A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a variety of symptoms, including temporary urinary incontinence.
UTIs are very common. According to the Urology Care Foundation, around 60% of fema...
Male discharge is any fluid that comes from the urethra other than urine.
The urethra is a narrow tube that carries urine from the bladder and semen from the ejaculatory ducts. These fluids travel along the urethra before exiting the body at the urethral opening in the tip of the penis.
Some types of discharge are natural and help protect or lubricate the penis. Others may occur as a result of an underlying health condition.
These may be accompanied by symptoms such as pain, irritation, or an unpleasant smell.
This article describes the types of penile discharge that doctors consider normal and those they consider to be abnormal. We outline the symptoms associated with each and provide information on when to see a doctor.
What is normal discharge?
Preejaculate and ejaculate are part of normal discharge.
Normal discharge includes preejaculate and ejaculate. These are released from the tip of the penis during sexual arousal and intercourse.
Although not strictly penile discharge, smegma is another substance that may build up around the head of the penis.
The sections below will cover these types of normal male discharge in more detail.
Preejaculatory fluid, or precum, is a thick alkaline mucus produced in the bulbourethral glands. The bulbourethral glands, or Cowper’s glands, are two pea-sized glands located below the prostate gland.
During sexual stimulation, the bulbourethral glands secrete up to 4 milliliters (ml) of preejaculate into the urethra.
Preejaculatory fluid may:
function as a lubricant for semen
lubricate the tip of the penis during intercourse
neutralize acidity left by urine residue in the urethra
neutralize vaginal acidity
Whereas the bulbourethral glands release preejaculatory fluid, it is the testes that release sperm. Nonetheless, a 2011 study found that some preejaculate contains live sperm. Preejaculatory samples from the participants contained up to 23 million sperm.
Researchers are not sure whether preejaculate is contaminated immediately before ejaculation or contaminated with sperm leftover from a previous ejaculation.
Ejaculate, or semen, is a milky, cloudy fluid that travels through the urethra and out of the penis following sexual stimulation. This process is called ejaculation, and it usually happens during orgasm.
Healthy sperm concentrations in semen are around 15–150 million sperm per ml of semen.
Sperm are produced in the testes. They then mature inside ducts located behind the testes. These ducts are called the epididymis and the vas deferens.
During sexual stimulation, the sperm mix with seminal fluid to form semen. Seminal fluid is a whitish liquid produced by the prostate glands and glands called the seminal vesicles.
Sperm make up a small part of semen. Semen is composed of the following:
around 5% secretions from the bulbourethral glands
15–30% secretions from the prostate
fluid from the seminal vesicle
Sometimes a man’s penis can turn a purple-red color. Mostly, this color change is benign. The penis may become purple whenever there is increased blood flow to the blood vessels and glands within it. This often happens when a man experiences arousal.
However, when the color change is abnormal, unexplained, or accompanied by pain or itchiness, a man should see his doctor, as a purple coloration may be a sign of infection, injury, or circulation issues.
A urologist is the best doctor to see when it comes to questions about the penis. Men without access to a urologist should seek medical attention from their primary care provider.
Fast facts on purple penis:
The most common cause of a man’s penis turning purple is when the glands and blood vessels react to arousal.
For sexually active men, a sexually transmitted disease may be to blame for purple-red sores on the penis.
In most cases, issues that cause purple penis are treatable.
What are the causes?
There are many potential causes for a purple penis, including injuries or STDs.
When a color change results from arousal, it is not a cause for concern. In these instances, the color change is due to extra blood flowing to the penis.
At most other times, a man should be concerned about either part or all of the penis turning a purplish color, as it may be the result of illness or an injury.
Other common causes of purple penis aside from arousal include the following:
Sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Purple sores are typical of diseases, such as genital herpes and syphilis. Both herpes and syphilis are accompanied by additional symptoms. These can include:
The best way to prevent contracting an STD is to practice safe sex. Knowing a partner’s sexual health can also prevent the transmission of STDs.
