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Penile Discharge

What is penile discharge?

Penile discharge is a condition in which fluid collects in the urethra as a result of a bacterial, viral or yeast infection. The urethra is the tube through which urine and semen leave the penis.

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Discharge from the penis can be watery and clear, or opaque and cloudy containing pus and even blood. Penile discharge can vary a lot: It can be thin, thick and a range of colors from clear to white, yellow, or tinted with blood. It can be hardly noticeable or impossible to ignore. It can be odorless or have an unpleasant odor.

Some causes of penile discharge include urinary tract infections (UTIs) and some STDs.

What causes non-sexual penile discharge?

  • Urinary Tract Infections - Infections that involve the part or parts of the urinary system: bladder, urethra, ureters and/or kidneys. A UTI is accompanied by pain or burning sensation during urination and/or penile discharge.

Which STDs cause penile discharge?

  • Chlamydia - A sexually transmitted disease that can result in similar symptoms to a urinary tract infection: painful urination and discharge from the penis.
  • Gonorrhea - An STD that can cause discharge to leak from the penis. This STD is also known as “The Drip” for this very reason.
  • Trichomoniasis - Trich is an STD that can cause an irritated or itching sensation inside the penis, burning during urination and/or discharge from the penis.
  • Mycoplasma genitalium - A sexually transmitted infection caused by bacteria that affects the epithelial cells of the urinary tract. It can lead to urethritis (swelling and inflammation of the urethra) and result in penile discharge.
  • Ureaplasma - An STI, similar to mycoplasma genitalium, that can cause symptoms like penile discharge, the feeling of needing to urinate frequently, and painful or burning urination.

When is penile discharge abnormal?

While discharge from the penis is not considered typical or normal for men, cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia are very common, especially in men. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause serious health problems when left untreated, including infertility, so it is important to get tested for any instance of penile discharge. Like most STD cases, many STDs frequently are not accompanied by any signs or symptoms, so getting tested if you are sexually active is crucial to knowing whether or not you are carrying an infection.

  1. "Gonorrhea - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/gonorrhea/stdfact-gonorrhea.htm
  2. "Chlamydia - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/chlamydia/stdfact-chlamydia.htm
  3. "Trichomoniasis - CDC Fact Sheet." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/trichomonas/stdfact-trichomoniasis.htm
  4. Manhart, Lisa E., Jennifer M. Broad, and Matthew R. Golden. "Mycoplasma Genitalium: Should We Treat and How?" Clinical Infectious Diseases: An Official Publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America 53, no. 3. doi:Oxford University Press. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3213402/
  5. Khosropour, Christina M., Lisa E. Manhart, Catherine W. Gillespie, M. Sylvan Lowens, Matthew R. Golden, Nicole L. Jensen, George E. Kenny, and Patricia A. Totten. "Efficacy of Standard Therapies against Ureaplasma Species and Persistence among Men with Non-gonococcal Urethritis Enrolled in a Randomized Controlled Trial." PubMed Central. National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4509962/

Medically Reviewed by on Jun 18, 2019

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