Penis Problems

Balantis, Priapism, Cancer, Erectile Dysfunction

Penile Problems


Balanitis is a blanket term that is used to describe inflammation of the skin covering the glans of the penis (ie the head of the penis). It is most commonly caused by a lack of personal hygiene, especially in young boys with tight foreskins who are not or who cannot clean their penises sufficiently to remove the smegma build up, which can lead to irritation (see phimosis).

It can also be caused by:

Treatment is made according to the underlying cause, which may be diagnosed via a skin swab, urine sample, patch testing (for suspected allergies) and biopsy in the case of suspected Erythroplasia of Queyrat.

Cancer of the Penis

Cancer of the penis is very rare, with about 400 men each year diagnosed with it in the UK. More common cancers such as cancer of the prostate occur nine times more frequently.

Men who have been infected with HPV - Human Papilloma Virus - are at an increased risk of developing cancer of the penis. Genital warts are caused by a different variant of the HPV virus which is associated with cancer of the cervix. There are over 100 different variants of the HPV virus, which are identified uniquely by a number. Men who have HPV 16 or HPV 18 have been shown to have an increased risk of cancer of the penis, although there may yet be an undiscovered relationship between other variants and penile cancer.

It would follow if that if you have unprotected sex with a lot of different partners, you have an increased risk of developing cancer of the penis.

Researchers have also found a link between smoking cigarettes and cancer of the penis. It is believed that chemicals found in cigarettes can damage the DNA in penis cells to make developing cancer more likely.

Cancer of the penis usually occurs in men over the age of 60, and rarely in those under 40.

Men who are circumcised are at a reduced risk of developing cancer of the penis, with the best protection obtained by those who are circumcised at birth. When men are circumcised as adults, their risk of penile cancer is not lower than that of the general population. There could possibly be two explanations for this reduction:

Symptoms of cancer of the penis include:

If the cancer advances untreated, you may also suffer bone pain, weight loss, stomach pain, tiredness and swollen lymph nodes in the groin.

If you have any of the symptoms of cancer of the penis, see your doctor without delay as a complete cure is more likely when the cancer is detected early. Most penile cancers are curable.

Erectile Dysfunction

This is the inability to achieve an erection, or the inability to maintain an erection for enough time for satisfactory sexual intercourse to take place. This condition is commonly treated with drugs in suitable patients.


Hypospadius is a congenital abnomality of the penis, whereby the urethra opens on the underside of the penis instead of at the end of the penis. This causes no problems for babies in nappies, but becomes more apparent when the child has difficulty directing the stream of urine into a urinal. The child may need to sit on the toilet instead. Complications of this disorder can include chordee which causes the penis to bend and may make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible.

Very mild cases may not need correcting at all. More severe cases can be surgically corrected, with most surgeons recommending that the child be operated on before the age of two.


Paraphimosis is a painful condition whereby the already retracted foreskin can't be pulled back over the head of the penis. Try to ease the foreskin back over the glans by reducing the swelling in the glans using ice or manual compression. If your efforts fail, consult a urologist immediately. This condition is a medical emergency and should not be left untreated, as failure to remove the constricting band of foreskin can cause the penis head to become necrotic (die).

Peyronie's Disease

Peyronie's disease is characterised by a hard lump on the penis, called a plaque. The plaque forms in the erectile tissue of the penis, and symptoms range from mild to severe. Symptoms can appear over time or overnight, and include pain, forced bending of the penis during an erection and reduced flexibility in the penis. This condition may make sexual intercourse difficult or impossible.

The cause of this disease is not known, but it may be linked to a previous penile trauma or an inherited gene.

Many cases of Peyronie's heal without treatment in a few months. However, when sexual intercourse becomes impossible, surgery may be considered. However, experts suggest waiting at least two years to see if the condition will spontaneouly resolve.


Priapism is a prolonged, painful erection in a penis that will not return to its flaccid state. It is caused by trapped blood in the penis and is not necessarily related to sexual stimulation. The causes are varied and can include conditions of the blood, damage to the spinal chord, certain medicines, illegal drugs and the incorrect use of erectile dysfunction drugs.

An erection that lasts more than four hours should be diagnosed and treated by a doctor as soon as possible. Treatment methods include decongestant medications, manual release of blood from the penis using a needle and syringe or rarely surgery.


Phimosis is a condition where the foreskin cannot be completely retracted over the glans of the penis. This is normal in babies and young boys, but as the child grows it is expected that the foreskin will retract over the head of the penis. The foreskin should not be forceably retracted. Often, full retractability does not occur until the teens, although adults with a none retractable foreskin are considered to have phimosis. Many teenagers find their foreskins become much looser once they start to masturbate.

Once phimosis has been diagnosed by your doctor, treatment options include:


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