Bruising on the body occurs when small blood vessels rupture, leaking blood under the surface of the skin. Where the blood collects, it causes the skin to turn purple. This can happen anywhere, including on the penis. Often, when a bruise occurs, the cause is known to the individual.
Small bruises do not necessarily require particular attention. Some common causes of minor bruising to the penis may include:
getting caught in the zipper
A small bruise may feel painful or tender to the touch. It may turn to a deeper color as it heals. If a small bruise fails to heal on its own or becomes larger, a man should seek medical attention.
Severe bruises that are the result of blunt force trauma require immediate medical attention. A man should wear protective gear when involved in contact sports to help prevent severe injury.
Pearly penile papules are small pink-white growths that develop around the head of the penis. Any male can develop pearly penile papules, but they are not considered harmful.
This article will discuss what pearly penile papules are, how to identify them, and whether they can be removed or prevented.
What are pearly penile papules?
Any male can develop pearly penile papules, which resemble small pimples and develop around the head of the penis.
The medical term used to describe pearly penile papules is Hirsutoid papillomas. They typically develop around the head of the penis.
Their size and color can vary across individuals. They typically appear pink-white and measure between 1 to 4 millimeters in diameter, resembling small pimples.
Pearly penile papules often cluster in rings or rows, commonly around the circumference of the base of the penis’ head. The technical name for this area is the corona of the glans penis.
Pearly penile papules are often mistaken for symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection, such as genital warts. However, genital warts are typically larger, are shaped more like cauliflowers, and can develop in areas other than the penis, such as the scrotum or anus.
Pearly penile papules do not cause any other symptoms to develop with them.
Once a man has developed pearly penile papules, they typically remain for life. The growths can fade with age, but they do not tend to change shape, color, or spread further over time.
Given the similarity in their appearance to some other conditions, such as genital warts, any men that experience other symptoms alongside the growths should seek medical attention.
Other conditions that resemble pearly penile papules include:
For example, growths that begin to itch or cause any discomfort may indicate the presence of an underlying condition that a doctor should examine.
Doctors do not know what causes pearly penile papules. They are considered a normal occurrence, and between 8 and 43 percent of men have them.
They are not a sexually transmitted infection. Unlike sexually transmitted infections, they are not caused by infection or disease and are not contagious. They are also not considered harmful.
Although the cause of pearly penile papules is unknown, they appear to be more common in black men and those who have not been circumcised.
Balanitis is an inflammation of the glans, or the head, of the penis, due to infection or another cause. Balanitis can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but it is not usually serious. It can be relieved with topical medication.
It is a common condition, affecting approximately 1 in every 25 boys and 1 in 30 uncircumcised males at some time in their life. Boys under the age of 4 years and uncircumcised men are at the highest risk, but it can happen at any age.
It is more likely if there is phimosis, a condition where the foreskin of the penis is too tight. When boys reach the age of 5 years, the foreskin becomes easy to retract, and the risk of balanitis falls.
Women can also have balanitis, as the term is used to describe an inflammation of the clitoris. However, this article will focus on the glans of the penis.
Treatment for balanitis depends on the cause. In most cases, the doctor will advise on what substances to avoid, and give the patient information on hygiene.
Antifungal creams can treat balanitis caused by Candida.
If the inflammation appears to be due to an allergic reaction or irritant, the doctor may prescribe a mild steroid cream, such as one percent hydrocortisone, for the swelling.
An antifungal or antibiotic medication may also be prescribed. These may be available over-the-counter, or can be purchased online.
If there is an infection, the patient should not use a steroid cream on its own.
All soaps and other potential irritants should be avoided during treatment, and until signs and symptoms have completely gone.
Candida is a yeast infection. The doctor will prescribe an antifungal cream, such as clotrimazole or miconazole. The patient’s sex partner should also be treated. While treatment is underway, he should either abstain from sex or use a condom.
If there is a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic, such as erythromycin or penicillin.
