Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 28, 2011

After having sex with me, my partner got bumps on his penis, but I don’t have symptoms...could it be an STD?

A guy I had sex with told me he’d gotten some pimple-like bumps all over his penis. The bumps hurt until he popped them. He also said it hurt to pee. He’s had sex with other people, but he only got the bumps after he had sex with me. We both got tested for STDs and we’re both negative...but I’m concerned. Could something else have caused those bumps?

answered by Ruthann M. Cunningham, MD on September 28, 2011

Thanks for your question…I can certainly understand your concern, and I’ll do my best to help.

First, you mentioned that you’d both been tested for STDs...do you know what STDs you were tested for? There are many different kinds of STDs that require specific tests. When you and your partner got tested, if you peed in a cup, you may have been tested for chlamydia and/or gonorrhea…but that’s it. To test for other STDs ⎼ like herpes 1 and 2, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis ⎼ a clinician needs to take a blood sample. You can learn more about how to get tested for a full array of common STDs in our Expert Guide to STD Basics. And if both of you weren’t tested for all these STDs, you might consider additional testing. 

To find out the cause of the pimple-like bumps on your partner’s penis, I encourage both of you to visit your doctors. Why? Depending on what STDs you were tested for previously, it is possible that one or both of you has an STD. For example, one possible cause of your partner’s symptoms is a genital herpes outbreak. 

People with herpes might experience itching in the genital area, bumps or painful urination from time to time, similar to your description. Other people with herpes don’t have any symptoms at all, but they can still be contagious. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tell us that most (nearly 90%) of people who have herpes don’t know they’re infected. 

Although herpes isn’t curable, there are treatments available to manage symptoms…and reduce the risk of transmission. You can learn more about herpes symptoms, testing and treatment in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2

There are other causes of genital bumps, too...genital warts, for example, are caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and could look like pimples in the genital region. Another skin infection (which is sometimes sexually transmitted) called molluscum contagiosum could also be a possibility. 

Again, given that there’s a range of possible causes for your partner’s symptoms, it’s a smart idea for him to see a doctor…and, if you haven’t already, I encourage both of you to get tested for common STDs.

I wish you both the best of health...and good luck with the resolution to your partner’s symptoms. 

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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