeks, which again can cause soreness. Treatment can take weeks or months to work and the warts can still come back, in some cases the treatment doesn’t work at all.
Herpes is an STI that appears as small red bumps which develop into blisters which then rupture and form painful open sores and ulcers. The first episode of herpes is usually accompanied by a feverish illness.
There is no cure for herpes, the blisters will usually clear up by themselves, but can come back at any time. You can get antiviral medication to help stop the symptoms from getting worse and cream to treat the soreness. But you can get reoccurring outbreaks quite frequently and may need to take a prophylactic course of antiviral medication.
There are many problems that can occur with a penis, so it is worth learning how to look after it. While a lot of issues can be treated, they are not pleasant to experience. Don’t take the health of your penis for granted and get any issues seen to as soon as possible.