Sexual Health Problems in Men

Sexual Health Problems in Men

There are some sexual health problems which happen to both men and women, blithely regardless of sex - contracting STIs and STDs for example. Rashes or patches of irritation around the scrotum and under the breasts are also common, especially in the heat where there might be excess sweating. But not all. So, let’s have a quick anatomy session. Sexual health problems can be caused injuries which are all too easy to cause in the penis and scrotum, because these areas are not protected by bone. In fact, their only protection is often just the thin material of boxer shorts and trousers! Unless they’re playing a contact sport in which case boys and men will usually wear a box. Injuries to this sensitive area occur most often with falls, with work-related hazards, such as handling toxic chemicals, sexual activity and during recreation/sports – football, mountain biking, rugby, etc. A genital injury usually doesn’t require any treatment, the advice is to keep an eye on it and seek a medical assessment if it worsens. Prevention is better than cure here, so always wear a condom to drastically cut down your risk of catching anything that’s sexually transmitted.

Male sexual health infections.

As with all parts of the body, infections can arise in any part of the genitals: urethra, testicle, epidydimis, prostate, bladder, hair follicle abscess or even a deeper abscess in the scrotum. Most of which might bring a tear to a suffering man’s eye. But it gets more serious with:

  • -Genital herpes.
  • -Farniere’s Gangrene.
  • -Balanitis (an infection on the head of the penis, beneath the foreskin).

The signs of these, and other potential problems, include recurrent, unfamiliar pain and blood in the semen – which is usually because of inflammation or infection of the surrounding area.

Rashes in the groin area are also common with most being as result of ringworm or a yeast infection. These can mostly be treated at home with over the counter remedies like fungal cream, but a pharmacist will be able to advise you and you can always have a private consultation so you aren’t discussing intimate details in front of a queue of people.

However, sometimes these rashes can be the first sign of an STI. If you suspect that might be the case because you’ve been exposed to something, then absolutely do not have sexual contact with anyone, not even the person you think you caught it from. Seek a doctor ASAP, either your own GP or at a sexual health clinic. You will be at risk of spreading the infection to others and you will also need a professional medical assessment.

Younger boys can also cause an injury to themselves by accident if they are putting objects or toys near the penis accidentally. Anything that’s wrapped around the penis needs immediate medical assessment in order to avoid further injuries. Basically, if it hurts, get it seen to!

Other male genital conditions.

  • 1.Testicular cancer is the obvious one, it’s the most common cancer in men aged between 15-35 years and it’s more often seen in white men than black men. You probably know that testicles should be checked periodically and any lumps found need to be looked at. The majority of testicular lumps are harmless, e.g. cysts, but some may be more serious so a professional medical assessment is needed. Interestingly, the main sign of this type of cancer is having a painless lump down there. But if in doubt, get it checked out. Doctors would always like to see patients early if they’ve found something than leave it until later when treatment options might be limited.
  • 2.Erection problems. Lots of men experience erectile dysfunction at some point or other in their lives, where they have problems getting, or maintaining an erection. For the majority, the causes of this are psychological, often happening when someone is depressed, stressed, anxious or placing too much importance on becoming erect. Happily, this means that for most people it won’t turn into a long term problem and they can be treated with counselling and medication if required. Longer-term erectile dysfunction needs to be thoroughly checked out, and if nothing is found, there are treatments available to help, the main one being Viagra. This isn’t the Holy Grail of solving erection problems though and it should only be prescribed by your doctor, while you stay under their care. Buying it online is a very bad idea and potentially life threatening.

The other major erection problem is something which some men may not see as a problem at all – it’s a condition called priapism which means that the erection won’t go away. You’ve got up to four hours to seek immediate medical attention because if you don’t then the damage caused to the blood vessels in the penis mean that erections won’t be possible in the future. If you have an erection for an hour or more then go to A&E because this is a medical emergency.

  • 3.Testicular torsion. This painful condition is when the testicles twist around the spermatic cord and cuts off the bloody supply to the testicles. For obvious reasons this too is a medical emergency.

It’s worth remembering that if you’re suffering from any sexual health issues whatsoever, there is treatment out there and doctors who are specially trained to deal with these issues. If you’re concerned, never ‘wait and see’, always get checked out. Doctors would always rather see a healthy patient than one who needs urgent hospital treatment.

Stuart Brown
Doctor of Sexual Health at the NHS Royal London Hospital & Relationship Expert. Columnist at An advocate of safe sex. Avid Arsenal fan.

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