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Men's Health

Causes of discharge in males

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Male discharge is any fluid other than urine which comes from the urethra.

The urethra is a tiny tube that carries urine from the bladder and the ejaculatory ducts from the semen. These fluids travel along the urethra before they exit the body at the opening of the urethra in the tip of the penis.

Some types of discharge are natural and assist in protecting or lubricating the penis. Others may be due to an underlying health condition.

Symptoms such as pain, irritation or an unpleasant smell can accompany these.

The article describes the forms of penile discharge considered normal by physicians and those found abnormal. They describe the signs of each and give information on when to see a doctor.

What is normal discharge?

Preejaculate and ejaculate are part of normal discharge.
Preejaculate and ejaculate are part of normal discharge.

Common discharge requires both pre-ejaculation and ejaculation. Those are produced during sexual arousal and intercourse from the tip of the penis.

Though not necessarily discharge from the penis, smegma is another substance that can build up around the head of the penis.

The sections below will go into more depth on these types of normal male discharge.

Preejaculate

Preejaculatory fluid is a thick alkaline mucus formed in the bulbourethral glands, or precum. Two pea-sized glands under the prostate gland are the bulbourethral glands, or Cowper’s glands.

The bulbourethral glands secret up to 4 milliliters (ml) of preejaculate into the urethra during sexual stimulation.

Preejaculatory fluid may:

  • function as a lubricant for semen
  • lubricate the tip of the penis during intercourse
  • neutralize acidity left by urine residue in the urethra
  • neutralize vaginal acidity

Whereas bulbourethral glands release pre-ejaculatory fluid, it is the testes that release sperm. However, a 2011 study found that some preejaculate contains live sperm. Pre-ejaculatory samples from participants included up to 23 million sperm.

Researchers are not sure whether pre-ejaculate is contaminated immediately before ejaculation or contaminated with sperm left over from previous ejaculation.

Ejaculate

Ejaculate, or semen, is a milky, cloudy fluid that travels through the urethra and out of the penis after sexual stimulation. This process is called ejaculation, and it usually occurs during orgasm.

Healthy sperm concentrations in semen are approximately 15–150 million sperm per ml of semen.

The sperm is produced in the testes. They mature inside the ducts behind the testes. These ducts are called epididymis, and the vas defers.

During sexual stimulation, the sperm mixes with the semen to form the semen. Seminal fluid is a white liquid produced by prostate glands and glands called seminal vesicles.

Sperm make up a small part of semen. Semen is composed of the following:

  • 1–5% sperm
  • around 5% secretions from the bulbourethral glands
  • 15–30% secretions from the prostate
  • fluid from the seminal vesicle

Smegma

Smegma is a thick, white substance made up of skin cells, oils and moisture. The sebaceous glands in the skin around the genitals are secreted. In males, smegma tends to build between the head of the penis and the foreskin.

Smegma is a natural lubricant that helps keep your genitals moist and allows your foreskin to retract during sexual intercourse.

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

That said, males should avoid washing the penis too often with soap or shower gel, as these products can cause irritation and soreness.

What is abnormal discharge?

Presence of male discharge at times other than sexual stimulation may indicate a underlying health concern. Some of these are described in the sections below.

Balanitis

Balanitis is an inflammation of the skin around the head of the penis. When the inflammation also affects the foreskin, it is referred to as balanoposthitis.

Some of the symptoms of balanitis include:

  • thick, lumpy discharge that is either white or yellow
  • an unpleasant smell
  • a red, inflamed rash or swelling
  • irritation, soreness, itching, or burning
  • pain when urinating

Many factors can cause balanitis, including:

  • Poor hygiene: The area underneath the foreskin requires regular cleaning. Dead skin cells, urine residue, and sweat provide the ideal environment for irritation-causing bacteria to breed.
  • Allergies: Urine, soaps, condoms, and lubricants can irritate the skin on the penis.
  • Skin conditions: Eczema, psoriasis, or lichen sclerosus may cause redness and inflammation.
  • Infection: Bacterial or fungal infections can make the head of the penis sore, tender, and itchy.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs such as herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cause blistering and inflammation in the area around the genitals.

Both circumcised and uncircumcised males may develop balanitis. However, one study in 2017 found that balanitis is 68 per cent less prevalent among circumcised males than among uncircumcised males.

Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common infection that affects about 3.7 million people in the United States. Trichomonas vaginalis parasite causes trichomonosis.

Approximately 70% of people with trichomoniasis have no symptoms. If symptoms occur in males, they may include:

  • thin, white penile discharge
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • pain during ejaculation
  • swelling around the head of the penis or the foreskin

Urethritis

Urethritis is characterized by inflammation of the urethra and may be infectious or non-infectious.

Urethritis is often caused by an STI. It is called gonococcal urethritis if it develops due to gonorrhea. If the cause is unknown, it is called non-gonococcal urethritis.

Over 40% of people with non-gonococcal urethritis do not experience symptoms.

However, some males may have the following symptoms:

  • cloudy or white discharge from the tip of the penis
  • irritation and soreness at the urethral opening
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • testicular pain or swelling

The following pathogens can also cause urethritis:

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Mycoplasma genitalium
  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • HSV
  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • adenovirus

C. Trachomatis is the most common cause of non-gonococcal urethritis. It accounts for about 15–40 percent of cases.

Urethritis may also result from vigorous sex, masturbation, and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

UTIs

UTI is a common type of bacterial infection. They are affecting part of the urinary system. The urinary system involves the bladder, kidneys, and urethra.

UTIs occur when bacteria from the skin or rectum enter the urethra and cause urinary tract infection.

UTIs tend to be more common in females with shorter urethra that is closer to the rectum. This makes it easier for bacteria to get into the urethra and reach the bladder and kidneys.

However, males can develop UTIs as well. Males with UTI may develop symptoms such as:

  • cloudy urine that contains pus
  • red, pink, or brown urine that contains blood
  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • a need to urinate more than usual
  • strong-smelling urine
  • nausea or vomiting

Factors that increase the risk of developing a UTI include:

  • engaging in unprotected sexual activity, particularly with a new partner
  • having had a previous UTI
  • having kidney stones
  • having an enlarged prostate
  • having a weakened immune system from diabetes, HIV, or chemotherapy
  • using a urinary catheter

A person can not pass a UTI on to a sexual partner. However, during sex, a person may experience pain and discomfort.

STIs

STIs may spread from person to person as a result of unprotected sexual activity and genital contact.

STIs that may cause abnormal discharge of the penile include:

Chlamydia

Chlamydia is the most widely reported STI in the United States. Most people with chlamydia, however, do not know they have it because it often causes no symptoms.

The cause of chlamydia is C. trachomatis. Such bacteria can cause urethra, rectum, and throat infections.

Chlamydia can cause the following symptoms in males:

  • white, cloudy, or watery penile discharge
  • itching or burning at the tip of the penis
  • a burning sensation when urinating
  • testicular pain

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea, in particular among adolescents and young adults, is a common infection in the US.

N. Gonorrhoeae are responsible for gonorrhea. These bacteria can infect both the rectum and urethra. Infection can also sometimes affect the eyes, throat, and joints.

Gonorrhea symptoms amongst males include:

Symptoms of gonorrhea in males include:

  • white, yellow, or green penile discharge
  • inflammation of the foreskin
  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • swelling in one testicle

When to see a doctor

A male should see a doctor if they experience a penile discharge which is not one of the following:

  • urine
  • preejaculate
  • ejaculate
  • smegma

A doctor may: To determine what causes the penile discharge.

  • ask about the person’s symptoms
  • make a note of their medical and sexual history
  • examine the affected area of the penis
  • ask for a urine sample to identify signs of a UTI
  • swab the affected area and analyze the swab for bacteria and viruses

The doctor will then determine the best course of treatment after determining the cause of the discharge.

Summary

Penis discharge that occurs during sexual arousal as a result of sexual intercourse, and is normal after ejaculation.

Abnormal discharges tend to include:

  • have an unusual color
  • have a foul odor
  • occur without sexual activity
  • be accompanied by pain, burning, or other symptoms

The discharge in these cases could be a sign of a medical condition that requires evaluation and treatment. Taking a doctor’s appointment is important.

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Men's Health

Penis pain: What are the causes?

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Penis pain can be caused by a variety of factors and can range from minor to severe. This discomfort can strike at any time of day or night, during sexual activity, or when peeing. People may also experience discomfort in various locations of the penis or different types of pain, such as intense, dull, throbbing, or shooting pain.

