Noticing white penis discharge can be worrying, since it’s not something that most men experience frequently.
White discharge from penis
There are different conditions that can lead to white discharge from your penis, and learning more about them can help you determine when it may be time to visit your doctor.
Causes of white discharge from penis
Some of the common causes of white discharge from the penis include:
Penile discharge is any substance that comes from your penis that isn’t urine, pre-ejaculate, or semen. Depending on its cause, penile discharge can be clear, white, yellow, green, brown, and even tinged with blood or pus.
Let’s go over some of the possible causes of white discharge from the penis.
Smegma isn’t exactly penis discharge, but it can look quite similar. Smegma is a substance that results from the combination of dead skin cells, water, and skin oils or sebum. Smegma can affect both male and female genitalia, but it’s far more common in uncircumcised men, because it can collect under the foreskin.
A small amount of smegma is normal, but excessive smegma can lead to irritation, a foul smell, and promote the growth of harmful microorganisms.
The best way to prevent a buildup of smegma is through good intimate hygiene. The UK’s NHS provides some techniques that can help you achieve this, including:
- If you’re uncircumcised, make sure to retract your foreskin and wash underneath
- Choose a mild, non-perfumed soap to wash your genital area
- Don’t retract a baby’s or boy’s foreskin, since it can be attached to the glans. Young boys don’t need to be cleaned under their foreskin
- Look for any unusual lumps or lesions when you clean your genitals
As its name suggests, urethritis is the inflammation of the urethra. In most cases, urethritis is caused by the same pathogen that causes gonorrhea, which is a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae — thus the name gonococcal urethritis. However, non-gonococcal urethritis can be caused by a wide range of pathogens, and even by reactive arthritis. Harvard Health states that, in rare cases, urethritis can even be the result of exposure to an irritant agent, such as spermicides or antiseptics.
Symptoms of urethritis include:
- Painful, urgent urination
- Itching or burning sensations on the urinary meatus (opening of the penis)
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Discharge that can be cloudy, white, or yellow-green
Balanitis is the inflammation of the head of the penis, also known as glans. This condition is more common in uncircumcised men and young boys, but it can affect any man.
According to information posted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), balanitis can be caused by certain STIs, yeast, and other bacteria and viruses. Symptoms of balanitis include:
- Pain and swelling of the glans
- Tight foreskin that can’t be retracted
- An unpleasant odor
- Painful urination
- White or yellowish discharge under the foreskin
- Swollen lymph nodes near the penis
The prostate is a small gland that is located around the urethra and produces prostatic fluid, which is one of the components of semen. Prostatitis is characterized by inflammation of the prostate, which can be caused by an infection or an injury.
Symptoms of prostatitis can include:
- Clear or whitish urethral discharge
- Urethral discharge during bowel movements
- Foul smelling urine
- Blood tinged urine
- Painful, difficult urination
- Pain during ejaculation
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Lower back pain
- Fever and/or chills
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, although prostatitis isn’t an STI, it can result from untreated STIs. It’s also possible to develop chronic prostatitis, which lasts at least three months and can cause recurrences.
Yeast infections, caused by an overgrowth of candida spp., commonly affect women, but they can happen to anyone. According to the NHS, symptoms of yeast infections in men can include:
- Moist skin on the penis
- A white, thick discharge collecting on the skin folds of the penis
- Itching or burning sensation on the penis
- Redness and swelling
- Difficulty retracting the foreskin
Chlamydia is an STI caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can be spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chlamydia symptoms in men can include:
- Thick discharge that can be cloudy, yellowish, or even brown
- Painful urination
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Rectal pain, discharge, or bleeding
- Swollen, tender testicles
Gonorrhea is caused by a bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and it’s one of the most common STIs around the globe. According to the NHS, symptoms of gonorrhea typically appear within 2 weeks of the infection, although they can sometimes remain dormant for months. Symptoms of gonorrhea in men include:
- Penis discharge that can be white, yellow, or green
- Painful or burning sensation when you urinate
- Tender testicles
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or discharge
Trichomoniasis is an STI caused by the bacteria Trichomonas vaginalis. It’s more common in women, but it can also affect men. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 70 percent of all people infected with trichomoniasis don’t develop any symptoms at all.
Symptoms of trichomoniasis in men can include:
- White, foul-smelling penile discharge
- Burning sensation when you urinate or ejaculate
- Pain and/or itching on the penis