Any discomfort in the genital area is very embarrassing, stressful and painful. Genital infections can happen to anyone and they can be non-STD or STDs. Infection can lead to rashes, abscess, testicle knot or lump, problems with scrotum and penis.
In this article we will look at some of the more commonly occurring genital infections in men, their causes, risks, treatment and prevention measures that can be taken to avoid recurring of such infections.
Genital Infections in Men
Genital infections in men can be caused due to various agents like bacteria, virus and fungus. Some of these infections can be contagious and special care should be taken to avoid sexual relations at such times. Some of the more commonly seen infections are given below:
1. Thrush in Men
When an infection is caused in the genital area by a fungus – Candida albicans, it is called thrush. Thrush is basically a yeast infection and is seen more often in women than men. Thrush is called Candidiasis medically.
Symptoms: It is possible that thrush may not cause any symptoms in men; however, given below are the signs and symptoms that can be seen:
- The tip of the penis or part under the foreskin might experience redness, red patches, irritation, burning and itching.
- Foul smelling, curd like discharge accumulated under the foreskin.
- Pain and difficulty when pulling the foreskin back.
Risks: Candida albicans is naturally present in the moist areas of the body like the mouth and genitals. It does not affect the body since the immune system does not allow it to multiply and cause damage. In the following conditions, the risk of getting infected increases:
- The immune system is weakened.
- Obesity which causes skin to fold and gives the fungus a chance to thrive in.
- Diabetes 1 or 2 leads to high glucose, which causes fungus to grow. Diabetics sweat a lot, which also creates an environment for fungus to grow.
Treatment: The treatment for thrush depends on where the infection has happened. Usually only topical application of creams is required. Prescription medication is generally not required. For thrush affecting any region in the genital except the penis, Imidazole cream can be used topically. It is an anti-fungal cream for genetic infections in men. If the penis is affected with thrush, the preferred treatment is Fluconazole. Alternatively, even Clotrimazole cream can be used. When thrush symptoms do not clear within 14 days after using imidazole, fluconazole is used.
Prevention: By following a certain steps in daily routine, thrush can be prevented. Keep the penis clean at all times and always use a condom, especially if the partner has thrush. Perfumed soaps and shower gels can cause irritation, hence should be avoided. Drying the genital area properly is important. Loose and cotton under garment will not cause moisture build up. This also ensures that area under the foreskin is dry and there is less chance of candida fungus growing.
Note: Although thrush can pass from person to person during sex, it is not a sexually transmitted infection. Both partners should take treatment to prevent re-infection, however, chances of re-infection for female is higher. Doctor should be consulted.
2. Genital Sores
Genital sores are also one of the genital infections in men. It is any sore or lesion which can appear on the penis, scrotum or urethra. Genital sores are mainly caused due the infections which spread due to sexual contact. Some of them are:
- Genital herpes: Small and painful blisters which might be filled with fluid that is either clear or straw colored.
- Genital warts: Flat or raised cauliflower spots on the skin.
- Chancroid: Starts as a bump, but within a day it'll form an ulcer.
- Syphilis: Like chancroid and it has open sores or ulcers that are small and painless.
- Granuloma inguinale: Small but beefy bumps which are red in color and appear on the genitals and around the anus.
- Lymphogranuloma venereum: Small painless sores on the genitalia.
Sometimes the genital sores can also be caused due to other reasons like psoriasis, molluscum contagiosum, allergic reactions and other non-sexually transmitted infections.
Precautions: Ensure that there is no sexual contact till the condition is treated. Self-care can make it difficult for the doctor to determine the root cause of the condition. Hence, it should be avoided and a doctor should be consulted first.
When to See a Doctor: Doctor should be consulted if there is appearance of any explained genital sores or if there are sores appearing on other parts of the body.
Genital Human Papillomavirus, one of the common genital infections in men, is a very commonly found virus, with over 40 different types, which transmit via sexual contact and causes genital infection in men. Most of the sexually active people in US will have it sometime in life. It usually affects the genital area like skin on and around the penis and anus. It can also affect the mouth and throat.
It is transmitted most commonly via vaginal or anal sex and sometimes during oral sex. Since it does not have symptoms, people with HPV may not be aware of contracting it, but can pass it on. Even men with single partner for life can contract HPV.
Signs and symptoms are not always seen in HPV infection, however, when seen, they are as below:
They can be singular or multiple growths in the genital area, thighs and anus. It can be raised or flat and appear like cauliflower. They may not be painful and can appear weeks or months after sexual contact.
This can remain asymptomatic, however, there can be anal bleeding, pain, itching and discharge. The lymph nodes in the anal or groin area can get swollen. The shape of stools and bowel habits can change.
It begins with change in color of the penis, followed by thickening of the skin or tissue build up. There is abnormal growth or sore on the penis, which usually is painless. It can however get painful and bleed.
Cancers of the oropharynx
Characterized by constant sore throat or ear pain and coughing. Pain while swallowing or breathing. Weight loss, changes in voice for over 2 weeks, hoarseness, lump or mass in neck.
Treatment: Genital warts can be removed surgically, medicated or frozen by doctor. Treatments can be done at home also, but the chance of recurrence is high. If left untreated, they can disappear, remain the same or grow in size. They do not turn cancerous. Treating HPV does not mean the man will not transmit HPV to the sexual partner. Cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. It should be discussed with the doctor and right treatment should be chosen.
4. Chlamydial Genital Infection
One of the common genital infections in men, it is caused by gram negative, small, obligate intracellular bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatic and affects human columnar and transitional epithelium. It causes Ocular infection, genitourinary infections and lymphogranuloma venereum, a rare STI which causes genital ulcers and inguinal lymphadenopathy.
Symptoms: Men may exhibit epididymal tenderness, mucoid or mucopurulent discharge and perineal fullness caused due to prostatitis. They can also experience classical urethritis with dysuria, epididymo-orchitis, urethral discharge as well as unilateral testicular pain and swelling. Fever can also be seen sometimes.
Treatment: Chlamydia treatment includes taking Doxycycline (100 mg) twice daily for a week. Even 1 g dose of Azithromycin taken once can be taken. If these drugs are contraindicated for some reason, erythromycin (500 mg) can be taken twice daily for 2 weeks or four times daily for a week. Ofloxacin (200mg) can also be taken twice daily for a week or 400 mg once daily.