While it is quite normal for the penis to swell with blood during sexual arousal to form an erection, the soft tissues in the structure of the penis can become swollen and painful because of an injury.
The skin, 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 concerned about penis swelling or pain, see your doctor.
What causes penis injury, swelling or pain?
Injuries to the penis can occur during sexual intercourse; or because of scratches and bites, knocks or burns; or because of internal injury caused by objects inserted into the urethra. Sometimes contact with creams and lotions that cause a local allergic reaction can cause painful swelling.
You can fracture your penis if too much force is put on it while it's erect, including during sex or when masturbating. You might hear a crack or a pop, followed by bruising and pain. A fractured penis needs urgent surgery, preferably within 6 hours of the fracture.
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 myself?
If you have penis swelling, injury or pain, here’s how you can look after yourself.
- If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure to the site for at least 10 minutes using your fingertips.
- Do not try to remove any foreign body since 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 the penis or scrotum, this should be removed immediately — as long as you can do so without injuring yourself.
- An ice pack may relieve swelling but should not be placed directly against the skin. Try wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a cloth, such as a clean tea towel, and mould this around the swollen area.
- Do not wrap anything around the penis or scrotum, including bandages, a tourniquet or sticky tape.
- Do not apply any creams, lotions or homemade remedies to any wounds.
- Any cuts or grazes can be temporarily covered with a clean, dry dressing or cotton handkerchief.
- Loosely covering the area with clean cling film is a good alternative to a dressing and is especially useful if the area has been burnt.
- 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.
- Avoid sexual intercourse and masturbation until the pain settles.
- Wear close-fitting underpants to give support to the painful area.
Do you think the injury was deliberate?
If you suspect a penis injury — either to yourself or to someone else — was inflicted on purpose, seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. You could visit a doctor or hospital emergency department, or get help from a health visitor or school nurse.
If you are unsure whom to speak to, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria).
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your penis swelling or injury, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self-care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2019