If there is no infection and no irritant has been identified, the patient may be referred to a dermatologist, who specializes in skin conditions, or a genitourinary clinic.
If the patient has a tight foreskin and the balanitis keeps coming back, the doctor might suggest circumcision.
Alternatively, a slit may be cut along the top of the foreskin to separate it from the penis.
A sitz bath may help to manage symptoms, as the warm water can reduce discomfort.
Balanitis is easy to treat, but complications can occur in some cases.
These may include:
Scarring of the opening of the penis
Inadequate blood supply to the penis
Retracting the foreskin is painful
A foreskin that does not retract can be the result of long-term, untreated balanitis.
The earlier treatment is sought, the better the outlook will be.
Signs and symptoms of balanitis include:
Tight, shiny skin on the glans
Redness around the glans
Inflammation, soreness, itchiness, or irritation of the glans
A thick, lumpy discharge under the foreskin
An unpleasant smell
Tight foreskin that cannot be pulled back
Swollen glands near the penis
Sores on the glans
Soreness, irritation, and discharge may occur under the foreskin 2 to 3 days after sexual intercourse.
Some of the signs and symptoms of balanitis are similar to those of an STI or thrush.
A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause a variety of symptoms, including temporary urinary incontinence.
UTIs are very common. According to the Urology Care Foundation, around 60% of females and 12% of males experience at least one UTI in their lifetimes.
A UTI can develop when bacteria enter the urethra and travel up the urinary tract to the bladder. Sometimes, the bacteria infect more distant parts of the tract, such as the kidneys.
This article describes how UTIs can cause urinary incontinence, as well as other symptoms of these infections and the treatments. We also look into alternate causes of urinary incontinence.
Why do UTIs cause incontinence?
Temporary urinary incontinence can be a symptom of a UTI.
A UTI is a bacterial infection somewhere in the urinary tract. The tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.
The kidneys produce urine to help carry waste out of the body. The urine travels from the kidneys to the bladder via tubes called the ureters. Once the bladder is full, it signals to the brain that the person needs to urinate.
During urination, the bladder releases the urine through a tube called the urethra. The urine leaves the body through the urethral opening.
Sometimes, bacteria get into the urethral opening, then travel up into the bladder. This infection, a UTI, causes the bladder to become swollen and irritated. As a result, urine can leak out.
Other causes of urinary incontinence
A number of factors can cause a person to experience urinary incontinence, besides a UTI. The most common causes are:
Stress urinary incontinence
This occurs when sudden pressure on the bladder causes it to leak urine.
Stress urinary incontinence usually develops when the muscles that would ordinarily prevent urine leakage — including the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter — become damaged or weakened.
People with this type of incontinence may experience leakage during physical activity or when coughing or sneezing, for example.
The term overactive bladder refers to a group of urinary symptoms. The most common of these symptoms is a sudden or frequent urge to urinate.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, overactive bladder affects around 40% of females and 30% of males in the United States.
Males tend to develop the condition later in life, due to prostate problems. Females tend to develop it following menopause.
Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder fills up but is unable to release urine. This condition is common among males who have enlarged prostates or other health issues.
Overflow incontinence can cause the body to release small, infrequent amounts of urine or a continual drip of urine.
A person may have a combination of overactive bladder and stress urinary incontinence.
This can lead to sudden, frequent urges to urinate, in addition to leakage during physical activity, coughing, or sneezing.
Other UTI symptoms
The most common symptom of a UTI is pain or discomfort when urinating.
A UTI can also cause the following symptoms:
a strong urge to urinate but very little output
urine with an unpleasant odor
blood in the urine
pressure or cramping sensations in the groin
a fever, in young children
If a person does not receive treatment, a UTI can lead to a kidney infection. Some symptoms of a kidney infection include:
lower back pain
pain on one side of the back
Kidney infections are serious and require prompt treatment. If a person suspects that they have a kidney infection, they should see a doctor right away.