Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on September 28, 2011

We’ve been having sex for over a year, but now I’ve noticed some red and itchy bumps...do I have an STD?

I’ve been having sex with my wife for the last year without any problems. But last week, I found something that looks like a pimple on my penis. It’s red and itchy. It went away after a few days, but after we had sex tonight, I found two more bumps on the other side of my penis. Do I have an STD?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 28, 2011

I understand your concerns. Allow me to provide you some information to help you understand possible causes of your symptoms.

First, you might be relieved to know that not all penis bumps or rashes are STDs. There are many other, relatively harmless skin conditions that your regular doctor can diagnose upon a visual examination.

I assume that you and your wife are in a mutually monogamous relationship...but were you both tested for STDs before you became monogamous? If either of you was previously sexually active with other partners, and if you weren’t regularly tested up to and including sexual activity with each other, one or both of you may be carrying a sexually transmitted infection without knowing it. 

Remember, many STDs don’t show signs or symptoms at first...so the only way to know if you’re infected is to get tested. And you’re more at risk for STDs if you’ve engaged in risky sexual behaviors (e.g., having unprotected sex with someone whose sexual history you don’t know). 

For example, given the symptoms you describe, you might have genital herpes or genital warts. You can learn more about risk factors and symptoms of these STDs in our expert guides to Herpes 1 + 2 and HPV (the virus that causes genital warts). 

If you or your wife do test positive for one of these or another STD, there are many treatment options to help cure or manage symptoms, and there are ways that you and your wife can help keep each other healthy...for example, using protection, and avoiding sex during a herpes outbreak or when genital warts are active. 

Bottom line? Not all penile bumps are STDs, so the sooner you and your doctor can diagnose the cause of the bumps, the sooner you’ll have peace of mind. I hope I’ve helped point you in the right direction...and that you find the answers and treatment you need.

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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