Is My Penis Discharge Normal?

When fluid flows from your penis, it is called a penile discharge. The discharge’s thickness and hue (milky white, greenish, or yellow) can differ. Most penile discharge are normal, however, an illness, especially a sexually transmitted infection, could cause discharge. Urethritis is a term that describes inflammation of the urethra caused by a variety of factors, which is frequently accompanied by penile discharge. (1)

Itching, rash, redness, or swelling may accompany discharge, as well as bloody or pink-colored urine (hematuria). Penis discharge can be very unpleasant and cause problems with daily activities, sexual intercourse, and urination. It can also cause flu-like symptoms (fatigue, fever, sore throat, headache, cough, aches, and pains) in addition to symptoms in and around your penis. (1)

Simply speaking, any substance (other than pee) that flows from the urethra (a thin tube in the penis) and out the tip of the penis is considered a male discharge.

The urethra is a small tube that transports urine and sperm from the ejaculatory ducts. These fluids flow through the urethra before departing the body through the urethral opening in the penis’ tip. Some discharges are natural and aid in the protection and lubrication of the penis. Others may develop as a result of a medical issue. To know more the different types of penile discharge, keep reading.

 

Kinds of Discharge

Penile Discharge

 

1. Normal discharge

Pre-ejaculate and ejaculate are both normal discharges. During sexual stimulation and intercourse, these are released from the tip of the penis. Smegma is another substance that can build up around the head of the penis, albeit it is not exactly penile discharge. (2)

The sections below will cover these types of normal male discharge; 

 

Pre-ejaculate  

Preejaculatory fluid is a thick alkaline mucus generated by the bulbourethral glands. Cowper’s glands, or bulbourethral glands, are two pea-sized glands situated beneath the prostate gland.

The bulbourethral glands release up to 4 milliliters (ml) of pre-ejaculate into the urethra during sexual stimulation. (2)

Preejaculatory fluid can;

  • serve as lubricant for the sperm.
  • during intercourse, lubricate the tip of the penis
  • neutralize the acidity left in the urethra by urine residual
  • neutralize the acidity in the vaginal canal

 

Ejaculate

Following sexual arousal, ejaculate, or semen, is a milky, hazy fluid that flows through the urethra and out of the penis. This process is known as ejaculation, and it commonly occurs during orgasm. Semen or ejaculate is a mitxture of sperm cells from the testes and seminal fluid from the prostate and other accessory organs of the male reproductive system.

 

Smegma

Skin cells, skin oils, and moisture combine to form smegma, a thick, white material. The sebaceous glands in the skin around the genitals secrete it. Smegma builds up between the head of the penis and the foreskin in uncurcumised males. Smegma is a natural lubricant that keeps the genitals wet while allowing the foreskin to retract during sexual activity.

However, smegma buildup may produce a foul odor and can act as a breeding ground for bacteria. Washing the penis once per day with clean, warm water will help reduce smegma buildup.

Note: Doctors advise that men should avoid washing the penis too frequently with soap or shower gel, as these products can cause irritation and soreness.

 

2. Abnormal Discharge

Any substance that comes out of the penis that isn’t pee or sperm is considered an abnormal penile discharge. Watery (clear) or cloudy (containing pus) and/or bloody penile discharge is possible. A medical practitioner must diagnose and treat abnormal discharge from the penis as soon as possible. (3) 

Penile discharge is normally not a medical emergency. However, it could be a sign of a contagious disease. If symptoms persist or become disturbing, seek medical help right away.

Man hand holding on middle crotch of trousers

Unusual discharge coming from your penis could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection. If you are concerned about your sexual health, an STI test is a good place to start. This way, you can ensure that your health is protected and treat the right problem effectively.

A variety of STDs can cause penile discharges; Chlamydia is the number-one STD reported by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States. Only 10 percent of men with documented cases have symptoms, says the CDC. When symptoms in men are present, they can include: urethritis, watery or mucus-like discharge from the tip of the penis, pain or swelling in the testicles. (10)

Another common and frequently transmitted STD that may have no symptoms is gonorrhea. Men with gonorrhea may experience whitish, yellowish, or even greenish fluid coming from the tip of the penis, pain when urinating, swollen testicles. (10)

 

When do I need to see a Doctor?

You should see a doctor if you have discharge from the penis that is not any of the following:

  • urine
  • pre-ejaculate
  • ejaculate
  • smegma

Male discharge isn’t always indicative of a problem. It can arise as a result of a transient increase in smegma or pre-ejaculate production. (2)

In other circumstances, a person may just be more aware of the discharge, possibly because they are paying closer attention to their penis or because they are suddenly self-conscious. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should see a doctor regarding penile discharge:

  • Pain in the penis when peeing, having intercourse, or bathing
  • Swelling of the penis or the area around it.
  • An unpleasant odor emanating from the penis
  • A fever or other symptoms of infection, such as nausea, are common.

Even if you don’t have any of these symptoms, speaking with a doctor about normal discharge might be encouraging. A doctor can assist you in determining what is and is not normal. (2)

 

What will a doctor do if you have an Abnormal Discharge?

Any penile discharge that isn’t urine or isn’t related to sexual excitement (pre-ejaculate or ejaculate) is abnormal and should be evaluated by a doctor. Your doctor will:

  • Have a look at your medical and sexual background
  • inquire about your signs and symptoms
  • Examine your penis, collect some discharge with a cotton swab, and submit the sample to a lab for analysis.
  • The cause of the penile discharge will determine the treatment.
  • Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial illnesses.
  • Antifungals are used to treat fungal infections, such as those caused by yeast.
  • Steroids can help to relieve allergic inflammation. (9)

 

How to avoid Abnormal Discharge

By keeping the following recommendations in mind, you may be able to alleviate your symptoms and prevent recurrence:

  • When you pee, pull your foreskin back if you’re not circumcised. This prevents urine from penetrating beneath the surface and creating discomfort.
  • Bathe regularly. If you’re not circumcised, make sure to wash beneath your foreskin to avoid dirt or bacteria buildup.
  • Dry your penis with a towel. It’s best not to rub your penis dry because it can irritate the skin. Make sure to dry the skin beneath your foreskin as well.
  • Wear loose cotton underwear. This style of underwear allows your genital area to breathe, preventing odours and infections caused by sweat, bacteria, and other substances.
  • You should trim your pubic hair. Moisture, filth, and bacteria can be trapped in long pubic hair. Keep your pubic hair short but not fully shaved.
  • Always use condoms when having sex. This can help to prevent the transmission of STIs and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Don’t have intercourse with someone who is experiencing STI symptoms.
  • After you’ve had sex, clean your penis. This aids the removal of bacteria and irritants from the penis.