I am 32 and male and one time after sex started to develop a burning feeling in my penis. Not when I urinate, but something inside seemed imflamed. I was worried I might have gotten an STD when the symptom stayed for 2 or 3 weeks while I was researching STDs and places to get tested. One day I felt sick (possibly psychosometic) and called my doctor and he ran some tests on me (I assume as through a list of tests as I had planned to get elsewhere), and he gave me an antibiotic which did reduce the pain quite a bit, but now with only 2 pills left in my week supply the inflammation still seems evident. And today I called about the test results and the desk person said the doctor just that day mailed me a letter basically saying the tests all turned out normal and that I can see him the next time I am due for a physical basically. But I am worried this isn't the end of the pain. I masterbated tonight for the first time in a week and my penis became very red and the skin appeared to flake off really easy. Not overly painfully so, but visually it was disturbing. Is there an STD that weakens the tissue of the penis? Something the common series of STD tests might not include?

James, you need to see a urologist in consultation.  What you are describing does not sound like a STD.  I do not believe the recent redness and flaking of the skin is related to your prior problem.  Common causes would be a bacterial, yeast or fungal infection, contact dermatitis, or a primary dermatologic condition (such a psoriasis, eczema, lichen planus, lichen sclerosis,  etc.). Infections involving the penile glans occur almost exclusively in uncircumcised men & are more common in diabetics.   They respond to proper genital hygiene and topical antibacterial creams.  If refractory, circumcison is sometimes necessary for cure.  Yeast and fungal infection usually respond to a 10 day course of medication such as lotrimin, lamasil or nystatin cream.  Contact dermatoses are much more difficult to track down as it usually infers that you penis is touching something it is allergic to.  This can be a substance on your hands such as chemicals used at work, soaps, detergents used for under clothes, condoms, feminine hygiene sprays your partner might use, etc.  The treatment is eliminating the cause and using at least 1% hydrocortisone or another steroid cream as needed.  If one is uncircumcised, this bring in other potential factors.   If your this problem is refractory, consultation with a urologist or dermatologist is suggested.

As far as the burning in the penis is concerned, by far the most common cause is an inflammation of the prostate gland, so called prostatitis. This is a disorder that I have commented on extensively on this web site.   In case you have not read it before, to follow is a "macro" I have written on this problem that will explain the various types of prostatitis and their treatment to you.

Symptoms that might occur with prostatitis include frequency of urination, slowing of the urinary stream, burning with voiding or ejaculation, burning in the penile tip unrelated to voiding, urethral discharge, sexual dysfunction (such as difficulty with erection), aching in the penis, testicles, and discomfort in the lower abdomen, low back, groin, rectum or perineum (the area between the scrotum and rectum – between the “wind and the rain”) and constipation. The passage of blood at the initiation or termination of urination or in the semen can also be noted. During sexual arousal the prostate gland & seminal vesicles manufacture fluid that account for the majority of the semen. The seminal vesicles are paired structures located behind the prostate gland that are also sensitive to sexual excitement.  Sperm from the testicles (which account for only 1-2 % of the semen) travel up a series of tubes (epididymis and vas deferens) on each side to join the seminal vesicles forming the paired ejaculatory ducts.  These structures empty into the prostatic portion of the urethra.  At the time of ejaculation, fluid is discharged from the prostate gland and ejaculatory ducts into the urethra (urinary canal) forming the semen.  The average semen volume is 2-6 cc.  With the inception of ejaculation, the bladder neck closes and the semen is forced forward out the urethra by contraction of the pelvic muscles.  

It is not uncommon for inflammation and/or infection to spread in a retrograde manner into the vas and epididymis.  Even without such spread, prostatic discomfort is often referred into the testicle.  Too frequent or too infrequent ejaculation, sexual arousal without ejaculation, withdraw at the time of ejaculation, aggressive bike or horse back riding, and excessive spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine in the diet can predispose you to this.  Sitting for long periods of time, especially in an automotive vehicle, can put undo pressure on the prostate and aggravate the condition.  For the latter, it is best not to sit more than 2-3 hours at a time.  Stop the vehicle periodically, take a short walk and go to the bathroom to urinate.  A thick pad or piece of sponge rubber on your seat will also help to cushion the prostate.  One should avoid any of the above that apply.  Eliminating all of these factors that apply to you are just as important, if not more so, than taking medication!  Ejaculation beyond the tolerance of the prostate to fill and empty may also cause discomfort.  Likewise if one does so infrequently, fluid still builds up from thoughts, dreams, fantasies, etc. and has to be released periodically to decompress the gland and relieve the symptoms.  For most men, ejaculation in moderation, perhaps 1-2 times a week, is reasonable.  A daily warm bath for 10-15 minutes 1-2 times daily also lessens the discomfort.  Attention to sexual activity and warm bathes should be utilized regardless of the type of prostatitis and whether or not medications are prescribed.

