Various problems may occur if the male sex organs change or are affected by medical conditions:
- Pain, for example constant or only during sex
- Itching, red skin and swelling
- Discharge from the urethra
- Burning sensation and difficulties urinating (peeing), urinary retention
- Erection problems and fertility problems
- Painful, long-lasting erection (priapism)
- Hormonal imbalances
Some men experience problems related to other underlying conditions – such as erection problems in men who have diabetes. Other men have problems because changes occur in only a single organ, such as a benign enlarged prostate.
In general, problems in the genital area can be caused by many different things, such as viral, bacterial or fungal infections. Typical examples include genital warts, inflammation of the head of the penis (balanitis) or inflammations caused by sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea.
As a result of developmental disorders or malformations, the testicles may not drop down from the abdominal cavity into the scrotum before birth. This can cause infertility. If the foreskin – which is still attached to the head of the penis in young boys – does not loosen during the first few years of the boy’s life, he will have a tight foreskin (phimosis). In some men, the connective tissue in the penis becomes hardened and tight, causing the penis to curve.
Problems are often associated with the blood vessels, too. Varicose veins on the testicles (varicoceles) can cause swelling, pain and infertility, for instance. One testicle can become painfully twisted and then no longer get a proper supply of blood. If that happens, some testicle tissue may die off. Erection problems are often caused by chronically damaged blood vessels in the penis.
If an erect penis is suddenly bent sharply or squashed, the blood-filled erectile tissue may become damaged. This can cause major bruising (“penile fracture”).
Non-cancerous growths may occur in tissue like the skin or the connective tissue of the penis or scrotum. They may also develop in the gland tissue of the internal male sex organs, like the testicles or the epididymis. The most common cancerous tumors that affect the male sex organs include prostate cancer, testicular cancer and skin cancer on the penis. Tumors on the penis often develop due to abnormal changes in skin cells or mucous membrane cells. Known as dysplasia, these changes make the cells multiply faster than normal. Dyplasia on the penis is also called penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN).