STI in Men: Uh oh, do I have a sexually transmitted infection (STI aka STD) ?

Let’s talk about men’s sexual health.  Specifically, STI in men (sexually transmitted infections).  Male STI symptoms are different than those of females. Obvi. Ladies, the next three paragraphs still apply to you, but you can find more detailed info about female sexual health here.

Disclaimer: discussions of male STI symptoms, and STI in men in general, sometimes includes sex. 😂 Sex is a natural, healthy part of life when done consensually and safely! ❤️❤️❤️ 

However, if doing the thing without using condoms while not in a monogamous sexual relationship with a trusted partner (monogamous = having a sexual relationship with only one partner), then you gotta be aware of some possible risks and take steps to ensure you stay healthy! Men’s sexual health issues differ from women’s, so dudes, this one’s for you.  

If you are sexually active with more than one trusted partner and not using condoms, it’s important to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (aka “STIs” or “STDs” as we once called them). Get tested regularly every 6 months. The most common symptom of STI is no symptom at all – crazy, right?? Most males with an STI don’t even know they have one. 🤷🏿‍♂️ Females, too for that matter. So stay healthy, take care of yourself, and get tested often! 👍🏿 👍👍🏻

Urgent/Be Seen By Provider – That’s our typical recommendation for male STI symptoms

Now, if you all of a sudden have some possible male STI symptoms (see details below), 😬 then get tested right away. Most STIs are curable, and all are treatable, so don’t freak out, just get tested!!!  Where can men get tested for STIs? Lots of places offer male STI testing, sometimes even for free! Here are our suggestions:

  • Your doctor! If you have a doctor you know and love (i.e. a primary care physician), try to see them quickly if they can get you in fast! 
  • Don’t have a primary doctor or provider? Try a local urgent care or walk-in clinic – they are capable of testing for STI in men, and sometimes can even offer family planning and contraception. These are good ways to avoid pregnancy if you prefer not to take that on at this point in your life. 
  • Check your local Planned Parenthood.  They often offer low-cost or even free STI testing, along with lots of other great preventative health services! 
  • Check for a local family planning clinic – these clinics can provide you with family planning services, sexual health services including diagnosis and treatment of sti symptoms in men, and preventative health services at free or reduced prices! 
  • Still a bit unsure about what’s going on with your body and what you should do? Chat with a Health Expert on Nurse-1-1 now and get info and guidance fast! 
  • Are you a sexually active young adult? Check out this website that is more woke than most and can give you good recs on where to get birth control 

For anyone with female sex organs reading this, check out this detailed article we wrote on STI symptoms in Women

For anyone with male sex organs, read on for more specific details about your sexual health and STI symptoms in men. 

Painful and/or Burning Urination with or without blood 😭

If it burns, or maybe even hurts every time you pee (ouch!), there are a few different things that may be going on. Sometimes, noninfectious causes might be at play. I.e. something that’s not an infection. 

Did you scrub your urethra (the little opening at the end of your penis) too much when washing? Have you been using some sort of abrasive or particularly irritating soap? Did you eat lots of certain foods that can be irritating to the urethra? Examples include beats, rhubarb, and berries. Certain medications can also cause your urine to turn pink/red and sometimes even irritate your urethra. Are you taking a new medication that might be causing urinary discomfort? 

Despite all these things being possible, it’s really important to make sure you don’t have an infection or something else going on in your body. If the symptoms continue for more than 24 hours and don’t go away, go see a provider and get proper medical care. As described above, this can be done by your primary care provider, an urgent care or walk in clinic, or Planned Parenthood. Don’t freak out if you’re also suffering from itching and maybe even having discharge from your penis – just make sure you go get seen by a medical professional!

Pain or Swelling of the Penis 😱

You may be thinking “Oh no, why is this happening!?!?!” along with other bad words we can’t write on this blog, but don’t worry, it happens and is treatable. Sometimes only the head of the penis may be inflamed, swollen, or tender. Sometimes, the foreskin (in men who are uncircumcised) can also get inflamed and swollen. There are lots of reasons this may happen, and guess what, it’s usually not due to STIs! Just make sure to see a medical professional for the proper treatment (any of the medical options listed above will be fine). Some possible reasons for your symptoms:

  • Poor hygiene – if you rarely clean down there (between the foreskin and the head of the penis especially), this can lead to build up of debris and possibly even create the perfect condition for yeast (candida) to grow there. If you have diabetes and your sugar levels are often high, this creates the perfect environment for yeast to be a happy camper and grow in wet locations (like under your foreskin). You’ll just need the proper antifungal treatment prescribed to you along with good hygiene practice. 

There is one emergency you should be aware of – if the foreskin is so inflamed that it is stuck behind the head of the penis and can’t come forward to its natural position, then you should go to the ER right away! This is an emergency! If you aren’t having too much pain, you can first try sitting in a lukewarm bathtub and putting a little pressure on the foreskin so it springs back into place, but if no luck, it’s off to the ER. However, if you’re having lots of pain and the head of your penis is getting more and more painful and swollen then don’t wait, just go! 

Bumps, Rashes, and Spots, Oh My! 

Ok, so you noticed something on your penis, testicles ⚾️⚾️, or genital area that’s not supposed to be there. You don’t know what it is, but you know it wasn’t there before. Remember, after reading the information below, you can always check with a Health Expert on Nurse-1-1 now to get a little more guidance. 

  • Painful rash with pimples or ulcers: If you have a rash and it’s painful and has pimples filled with pus or some sort of fluid, this might be genital herpes. Same goes if you have an ulcer. This is a crater-like area where the skin has died off and it looks raw. Don’t freak out, it might not be! Plus, herpes is no longer the terrible thing it once was. Definitely avoid having sex, and see a medical provider right away. The sooner you are seen and receive treatment, the faster your symptoms may go away! Visiting your primary care provider quickly or going to an urgent care/walk-in clinic is just fine, as long as you are seen ASAP. 
  • Itchiness and small red bumps: Sometimes we guys aren’t the cleanest down there. Especially if sexually active without condoms, you might just get general skin irritation. This is what we medical people call “dermatitis”— redness, itchiness, and maybe even small red bumps (without fluid or pus in them). This might just be caused by poor hygiene, friction from skin-to-skin contact, or even some sort of harmless virus. Make sure to wash regularly.  Use mild non-scented soaps, and keep the area clean. You can use skin moisturizers like Cetaphil or something similar. These will help with the itching and healing process. Generic is fine! If not getting better in a few days, talk with our Health Experts or check in with your primary care provider. 
  • Flesh colored pimples: If the rash is little pimple like bumps that are the color of your flesh and the pimples have a little crater in the center, this might be molluscum. It’s not dangerous and isn’t an STI, but can be a pain to get rid of.
  • Warts: Genital warts are not a pleasant sight. Thankfully they are not dangerous (unless you have a disease that affects your immune system) and go away with time and/or treatment. They are caused by a pesky virus that lots of people have and can easily pass to each other. Note: if you have anal warts (warts around your butt) and it looks like a “cauliflower” (sorry, I know this isn’t the best visual), you should be seen urgently. 
  • Something totally different? Check with your primary care provider or ask a Health Expert

Tips to prevent STIs in men

Lastly, guys, take good care of yourselves and your partner(s). Although condoms might “not feel as good,” protecting yourself and the person you are sleeping with is way more important than just how good it feels. Remember, you aren’t the only one who is affected by an STI. And, it might feel awkward, but ask your partner if they’ve been tested recently. Tell them if you have too! Have open and honest conversations because safe sex is great sex. 

Oh, and one more thing. If your partner is female, then there’s a high chance she could get pregnant. So either use condoms or be 💯 that she has a reliable form of birth control. Sorry guys, the pull out method isn’t a good enough method and has a high risk of pregnancy. Don’t be that guy who shoulder shrugs when asked what birth control method she uses! If she isn’t on birth control, BE A MAN and put a condom on! 

Unsure what’s going on down there or have some sexual health questions you need answered?? Talk to a Health Expert now! (Just be respectful, please! This is a sensitive subject) Remember, a real man is informed, thoughtful, and practices safe sex!

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