There are several types of prostatitis.  Sometimes prostatitis can be due to an infection of the gland with bacteria.  Typically, pus cells and bacteria are found in the prostatic fluid. The infection usually requires an initial 4 week course of an appropriate antibiotic (the commonest prescribed are the fluoroquinolones, but tetracyclines, sulfas and other agents can also work).  

Abacterial prostatitis has several varieties. In one, the prostatic fluid demonstrates pus cells but no bacteria.  In the other, there are neither pus cells nor bacteria in the fluid, just the symptoms.  In all types of prostatitis, the urinalysis generally is normal unless the infection spreads into the bladder.  Abacterial prostatitis is an elusive entity that has been called by a variety of names including nonbacterial prostatitis, prostadynia, pelvic congestion syndrome and most recently pelvic myoneuropathy.  The latter name was coined by Dr. David Wise of Stanford.  He believes that this may represent up to 95% of all cases of prostatitis.  This variant may be an expression of interstitial cystitis and possibly is due to autoimmune or neurogenic factors. Dr. Wise suggests that  the primary cause of the symptoms involves pelvic muscle spasm, nerve trigger points and some degree of anxiety (either the cause or result of the symptoms).  His therapy involves the use of anti-depressents (we have used Elavil for years in refractory patients), relaxation techniques, trigger point physiotherapy, and biofeedback.  Some others recommend Yoga & meditation as being useful.  Although he may well prove to be correct,  I generally recommend an initial course of antibacterial therapy for patients who clinically have symptomatic prostatitis of any variety.  The majority of patients (even those with nonbacterial prostatitis) seem to respond favorably.  It has been know for decades that many patients with the abacterial variety of prostatitis do well with antibiotics but the reason has been vague.  Some theorized that they may harbor bacteria in the tissues of the prostate that are not being picked up in cultures (possibly walled off loci of infection).  For more information on Dr. Wise's studies check out:
http://www.pelvicpainhelp.com  /

In my experience, symptoms usually responds to the general measures mentioned in the initial paragraph.  Medications that sometimes help include the over-the-counter natural supplement saw palmetto 320 mgm daily and alpha-blockers (such as Flomax, Hytrin, Cardura & Uroxatral).  The latter require a prescription from you physician if he thinks it is indicated.  More recently, a naturally occurring flavinoid with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (such as quercetin) has been used in prostatitis.  It's success is yet to be confirmed.  

Prostatitis may also be classified as acute (severe), subacute (mild), or asymptomatic.  It may also occur as a single episode, be recurrent or chronic.  In chronic bacterial prostatitis, long term low dose antibacterial therapy often works well in suppressing symptoms.  In refractory cases, culture of the prostatic fluid or semen often will disclose the offending bacteria.  If found, sensitivity studies can identify which antibiotics are most likely to eliminate that particular germ.  One should be off of all antibiotics for 7-10 days before the culture is taken.  Otherwise, if there is residual antibiotics in your system, this may prevent bacteria from growing in culture.  

In other cases refractory to treatment, there is another condition that can produce similar symptoms. This disorder is ejaculatory duct obstruction. Usually the doctor will find the seminal vesicles to be very swollen on rectal examination. The patient will notice either absence or a markedly diminished semen volume. The diagnosis is made by doing a transrectal ultrasound of the prostate and seminal vesicles.

Again, consultation with a urologist should be scheduled.  In cases with recurrent prostatitis or hematuria, it often is necessary to study the urinary tract more completely.  Predisposing factors to prostatitis such as a urethral stricture (narrowing) and other disorders can then be evaluated.  A man should learn to listen to his body.  Good luck.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Arthur Goldstein, M.D.


Problems or questions related to the field of urology; ie urinary stone disease, urinary cancers (kidney, bladder, prostate, testis, etc.), urinary infections, etc. I no longer answer questions related to erection problems or male sexual dysfunction.


I am retired from the active practice of urology. My 34 years was totally in the clinical field and involved the entire gamut of genitourinary problems, with special interest in endourology.

American Medical Association, American Urological Association, American College of Surgeons

College degree - BS Medical degree - MD Master of Science - MS

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.