Male Genital Problems and Injuries
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.
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 cancer.
- 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 penis.
- Undescended testicles (cryptorchidism). This occurs when one or both testicles have not moved down into the scrotum.
- An inguinal hernia. A hernia occurs when a small portion of the bowel bulges out through the inguinal canal into the groin.
- 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:
- A testicle (orchitis).
- The epididymis (epididymitis).
- The urethra (urethritis).
- The prostate (prostatitis).
- The bladder (cystitis).
- A simple hair follicle (abscess) or deeper abscess in the scrotum that may involve the testicles, epididymis, or urethra.
- The genital area (Fournier's gangrene).
- The head of the penis. The infection may occur under the foreskin. This is called balanitis.
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 the penis is circumcised or not. For more information, see the topic Circumcision.
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 you.
Check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a doctor.