Why Your Penis Hurts After Sex

Pain during or after sex for people with penises is common, and often easily treatable.

It’s common to think that only people with vaginas experience pain during sex. However, sex researchers have found that cisgender men do also sometimes experience pain during sex — they just report it less.

People with penises can have pain with sex for a whole slew of reasons, Jeanette Potts, MD, co-founder of Vista Urology and Pelvic Pain Partners in San Jose, told Health. This pain can definitely impact how enjoyable sex is, affect your performance, and even cause you to lose interest in sex or develop anxieties around it over time. Fortunately, the most common things are usually benign.

Here are some reasons that sex might be painful for you. 

Close up of a man with hands holding his crotch.

Anut21ng / Getty Images

You Have A Curved Penis

Peyronie’s disease, also known as curvature of the penis, is a common cause of penile pain — and pain in your penis during sex can be an early sign of this condition. The exact cause isn’t clear, but researchers suspect it a may be set off by repeated trauma, or “micro-injuries,” to the penis due to something like rough sex or multiple attempts to have sexual intercourse while still flaccid.

Peyronie’s disease may also be triggered by an acute event, such as a sports injury or even a mishap under the sheets. This can happen, say, when a partner with a vagina is on top and the full thrust of their body weight comes down toward your penis in a way that misses their vagina but hits your erection. “This can fracture the penis,” Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, told Health

Patients developing Peyronie’s disease have pain and tenderness of the tunica albuginea, the membrane that helps sustain his erection. They may also develop scar tissue, called plaque, under the skin of the penis, causing the signature bend or curve of Peyronie’s disease. This curvature can make vaginal and/or anal penetration challenging, as well as uncomfortable.

The type of treatment your doctor will recommend will depend on the stage, symptoms, and severity of the condition.

The Tip of Your Penis is Inflamed

Swelling of the foreskin of the penis, called balanitis, is often due to an infection (such as a yeast infection), allergy, or some other skin irritation. It’s more common in people who are uncircumcised or have uncontrolled diabetes. Although viral and bacterial infections are possible causes, balanitis is usually due to a fungal infection.

The foreskin can trap urine and humidity — and “fungus likes moist areas,” Abraham Morgentaler, MD, director of Men’s Health Boston in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, told Health.

You may or may not notice some redness on the head of his penis, especially if it’s a mild case, but your penis will definitely be sensitive, he added. 

Treatment for balanitis depends on the cause and severity. If yeast is the culprit, you’ll need a prescription for antifungal cream.

You May Have Prostatitis

If you hurt when you ejaculate, lots of things could be to blame, but often it’s a sign of prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can cause pain or discomfort in or around your anus, penis, testicles, and lower abdomen or back. It can be caused by many factors, including complications with the urinary tract and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

The prostate gland secretes a fluid that helps make semen. Typically, when it becomes inflamed, you might feel the need to pee often, and you’ll have burning with urination. It doesn’t usually cause pain with sex until you ejaculate, and that can be uncomfortable. Anal stimulation may also cause pain or discomfort.

There are different types of prostatitis with different causes, so treatment will depend on the results of a physical exam and medical testing.

Additionally, if you’re having orgasmic pain and there aren’t other issues going on, you may have to consider an ejaculatory duct obstruction. However, this is a relatively rare condition. It’s diagnosed in 1-5% of infertile men.

Your Foreskin is Too Tight

If you’re uncircumcised, your foreskin, which covers the head of your penis, pulls back with an erection. But when that fold of skin gets stuck or narrows at the tip and won’t retract, it can cause pain. This is called phimosis.

Phimosis is more common in babies and young boys. In adults, it’s often due to an underlying infection or inflammation (like balanitis) or an injury to the foreskin itself. Steroid cream and gentle stretching of the foreskin may be prescribed. In recurring cases, your healthcare provider may recommend circumcision.

A related condition, called paraphimosis, can occur when the retracted foreskin gets stuck behind the tip of the penis and can’t be pulled forward during an erection. This is a medical emergency that can cause permanent damage to your foreskin if left unresolved.

