There are a lot of very delicate parts carrying out very important bodily functions taking place below your belt and between your legs. This also means, unfortunately, that there's a lot that can go wrong.
Here are six of the most common pains that can crop up down below, as well as the possible causes of – and solutions to – each of them.
1. Why does the tip of my penis hurt?
The pain: A burning or sharp pain at the tip of your penis.
The cause: If you’re lucky, this could just be the result of a little soap or shampoo slipping inside the opening at the end of your penis, says Dr. Tobias Köhler, urology chair at Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois. If this is the case, you're likely to feel irritation immediately after the soap creeps into your urethra, but sometimes you won't feel any discomfort until you urinate.
If the pain doesn’t go away after a day or two, it could be a sign of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially if it’s accompanied by a green-ish or white-ish discharge. Another possible cause, according to Köhler, is a kidney stone, although the pain in your tip would usually be accompanied by an ache in your lower stomach.
The solution: Give it a couple days. If the pain goes away or fades, you’re fine. If it persists or gets worse, it's probably time to see a doctor.
2. My does my scrotum hurt?
The pain: A dull, heavy ache in your scrotum that seems to show up after you’ve lifted weights, moved heavy furniture, or were standing for a long period of time. Typically, the pain will subside when you lie down.
The cause: Varicocele, which is an enlargement of the veins within your scrotum that heats up your testicles and causes tenderness or a dull pain. “A lot of guys describe this as having blue worms in their sack,” Köhler says. Blood collecting due to the scrotal veins enlarging can hurt your ability to produce sperm and testosterone.
The symptoms can depend on which stage varicocele you have. Grade 3 varicoceles are largest and most noticeable, and can feel thick and lumpy. Grade 2 are not as intense, though they still may feel a little ropey. You may not even notice if you have a grade 1 varicocele.
The solution: See a doctor as soon as possible, although there's not need to peel into the emergency room.
3. Why does my erection hurt?
The pain: An erection that won’t go away, and hurts like hell.
The cause: Though most men who suffer from erectile dysfunction are not able to get blood to flow into the penis, a perma-boner is the result of a priapism, or a problem with the way blood flows out of the penis while erect. During a healthy erection, blood should be flowing both ways, according to Köhler
Eventually, the blood trapped in your penis as a result of a priapism becomes “deoxygenated,” which causes pain. Köhler says this typically happens to men who are mixing erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra or Cialis with drugs like cocaine or ecstasy. So yeah, don't do that. A priapism can also be caused by erectile dysfunction medication that is injected directly into the penis, which we would also advise against.
“Or, it may come about for no reason at all,” Köhler adds. OK then.
The solution: Emergency room. ASAP.
4. Why do my testicles hurt?
The pain: A sharp, shooting pain in your testicles that doesn’t let up and may be accompanied by nausea or vomiting.
The cause: One testicle may have become twisted in your scrotum, which cuts off the blood flow and oxygen it needs to stay healthy. “Basically, this is like your testicle is having a heart attack,” Köhler explains. The condition is called “testicular torsion,” and it could cost you one of your boys if you don’t act fast, he says.
Testicles are attached to the body by spermatic cords, which run into the abdomen, and by fleshy anchors near the scrotum. It's not terribly uncommon for men to be born without the latter, which increases the likelihood of testicular torsion.
Do this: Emergency room. Now. “If you don’t untwist the testicle within a couple hours, you could lose it,” Köhler says. Dr. Jon Pryor, a urologist with the University of Minnesota, concurs. “If you catch it in 4 to 6 hours, you can usually save the testicle,” he says. “But after 12 to 24 hours, you’ll probably lose it.”
5. Why does the top of my scrotum ache?
The pain: A persistent ache or tenderness at the top of the scrotum, near the base of the penis. It may gradually become worse, and could be accompanied by swelling or redness.
The cause: This is likely epididymitis, or an infection of the epididymis, the small organ located between your penis and testicles that stores your sperm while they learn how to swim, says Köhler. In men younger than 35, this infection is usually caused by an STI. In men 35 and older, it’s more often the cause of a bacterial infection.
The solution: Get it checked out by a physician as soon as possible. If the pain keeps getting worse, you could be dealing with testicular torsion (see above), in which case you need to get to the emergency room, stat.
6. Why does it burn when I pee?
The pain: A sharp pain during urination.
The cause: The worst-case scenario is that you're dealing with bladder cancer, according to Joseph A. Smith, M.D., chairman of the department of urologic surgery at Vanderbilt University. Pain during urination and blood in the urine, which can cause a rusty discoloration.
A more common cause, however, is a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is happens when bacteria finds its way into your urethra. Another possibility is that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) like gonorrhea.
The solution: Go to a doctor!