While penile pain can occasionally be relieved at home, some underlying causes may necessitate medical attention. If a person has any concerns, they should seek medical advice.

This article goes through some of the possible reasons of penile pain, as well as the associated symptoms and treatment options.

Peyronie’s disease

penis pain

Peyronie’s disease is a condition in which plaque occurs on the top or bottom of the penis due to scar tissue. Peyronie’s disease has no known origin, but experts believe it is caused by scarring of the penis. This scarring could be caused by an autoimmune disease or a severe or repetitive penis injury.

Peyronie’s disease can cause the following symptoms:

  • lumps on the side of the penis
  • the penis becoming narrower or shorter than usual
  • erectile dysfunction or pain during an erection
  • pain during sex
  • a curve in the penis

If you detect any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor. Peyronie’s disease can go away without therapy in certain cases, and if the curvature is not severe, treatment may not be required. Other people with the condition, on the other hand, may require:

If a person’s symptoms are severe and do not improve, surgery may be required.

Priapism

A prolonged and often painful erection that is not related to sexual activity is referred to as priapism. It happens when blood in the penis becomes stuck and unable to drain, causing tissue injury or destruction. The reason of some occurrences is uncertain. Priapism, on the other hand, can be caused by a variety of diseases or medications. Possible triggers include, for example:

  • prescription medication, such as blood thinners or erectile dysfunction treatments
  • recreational drugs or alcohol use
  • blood conditions, such as sickle cell anemia
  • trauma to the genitals or spinal cord

Priapism is a significant medical problem, and patients should seek medical attention if they experience a prolonged, painful erection that lasts more than 4 hours without stimulation.  To relieve an erection, a person can attempt peeing, taking a warm bath, drinking water, or doing light exercise. The following medical therapies may be used:

  • aspiration, which involves using a surgical needle to drain excess blood
  • creating a small hole or passage, called a shunt, to allow for adequate blood flow between the penis and the rest of the body
  • pain medications
  • injecting medication into the penis to allow for sufficient blood circulation

Penile fracture

A penile fracture occurs when the erect penis bends, usually as a result of force, causing a portion of it to tear. There are no bones in the penis, hence it isn’t really a fracture. According to some studies, penile fractures are most likely to develop during sexual activity.

The following are signs and symptoms of a penile fracture:

  • bleeding from the penis
  • blood in the urine
  • pain
  • difficulty urinating
  • a popping sound
  • sudden loss of erection
  • bruising and swelling of the penis

A penile fracture necessitates immediate medical treatment. They may also require surgery to remove any blood buildup and repair any damage to the penis.

Balanitis

When the head of the penis gets inflamed, it is referred to as balanitis. The glans penis (or glans penis) is a portion of the penis that affects 3–11 percent of men. This irritation can occur in those who have not been circumcised, especially if the area behind the foreskin is not adequately washed and dried.

Balanitis can also be caused by the following factors:

Other causes of balanitis can include:

  • sexually transmitted infections
  • diabetes
  • using strong soap or chemicals on the penis

Symptoms of balanitis may include:

  • swelling
  • itching
  • a rash
  • discharge
  • tenderness or pain
  • phimosis, or tight foreskin

Treatment options for balanitis can include:

  • a topical astringent solution
  • topical steroids
  • topical antibiotic, antifungal, or antiseptic ointment

Phimosis

When the foreskin tightens to the point where it is impossible to pull back, phimosis occurs. Before the foreskin loosens, it is frequent in young children, but it can also cause unpleasant symptoms in teenagers and adults.

Phimosis is commonly treated by putting a steroid cream to the foreskin on a daily basis. Taking pain medicines may also assist, and a doctor may recommend circumcision in some circumstances.

Paraphimosis

Paraphimosis is a disorder in which persons are unable to move the foreskin forward over the tip of the penis, comparable to phimosis. It’s a critical condition that has to be treated right now.

Additional signs and symptoms include:

  • the head of the penis turning a different color, such as blue or red
  • swelling in the tip of the penis
  • pain in the penis

Paraphimosis is treated by lowering the swelling at the tip of the penis so that the foreskin can return to its proper place. If doctors are unable to achieve this, a tiny incision may be made to minimize swelling. Circumcision may be required in specific instances.

