eg. How do you approach an STD test with a new partner?

STD Symptoms in Men

While many STDs present mild or no symptoms in both men and women, it is important for men to recognize the potential signs of infection. Commonly, men first recognize a possible STD because of sores or rashes on or around the genitals, unusual discharge from the penis, or itching or discomfort in the genital area. Symptoms can take a few days or a few weeks to develop, so it’s important to be tested regularly, especially after unprotected sex.

Common STD Symptoms in Men

  • No symptoms
  • Spots, bumps, blisters, or lesions on or around the penis
  • Discharge (clear, white, or yellow)
  • Painful urination or ejaculation
  • Itching on the tip of the penis
  • Rash on the penis, testicles, or groin

Uncommon Symptoms in Men

  • Fever or other flu-like symptoms
  • Sore throat (after oral sex)
  • Painful or swollen testicles
  • Swelling of the epididymis, a duct in the testes (known as Epididymitis)
  • Swelling of the urethra (known as urethritis)
  • Swelling of non-sexual joints (elbow, knee, etc.)
  • Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding (after receiving anal sex)

Dealing with Possible Symptoms

Pimple on Penis: If you find a pimple on your penis, it is important to keep the area clean and not pop or squeeze the pimple. If it does not clear up or show signs of infection, you should have a health care provider examine it.

  • STDs You Might Confuse with a Pimple: While many STDs do not present symptoms, genital warts, some strains of HPV, and herpes can sometimes be mistaken for a pimple or ingrown hair on or around the penis.
  • Possible Causes of a Pimple on Penis:
    • Hirsutoid papillomas (Pearly penile papules): These are flesh-colored, spiny bumps, found in a ring around the edge of the penis head. They are benign and do not disappear, but are neither contagious nor a result of an STD.
    • Folliculitis: This condition is caused by infected hair follicles, resulting in blocked oil glands or pimples. They usually go away on their own.
    • Pimple: Sometimes a pimple is just a pimple.
    • Razor Burn: Razor burn sometimes occurs after shaving due to ingrown hairs or bacterial infection.
    • Staph infections: While uncommon, a genital staph infection can result from a nick or cut allowing the bacteria to enter the body, causing a boil to form. Staph is not an STD but is contagious. Tiny nicks or cuts caused by razors allow the bacteria to enter the body, causing a pus-filled boil to form. Staph is a contagious infection, but is not an STD. Treatment with antibiotics is necessary as staph can lead to serious health problems, including death.

The only way to know if a penis pimple is not related to an infection is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider. If a penis pimple does not go away on its own or looks infected, make an appointment right away.

Penis Bumps: Sores or bumps on the penis are often the first possible STD symptom that men notice. There are a range of issues that are associated with bumps on the penis, some of which are STDs and some are not.

Penis Bumps and Their Causes (not associated with an STD)

  • Allergic reactions to soap or lubricants
  • Blocked oil glands
  • Friction from clothing
  • Infected hair follicles
  • Ingrown hairs
  • Irritation from cosmetic products (shaving cream/body wash)
  • Friction from rubbing against clothing

STDs Associated with Penis Bumps

  • Herpes: Herpes can cause sores or bumps on or around the penis. The bumps usually form in tight clusters and look like blisters. They can be painful or itchy and usually clear up in a few weeks.
  • HPV: Some strains of HPV can cause genital warts. Genital warts are usually flesh-colored, painless, and can form in clusters.

If you discover bumps on your penis that do not clear up and you have had unprotected sex, you should get tested for an STD. A test is the only way to know for sure whether you are infected or not.

Penile Discharge: Penile discharge can vary in color and texture, from clear to white or yellow and from being watery or thick. Penile discharge can be the result of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or an STD.

  • UTI Infections are the result of an infection of some part of the urinary system, such as the kidneys, urethra or bladder. Along with discharge, UTIs may cause burning or a painful sensation during urination.
  • Chlamydia can cause penile discharge in men, in addition to pain or swelling in the testicles as well as pain during urination.
  • Gonorrhea can cause green, yellow, or white penile discharge in addition to other symptoms such as pain or swelling in the testicles or a burning sensation during urination.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium is caused by bacteria that affects the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. It can lead to swelling and inflammation of the urethra and penile discharge.
  • Ureaplasma is an STD similar to mycoplasma genitalium that can cause penile discharge, the urge to urinate frequently, and painful or burning urination.

Penile discharge is not a normal occurrence, so if you experience it, you likely have some sort of infection. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get it checked out.

Spots on Penis can be the result of a variety of issues:

  • Blisters or lesions are red, fluid-filled sacks or spots, that often appear in small groups. If they are painful, they can be a symptom of herpes.
  • Concave bumps might be red, shiny, and/or flesh-toned spots that are sunken in. These are distinctive characteristics of molluscum contagiosum, which can spread through sexual contact.
  • Hirsutoid papillomas (Pearly penile papules): These are flesh-colored, spiny bumps, found in a ring around the edge of the penis head. They are benign and do not disappear, but are neither contagious nor a result of an STD.
  • Raised itchy bumps may be the result of mites, which can cause bites in the groin or genitals or other areas of the body. Mites can be passed through close or sexual contact with an infected individual.
  • Red ulcers without pain are known as chancres. Syphilis can cause chancres in its initial stage. Although they disappear, the infection is still present in the body.
  • Warts are flesh-colored growths that usually appear in groups. Although they are not painful, they are contagious and can be transmitted through sexual contact.

