Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms

Topic Overview

Male genital problems and
injuries can occur fairly easily since the
scrotum and penis are not protected by bones. Genital
problems and injuries most commonly occur during:

  • Sports or recreational activities, such as
    mountain biking, soccer, or baseball.
  • Work-related tasks, such as
    exposure to irritating chemicals.
  • Falls.
  • Sexual activity.

A genital injury often causes severe pain that usually goes
away quickly without causing permanent damage. Home treatment is usually all
that is needed for minor problems or injuries. Pain, swelling, bruising, or
rashes that are present with other symptoms may be a cause for concern.

Male genital conditions

  • Testicular cancer. This is the most
    common cancer in men 15 to 35 years old. Testicular cancer is more common in
    white men than in black men. Many growths in the scrotum or testicles are not
    cancer (benign). But a painless lump in a testicle may be a sign of
  • An
    erection problem. This may occur when blood vessels
    that supply the penis are injured. A man may not be able to have an erection
    (erectile dysfunction), or the erection may not go away naturally (priapism),
    which is a medical emergency.
  • Torsion of a testicle. This occurs when a testicle twists on the spermatic cord and
    cuts off the blood supply to the testicle. This is a medical emergency.
  • Scrotal problems. These problems may include a painless buildup of
    fluid around one or both testicles (hydrocele) or
    an enlarged vein (varicose vein) in the scrotum (varicocele).
    Usually these are minor problems but may need to be evaluated by your doctor.
  • Problems with the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis. Conditions
    that make it hard to pull the foreskin back from the head of the penis
    (phimosis) or that prevent a tightened, retracted
    foreskin from returning to its normal position over the head of the penis
    (paraphimosis) need to be evaluated.
  • Hypospadias. This is a common birth defect where the
    urethra does not extend to the tip of the
  • Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism).
    This occurs when one or both testicles have not moved down into the
  • An
    inguinal hernia. A hernia occurs when a small portion
    of the bowel bulges out through the inguinal canal into the
  • A
    kidney stone. A stone forms from minerals in urine
    that crystallize and harden. Kidney stones are usually painless while they
    remain in the kidney. But they can cause severe pain as they break loose and
    travel through narrow tubes to exit the body.
  • A
    sebaceous cyst. A cyst that is filled with a
    cheeselike, greasy material may develop beneath the outer layer of the skin in
    the scrotum.


Infections can occur in any area of the
genitals, including:

You may notice blood in the semen. Infection or inflammation is the most common cause of blood in the semen.


Rashes in the groin area have
many causes, such as ringworm or yeast. Most rashes
can be treated at home.

A rash may be the first symptom of a
sexually transmitted infection (STI). If you may have
been exposed to an STI, do not have sexual contact or activity until you have
been evaluated by your doctor. This will reduce the risk of spreading a
possible infection to your sex partner. Your sex partner may also need to be
evaluated and treated.

Male genital problems may be related to whether or not the
penis is circumcised. For more information, see
the topic

Little boys may play with
toys or other objects near their penis and accidentally cause an injury.
Anything wrapped around the penis or an object in the penis needs immediate
evaluation to avoid problems.

If you use a urinary catheter to
drain your bladder, your doctor will give you instructions on when to call to
report problems. Be sure to follow the instructions your doctor gave

Check your symptoms to decide if and when you
should see a doctor.