Sexually transmitted infections

Due to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), people may have pain in the penis. This word refers to illnesses that can occur as a result of sexual activity or close physical contact.

An STI can cause a person to have no symptoms at all. Individuals with a penis, on the other hand, may have the following symptoms:

  • burning or itching sensation, such as when urinating
  • pain around the pelvis
  • frequent urination
  • painful ejaculation
  • discharge from the penis
  • sores, lumps, or blisters around the genitals

STI treatments differ based on the underlying cause. Antibiotics for bacterial STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, or antivirals to treat the symptoms of viral STIs like herpes, for example.

Urinary tract infections

A urinary tract infection (UTI) can occur when bacteria invade the urinary tract. Females are more likely to be affected, however males might still be affected. These infections are fairly prevalent in general, with some evidence indicating that they are the second most common type of infection in the body.

Males may experience the following symptoms in addition to penile pain:

  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • blood in the urine
  • pain or a burning sensation when urinating
  • feeling the need to urinate when the bladder is empty

To treat a UTI, a doctor will typically prescribe antibiotics.

  • injury
  • reaction to spermicides or contraceptive lotions
  • bacteria
  • viruses

Symptoms may include:

  • an itchy, tender, or swollen penis
  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • burning sensation when urinating
  • discharge
  • pain during sex or ejaculation

To treat urethritis, a doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a frequent prostate disease in which the prostate is inflamed. This might cause discomfort in the penis and pelvis. Prostatitis can be caused by bacterial infections, nerve inflammation, or trauma.

The following are some of the symptoms of the condition:

  • pain in the penis, testicles, or bladder
  • painful ejaculation
  • pain or burning when urinating
  • blood in the urine

Treatment will vary depending on a person’s symptoms and the cause of inflammation, however antibiotics are usually prescribed. Medications for pain alleviation, prostate massage, and hot compresses might also assist to alleviate discomfort.

Penile cancer

Penile pain can occasionally be a sign of penile cancer, but it’s more likely to be the consequence of something else. If somebody notices any of the following symptoms, they should consult their doctor:

  • bleeding or discharge under the foreskin
  • swelling at the head of the penis
  • lumps under the skin in the groin area
  • a rash on the penis
  • changes to the color or thickness of the skin of the penis
  • a lump or crusty bumps on the penis
  • bleeding ulcers

Treatment for penile cancer may include:

  • chemotherapy
  • immunotherapy
  • surgery to remove tumors in the penis
  • circumcision to remove the foreskin
  • radiation therapy to destroy cancer cells

Conclusion

Penis pain can be caused by a variety of factors. By addressing a person’s other symptoms, a doctor can assist in determining the origin of the pain.

People can also reduce their chances of getting a penile health problem by:

  • using a condom during sex
  • keeping good personal hygiene
  • maintaining a healthy lifestyle

If a person has continuous or severe penile pain, he or she should consult a doctor.

Sources:

  • https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/balanitis
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/balanitis/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459233/
  • https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/mens-health/is-it-normal-to-have-a-curved-penis/
  • https://www.cancer.org/cancer/penile-cancer.html
  • https://www.cancer.gov/types/penile/patient/penile-treatment-pdq
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324608
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324608
  • https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/penile-curvature-peyronies-disease
  • https://urology.ucsf.edu/patient-care/children/phimosis#.YcCn12r7Rb8
  • https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=phimosis-and-paraphimosis-90-P03104
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/priapism-painful-erections/
  • https://www.pcf.org/about-prostate-cancer/what-is-prostate-cancer/prostate-gland/prostatitis/
  • https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/p/prostatitis-(infection-of-the-prostate)
  • https://medlineplus.gov/sexuallytransmitteddiseases.html
  • https://www.cdc.gov/std/general/default.htm
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459178/
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/phimosis/
  • https://bestpractice.bmj.com/topics/en-gb/54

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Endocrinology

What are the signs and symptoms of a high estrogen level?

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Estrogen is a sex hormone that is crucial to the body’s functioning. Abnormal levels can have a wide range of consequences for one’s health. High estrogen levels, for example, can lead to weight gain, depression, and severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women.

Males have estrogen as well, although in much lesser levels. It might be difficult to get an erection if your estrogen levels are higher than they should be.

Estrogen levels increase and fall naturally to some extent, but if they remain continuously high, more significant issues might arise. Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen levels in females are higher than progesterone levels.

