Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 20, 2011

A new partner got a penis lesion after sex with me...what is it?

I have a new sex partner and after having sex with me, including anal sex, he got a lesion or pimple of some sort on his penis. What could this be? I know I have genital warts so I’m afraid I could have spread the disease to him. I also have chronic hemorrhoids that probably need medical attention.

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 20, 2011

Thanks for asking this important question...the lesion or pimple on your partner’s penis could indicate a few things, so I’ll give you my best thoughts. 

It’s possible that the sore on your partner’s penis is a sign of a sexually transmitted infection...including chancroid, genital herpes or syphilis. 

Not many people in the United States get chancroid anymore, but it’s possible...especially if you or someone you’ve had sex with is from (or has recently visited) Africa or the Caribbean where chancroid is more common. 

A more common STD that can cause genital sores is genital herpes. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that at least 50 million people nationwide are infected with herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), the virus that causes the majority of genital herpes infections. Many people who have a genital herpes infection don’t show any symptoms, but are still infectious...that’s why most genital herpes infections spread. 

One more STD, syphilis, also commonly causes a red lesion as it’s first symptom. Men who have the first stages of syphilis can develop a large ulcer (or “chancre”) at the infection site...which for men is usually the penis. 

Or, because you do have genital warts, it’s also possible that you transmitted the virus that causes genital warts (HPV) to your partner. However, warts usually take three weeks to eight months to show up...so this option seems less likely if your relationship is very new. For more detailed information about this and other STDs, see our Expert Guide to STD Basics

What’s the next step? I encourage both of you to get tested for common STDs. It’s possible that your new partner contracted an STD from a previous partner, or maybe you have another infection that you don’t know about if you haven’t been tested for STDs lately.  

I also suggest this because chancroid, genital herpes and syphilis all increase the risk of contracting the HIV virus if you’re exposed to it. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you or your partner have an STD...and if you do test positive for anything, you can start treatment right away. Remember, some STDs are curable, and all are treatable..but early detection is best for the most successful treatment.

Also, remember to practice safer sex with any sexual activity...especially because you know you have genital warts. You don’t want to spread genital warts to other partners, and using protection can help reduce the risk of doing so. 

You also mentioned that you have chronic hemorrhoids. I encourage you to speak with your regular doctor if home remedies aren’t working to soothe your discomfort. And allow me to remind you that hemorrhoids can indicate an infection of the anus. This is particularly important to you because you have had anal sex...be sure to mention that to your doctor, too, and consider the possibility of getting an anal Pap test.

Thanks again for writing. I hope that you and your partner soon resolve your discomfort with proper diagnosis and treatment. 

Related info:

Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Analyte Physicans Group. She's also a member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, practicing at both Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois and at Wheaton Franciscan All Saints Medical Center in Wisconsin. An ER physician since 2000, she regularly treats patients with STDs. Dr. Cunningham was educated at Wayne State University School of Medicine and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL.

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