What is a varicocele and should I worry about it?

By: Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA — Written by Tim Newman
Source: Medical News Today
Website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221051

Varicoceles are similar to varicose veins, but they occur around the testicles rather than the legs. They do not usually cause any serious problems, but they can impact male fertility.

They happen when certain veins in the scrotum become enlarged, due to a malfunction in some of the valves involved in pumping the blood. They affect around 15 percent of males, and they tend to form between the ages of 15 and 25 years.

Varicoceles normally affect just one side, usually the left.

This article will look at the causes, symptoms and treatments of varicoceles.
Fast facts on varicoceles

Varicoceles are similar to varicose veins but they affect the testicular area in men.29
They are thought to affect 15 percent of men, usually between the age of 15 and 25 years.
The exact cause is unknown, but it may be similar to that of varicose veins.
They are not usually painful.
Varicoceles are not usually serious, but complications include fertility problems.
Surgery is possible, if complications arise.

What is a varicocele?
Varicoceles refer to enlarged veins in the testes.

A varicocele is an enlargement of the veins in the scrotum, the the bag that contains the testes. They are similar to varicose veins of the leg.

They affect a type of vein known as the pampiniform plexus.

The pampiniform plexus is found in the spermatic cord. This cord also holds the vas deferens, the tube that carries sperm, and the testicular artery, which transports blood to the testicles.

The creation of sperm is most efficient at around 34.5 degrees Celsius, or 94.1 degrees Fahrenheit, rather than the body’s standard 37 degrees Celsius. This is one reason why the testes are physically separate from the trunk of the body.

The main role of the pampiniform plexus is to cool the arterial blood before it reaches the sperm. It does this through a “heat exchange” mechanism.

Varicoceles can disrupt this cooling system. This can prevent the testicles from producing good quality sperm.

What you need to know about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)

By: Medically reviewed by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH — Written by Adam Felman
Source: Medical News Today
Website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/246491

Sexually transmitted diseases, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs), usually pass from one person to another through sexual contact. Most are fairly common, and effective treatment is available, especially in the early stages.

Some STIs are benign, but others can lead to severe complications if a person does not seek treatment.

HIV has other routes of transmission. For example, this STI can spread through the use of unsterilized drug needles, as well as through sexual contact.

Anyone can contract an STI, regardless of their sexual orientation and hygiene standards. Many STIs can transmit through nonpenetrative sexual activity.

This article looks at some common STIs, when to seek help, and how to prevent them.

Treatment is available for many common STIs.

Chlamydia results from an infection with Chlamydia trachomatis. It is a common infection that can spread through anal, vaginal, and oral sex. A pregnant woman can also transmit it to the baby during delivery.

Chlamydia does not usually produce symptoms, but it can result in infertility and other complications if a person does not receive treatment for it. It is easy to cure with early treatment.

If symptoms do occur, they may include a change in vaginal discharge and burning pain during urination.

Chlamydia can also affect the rectum, if the infection occurs as a result of anal sex or if the infection spreads from another area. This can lead to:

  • rectal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • rectal discharge

In those who do develop symptoms, these will usually appear 7–21 days after exposure.

Learn more about chlamydia here.

Crabs, or pubic lice, usually attach to pubic hair. Sometimes, however, they can affect the hair in the armpits, mustache, beard, eyelashes, or eyebrows. They are very small and difficult to see, but a person will notice itching in the areas they affect.

The first stage in the life cycle will be the appearance of the eggs, which lasts 6–10 days. After hatching, the lice will look like tiny crabs. They need blood to survive and will live for around 2–3 weeks. In the last day or two, the females will lay more eggs, and the cycle will continue.28

Pubic lice can spread from person to person during close physical contact, including sexual contact. They can also transmit via shared towels or bed linen. However, they cannot spread via toilet seats.

To remove pubic lice in the genital area, a person can apply a 1% permethrin solution or a similar product. These are available over the counter from drugstores and pharmacies. It is essential to follow the instructions precisely.

If pubic lice are affecting the hair near the eyes, the person may need a prescription medication.

Learn more about pubic lice here.

Why does the penis change color?

By: Medically reviewed by Daniel Murrell, M.D. — Written by Jenna Fletcher
Source: Medical News Today
Website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320963

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.26
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:

itchiness
pain
fever
fatigue
burning

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.
Bruise

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:

masturbation
vigorous sex
getting caught in the zipper
minor pinching

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.

Reasons for discharge in males

By: Medically reviewed by Kevin Martinez, M.D. — Written by Hannah Nichols
Source: Medical News Today
Website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327228#normal-discharge

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.
Preejaculate

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.27

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

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:

1–5% sperm
around 5% secretions from the bulbourethral glands
15–30% secretions from the prostate
fluid from the seminal vesicle

What to know about balanitis

By: Medically reviewed by University of Illinois — Written by Yvette Brazier
Source: Medical News Today
Website: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/184715

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.
Treatments

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.
Allergic reaction
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

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.
Bacterial infection

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.
Recurrence

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.
Complications

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.
Symptoms

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
Painful urination
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.25

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