Continue reading to discover more about the signs and symptoms of high estrogen levels, as well as the causes.

Gender and sex exist on a spectrum. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. To learn more, visit here.

Estrogen

a worried lady
Guille Faingold/Stocksy

Estrogen is an important hormone for both male and female sexual development and health.

Estrogen impacts mood, controls cholesterol levels, and supports bone health. This hormone affects puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause in women.

Estrogen is divided into three types:

  • Estradiol: This is the most powerful type of estrogen, and it is found in the highest quantity in women of reproductive age. This kind of estrogen is used by doctors to assess the health of the ovaries.
  • Estrone: In males, this is the most common kind of estrogen. After menopause, it is also the predominant type of estrogen in females. Estrone is produced by the ovaries, placenta, testicles, and adipose tissue by androstenedione or androgens.
  • Estriol: This kind of estrogen is produced by the placenta and increases during pregnancy. As the fetus grows, the quantity of estriol produced rises.

Estrogen levels can impact various parts of the body, including the reproductive system, skin, hair, bones, muscles, brain, and breast tissue, whether they rise or fall. Because everyone has some breast tissue, fluctuations can also have these consequences in men.

Causes

Estrogen levels might become too high for a variety of causes. They may rise as a result of the following factors:

  • changes in how the body excretes estrogen
  • changes in how the body breaks estrogen down
  • an overproduction of estrogen

Any of the aforementioned factors might result in a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance occurs in females when estrogen levels are high relative to progesterone levels, which is one of the other important female sex hormones.

Estrogen dominance can be caused by a variety of circumstances, including:

  • Stress: Cortisol levels rise as a result of stress. When cortisol levels are regularly high, this hormone can deplete progesterone levels, which can lead to estrogen imbalances.
  • Medications: Some drugs might increase estrogen levels while decreasing progesterone levels.
  • Health conditions: Estrogen dominance is linked to or caused by a number of health issues. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and certain cancers are among them. Insulin resistance raises estrogen levels as well.
  • Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol use elevates estradiol levels and makes it more difficult for the body to digest estrogen.
  • Obesity: Because adipose tissue creates estrone, having a greater body weight can result in increased levels of estrogen.
  • Dysbiosis: Intestinal dysbiosis occurs when a person’s large intestine has too many dangerous bacteria species or not enough helpful bacteria species. Some forms of gut bacteria can impair the body’s ability to eliminate excess estrogen, resulting in greater amounts in the body.
  • Xenoestrogen exposure: If these compounds enter the body, they act like estrogen. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, which are found in certain plastics, are two examples. Some personal care items, such as soaps and shampoos, include phthalates.

If testosterone levels fall below a certain threshold, estrogen levels in guys might become too high in relation to the quantity of testosterone in the body.

Symptoms

Males and females are affected differently by high estrogen levels.

Females

Excess estrogen in females can result in:

  • fatigue
  • fibroids in the uterus
  • fibrocystic lumps in the breasts
  • low sex drive
  • low mood or anxiety
  • weight gain, especially around the hips and waist
  • heavy or light periods
  • worse PMS than usual

Other signs and symptoms to consider are:

Males

Too much estrogen in males can lead to:

  • infertility
  • difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
  • enlarged breasts, known as gynecomastia

According to a 2018 study high estrogen levels are also associated with increased rates of depression in males.

Complications

A person’s chance of developing breast cancer increases if their estrogen levels are continuously high over a lengthy period of time.

  • hypocalcemia, which is low calcium
  • breast cancer
  • cervical cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • blood clots

High estrogen levels can exacerbate pre-existing conditions like asthma or epilepsy.

In a 2017 study in South Korea, researchers discovered a link between high levels of free estriol and a higher risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Diagnosis

Diagnostic testing may not be necessary to prove that the estrogen ratio is out of balance in females who display indications of estrogen dominance. This is because many of the estrogen-reduction suggestions that doctors may offer are typically favorable to overall health and unlikely to cause damage.

If high estrogen levels are caused by an underlying medical condition, a doctor may order testing to identify whether there is an imbalance and confirm the main cause. Estriol levels are also monitored in high-risk pregnancies by doctors.

Doctors can test for all three kinds of estrogen in females using blood tests. Only estradiol and estrone are measured in men.

