Male discharge is any substance, asides from urine which passes through the urethra, a narrow penile tube, to the tip of the penis.
The normal discharge from the penis includes ejaculate and pre-ejaculate, occurring during sexual activity or arousal. Other penile discharge may be a sign of an STD.Uncircumcised men may also discharge smegma, which is normal. Smegma is accumulated dead skin cells and oils. This is known as a skin condition, but not discharge.
Why does normal penile discharge occur?
Pre-ejaculate, also called precum is a clear, mucosal fluid synthesised in the Cowper’s gland, which sits along the urethra. During sexual arousal, pre-ejaculate comes out from the tip of the penis.
Some men secrete a few drops while others may secrete up to a teaspoon full. In a few cases, men secrete more pre-ejaculate. It helps lubricate the penis for easy penetration and clear acids from urine accumulated in the penis. Lower penile acidity leads to more survival of sperm.
Ejaculate is a penile discharge that is secreted from the tip of the penis during orgasm. It is white, cloudy and has a gooey consistency. Its synthesis occurs in the Cowper’s gland and seminal vesicles found in the testicles.
About a percent of ejaculate is sperm and 99% water, enzymes, sugar and protein. On average, men ejaculate a teaspoon of semen which contains 200 – 500 million sperm cells.
What causes other male discharges?
Different conditions may cause abnormal male discharge, and they include the following.
Urethritis is a urethral infection which causes inflammation. Sometimes, it shows no symptoms, and in the few cases when symptoms occur, they include the following.
- A burning sensation while passing urine
- Greenish or yellowish penile discharge
- An urgent need to urinate
This condition usually results from bacterial infection contracted during unprotected sex with an infected person. The following sexually transmitted diseases may cause urethritis.
- Herpes simplex virus
Sometimes, urethritis results from common urinary tract infection ( UTI).
Balanitis is ccondition known to cause an inflammation of the glans or head of the penis. This condition can affect both uncircumcised and circumcised men. However, research showed that it is more common in uncircumcised men and affects only about 3% of circumcised men worldwide. Its symptoms include:
- Pain while urinating
- Smelly discharge from under the foreskin
- Blotchy and red rash
Balanitis results from any of the following.
- Poor hygiene
When uncircumcised men do not pull back the foreskin of the penis and clean it regularly, it may lead to accumulation of urine, dead skin, and urine which acts as a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria, leading to irritation.
Lotions, condoms, soaps, lubricants and other products may cause balanitis
- Sexually transmitted diseases
Some STDs may lead to inflammation of the head of the penis.
This condition occurs with prosthitis most times. Prosthitis is the inflammation of the foreskin. Inflammation of the head of the penis and foreskin is known as balanoposthitis.
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
This condition is usually common in women. However, bacteria from the rectum can enter the urinary tract due to improper bowel clean, causing UTI. Common symptoms of UTI in men include:
- Urgent need to pass urine
- Pus or clear fluid from the penis
- Cloudy and foul-smelling urine
- Burning sensation while passing urine
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Different STDs may lead to male discharge. They include the following.
Chlamydia is a common STD, affecting several sexually active persons, but they remain unaware because the condition rarely shows symptoms. When symptoms occur in men, they include testicular pain and swelling, urethritis, and watery or mucus-like penile discharge.
Gonorrhoea is also a common STD. Most people, including men and women, rarely show symptoms. In a few cases, men may notice testicular swelling, pain while urinating, and greenish, whitish or yellowish penile discharge.
When to see a doctor
If you notice a discharge apart from urine or those related to sexual arousals like ejaculate or pre-ejaculate, you need to see your doctor for medical evaluation. Your doctor may do the following during your examination.
- Ask about your symptoms
- Ask about your sexual and medical history
- Use a cotton swab to take some discharge for laboratory analysis
- Examine your penis
The doctor may administer any of the following treatments, depending on the cause of the discharge.
- Antibiotics for bacterial infections
- Antifungals for fungal infections
- Steroids for allergic irritation
Normal penile discharge occurs from only sexual arousal, and they include ejaculate and pre-ejaculate. They do not cause discomfort or pain. If you notice any abnormal discharge from your penis, visit your doctor as soon as possible.
You can consult a doctor at STI Clinic London or visit us here to book an appointment with our sexual health expert if you experience abnormal penile discharge.