Check Your Symptoms

Do you have a problem in the genital area?
This includes problems with the penis or scrotum.
Problem in the genital area
Problem in the genital area
How old are you?
Less than 12 years
Less than 12 years
12 years or older
12 years or older
Are you male or female?
Do you have problems with urination?
Problems with urination
Problems with urination
Have you injured your scrotum or penis?
Injury to scrotum or penis
Injury to scrotum or penis
Is there a deep cut or has any part of the penis or scrotum been cut off?
Deep cut or amputation
Deep cut or amputation
Have you had trouble getting an erection since the injury?
Impotence after injury
Impotence after injury
Do you have pain in the groin area?
This includes the penis and scrotum.
Pain in groin area
Pain in groin area
How bad is the pain on a scale of 0 to 10, if 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine?
8 to 10: Severe pain
Severe pain
5 to 7: Moderate pain
Moderate pain
1 to 4: Mild pain
Mild pain
Has the pain:
Gotten worse?
Pain is getting worse
Stayed about the same (not better or worse)?
Pain is unchanged
Gotten better?
Pain is getting better
Do you have any urinary symptoms?
Urinary symptoms
Urinary symptoms
Are you able to urinate at all?
Able to urinate
Unable to urinate
Do you have pain on one side of your back, just below your rib cage?
This is called flank pain. It sometimes is a symptom of a problem with the kidneys.
Flank pain
Flank pain
Do you think you may have a fever?
Possible fever
Possible fever
Are there any symptoms of infection?
Symptoms of infection
Symptoms of infection
Are there red streaks leading away from the area or pus draining from it?
Red streaks or pus
Red streaks or pus
Do you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, peripheral arterial disease, or any surgical hardware in the area?
“Hardware” includes things like artificial joints, plates or screws, catheters, and medicine pumps.
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area
Is there any new discharge coming from the opening of the penis?
This could be pus, blood, a clear discharge, or bloody semen.
Discharge from penis
Discharge from penis
Is the only problem blood in your semen?
Blood in semen
Blood in semen
Do you think that the genital problem may have been caused by abuse?
Genital problem may have been caused by abuse
Genital problem may have been caused by abuse
Is there an object around or in the penis or scrotum?
Foreign object around or in penis or scrotum
Foreign object around or in penis or scrotum
Do you have an erection that has lasted more than 3 hours and will not go away?
Erection lasting more than 3 hours
Erection lasting more than 3 hours
Is there a problem with the foreskin of the penis?
Problem with foreskin
Problem with foreskin
Is the foreskin pulled back, swollen, or blocking the flow of urine?
Foreskin is pulled back, swollen, or blocking flow of urine
Foreskin is pulled back, swollen, or blocking flow of urine
Can you return the foreskin to its normal position?
Able to return foreskin to normal position
Unable to return foreskin to normal position
Are you having new trouble pulling back the foreskin?
New problem retracting foreskin
New problem retracting foreskin
Do you think you may have been exposed to an STI (sexually transmitted infection)?
This means that you had sexual contact (including oral sex) with someone that you know or think has an STI.
Exposure to STI
Exposure to STI
Is there a rash in the groin area?
This could include a rash, blisters, or an open sore in the groin area.
Rash in groin area
Rash in groin area
Does the rash hurt?
Painful rash
Painful rash
Is the rash very itchy?
Very itchy rash
Very itchy rash
Are there blisters on the penis?
Blisters on penis
Blisters on penis
Do you have an open sore?
Open sore
Open sore
Is there a lump, a bulge, or any swelling or other changes in your testicle, scrotum, or groin area?
Lump, bulge, swelling or other change in testicle, scrotum, or groin area
Lump, bulge, swelling or other change in testicle, scrotum, or groin area
Is the lump, bulge, or swelling new or changing?
Lump, bulge, or swelling is new or changing
Lump, bulge, or swelling is new or changing
Have you had problems in the genital area for more than 2 weeks?
Genital problems for more than 2 weeks
Genital problems for more than 2 weeks

Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:

  • Your age. Babies and older
    adults tend to get sicker quicker.
  • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart
    disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care
  • Medicines you take. Certain
    medicines, herbal remedies, and supplements can cause symptoms or make them
  • Recent health events, such as surgery
    or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them
    more serious.
  • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug
    use, sexual history, and travel.

Try Home Treatment

You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.

  • Try home treatment to relieve the
  • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any
    concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect).
    You may need care sooner.

Symptoms of infection may

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or
    around the area.
  • Red streaks leading from the area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • A fever.