Treatment

Treatment for high estrogen levels is determined on the underlying cause. Doctors may propose lifestyle adjustments to lessen estrogen dominance that is not caused by a specific medical condition. People can attempt the following:

  • reducing stress
  • limiting or stopping alcohol consumption
  • avoiding xenoestrogens, such as BPA in plastics
  • avoiding any natural or herbal remedies that may increase estrogen
  • eating an anti-inflammatory or vegetarian diet
  • eating more soy, flaxseed, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and kale
  • getting more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet or taking a supplement
  • maintaining a moderate weight

If a drug or supplement causes high estrogen, a person should talk to their doctor about other options. It’s important to never adjust a medication’s dose or stop taking it without first visiting a doctor.

If a person has high estrogen levels and a doctor feels it is important to reduce them — maybe to avert long-term harm to the body — aromatase inhibitors may be prescribed. Aromatase is an enzyme that aids in the conversion of androgens to estrogen in the body.

To inhibit the signal that begins estrogen production in the ovaries, doctors may give a synthetic type of luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH). If estrogen is worsening a potentially life-threatening condition, such as metastatic breast cancer, they may suggest LHRH.

Conclusion

In females, high estrogen levels can induce irregular or heavy periods, weight gain, exhaustion, and fibroids. They can induce breast tissue development, infertility, and difficulties achieving or keeping an erection in men.

By collecting a medical history and, in certain situations, doing blood tests, a doctor can detect high estrogen levels. The doctor will be able to propose the best therapy choices after they have determined the problem. The therapy choices will be determined by the reason of the high estrogen levels.

Changes in lifestyle and nutrition may lower the amount of estrogen produced by the body or increase the amount it breaks down and excretes. Anyone with chronic or troubling symptoms, on the other hand, should seek medical advice.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
  • https://labtestsonline.org/tests/estrogens
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5332840/
  • https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/estrogen-dominance.asp
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29107881
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323280

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Men's Health

10 interesting facts about the penis

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Although many people who have a penis are familiar with its antics, this appendage is more than meets the eye. In this article, we’ll go over ten interesting details about the penis that you probably didn’t know.

statue of man

When seen as an evolutionary adaptation, the penis has performed admirably.

The penis has a long history. In case you’re curious, the oldest known penis is 425 million years old, and it came from an arthropod called Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which means “amazing swimmer with a large penis” in Greek.

Anyone who is amazed at how quickly the penis can be “activated” should consider its importance to our species’ existence. In terms of reproduction, a false arousal is preferable to a missed opportunity.

“Even the world’s greatest actor cannot fake an erection,” author Mokokoma Mokhonoana famously said. This brings us to the day’s first penile fact.

1. The first erection

Penises are born ready, and it is typical for babies to have an erection when they leave the womb. Ultrasound scans can sometimes reveal a fetus with a fully formed erection even before birth.

Fetal erections are most likely during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, according to a 1991 study. And they can occur several times per hour. Nobody knows why, but it could be the body’s way of ensuring that everything is in working order.

2. A penis is twice as long as you think

Many people may find comfort in the fact that their penises are longer than they appear. In fact, the body contains almost half of the total length.

An internal view of the male genitalia
An internal view of the male genitalia

“Well, it’s no good to me up there,” you might think, but it needs to be connected to the rest of the anatomy, so it’s probably best if it stays place.

The mass of pink erectile tissue — which includes the so-called “corpus cavernosum” and “corpus spongiosum” — reaches well into the pelvic region, generating a boomerang shape, as seen in the diagram above.

3. The shoe size myth

Let’s lay this one to rest, shall we? There is no link between shoe size and penis length, according to a 2002 study published in the journal BJU International.

Although a previous study from 1993 indicated a modest association between penile length and both height and foot length, the authors concluded that “height and foot size would not serve as realistic estimators of penis length.”

Other relationships were investigated in a 2006 study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research. “Penile dimensions are substantially linked with age, height, and index finger length,” the researchers concluded, but not with foot size.

4. ‘Morning wood’

The majority of people with penises get 3–5 erections per night, most of which occur during REM sleep. This is also known as “nocturnal penile tumescence,” and the cause is unknown.

An erection reduces urination, which could help avoid bed wetting, according to one theory.

