Penis Discharge

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What is penis discharge?

Penis discharge occurs when fluid leaks from your penis. Both the thickness and color (milky white, greenish, or yellow) of the discharge may vary. The discharge may result from an infection, including a sexually transmitted infection. Urethritis is the term used to refer to inflammation of the urethra due to any cause, which is often accompanied by penis discharge.

Penis discharge can be accompanied by bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria), itching, rash, redness, or swelling. Penis discharge can be extremely uncomfortable and create difficulty with daily living, sexual relations, and urination. In addition to symptoms in and around your penis, it can occur with flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches and pains) and poor health in general.

Balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin in uncircumcised boys or men, which is due to poor hygiene, infection, or irritation, may be associated with penis discharge.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have penis discharge accompanied by high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), redness and swelling spreading into the groin, or severe testicular pain. Penis discharge is usually not an emergency, but it may be a sign of a disease that can be transmitted to others. Seek prompt medical care if symptoms persist or cause you concern.

What other symptoms might occur with penis discharge?

Penis discharge may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Genitourinary symptoms that may occur along with penis discharge

Penis discharge may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitourinary system including:

Other symptoms that may occur along with penis discharge

Penis discharge may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, penis discharge can be a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have penis discharge with any of these serious symptoms:

  • High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Redness and swelling spreading into the groin
  • Severe testicular pain

What causes penis discharge?

Penis discharge can have a number of different causes. Evaluating other symptoms in conjunction with this condition can help a health care practitioner identify the cause.

Sexually transmitted diseases are one cause of these symptoms. Certain sexually transmitted infections cause urethritis (urethral inflammation that may produce pus or discharge), including chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Men who are uncircumcised (who have the foreskin remaining around the penis) are prone to balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin due to poor hygiene, irritants from soaps or detergents, or infection.

Sexually transmitted causes of penis discharge

Penis discharge may be caused by sexually transmitted diseases including:

Other causes of penis discharge

Penis discharge can also be caused by the following:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin)
  • Chemical irritation caused by soaps, spermicides, or bath products
  • Dermatitis
  • Priapism (sustained erection that is painful)
  • Penile cancer
  • Urinary tract infections

Questions for diagnosing the cause of penis discharge

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your penis discharge including:

  • How long have you had the discharge?
  • Does it hurt to urinate or ejaculate?
  • Have you experienced this before?
  • Have you noticed a rash or bumps around your genitals?
  • Do you have any other symptoms such as itching?
  • Have you started using any new detergents or soaps?
  • Are you sexually active? Are you having unprotected sex, or do you have multiple partners?
  • What medications are you taking?

What are the potential complications of penis discharge?

Because penis discharge can be due to serious diseases, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Difficulty with or inability to retract the foreskin
  • Scarring and narrowing of the opening of the penis
  • Scarring of the penis
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 6
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Balanitis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  2. Genital problems in men.