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Penis injury, swelling or pain

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Injuries to the penis can happen during sexual intercourse (sex), or due to scratches, bites, knocks or burns; or if you insert an object into the urethra.
  • You can fracture (break) your penis if too much force is put on it while it's erect, including during sex or when masturbating.
  • Peyronie's disease can make the penis painful, bent, or less flexible, causing it to become hard and swollen.
  • If a doctor suspects that a child's penis injury is due to sexual or physical abuse, they are obligated by law to report the case to government authorities.

What is penis injury, swelling or pain?

It is quite normal for the penis to swell with blood during sexual arousal to form an erection. However, sometimes the soft tissues in the structure of the penis can become swollen and painful due to an injury.

The foreskin and scrotum have very sensitive skin which can become swollen, inflamed and painful after an injury. More rarely, the shaft or head of the penis can appear swollen because of fluid tracking down from the abdomen due to gravity.

Blood at the tip of the penis or in the urine is a sign of a serious injury. If you are worried about penis swelling or pain, see your doctor.

What injuries or conditions can cause a swollen penis?

Penile injuries

Injuries to the penis can occur during sexual intercourse (sex), or because of scratches and bites, knocks or burns. You can cause an internal injury if you insert an object into the urethra (the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis).

The penis can also be injured if a tight ring or stiff object is placed around the penis and blocks blood flow.

Skin allergies

Sometimes contact with creams and lotions that cause a local allergic reaction can cause painful swelling.

Penile fracture

You can fracture (break) your penis if you place too much force on it while it's erect, including during sex or when masturbating. You might hear a crack or a pop. As there is no bone in the penis, you can't have a broken penis the way you might have a broken leg. However, the soft tissue in the penis can tear, causing a bruising and pain. A fractured penis needs urgent surgery, preferably within 6 hours of the fracture.

Peyronie's disease

The penis can also become hard and swollen if you have Peyronie's disease. This condition can cause the penis to be painful, bent or less flexible. Peyronie's disease usually gets better on its own.

How do I look after my penis?

Here are some tips to help if you hurt your penis:

  • Bleeding — apply direct pressure to the site for at least 10 minutes using your fingertips.
  • Foreign body — Do not try to remove any foreign body, as this may cause more damage or serious bleeding. It is very important that a foreign body is removed only by a doctor. If there is anything tight around your penis or scrotum, remove this immediately — as long as you can do so without injuring yourself.
  • Swelling — Use ice pack to help relieve swelling, but don't place it directly on your skin. Wrap a bag of frozen peas in a cloth, such as a clean tea towel, and mould this around the swollen area.
  • Cuts or grazes — Cover with a clean, dry dressing or thin cotton cloth.
  • Burns — Loosely cover the area with clean cling film (plastic kitchen wrap), as a good alternative to a dressing — this is especially useful if the area has been burnt.
  • Pain — Wear close-fitting underpants to give support to the painful area.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What if I have penis swelling, injury or pain?

Things to avoid if you have penis swelling, injury or pain:

  • Do not wrap anything around the penis or scrotum, including bandages, a tourniquet or sticky tape.
  • Do not use any creams, lotions or homemade remedies to any wounds.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse and masturbation until the pain settles.

When should I see my doctor?

If there is any bleeding, a foreign body, a burn or other serious injury to your penis, you should see your doctor. If you are in pain, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on medicines you can take.

Protect the area as much as possible to prevent further damage or injury when going to see your doctor or to hospital.

To find your nearest hospital emergency department or after-hours medical service, use the healthdirect Service Finder tool.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Do you think a child's injury was deliberate?

If you suspect that a child's penis injury was inflicted on purpose it is especially important to see a doctor. The child's doctor will examine the child, document their findings and will treat the child as needed. If the doctor suspects sexual or physical abuse, they are obligated by law to report the case to government authorities.

Resources and support

For related genital health information see healthdirect's articles:

  • penis care — with tips on hygiene to prevent irritation and infection
  • testicular torsion — what to check for if you have pain and swelling in the scrotum
  • balanitis — when the head of the penis (the glans) becomes inflamed

For more information about Peyronie's disease and fractured penis, see the Healthy Male website.

Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria) for more information and advice.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: December 2023

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