A full bladder has been shown to stimulate nerves in the same area as those responsible for erections. However, because people with vaginas have a condition called nocturnal clitoral tumescence, bed wetting prevention is unlikely to be the complete solution.

Another possibility is that REM sleep is linked to the switching off of noradrenaline-producing cells in the brainstem’s locus coeruleus. The tone of the penis is inhibited by these cells. As a result of the reduction of inhibition, the penis grows erect.

Nocturnal erections, for whatever reason, can be beneficial as a diagnostic tool. If it’s difficult to get or keep an erection when awake but not while sleeping, it could be due to a psychological issue rather than a physical one.

5. One final erection

So, we’ve shown that erections may occur in the womb and while sleeping, but the death erection is possibly even more startling. It’s also known as “angel lust” or a terminal erection, and it occurs shortly after death.

It is most typically found in people who have died by hanging, and scientists believe it is caused by pressure from the noose on the cerebellum.

It has also been reported in the aftermath of a gunshot wound to the head, significant blood vessel damage, and poisoning.

Another theory is that “brutal destruction of the cervical spinal cord” causes the erection.

6. The penis can break

The absence of a bone in the penis is unusual among mammals. The penis, on the other hand, can still be broken. This is most common during forceful sex, but it has also been reported by doctors in people who have fallen out of bed with an erection.

The rupture of the fibrous covering of the corpora cavernosa, which is the tissue that grows erect when engorged with blood, is known as a penile fracture.

A popping or cracking sound, acute pain, swelling, and — unexpectedly — flaccidity accompany the fracture.

Thankfully, it doesn’t happen very often, and if treated quickly, complete function can be restored. If this happens to you, take care not to let your shame get the best of you. Consult a physician as soon as possible.

The most “dangerous” position, according to the authors of a study that looked at 42 cases of penile fracture, was “woman on top.”

7. No-brainer

The majority of people with penises have little control over when they ejaculate. This is partly due to the fact that it does not require the utilization of the brain. The spinal ejaculation generator sends the signal to ejaculate. The required functions are coordinated in this region of the spinal cord.

Of course, the brain has some involvement on these matters — thinking about something else, for example, is a well-known strategy to delay an event — but the spine handles the nuts and bolts of the entire procedure.

8. The angle of the dangle

A penile erection can be directed in almost any direction. There is no right or wrong in going straight forward, left or right, up or down.

The information below comes from a study that looked at 1,484 erections.

The measurement was 0 degrees if the penis was oriented directly up, and 90 degrees if it was pointed forward (horizontal) in the figures below:

  • 0–30 degrees: 4.9% of participants
  • 30–60 degrees: 29.6% of participants
  • 60–85 degrees: 30.9% of participants
  • 85–95 degrees: 9.9% of participants
  • 95–120 degrees: 19.8% of participants
  • 120–180 degrees 4.9% of participants

So, if you’re worried that your partner is a little off, don’t be.

While we’re on the subject of “normality,” it’s worth noting that few penises are perfectly straight; they can curve in any way. It is still deemed healthy to have a curvature of up to 30 degrees.

9. Grower or show-er

There is no association between the length of a flaccid penis and its erect size, according to a study with 274 participants. Some are little while flaccid and only grow a little when erect (a grower), while others are enormous when flaccid and only grow a little when erect (a show-er).

Some are little regardless of arousal, while others are large while flaccid and grow to be larger. It’s a mixed bag.

This may or may not be useful outside of the locker room, but it’s always good to know.

10. Cornflakes prevent masturbation

They truly don’t. However, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the breakfast cereal mastermind, hoped that they would. He created cornflakes and other items in the hopes of luring Americans away from the “sin” of masturbating through plain foods.

Thankfully, food makers no longer spend as much time attempting to persuade teenagers to stop masturbating. It also doesn’t render you blind, just in case there was any doubt.

If this list has piqued your interest, you should consider planning a vacation to Iceland to see the Icelandic Phallological Museum, which is dedicated to all things penile. Sigurur Hjartarson, whose interest in the subject began when he was given a bull’s penis as a child, founded the museum.

According to Hjartarson: “Collecting penises is like collecting anything. You can never stop, you can never catch up, you can always get a new one, a better one.”

If you want to take things a step further, head to Beijing’s Guolizhuang Restaurant, which serves penis and testicle dishes. It’s entirely up to you.

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