Diseases of the penis

May 9, 2012 , Vladislava Králová

nemoci-penisu.jpg - kopie
nemoci-penisu.jpg - kopie
Diseases of the penis vary in severity. Diseases of the penis are erectile dysfunction or an inability to reach erection, priapism a problem of a completely opposite nature, and also phimosis or narrowing of the prepuce, which prevents its retraction over the glans. Phimosis is sometimes associated with cancer of the penis. This article will describe the individual diseases.

Diseases of the penis

Penis is a male sex organ. It is also called a copulatory organ, because it is primarily involved in the sexual intercourse. It has a root, body, urethra and glans, which is covered by a thin skin – prepuce. Its average length is 10-12 cm in the resting state and 13/17 cm during erection. It consists of erectile bodies of sponge-like structure. The erectile bodies are capable of hardening, which is the nature of erection. During the erection, blood-flow in the penis increases. The bodies accumulate this blood, enlarge and the blood drainage from the penis is restricted. The penis erects, enlarges and is ready for a sexual intercourse. Ejaculation is another function of the penis. It is an expelling of semen at the climax of an intercourse. Both erection and ejaculation are under the control of complex mechanisms in the brain. Penis can be affected by numerous diseases, which vary in manifestation, duration, treatment, severity and prognosis. Erectile dysfunction, phimosis and penile cancer count among the diseases of the penis.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a very common disease of the penis. It affects almost 50% men aged over 40 years. Erectile dysfunction is an unpleasant problem, which prevents from reaching erection or maintaining erection for long enough. Erectile dysfunction can have either an organic or a psychogenic cause. In organic causes the erectile dysfunction is caused by a disease. It causes up to 80% of all cases. They are most commonly vascular diseases, certain neurologic diseases, endocrine diseases and diabetes. The second group of causes of erectile dysfunctions are psychogenic causes. They represent the remaining 20%. Negative emotions, depression, fear of failure, anxiety and shame belong in this group.


Priapism is a less usual disease of the penis. It is a long painful erection, which is not induced by sexual arousal. The erectile bodies are affected. The disease requires an acute treatment, because it may lead to a permanent loss of erectile function. Priapism may have primary (undiscovered) and secondary causes. Injections into the penis, side effects of certain drugs, some blood diseases and trauma of the penis represent the secondary causes. The nature of the priapism is either a chronic increase in blood flow in the penis or chronically compromised blood drainage from the penis. If this condition persists for 24 hours, blood clots form in the erectile bodies. This leads to a permanent loss of erectile function. Treatment is conservative. The penis is cooled and the accumulated blood is drained from it. If the conservative treatment is not successful, a rapid surgical intervention is necessary.

Phimosis and cancer of the penis

Phimosis is a narrowing of the prepuce, so that it cannot be retracted over the glans. In boys aged 2-3 years it is common, normal and it usually resolves. It is important to emphasize, that the foreskin should not be retracted by force, because it causes scaring and worsens the condition. If the phimosis occurs in an older age, it typically results from repeated inflammation of the glans or forcible retracting. Phimosis is treated by a simple surgical intervention, which also has a preventive nature, because phimosis is one of the risk factors of cancer of the penis. Cancer of the penis is rare in our geographic latitudes. This malignant tumor originates from the skin of the penis. That is why we call it a squamous cell carcinoma. An insufficient hygiene is the main risk factor of the penile cancer and phimosis contributes to it. If an ulcer, which does not heal, occurs anywhere on the surface of the penis, you should consult a doctor. The cancer spreads via the inguinal lymph nodes to the whole body and forms distant foci – metastases. The treat of penile cancer combines surgical intervention, radiotherapy (irradiation) and sometimes chemotherapy (aggressive substances against the cancer cells). With respect to the spread of the cancer a part or the whole penis is amputated.

If there is a problem, seek a doctor

If you have any problem about the penis, you should seek doctor’s help immediately. It is hard to recommend, which specialist you should contact (urologist, dermatovenerologist, neurologist or other). It depends on the nature of your problem. The treatment may be multidisciplinary, which means it takes place in multiple centres. That is why you should see your general practitioner first. He or she will refer you to an appropriate department. Shame and taking the diseases of the penis too lightly are not in place. As in any other disease the earlier the treatment starts the higher the chances for complete recovery.


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