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Anonymous on September 26, 2011

I don’t have signs of an STD, but my boyfriend just noticed a little red bump on his penis...what could this be?

This little red bump has appeared on my boyfriend’s penis, and it’s been causing him tremendous pain. We have been having sex for the past five months ⎼ he was a virgin and I’d only had sex with one other person before him. I have had no signs of an STD at all. Do you know what this could be? 

answered by
Eric Christoff, MD, AAHIVM on September 26, 2011

I appreciate your concern for your boyfriend. While he’ll need to see a doctor for an examination and diagnosis of his symptom, I can help with a little information about some possible causes. 

First, you mentioned that you have no signs of an STD...but have you been tested to know your STD status for sure? The reason I ask is because most people who have an STD don’t have any observable symptoms. So, if you haven’t been tested for common STDs since your last relationship ⎼ including testing for STDs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes 1 and 2, HIV and hepatitis B and C ⎼ I would encourage both you and your boyfriend to do so. For more about STD symptoms, prevention and testing, check our Expert Guide to STD Basics.

Now, about the bump on your boyfriend’s penis...

Some STDs that can cause a bump on the penis include syphilis, genital herpes and genital warts. Genital herpes and syphilis symptoms usually appear about two to three weeks after exposure, whereas genital warts symptoms can take much longer to appear...from weeks to months after exposure. Again, to know for sure what’s causing the bump, I encourage your boyfriend to see his doctor for a visual exam and possibly some tests. You can learn more about herpes and syphilis in our Expert Guides.  

It’s also possible that your boyfriend has a harmless pimple on his penis...in fact, pimples are quite common. And some lubricants can contribute to temporary breakouts. Or your boyfriend might have a yeast infection, which may also be accompanied by genital acne.

Consulting a doctor, getting STD testing and practicing safer sex will help you and boyfriend get to the bottom of his discomfort and stay healthy in the future. I wish you both good luck and good health.

Eric Christoff, MD, AAHIVM

Dr. Christoff is a practicing physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. His areas of expertise include the treatment of HIV and syphilis along with other STDs, the medical treatment of depression and chronic fatigue, and the specific health needs of gay and lesbian patients. Dr. Christoff was educated at the University of Toledo, College of Medicine and completed his residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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