What is penis swelling?
The sensation of swelling in, on or around your penis may cause it to feel red, inflamed and tender. It may be warm to the touch. Infection is a common cause of swelling and inflammation. The swelling of infection or inflammation must be differentiated from the normal swelling (erection) of the penis that occurs during the sexual response.
Penis swelling can be accompanied by bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria), itching, rash, redness, or discomfort. Penis swelling 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) or poor health in general.
Balanitis, an inflammation of the foreskin in uncircumcised boys and men—a condition often caused by poor hygiene, infection, or irritation—may also be associated with penis swelling.
Seek immediate medical care if you have penis swelling accompanied by high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), redness spreading into the groin, or severe testicular pain. Penis swelling 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 swelling?
Penis swelling may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.
Genitourinary symptoms that may occur along with penis swelling
Penis swelling may accompany other symptoms that affect the genitourinary system including:
- Blood in the semen
- Bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria)
- Difficult or painful urination (dysuria)
- Frequent urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Pain or tenderness
- Painful ejaculation
- Redness, warmth or swelling
Other symptoms that may occur along with penis swelling
Penis swelling may accompany symptoms that are related to other body systems including:
Enlarged lymph nodes
Itchy skin elsewhere on the body
Rash in other regions of the body
Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition
In some cases, penis swelling may occur with other symptoms that might indicate 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 swelling along with other serious symptoms such as:
- High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Redness and swelling spreading into the groin
- Severe testicular pain
What causes penis swelling?
Penis swelling has a number of different causes, and evaluating other symptoms in conjunction with it can help identify the cause.
Certain sexually transmitted diseases can cause penis swelling. Some sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia and gonorrhea, cause urethritis (urethral inflammation that may produce pus or discharge). Other sexually transmitted diseases can cause direct ulcers or skin lesions that may be associated with swelling.
Men and boys 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 swelling
Penis swelling may be caused by sexually transmitted diseases including:
- Genital warts (human papillomavirus, or HPV, infection)
- Trichomonas vaginalis
Other causes of penis swelling
Penis swelling can also be caused by:
- Allergic reactions
- Balanitis (inflammation of the foreskin)
- Fournier’s gangrene (severe spreading groin infection)
- Penile cancer
- Peyronie’s disease (presence of a lump that causes a bent penis)
- Priapism (sustained erection that is painful)
Questions for diagnosing the cause of penis swelling
To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your penis swelling including:
How long have you felt the swelling?
Does it hurt to urinate or ejaculate?
Have you experienced this before?
Have you noticed a rash around your genitals?
Do you have any other symptoms, such as discharge or 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 swelling?
Because penis swelling 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