Is It An STD or Something Else?

Is It An STD or Something Else?

While you may think that penis discharge you have is the result of a sexually transmitted disease, it may actually be something less innocuous than an STD.

However, even if it is, most STDs can be treated, which can lessen the chances of further health problems (infertility, for one).

However, the male discharge may also be the result of something non-STD-related, but how do you know? How can you know if it’s normal male discharge or if it’s truly an infection?


This is the fluid that comes from the penis when aroused. People generally call this “precum.” This pre-cum is made by the Cowper’s glands, which comes from the penis, much like the urine and semen. In the majority of cases, it’s just a minute amount of drops of pre-ejaculate, and it’s barely noticeable.

A study found that pre-ejaculate contains very low levels of sperm in it.

Urinary Tract Infection

A UTI is when harmful bacteria have infected the urinary tract, which is made up of bladder, kidneys, prostate, ureters and urethra. UTIs are very rare in men 50 or younger with the risk increasing the older a man gets.

Men who have a UTI may be unable to fully empty bladder and find it painful to urinate. They may have incontinence or feel the need to constantly urinate. The discharge may be either frothy, white and may even contain blood.

A urinary tract infection is a bacterial infection where antibiotics are needed to clear up the infection. A prescription is necessary to kill off the infection – no self-medicating.


This is a condition in which the penis’ head because inflammation – up to 11 percent of men will have this condition. Chemicals on the penis foreskin and head can lead to balanitis. This condition can cause itching and swelling of the head with discharge under the head or foreskin.

Fungal infections, which can occur in diabetics, can cause balanitis. An antifungal infection may be necessary with balanitis if the cause is the result of a fungus. It’s not uncommon for penile discharge to occur if men don’t care for themselves properly down there.


The walnut-shaped gland called the prostate is what produces prostate fluid to lubricate the semen. Men who have this condition will experience prostate pain, urination difficulty and penis discharge.

The condition, which can be acute or chronic, occurs when the prostate is inflamed and irritated usually the result of bacterial infections. Chronic prostatitis is when the immune system has a problem or there has been damage to the nerves of the prostate. Proper treatment is dependent on what kind of prostatitis a man has, which can range from sitz baths to surgery.


Smegma consists of water, dead skin cells and skin oil sebum, and is typically yellow or white. The smegma is lubrication for the penis head, helping to keep friction down, so no pain occurs. However, it also contains bacteria – most of the time healthy, but too much of it can lead to infections such as a UTI.

While any man can suffer from it, uncircumcised men are more prone to it due to the foreskin trapping it under the penis head.

When Should Men See A Doctor For Their Penile Discharge?

As you see, penile discharge isn’t always the result of an STD, but if you are concerned about your discharge, it’s important you speak to a doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, including whether or not you have the following:

  • Pain while peeing, bathing or sexual intercourse
  • Discharge not due to ejaculation or pre-ejaculate
  • Swelling around the penis
  • Foul smell
  • Infection signs such as fever, nauseous, etc.

If so, they will conduct an STD test to rule out the possibility of a sexually transmitted infection.

Mark Riegel, MD

Latest Stories

Here’s what we've been up to recently.

Concerned about an STD?

Help stop the spread of STDs by knowing your status. Get tested today!