Pain in adults and older children

  • Severe pain (8 to 10): The pain
    is so bad that you can’t stand it for more than a few hours, can’t sleep, and
    can’t do anything else except focus on the pain.
  • Moderate pain (5 to 7): The pain is bad enough to disrupt your
    normal activities and your sleep, but you can tolerate it for hours or days.
    Moderate can also mean pain that comes and goes even if it’s severe when it’s
  • Mild pain (1 to 4): You notice the pain,
    but it is not bad enough to disrupt your sleep or activities.

Urinary symptoms may include:

  • Pain when you urinate.
  • Trouble
  • Not being able to urinate at all.
  • Blood in
    your urine.

Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:

  • Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease,
    and HIV/AIDS.
  • Long-term alcohol and drug
  • Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety
    of conditions.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for
  • Other medicines used to treat autoimmune
  • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
  • Not
    having a spleen.

Seek Care Now

Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

  • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and
    arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have
    one, seek care in the next hour.
  • You do not need to call an
    ambulance unless:

    • You cannot travel safely either by driving
      yourself or by having someone else drive you.
    • You are in an area
      where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

Make an Appointment

Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the
    next 1 to 2 weeks.
  • If appropriate, try home treatment while you
    are waiting for the appointment.
  • If symptoms get worse or you have
    any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.

Seek Care Today

Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.

  • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms
    and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t
    have one, seek care today.
  • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and
    seek care in the morning.
  • If the symptoms get worse, seek care

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need
emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

Urinary Problems and Injuries, Age 11 and Younger
Urinary Problems and Injuries, Age 12 and Older

Home Treatment

Home treatment measures can help
relieve pain, swelling, and bruising and promote healing after a genital
injury. These home treatment measures also may be helpful for noninjury
problems. But if you think you may have a more severe injury, use first
aid measures while you arrange for an evaluation by your doctor.

Home treatment for a minor injury

  • Rest. Rest and protect
    an injured or sore area.
  • Ice.
    Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an
    ice or cold pack immediately to reduce swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack
    for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. A bag of frozen peas or corn
    may work as a cold pack. Protect your skin from frostbite by placing a cloth
    between the ice and the skin. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply
    warmth to the area.
  • Support. While recovering from a genital injury, wear jockey
    shorts, not boxers, to help support the injured area. You can use a jock strap
    if it helps relieve your pain.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try a nonprescription
medicine to help treat your fever or pain:

Talk to your child’s doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.

Safety tips
Be sure to follow these
safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions
    on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not take more than the
    recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an
    allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If
    you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take
  • If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other
    than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Home treatment measures may also be helpful for:

  • Yeast infections that cause a fiery red
    rash with a scalloped border and sharply outlined edges in skin folds.
  • Jock itch, which is a fungus (ringworm)
    infection of the skin that may cause a rash and blisters.
  • Minor cuts or skin wounds with mild bleeding.
  • A
    lump on the scrotal skin, such as a sebaceous cyst.
  • Minor rashes that are red and itchy. These may be caused by contact with a
    substance (contact dermatitis), such as poison ivy, that causes an allergic

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home

  • Signs of an infection develop, such as
    swelling, redness, fever, or pus.
  • Urinary symptoms, such as burning with urination, blood in urine, or frequent urination,
  • A rash gets
    worse or has not improved.
  • Symptoms
    become more severe or frequent.


The following prevention measures may help
you reduce your risk of problems in the genital area. If you find a lump,
growth, or other change in the genital area, check your symptoms to determine if and when you need to see your doctor.

Testicular self-exam

You may want to do a
testicular self-exam once a month. The best time to do
the exam is after a warm bath or shower when the scrotal skin is

Male teens, young men, and men who have had
undescended testicles or a family history of
testicular cancer have an increased risk for
developing testicular cancer.

If you are concerned about an
undescended testicle in your baby, talk to your baby’s doctor.

Prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

You can
take measures to reduce your risk of becoming infected with a
sexually transmitted infection (STI). You can also
reduce the risk of transmitting an STI to your sex partner. Know
high-risk behaviors and the
symptoms of STIs.

Delay sexual
until you are prepared both physically and emotionally to have sex.
Nearly two-thirds of all STIs occur in people younger than 25 years old.
Sexually active
teenagers are at high risk for STIs because they
frequently have unprotected sex and have multiple partners. Biological changes
during the teen years also may increase the risk of getting an STI.

Practice safer sex

Preventing a sexually transmitted
infection (STI) is easier than treating an infection once it occurs.

  • Talk with your partner about STIs before
    beginning a sexual relationship. Find out if he or she is at risk for an STI.
    Remember that it is quite possible to be infected with an STI without knowing
    it. Some STIs, such as
    HIV, can take up to 6 months before they can be
    detected in the blood. Ask about the following:

    • How many sex partners has your new
      potential partner had?
    • What
      high-risk behaviors does he or she
    • Has he or she ever had an STI?
    • Was it treated and
    • If the STI is not curable, what is the best way to protect
  • Be responsible and practice safer sex.
    • Avoid sexual contact or activity if you
      symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an
    • Avoid sexual contact or activity with anyone who has symptoms
      of an STI or who may have been exposed to an STI.
  • Abstain from sexual intercourse to prevent any
    exposure to STIs.
  • Don’t have more than one sex partner at a time.
    Your risk of an STI increases if you have several sex partners at the same


Condoms can be used not only to prevent
pregnancy but also to help protect against
sexually transmitted infections. Use a condom during
vaginal, oral, or anal sex with a new partner until you are certain that he or
she does not have any sexually transmitted infections, including human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A male condom is placed over a man’s erect penis before sex. Condoms are also called “rubbers,” “sheaths,” or “skins.”

The female condom is a tube of soft plastic (polyurethane) that has a closed end. Each end has a ring or rim. The ring at the closed end is inserted deep into the woman’s vagina over the cervix, like a diaphragm, to hold the tube in place. The ring at the open end remains outside the opening of the vagina.

In a long-term, single-partner (monogamous) relationship,
partners may choose to quit using condoms to prevent STIs. But using some
form of birth control is important to prevent an unintended pregnancy.

Jock itch and yeast infection

Steps to prevent
jock itch (fungal infection of the skin in the groin) or
yeast infection (cutaneous candidiasis) include the

  • Dry yourself well after bathing. Use a hair
    dryer to dry your groin area.
  • Wear cotton underwear and
    loose-fitting clothes. Avoid tight pants.
  • Use a powder to absorb
  • If you have athlete’s foot, put your socks on before your
    underwear. This can prevent fungi from spreading from your feet to your groin
    when you put on your underwear.
  • Change out of a wet bathing suit
    soon after swimming so that your skin can dry out.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the
following questions.

Before your appointment

  • If you have a genital rash, do not have sexual
    contact or activity while waiting for your appointment. This will reduce the
    risk of transmitting a possible infection to your partner. If you do have an
    STI, your sex partner or partners need to be evaluated and treated also.

Questions to prepare for your doctor appointment

  • What are your main symptoms? How long have you
    had your symptoms?
  • Have you had this problem before? If so, do you
    know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated?
  • What
    activities make your symptoms better or worse? What sports do you participate
  • How and when did an injury occur? How was it
  • Have you had any injuries in the past to the same area? Do
    you have any continuing problems because of the previous
  • Have you had infections or rashes in the genital area in
    the past?
  • Do you engage in
    high-risk sexual behaviors? Do you think you have been
    exposed to a
    sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
  • Does
    your sex partner have any genital symptoms or problems?
  • Have you
    had any genital surgeries or procedures?
  • Do you perform testicular
    self-examination? How often?
  • What home treatment measures have you
    tried? Did they help?
  • What prescription and nonprescription
    medicines have you taken? Did they help?
  • Do you have any
    health risks?


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP – Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofMarch 20, 2017