You May Have Genital Herpes 

If you have a painful sore or a blistering rash on your genitals, you may have herpes, a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can affect people of all genders. Genital herpes is caused by one of two strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV-2 is the main cause of genital herpes, but you can also get it from HSV-1, the same virus that makes your mouth break out in cold sores.

Sometimes you can feel pain even before lesions are present, Charles Welliver, director of men’s health and assistant professor of surgery at Albany Medical College, told Health. That can be a tipoff to that you’re about to have a breakout. “It’s usually a burning-type sensation or burning pain,” he added.

There’s no cure for herpes, but it can be successfully managed with antiviral medications to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms as well as reduce the risk of transmission to others.

You Have A Short or Tight Frenulum

The frenulum is a band of skin on the underside of your penis that tethers the glans (the head of the penis) to the foreskin. (This length of tissue may be totally or partially removed in men who are circumcised.)

A short or tight frenulum, known as frenulum breve, can make it difficult for your foreskin to retract. When you have an erection, that taut piece of tissue can tilt the head of the penis downward, resulting in painful erections and pain with intercourse, Welliver said.

According to Goldstein, it’s common for the frenulum to tear during sex, and that can cause pain and bleeding.

Treatment options range from no treatment (it may heal on its own) or frenuloplasty (frenulum-lengthening surgery) to circumcision.

You Have A Skin Condition

People with psoriasis, for example, can develop scaly patches on their genitals. In people with penises, the rash can show up on the glans, shaft, testicles, pubic area, buttocks, perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum), and all the adjacent skin folds.

Treating psoriasis on the genitals can be tricky because the skin in this area of the body is particularly sensitive. If you think you may have psoriasis in your penis, you should discuss the options with your healthcare provider.

Additionally, if you see thin, white patches of skin on your penis, you may have lichen sclerosus, a condition that causes patchy, discolored, and thin skin. People with this condition can get tearing of the skin of the penis during intercourse or with an erection, Welliver said.

Your Condom is Causing An Allergic Reaction

If you experience frequent itching after sex while using a condom, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction to your condom. Allergic contact dermatitis is an itchy, inflamed skin rash that can occur when skin is exposed to an allergen that triggers a reaction.

Although it’s possible to be allergic to any type of condom, latex is notorious for triggering allergic reactions. In fact, between 1 and 6 percent of Americans are allergic (or sensitive to) latex.

If the condom itself isn’t to blame, you may be allergic to any added ingredients to it, like spermicide. Be mindful of not only the material your condoms are made out of, but also of the ingredients in whatever you’re using for lubricant.

It’s A Nerve Issue

If you do sports that involve either hits to the groin or prolonged periods of sitting (like biking), you may have an injury to your pudendal nerve, which supplies sensation to the genital area. Painful intercourse is one of many possible symptoms of pudendal neuralgia, which is pain in one or more of the areas innervated by the pudendal nerve.

Additionally, something like a low-back problem due to a tear, or age-related wear and tear of the discs in the spine can manifest as penile pain, Goldstein said.

You’re Tense or Anxious

Pain in the genital area can also be tied to emotional stressors.

“It doesn’t mean that the pain is fictitious, it just means that that area of the body is very susceptible to stress,” Potts said. And that can magnify symptoms.

Pain with no discernible medical cause can also affect men who have been raped or sexually abused. “It’s generated by the PTSD experience — the fear, the anxiety,” Goldstein said. “The pain they experience is very real—it’s registered in the brain.

You’re Having A Lot of Sex

If you’re having more sex than usual, either with a partner or by yourself, you may find that your penis is a little sore. This type of discomfort is typically nothing to worry about. 

“People don’t realize how much the penis gets bent during intercourse one way or another,” Morgentaler said. “If it happens for only a few hours after sexual activity, I tell them it’s completely normal." It usually goes away in a day or two, he added.

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