Sexually Transmitted Diseases/STI? Red Urethra



Hello, basically. I'm 21, I used to have an extremely tight foreskin and never really paid a large amount of attention to the hygiene or look of my penis underneath the foreskin, but since the last year I've been able to fully retract it and clean it, however for as long as I can remember, I've had an extremely red urethral opening. Followed by quite a bad smell as I said previously, I did not wash it and some what lazy.

Regardless, I've recently been told I have varicocele ( Over weight and sit down rather a lot ) So I'm not surprised, but obviously having this worries me about the possible affect of my fertility. As well as having a few pains because of this makes me worry if this redness of the urethral opening could be a factor as well. As said previously, I've had this for as long as I can remember but I never particularly paid much attention since I started to think more and worry. I've had one sexual partner in 2007 and had penetrative sex once without a condom, and another but that was a hand job and I rubbed it against her vagina once.

I master bate quite a lot, and have methods of rubbing it normally and laying on my front rubbing it into the bed. Since worrying, I've cleaned it only with water and very often as well as stopped master bating much, and the redness and swelling of the urethral opening has gone down a lot, but it's still red a little and puffy inside. In terms of discharge, It's usually wet inside the hole but with clear orderless discharge in the mornings and only when I've woken up aroused.

Is this something that I should be concerned about? I've since had sex with my current girlfriend and in 6 months, she's complained of nothing un-ordinary there or feels anything and I had this redness before I had ever had sex with her for clarification.

Thanks a lot.

Hello William,
Redness around the urethral opening may be a normal variation in the skin, especially in a person with a foreskin. Redness may reflect several things: thinner skin, dilated blood vessels, inflammation.

Masturbation does cause dilation of blood vessels which may cause such redness, but it is not related to your concerns. The bad smell you detect are anaerobic bacteria feeding off the oils (sebum) and nitrogenous waste (urine) under the foreskin. Keeping it clean will help, as will getting a circumcision, which is a rather radical approach!!

The bottom line is that you need not be concerned.

Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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