Sexual Health Monday August 22, 2011

Could inflammation of the penis and painful urination indicate an STI?

Inflammation of the penis and testicles accompanied by pain when urinating can be very worrying, not to mention uncomfortable. These symptoms aren't necessarily an indication of something serious or worrying, although it's still a good idea to get yourself checked, even if the inflammation is brief.

Men tend to be more likely to experience early symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection than women, so if you are experiencing symptoms such as genital pain, swelling and/or redness as well as a discharge and you think that an STI is likely to be the cause, it's a good idea to do a test. Blood when urinating and sores on and around the genital area are also often a tell tale sign of a sexually transmitted infection.

Sometimes STIs, more commonly bacterial ones like gonorrhoea and chlamydia, only start causing you discomfort when an infection has started doing 'damage', months or even years after contracting it. It's in these instances that men start noticing inflammation of the testicles or urethritis, which is inflammation of the tube that carries urine and semen from the body.

If an STI is not the reason for the genital inflammation, there may be other causes to consider such as lack of hygiene, irritants, seborrhoeic dermatitis, thrush, allergies, balanitis xerotica obliterans (a condition which causes scarring, discolouration and tightness of the foreskin), Reiter's Syndrome, diabetes and generalised skin infections. However, most of these conditions only cause inflammation of the glans (skin covering the head of the penis), something which is known as balanitis. Injuring the penis during sex is also a known cause inflammation of the groin area and urethritis.

Most of the causes of penile inflammation are highly treatable, but many men find it difficult to go to a doctor and discuss their health, let alone their sexual health. It is, however, important that you take the time to visit your doctor, or at the very least start off by completing a STI test to help you establish a probable cause. Taking care of an infection early, whether it's due to an STI or other health issue, can potentially help prevent future health problems or permanent damage to the reproductive system.

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