Genital warts, herpes, and syphilis are STDs that can potentially cause spot-like symptoms on the penis. The only way to know if you have an STD is to get tested.

Penis Rashes can be the result of a number of things, not just STDs. Penis rashes can result from irritation due to clothing, soap, or lubricants, pubic lice, or a fungus.

  • Balanitis is swelling of the foreskin or tip of the penis. This is a condition that is more common in uncircumcised men and is a painful condition caused by bacterial growth in the area. It is often the result of poor hygiene or the use of perfumed soaps that may not be fully rinsed off during shower.
  • Contact Dermatitis is caused by a reaction to a new detergent, soap, or other skincare product. It is characterized by itchy, red skin. It also sometimes results from contact with latex gloves or condoms, cosmetic chemicals or poison oak or ivy.
  • Jock Itch is a fungal infection caused by staying in sweat-soaked clothing too long. While it is often associated with athletes, anyone can get it. Symptoms include redness, itching, flaking skin, rash, altered skin color, and a burning sensations and can occur on the groin, thighs, or lower abdomen.
  • Razor Burn sometimes occurs after shaving due to ingrown hairs or bacterial infection.
  • Psoriasis is characterized by red, shiny patches of skin on the penis or genitals
  • Yeast Infection is also an overgrowth of fungus and can cause a red rash on the penis and itching on the tip of the penis. It is more common in uncircumcised men.

Scabies (or mites) and syphilis are STDs that can cause rashes on or around the genitals. However, the only way to know if you have an STD for sure is through getting tested by a professional healthcare provider.

Testicle Swelling can be caused by a large variety of factors, not all of which are STDs:

  • Epididymitis is inflammation of the tube along the back of the testicles; both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause epididymitis.
  • Hydrocele is when fluid accumulates around the testicle. It is sometimes characterized by redness, pain, or swelling and is usually the result of an injury or infection.
  • Inguinal hernia is when a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap in the tissue between the abdomen and groin region. A hernia might cause a lump in the groin area and can potentially lead to swelling in the testicles.
  • Orchitis is a bacterial or viral infection in which one or both testicles are inflamed.
  • Spermatoceles are cysts that form on the epididymis. They are painless fluid-filled bumps that are generally painless.
  • Testicle injuries can lead to pain and swelling.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors at apear in the testicular tissue and can sometimes cause swelling or pain.
  • Testicular torsion occurs when the testicular sac becomes rotated or twisted, cutting off blood flow. Seek medical attention immediately if this occurs as the lack of blood can cause serious damage to the testicle.
  • Varicoceles are enlarged veins running alongside the spermatic chord in the scrotum. While varicoceles are often painless, with time they can cause problems with sperm production.

Testicular pain can result from a variety of things, not just STDs. Injuries and other kinds of bacterial or viral infections might cause pain in the testicles. The only way to determine the cause for sure is to have it checked out by a healthcare professional. Some possible causes include:

  • Epididymitis is inflammation of the tube along the back of the testicles; both chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause epididymitis.
  • Hydrocele is when fluid accumulates around the testicle. It is sometimes characterized by redness, pain, or swelling and is usually the result of an injury or infection.
  • Inguinal hernia is when a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap in the tissue between the abdomen and groin region. A hernia might cause a lump in the groin area and can potentially lead to swelling in the testicles.
  • Orchitis is a bacterial or viral infection in which one or both testicles are inflamed.
  • Spermatoceles are cysts that form on the epididymis. They are painless fluid-filled bumps that are generally painless.
  • Testicle injuries can lead to pain and swelling.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors at apear in the testicular tissue and can sometimes cause swelling or pain.
  • Testicular torsion occurs when the testicular sac becomes rotated or twisted, cutting off blood flow. Seek medical attention immediately if this occurs as the lack of blood can cause serious damage to the testicle.
  • Varicoceles are enlarged veins running alongside the spermatic chord in the scrotum. While varicoceles are often painless, with time they can cause problems with sperm production.

Testicular lumps can result from injuries, infections, or the growing of a mass. Some possible causes for lumps in the testicles include:

  • Hydrocele is when fluid accumulates around the testicle. It is sometimes characterized by redness, pain, or swelling and is usually the result of an injury or infection.
  • Inguinal hernia is when a portion of the intestines pushes through a gap in the tissue between the abdomen and groin region. A hernia might cause a lump in the groin area and can potentially lead to swelling in the testicles.
  • Spermatoceles are cysts that form on the epididymis. They are painless fluid-filled bumps that are generally painless.
  • Testicular cancer presents itself as tumors at apear in the testicular tissue and can sometimes cause swelling or pain.
  • Varicoceles are enlarged veins running alongside the spermatic chord in the scrotum. While varicoceles are often painless, with time they can cause problems with sperm production.

If you find a lump on your testicles, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get it checked out right away. Testicular cancer is easier to treat when discovered early on, so it is important to have any unusual lumps on your testicles examined.

Back to STD Symptoms

Last updated on January 12th, 2017

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